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peteinsf posted 05-29-2002 06:00 PM ET (US)   Profile for peteinsf  
Does anyone own one? I was surfing (the web) and came upon a Whaler Harpoon site. I knew they existed but had never seen one. They are clearly not popular in SF bay or just not a good heavy weather craft...(or that no one sold them out here).

In looking at the specs I would think a "Whaler" style shell would be heavy compared to other small plane-ing sailboat hulls.

Well that's my new topicÖ


dfmcintyre posted 05-29-2002 09:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for dfmcintyre  Send Email to dfmcintyre     
Pete -

I've sailed on one, and knew of a couple that had been sold in my area. I think there were a number of reasons why the boat never really caught on.

One of the main reasons you have not seen many in your area probably was due to the shipping distance. Not many Whaler dealers had any real involvement in sailing, as opposed to pure powerboating. I think another factor may have been that in the early 80's, there was a shift in the small beach-type daysailors from mono hulls to cats, as evidenced by the huge popularity of the Hobie Cat line. That started in the 70's with the 14 and 16' and later the 18' cats. And selling a cat, much less a monohull sailboat was to market to a whole different bunch of potential buyers.

Whaler even tried to cash in on _that_ style, by purchasing the rights to a small Florida based catamaran, called the Supercat (the logo had a lion in a cape. Remember, we're talking about the 80's now....) The first hulls were 20', with a beam of 12'. It was the first production cat to go over 30kts. The 20 was followed by a 19 (basically a "detuned" 20, and a 17'.

In my opinion (as someone nutty enough to own and race only in heavy air an 18' Hobie) the 17 was and still is a perfect execution of a beach cat. Minimal rigging, but still have decent speed, jib, wires for trap harnesses, mesh tramp so no water or sand accumulation and an open footed main, that didn't have a boom (one less piece).

We currently own and are refurbishing a 20', which can give a cognitive learning experience in just moderate air. When your on a wire (i.e. standing on the upwind hull, in a trapeze harness) and she lifts, and all of a sudden your looking down and realizing that the water is eight to ten feet away from's the E ticket ride at Disneyworld.

While the Harpoons are heavier then the same sized monohull, there were rating numbers published for handicaps, and they got good use as fleet boats.

One friend bought one because, like many of the ad's of that era, he was sold on being able to put both his early teen sons into life preservers and out in the boat, knowing that it would not sink. Ten years later, they still have it, and both sons are in college.

After a minimal showing for the sailboats, they transferred at least the cats and possibly the monohulls to Erickson (sp?) Yachts, which was owned by the holding company that owned Whaler at that point.

Are the fleet boats you see made out there a west coast design and make?

While many of us here on the forum have sailed, those of you who have not, and can enjoy a good ride, I highly suggest that you hunt down someone who knows cats, and can give you a good ride on the wire.

Best - Don

andygere posted 05-29-2002 10:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
Hobies definitely rule here on the West Coast, in part due to the lack of protected coastal water for sailing. My wife and I sailed a Hobie 16 off the beach in Santa Cruz for a few years, and our fleet (not us) was pretty active on the racing circuit. The ability to launch and land in the surf, and store them cheaply on the beach accounts for a lot of the appeal. We enjoyed a number of "learning experiences" on our H16, but fortunately never capsized it out in big blue. We always sailed with flares and a handheld VHF in a drybag bungied to the tramp just in case. I still get chills thinking about some of the exciting surf landings we made here in Santa Cruz....There was a 20 Whaler cat on the beach last time I was down there, and I always wondered if it had foam filled hulls. Ours were pretty tight, but I knew a few Hobie sailors that would collect 20+ gallons in their hulls on a moderate day.
Dick posted 05-29-2002 10:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dick  Send Email to Dick     
Back when I was a Bayliner dealer, they too got into the sailboat market. The line was cruising oriented and they were very good boats. If I remember the range was 18' to 36'. I learned on the US18 and then stepped up to the US25 and had tons of fun.
Selling sailboats, I learned several things.
#1 was that I could sell 2 powerboats in the time it took to sell one sailboat.

#2 powerboaters came back to the service department where the profit is generated.

#3 powerboaters and sailboaters mix like oil and water and are not comfortable buying in a dealership that carries both.

#4 it is easier to sell a power boat with less knowledge than it is to sell a sailboat. I had two commision salesmen working for me that would pass the sailboaters off to me rather than learn a little about sailing and put money in their pockets.

I think with Bayliner and probably Boston Whaler as well, if they had set up a seperate network to sell the sailboats seperate from the power boat dealers they would have had a better chance.

Tin Man posted 05-30-2002 07:17 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tin Man  Send Email to Tin Man     
I have a Harpoon 6.2 that I recently purchased. The 6.2 is the 20' fixed keel cabin model. I am in the process of refurbishing it although it is still in decent shape. Let me start by saying this is the first sailboat I've ever had and know nothing about sailing.

My wife and I were talking about bareboat cruising in the Bahamas which ultimately led to a discussion about retirement. Current dream plans include selling the large house and small boats, buying a small house and a large boat, cruising tropical waters in the winter, homeport in the summer.

To get from here to there I have to:

a) Learn to sail
b) Get proficient enough to bareboat charter
c) Actually like doing both enough to take the plunge.

I got the Harpoon as a safe platform to learn on. I like the idea of having an unsinkable boat. It has a small cabin so a weekend is not out of the question.

Other pieces of the plan are to get a larger powered cabin/cuddy to try extended cruising, but still fish from in the interim.

Once we decide on sail or power, I get a boat large enough to use the tender as a tender.

I can take some pictures and email them to you if you have want. As for sailing characteristics, I haven't got a clue.

goldstem posted 05-30-2002 08:56 AM ET (US)     Profile for goldstem  Send Email to goldstem     
I own a harpoon 5.2. sailed mostly on a lake.
Use to sail one coastally (cape cod) when I was younger as well. a fun, and of course, very well built, boat.
bigz posted 05-30-2002 09:09 AM ET (US)     Profile for bigz    
We shouldn't forget that the reassurance of sailing in the 70's through to the 80's was due to the energy crisis consequently many 'powerboat' companies tried to capitalize on this major market shift.

Boston Whaler was no exception to this trend. They had of course the Squall first introduced in the 60's which was more or less considered a play toy and tender. Sailors were also very attracted to the classic 13's as family fun boats for the kids to play with and the adults to use occasionally for a day playing around in the harbors and from their summer homes on the ocean or lakes.

The 5.2 Harpoon was a fine sailor, easy to plane (needed only light breezes yet could handle substantial wind and seas when needed), maintain and trailer. Came with first rate hardware and sails as standard. They are easy to rig meaning even from stepping the mast in the water or out but like all boats in it's class wasn't what one would consider an off the beach rig.

We sailed one for maybe 4 years out of Kennebunkport back in the mid 80's in all kinds of weather. She was a fine little boat which we liked even more than a Rhodes 19 we had use of when up there. Had a 4 hp kicker which was sometimes necessary to use either coming or going from the harbor cut due to wind tide conditions, generally though you could sail in or out thought the kicker came in handy when the breeze would die and you needed to get back home before the sunset cocktail hour ;).

Can't go wrong for a learn to sail boat.

I agree with Dick for the reasons Whaler was only a little successful with the harpoons or cats for that matter. Think a similar problem arose in their 31's and 34 Defiance boats most dealers were not in tune to selling inboard large and very expensive boats in this case.


dfmcintyre posted 05-30-2002 09:49 AM ET (US)     Profile for dfmcintyre  Send Email to dfmcintyre     
Andy -

The hulls were/are not foam filled. Come to think about it, I suppose it was the first hull with a Whaler logo that DIDN'T have foamed hulls.

Gail and I looked at a 16' before deciding on the 18' The 18 was very slightly used, and I came to the conclusion that it was a better beach boat then the 16', if it was rigged for a season, and not trailered. Reasons:
weight was 80lb more (FWIC)
roller furled jib - no take down at end of day
open footed main - easier to take down / store
hulls had enough volume so two people could walk length of hull, when boat was on it's side, which made for much easier righting conditions.
Had daggers that were strong enough to stand on, to increase the righting moment.


Bigshot posted 05-30-2002 10:12 AM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
Harpoons kill whales......not exactly the best name for a Whaler.....not exactly the best sailboat either, but decent from those I have spoken to.

If you want to a sailboat.

If you want to have a Hobie cat.

hauptjm posted 05-30-2002 10:42 AM ET (US)     Profile for hauptjm    
Sometimes sailors seem to be a snooty lot. Real ;) sailors (racers) I assure you are not (for the most part). The learning curve to sail, much less race is lifelong. We spend most of our time chasing after bad weather rather than avoiding it to propel ourselves faster than our competitors. We race in the rain, in the cold, in oceans, gulfs and lakes. Most importantly, we depend on our equipment and our crew to do all of this faithfully and with total commitment.

I can tell you from someone that has raced all over the US in many different formats against many different competitors almost unanimously the Boston Whaler is THE powerboat to own for a sailor.

Maybe discerning is misunderstood as snooty.

newboater posted 05-30-2002 11:20 AM ET (US)     Profile for newboater  Send Email to newboater     
My favorite Hobie story was when I was flying along in my mom's H16, up on one hull, future wife by my side, looking and acting like Mr. Bigshot himself when the downwind hull folded in half. The boat kind of cart wheeled, and I was left with enough hull parts to make a trimaran.

The H16's hulls were made with a foam core (like a Whaler) construction, which had delaminated. It gave a warning, soft spots that grew, but at the time I didn't know what it meant.

As for Tin Man, I would recommend the following site for looking at retiring on a sailboat:

(My favorite is his log, but he has a lot of good information)

Dave S.
San Diego

Bigshot posted 05-30-2002 01:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
easy with the name calling there David! I've flipped Hobies before but only on purpose:)
Hoop posted 05-30-2002 02:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hoop  Send Email to Hoop     

I owned a Harpoon 5.2 for almost 20 years, up until about 5 years ago.

The Harpoon 5.2 is a beautiful boat. It's all Whaler through and through; high quality gelcoat, foam filled, high quality components.

Yes, I agree, it does plane easily, and no, it doesn't weigh more than similar boats ... I have the O'Day Daysailor 17 in mind which I think weighed about the same - 550 pounds.

There was the gas crisis going on back then as bigz references, and I'm sure Whaler wanted to cover their bases by entering the sailboat marketplace.

In my opinion, it was the cost that prevented the Harpoon from catching on. It was built like a Whaler and priced like a Whaler ... significantly more than competing boats. And sailors, more so than powerboaters I think, are price sensitive. And in that size range, racing fleets is what keeps the momentum going. With the higher cost of the Harpoon, it was pretty hard to find another owner let alone find a fleet. Texas was one of the few places where fleets developed.

Whaler did some good marketing of it, though. The Harpoon 5.2 appeared on the cover of Sail Magazine, an upclose and endearing photo that included one of those Whaler dogs. They advertised a lot in Sail. And one of the big names in sailing (Gary Jobson?) wrote a 'how to sail' piece (magazine format) using an unusual bright-yellow-hulled Harpoon 5.2.

The Harpoon is beamy ... 7 1/2 ft beam on a 17 foot boat. It was fast in smooth waters, but in a short chop it was slow. You had to steer over and around the waves if you didn't want to get slowed down when hitting them with all that beam.

It was pretty good in heavy weather though, just not a short chop. You could jiffy-reef the sale, pull up the centerboard, and have a run for your money.

The standard boat came with North Sails that were cut for light air ... very full. You really would need flatter sails for the SF Bay Area.

I wish I still had that Harpoon. Whenever I took it out people would come over and admire it, and they would be amazed when I told them how old it was; it looked like new on the day I sold it.

Last I knew, the guy I sold it to kept it at the small municipal Lake Elizabeth in Fremont, CA, and it is probably still there.

Hoop, still a sailor at heart ...
San Jose, CA
'00 Montauk "Ainoa"

Chap posted 05-30-2002 02:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chap  Send Email to Chap     
Toms River's very own Gary Jobson.


peteinsf posted 05-30-2002 04:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for peteinsf    
When I was sailing small boats I remember I lot of FJs, 110s, then Laser, and LaserIIs. (I am not sure on the LaserII name, anyway the Laser w/jib) and of course Hobies.

My main interest was always the smaller centerboard boats (the big Harpoon look like a Rodes19, yuck), it would have been fun to try a Harpoon and see how it compared to an FJ. Most of the Laser guys I know moved in to J boats or Express 27s. I never got into Cats but if someone has one I will gladly crew...


peteinsf posted 05-30-2002 04:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for peteinsf    
Sorry Tin Man, I did not mean to diz the 6.2, it looks like a well made craft, it is just not for me...

There are a lot of day sailers here (that I have crewed on) that are the 6.2's size w/keel. Cal20, Rodes19 just a little too tame.

bigz posted 05-30-2002 04:50 PM ET (US)     Profile for bigz    
Might add Pete just taking a stab since never have sailed SF Bay but a boat you would certainly enjoy properly rigged out would be a J-24 from what I'm reading into Hoop's post.

Lots of them available at least on the East Coast used at decent prices.


peteinsf posted 05-30-2002 05:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for peteinsf    
TZ thanks,

I am not looking for a Harpoon (I have an Olson 30 that I bought in '85 that I love), I just thought it was odd that I had not seen any in my travels. I have sailed on SF bay all my standing life and it looked like a cool boat that by now someone in SF would have passed by in one.


Tin Man posted 05-30-2002 07:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tin Man  Send Email to Tin Man     
Newboater - thanks for the link. Looks like that site is loaded with info.

Peteinsf, I didn't get any dis at all. My response was honest. I know nothing about sailboats. Wasn't intended to be sarcastic. I'm taking lessons this summer and have rigged the boat in the yard, but that is the extent of my sailing experience.

I think Dick's observations are pretty much on target. Right now is a good time to pick up some of these mismatched whalers at a reasonable price. I think virtually everyone that's seen the boat says "I didn't know Boston Whaler made sailboats." The next comment is usually "must be pretty dam tough".

peteinsf posted 05-30-2002 08:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for peteinsf    
Tim Man I think we got our wires crossed...

I was apologizing because I was concerned that I offended you with my "yuck" comment about the bigger 6.2. I didn't think your post was any problem at all.

If you ever get to SF I can take you out for some "real wet" Golden Gate sailing. Not a very forgiving area to learn in but itís big fun in the summer.


Tin Man posted 05-30-2002 08:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tin Man  Send Email to Tin Man     
No problem. Actually I'm going to LA next week. However, I promised the wife and kids I would minimize the time spent looking at boats. I did talk them into going out to Catalina for a day trip. No harm looking if they happen to be right there anyway.
Hoop posted 06-03-2002 12:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hoop  Send Email to Hoop     
Bigz, Good deduction! J-24's are very big in SF bay. Hoop

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