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Author Topic:   Whalers on the edge
Shadowcatcher posted 06-24-2000 11:38 AM ET (US)   Profile for Shadowcatcher   Send Email to Shadowcatcher  
Ahoy! Great website! I would love to hear more about whalers under extreme conditions. Perhaps folks with experience using them with Coast Guard, law enforcement, weathering a storm or passage through intense, big water. Also, I want to learn more about seamanship and boat handling in severe conditions. For instance, if you get rolled, will a whaler tend to stay turtled and what then?
MasterBaiter posted 06-25-2000 01:30 AM ET (US)     Profile for MasterBaiter  Send Email to MasterBaiter     
On July 17, 1998 my wife and I were caught on Lake Minetonka (MN)in a freak storm at 10:30 PM in our 67 Nauset. Winds estimated at 70mph and driving rain, reduced visibilty to nearly zero, and confused waves peaking to 6 feet made aiming into the wind out of the question. I was hoping to follow my GPS into a semi protected cove, but the combination of the pounding waves and water caused the unit to shut down at just the wrong time.
Since my wife was beside herself with fear I circled my way toward a shoreline where I could intermitently make out dock lights.

Our Nauset was filling with water and the 800 gph bilge pump was obviously not keeping up, but I wasn't concerned about swamping, if I could keep some depth under us. I spotted a dock and attempted to get along side, tie the bow off and wade to shore if need be, but as I grabbed the dock, the surge pulled the stern back into the next wave, which literally filled the boat, I pushed my wife up the dock ladder, and as I did, the combination of the shoreline surge and driving wind tipped the old Whaler over like a toy! I was standing on the indside of the gunwhale as she went over! Luckily I somehow held the hull off as I too, scrambled up the dock ladder, grabbing the bow line as I did. It was a sickenning sound to hear the antenna snap off and the motor still running upside down. I tied the old girl off (the boat, not the wife) and we had to actually crawl along the dock to the shore as the wind and rain were literally driving us off the slippery decking.

After the storm subsided, we found pieces (and parts) up to 50 feet onshore (including the auxilliary gas tank).

The next day I had a salvage company right the boat and tow her to a landing fearing the worst. Surprisingly, the structural damage was very slight. The mahogany bore up pretty well and the hull was in good shape. New rub rail and buffing out was all the hull needed. Of course both motors had to be overhauled and most electronics and all switches and connections were trashed, but the Hummibird GPS and Sonar came through fine.

The insurance company wanted to total her (for much less than she was worth), I held fast, insisting they talk with Steve Pauly, local Whaler legend here in Minnesota, to determine a fair value, and in the end they paid about $10,000 to completely restore the equipment and boat.

Since then, the boat has again braved the waters of the Great Lakes (Superior, Michigan, Erie)as well as some pretty rough inland Minnesota and Ontario lakes.

I'll email you a photo of the capsized Nauset, and "upright" photos can be found in Jim's Cetacea section.

jimh posted 06-25-2000 09:58 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Ron's restored Nauset can be seen at:

I'll add the capsized shot, too, in a few days.


Shadowcatcher posted 06-25-2000 11:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for Shadowcatcher  Send Email to Shadowcatcher     
Wow. Thanks for that report. I saw the pictures and, whaler damage not withstanding, you were very lucky not to be injured.

I wonder, if one were capsise in open water, would they be able to right the boat?

MasterBaiter posted 06-25-2000 11:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for MasterBaiter  Send Email to MasterBaiter     
Regarding your question of whether or not the boat could have been righted in deep water. The story I got from the salvage/tow company was yes. They obviously didn't want me anywhere near the operation when it was done, which upset me, but I guess it's like watching your kid have an operation. They told me that they used a crane to bring her over, and I think that some of the hull damage was a direct result of the righting procedure. By the way, I was told that there were over 12 boats sunk that night, all but one at their slips.
lhg posted 06-26-2000 01:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
Whenever one gets into heavy weather in a Whaler, the Company has always said to pull the drain plug(s) and run with the plug(s) out, even if you have a bilge pump, as this way the water that splashes in can run out. More water goes out thru the open drain than thru the bilge pump. If you have a totally submerged Whaler (filled with water like a bathtub) with the plug in, when you pull the plug, the boat wil "rise" up out of the water and drain itself!

I would doubt that it would be possible for persons in the water to "right" an overturned boat as large as a Montauk, especially in high seas conditons that probably caused the same capsizing. About 6 years ago there was a story on the Chicago news about 3 fisherman who were saved by their Montauk. They were about 8 miles off shore of Michigan City IN, in about 8' waves on Lake Michigan, and lost their power heading back in around dinner time to avoid an approaching storm. Evidently, unable to keep their nose into the waves without a sea anchor, a big wave eventually caught them the wrong way around midnight and flipped the Montauk over.
They could not turn the boat back over, but were able to climb up on the bottom and spent the rest of the night hanging on.
They were located and rescued by the Michigan City Coast Guard station shortly after daybreak, sitting on the upturned bottom of the boat. Coast Guard said they were very lucky to be alive and if they couldn't have taken turns getting out of the 70 degree water, probably wouldn't have made it.

DIVE 1 posted 07-05-2000 11:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for DIVE 1    
lhg posted 07-06-2000 02:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
I saw a little 9' Whaler dinghy this weekend, tied up in a slip with its 45' sailboat. The Whaler looked practically new, with nice varnish work, but was half filled with water, plug in. The owner didn't know enough about Whalers to leave the plug out when the boat is unattended. So I pulled the plug in the bottom, and we watched the water drain right out of it, as the hull bouyancy raised up the boat. In five minutes, the floor was completely dry.
jimh posted 07-06-2000 02:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
[re: LHG pulling the plug on the Whaler-dingy]


That is surprising; most sailors know better than that!


lhg posted 07-06-2000 04:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
Jim: I just knew you'd come to the defense of the sailors!! I've got a picture of this boat for you.
Bigshot posted 06-25-2001 02:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
Years ago when I was like 8. I had a 9' squall. i always read that with the plug pulled it will drain 100%. We got 9 people in it and pulled the plug. She went down like a rock. We swam a way and within 10-15 mins, the boat was high and dry. I do not leave the plug out of my montauk cause it gets about an inch or so in it at rest. If It is gonna rain hard or going a way for a few days, I pull it and never have to worry about it gettin deep.
John Fitzgerald posted 06-25-2001 05:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for John Fitzgerald  Send Email to John Fitzgerald     
What a timely topic! This past weekend I took out my (newly and almost completely) restored Suprer Sport into RI. Sound out of the Westport River(MA). On the way in with a 15-20 knot following breeze we ran into the narrow harbor opening against a 4.5 knot ebb current. It was really standing the waves straight up. We surfed down the face of one wave into the base of another and buried the bow swamping the boat. I didn't think you could do that. Four people aboard - me (250lbs) wife (weight classified) and 2 10-year olds (total approx. 200 lbs.). The motor was still running with the boat swamped but with the old style low transom the waves were coming in pretty easily.

I thoought about pulling the plug but was chicken. Any thoughts? I also wondered if a second plug between the cockpit and the motor well would have helped at all? Any advice? (BTW all the humorous advice has already been offered by the boat shop - so you don't really have to add to my pain!)

lpaton posted 06-25-2001 08:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for lpaton  Send Email to lpaton     
Can one pull the plug and leave the boat on the newer (1996) whalers? My plug on the Outrage III looks about 8" below water line I would think water would rise to the top of the bilge or close and possibly run back into tunnel thru opening for bilge pump wiring. If I don't get an answer I'll probably pull the plug in real shallow water and share the results
Tsuriki BW posted 06-25-2001 08:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tsuriki BW  Send Email to Tsuriki BW     
Had quite an experience last Sunday. Launched at Pt. Defiance but couldn't find a parking place as several dipsh#ts parked their cars in the vehicle/trailer combo spaces. Took 30 minutes or so to get back to the boat.

Whaler seemed sluggish and harder to plane. Fished the Clay Banks with no luck. Boat just behind us got a 17lb. (should have been ours) Had some chop and water came over the stern. I usually keep the scupper plugs in. The 75hp Merc weighs 300+lb and is the max rated for the Dauntless 14. Hate having a wet stern and so ran the bildge pump a bit thinking the water in the boat would drain into the bilge..

Moved to Dalco. Speed not what it should be, plane not what I expected, trim not as effective as I expected. Water drained out of the stern with the scupper plugs out under power. Back in when we stopped. More chop and jerks running full bore close to us causing high wakes to break over the stern. Started think seriously about selling the 75 and getting a 50hp (lighter)

Pulled into the dock, hiked to the parking spot I had finally found and pulled the Whaler out. Water coming out of the stern. What the.........??? No drain plug!! Hit the bilge pump and I could have qualified for a fire fighting boat....

I don't know how much water the bildge area holds but I must have been dragging around a hundred pounds or more of water the whole trip. Explained a lot about the performance and low stern during the trip. It does say that a Whaler will float even without a drain plug in place, but I, obviously, don't recommend it!

I thought the dealer had removed the plug during recent repairs as I don't remember doing it. However...when I got home and put the Dauntless back in the garage, there it was on the workbench...Duhhhh...

Double checking everything is a good idea... And I will not leave/remove the plug again..


triblet posted 06-26-2001 10:01 AM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
I have launching and towing checklists taped
inside the console door (on waterproof laser
printer paper). The first item on the
launching checklist is: plug in? The LAST
item on the same list: plug in? Obviously,
I've left it out a few times. DUH. I remove it
for towing so the tunnel gets at least sorta


Whaletosh posted 06-26-2001 04:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for Whaletosh    
The answer to lpaton's query is contained in Tsuriki's post. Newr Dauntless, Outrage, Cross Tackle, Ventura's, etc. have bilge that is below the waterline, even on plane. So, the bilge plug needs to remain in. However, most of these boats have self-draining cockpits and if one chooses to use plugs in the scupper/cockpit drains they should be readily removed. This will ensure that most of the water that gets in will go out of the cockpit drains, which are above the waterline when on plane.

I can attest to this because I deliberately caused a bunch of water to come in over the transom of my Dauntless 14 to see what would happen. The majority of the water went out as soon as I was under way, what little did make it into the bilge was quickly expelled by the factory installed 1000 GPH Rule bilge pump.


gunnelgrabber posted 06-26-2001 05:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for gunnelgrabber  Send Email to gunnelgrabber     
to"m'baiter"....what a story!! to "john fitzgerald"...well,i'm going to assume you made it ok?..boat rightside up ,etc.?? thanks guys for all of that.maybe some of us can learn something without the excitement of first hand experience.the subject is one we all wonder about i'd imagine...lm
Chris J posted 06-28-2001 11:50 AM ET (US)     Profile for Chris J  Send Email to Chris J     
I've been out in conditions in Whalers that I wouldn't want to touch in any other boat, but it is worth noting that even Whalers are not invincible. It is possible to flip them in surf and they are nearly impossible to get them upright without major assistance.

A couple years ago a Whaler down in Baja flipped and a few people drowned. Don't remember the details, but I remember wondering if being in a Whaler made the operator feel more secure than he had any right to be. After all, Whalers are unsinkable but people aren't.

Bigshot posted 06-28-2001 01:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
ditto Chris. Just like these Crazy guys going to So. America in a 13 footer. Don't take much of a wave to capsize a 13'.

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