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Author Topic:   Whaler delamination/saturation
Joe R posted 04-19-2002 04:50 PM ET (US)   Profile for Joe R   Send Email to Joe R  
I realize that I may be asking about something that has been discussed here before, but I'm about to put 10k of my hard-earned dough into an 87 Montauk and I have a dilemma.

Some marina owners and boaters with years of experience have told me that Whalers are more prone to delamination and saturation than are other foam core boats.

I'm getting a survey on the hull and motor, and I'm confident in my surveyor. My question is, is there something in the design and construction of whalers (particularly late 80's boats) that I should be aware of? What I'm afraid of is getting a clean bill of health from the surveyor, then having problems in 2 or 3 years because I've run the boat in heavy seas and put stress on the hull, causing it to delaminate.

By the way, I consider whalers to be high quality boats, however, the more I dig into this, the more I hear from folks who either confirm the delamination/saturation problem, or outright say "don't buy a whaler."

Anyway, I'm not looking to insult anyone; I just really need to know.



Draftmanswife posted 04-19-2002 05:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for Draftmanswife  Send Email to Draftmanswife     
So, were those Whaler dealers that told you that? First, rough seas aren't going to have any bearing on delamination of any boat. There are no construction flaws in Whalers that would cause delamination. If somebody punched a hole in it, and let it sit in the water for a couple years, then maybe you should be concerned. And just remember, only "reel" friends let "reel" friends buy Whalers. My advise, trust your surveyor, and if this isn't the boat for you, keep looking, just keep looking for a Whaler.
Whaler Proud posted 04-19-2002 05:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for Whaler Proud  Send Email to Whaler Proud     
My 16'7 is almost 40 years old and has been in many types of water. No delamination, no saturation and this is even after it sat (in other family member's possession) outside unprotected for 4 years.

I agree with Draftmanswife...keep looking and keep looking for a Whaler.

Taylor posted 04-19-2002 06:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for Taylor  Send Email to Taylor     
Are whalers more prone to saturation than other foam core boats? Jeeze, I would think just the opposite.

In the chainsaw whaler thread (about a badly damaged hull) I think we saw that water needs a way into the hull, and serious saturation shows up in boats that have been seriously mistreated, with open unsealed holes and left in the water and the weather much of their lives. Yes, there are some really old beat up whalers out there. I hope we can recongize them when we see them, sure that a surveyor would be able to also. But for every totalled hull, I'll bet there are 10 good ones. I would not expect to see a major structural problems in a well kept '87.

The late 80's boats are considered to be the most desireable. They have the wood, they are old enough to have come down in value, but not so old as to be scary.

I got a 1988 last year and I'm very happy with it.

Be sure to read the 'buying a used whaler' article in the reference section of this website.

13sport posted 04-19-2002 06:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for 13sport    
Name one other boat that has a forum like this one. There is a reason that all these people, most whom have never met, talk incessantly about their boats. They are great boats. Most Whalers made decades ago are still in use.


Joe R posted 04-19-2002 07:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for Joe R  Send Email to Joe R     
Thanks for the replies.

I’ve just been reading the thread on the chainsaw whaler. Am I missing something?? Basically, my interpretation is that whalers are indeed prone to saturation- provided water is allowed to penetrate into the core. Keep in mind that both fiberglass and gelcoat are porous.

I still haven’t made up my mind on the Montauk, but chainsaw whaler has not improved my confidence.


jimh posted 04-19-2002 08:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Psst--those other guys are right. Somehow, for 40-years this has been kept a secret and nobody knew. For 40 years the entire boating public was hypnotized into thinking Whalers were good boats. Now the truth comes out, thanks to the internet. An enormous hoax has been perpetrated on the public for 40 years. Time and time again, with slick marketing and nothing else, Whaler has sold their boats in spite of this tragic flaw.

They still have the Coast Guard bamboozled. The local law enforcement is still being duped. The Navy and Marines are being taken. They are all still buying Whalers--can you believe it! Write your congresswoman!

And the Montauk is the worst offender, because that is the one model they've been making for 40-years and they have sold more of that one than any other model. Never get one of those, or you'll be sucked into the vortex of deceit and misrepresentation.

Taylor posted 04-19-2002 09:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for Taylor  Send Email to Taylor     
Yeah, the Chainsaw Whaler did not help my confidence either. But keep in mind that Chainsaw Whaler was in use as a floating duck blind! I would not recommend buying a 30 year old floating duck blind.

If the 87 Montauk is well kept and in good shape its going to be a great boat.

You did not mention, but if it has an '87 engine, thats a little high for the price, though.

mbking1 posted 04-19-2002 10:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for mbking1  Send Email to mbking1     
Joe R

Jim H is correct. Sounds to me that you would be better off in another Brunswick product line. I think they call them Bayliners. Since both Whalers and Bayliners are made by the same company, the quality must be equal AND less money foot for foot too. Go for it.

Tom W Clark posted 04-19-2002 11:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
Joe R,

First of all, let's separate two different problems: saturation and delamination.

Can a Whaler absorb water? Until I acquired Chain Saw Whaler I did not believe the claims of Whalers absorbing a lot of water into the foam of the hull.

Whaler literature from the 1980's onwards claims the foam does not absorb water because it is closed cell foam. I now know that a Whaler can absorb a huge amount of water. Chain Saw Whaler is a 1970 model. There is some notion out there that the foam changed in the late 1970's. Maybe it did, but my investigation indicates this is simply not true.

Does this mean all Whalers are sponges? No. The proof of the pudding is in the tasting, as they say and if this were true then there would be hundreds of thousands of useless Whalers out there. Yes, Whaler has produced hundreds of thousands boats.

As to delamination, I have rarely seem this in Whalers, though today I saw it in an abused 1988 Revenge 22. I can say that in Chain Saw Whaler, the foam, though wet, is still firmly attached to the ‘glass skins. I have found no evidence of delamination in Chain Saw Whaler. Tomorrow may tell a different tale though as that is when I chop her up. (if any locals out there want to join in, you’re welcome. See CSW thread)

I myself have owned two different Montauks. The Montauk is perhaps the greatest Whaler of all. If it has been abused, your potential new boat many have problems. On the other hand, the Whalers of the late 1980's are considered (by myself, at least) to be the crème de la crème of all Whalers. I suggest you think hard before passing on this boat.

browning20ga posted 04-19-2002 11:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for browning20ga  Send Email to browning20ga     
EddieS posted 04-20-2002 02:12 AM ET (US)     Profile for EddieS  Send Email to EddieS     

Look at all the posts from people that are restoring Whalers from the 60's then see if you can think of many other makes that have as many people restoring them. My 66' Whaler is living proof as to the integrity of the hull design. I cannnot think of another 16" boat that is 35 years old that I would dream of taking offshore. Yet I would not think twice about my Whaler! You need to think about the Whaler you are about to buy, have it surveyed, take good care of it, and most of all dont worry, it is a Whaler after all!


Joe R posted 04-20-2002 08:51 AM ET (US)     Profile for Joe R  Send Email to Joe R     
I think it’s reasonable to assume that Whalers are no more prone to delamination or saturation than any other foam core boat out there and my decision to buy this boat will depend on how well the owner maintained it.

One thing that is encouraging is the law of large numbers; with that many boats sold (I believe 300,000 over the years), if 1-2% suffered saturation problems, there would be significant number of folks out there dissatisfied with Whalers, however, 1-2% is reasonable.

Finally, the boat has a new trailer and a 94 Yamaha with low hours, so I think the price is OK (although I would have liked it for $500 less :-)

joe r

PS: A researcher would say that any data presented by members of a whaler forum might be biased. You’ll all be happy to know that I got the similar responses about Whaler quality in a general boating forum.

jimh posted 04-20-2002 09:29 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Let me comment again, this time without sarcasm.

With respect to the ability of water to get into things and cause damage: water always wins. Just look at the Grand Canyon for an example.

Has Whaler produced something that does not obey the laws of Physics? No. If you get water into the interior of the boat, freeze it, thaw it, smash it, repeat that cycle hundreds of times, you will create problems.

Is there anything intrinsic about Whaler's construction that makes it prone to problems. Yes, in a sense. You need to keep water from entering the interior foam, period. This means you should keep any hole that penetrates into the interior of the hull well sealed, and you should repair immediately any damage that allows water to enter.

However, Whaler is by no means unique in this. You need to keep water from entering the interior of wood-cored boats, too. A friend of mine was selling his 26-foot cruiser, but upon a survey by the buyer it was found that a poorly sealed screw in a running light fixture had allowed water to enter the wood-cored deck, creating rot. It cost $2,500 to fix this--from one bad screw!

Boats built without cored-laminates can also be affected. Osomotic blistering is a sign of water intrusion into the laminate and is a common problem with boats of all types.

Whenever you pit water against another material, water will win if you allow it access and time. Again, compare with Grand Canyon.

John W posted 04-22-2002 10:36 AM ET (US)     Profile for John W  Send Email to John W     
It is theoretically possible for any boat with foam in it to have that foam become saturated. I have seen older Mako's with this problem. In my opinion whalers are LESS likely to have this problem than other makes, because the foam is not exposed to bilge water. All whalers use closed cell foam, someone (can't remember who, maybe Tom) kept raw foam from a whaler in a jar of water for years and it did not absorb any water. I beleive it takes damage to the foam, or a very long period of exposure, or both, to make the closed cell foam in a whaler absorb water. Freeze cycles to a damaged boat are probably also necessary before one would absorb water.

My father restored a 1969 whaler 16' that had sat outside, with water collecting in it for many years. The gelcoat was so badly crazed, with cracks deep into the glass laminate everywhere, that a layer of fiberglass cloth & epoxy was the easiest way to fair the hull sides. This boat was also kept in the water for years. When weighed the boat had gained no water weight over its 40 year life. I really beleive water saturation is a very rare problem on whalers.

If you can weigh the boat on a truck scale you'll know if it has absorbed water.

What's a much more common problem with older boats is soft decks and rotted wood stringers. Lots of older Mako's, Grady White's, etc. will have this problem. Whalers uni-bond construction means that they never have stringer problems & hull flex issues like conventional older boats. I'd veiw a whaler as the brand least likely to require major repairs when buying an older boat.

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