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Author Topic:   HIN Missing Character
cinegamma posted 03-26-2015 10:16 PM ET (US)   Profile for cinegamma   Send Email to cinegamma  
Thanks to a new boat registration computer system in the state of Alabama, my registration renewal was red flagged because my HIN is only 11 characters instead of 12. The HIN is BWC7162M84F, however only the embossed 7162 84F is visible on the metal tag on the transom. I know the printed (non-embossed) BWC and M have long since faded away from the metal tag. Apparently there is another printed character that has faded I am missing. According to the FAQ, it looks like it goes with the 7162 portion of my HIN, as that is described as being five characters long. Does anyone know if this character should be alpha or numeric, or is this a Chuck Bennett question?


Tom W Clark posted 03-26-2015 11:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
Jon -- The missing character in the HIN is almost certainly alpha, not numeric.

If you told what boat you had, we could probably pin it down. The "7162" in the serial part of the HIN suggests you may have a 17' Whaler model and that number (in 1984) would probably have been proceeded by the letter "H".

Thus the correct HIN would be BWCH7162M82F indicating the boat was built in February of 1984 as a 1984 model

You can contact Whaler Customer Service with the hull's Stenciled Serial Number and they may be able to cross-reference it with the HIN to verify this.

An email response from the factory with this information should be good enough provenance for Alabama's Department of Licensing

cinegamma posted 03-26-2015 11:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for cinegamma  Send Email to cinegamma     
Thanks Tom. The boat is a 1984 Montauk. What is the determining factor for finding the letter following BWC? After searching trying to find other HINs I could reference, I noticed the letter after BWC seemed to start with letters at the beginning of the alphabet for earlier years, but I couldn't figure out a pattern to predict what the missing letter was for mine.
Tom W Clark posted 03-27-2015 08:01 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
Boston Whaler codes the hull, though not necessarily the model, into each HIN. To [decode] the code, one need only look at the chart Whaler has specifying how each hull's HIN is coded

jimh posted 03-27-2015 08:49 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The chart showing the HIN SEQUENCE used by Boston Whaler is available at

The chart was issued in c.1992. There is a link to it in the FAQ.

jimh posted 03-27-2015 08:57 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
There is also a second chart or table that gives data about the HIN sequence. It is also linked to from the FAQ.

I just added a new heading, "HIN Sequence", to the FAQ answer for Question #2to make this information a little more prominent.

In general, the answers in the FAQ contain a lot of information in a concise presentation, and one needs to carefully read them to gather all the information available, including the linked information.

jimh posted 03-27-2015 09:22 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The federal requirements for the HIN do not suggest or require any particular means of encoding a hull length or model designator. As Tom has mentioned, if you use the supplemental data from the HIN sequences employed by Boston Whaler (contained in two charts that are linked from the FAQ), you can deduce the hull length. (Of course, you can deduce the hull length from measuring the hull, too.) Whether or not you can also deduce the model designation depends on the particular sequence. Sometimes Boston Whaler used a sequence of HIN numbers for more than one specific model, and sometimes they used a particular sequence for only one model. In the latter case you could make a reasonable inference about the model and its HIN correlation.

Now, as for how Tom deduced the missing letter was an "H", I don't see how that comes from the charts or tables. I think it must come from some additional historical data about the HIN sequences that is not contained in those charts and tables. Perhaps Tom has his own resources for this.

jimh posted 03-27-2015 09:32 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
By the way, I have always found these HIN sequences to be very confusing, and I still am confused by them. Perhaps someone who has a better understanding will explain them more thoroughly. I tried to do this in a prior posting, but I found myself confused by my own explanation and decided to remove it.
cinegamma posted 03-27-2015 10:16 AM ET (US)     Profile for cinegamma  Send Email to cinegamma     
I spoke with Boston Whaler customer service and they confirmed (just as Tom suggested) that the missing letter is indeed an H, making the complete HIN BWCH7162M84F. As Jim pointed out, Tom must have another source or reference as to what the letter following BWC would be. I asked Boston Whaler if there was a way to determine the missing letter, they weren't sure and only wanted to know the stencil number. After consulting "the old books", they were able to provide the complete HIN.

jimh posted 03-27-2015 11:12 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
You can see "the old books" in a photograph I included with my article on a Factory Tour of Boston Whaler I was able to make a few years--a decade--ago. You can also see your friendly, expert, and most helpful correspondent, Chuck Bennett, in one of the photo-illustrations. See

draftsman posted 03-29-2015 12:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for draftsman  Send Email to draftsman     
On a side note to your article, the original plant was actually called Watercraft America, owned by Watercraft England, which made survival craft for oil rigs and sea-going vessels. It was my first job as a draftsman and where I perfected my craft, leading me on to Newport News and eventually Bob D. & Boston Whaler...

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