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Author Topic:   The Rough Ride of the Boston Whaler
jimh posted 09-26-2009 01:25 AM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
Recently there was a rather long discussion (on another website) in which a troll solicited comments about Boston Whaler boats. With little prompting, this evoked a slew of reports of the rough ride qualities of any Boston Whaler boat. While this troll and the many replies made for humorous reading, it reminded me of a topic I wanted to discuss here on CONTINUOUSWAVE among our more experienced and knowledgeable Boston Whaler boat owners: the Rough Ride of the Boston Whaler boat.

A theory: a Boston Whaler boat Unibond hull is very stiff, strong, and generally resists bending and twisting in any normal sea conditions. The hull and deck are a single composite structure. Other boats have hulls with some flexibility, and they are not as stiff as a Boston Whaler. The decks of other boats are not connected directly to the hull bottom.

The result: when a Boston Whaler boat encounters a wave, there is little or no give or bending of the hull, and the impact of the boat into the wave is transmitted directly to the hull. Further, since the hull bottom and deck are a unit structure, the impact is transmitted directly to the cockpit deck. In contrast, other boats have hull structures which may give slightly and absorb some of the force of the impact. Also, their deck is not as tightly coupled to or bonded to the hull bottom, so forces from the hull are diffused and weakened before they reach the deck.

Is there anything shocking about my theory? Does it hold water? Do you agree?

HAPPYJIM posted 09-26-2009 01:48 AM ET (US)     Profile for HAPPYJIM  Send Email to HAPPYJIM     
I'll put up with a little rougher ride for the Safest boat for me and my friends and family to ride in. The shock absorbing foot mat at the helm station takes care of most of the pounding. I am able to go out in sea states that others stay parked in the driveway for.
Mr T posted 09-26-2009 03:15 AM ET (US)     Profile for Mr T  Send Email to Mr T     
nothing shocking to me. I agree with the theory you espouse. One of the reason the boats last as long as they do is the construction. So the ride is rough. It's safe.

I'll take that any day.

It is my opinion that those who trash whalers secretly envy the following they have created.

deepwater posted 09-26-2009 04:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for deepwater  Send Email to deepwater     
In theory i think jimh is right that the shock is felt throughout the whole boat due to its construction,,Now,, Can you tell the difference between a hard hit in a whaler and a hard hit in another boat of similar size ,,I think the rough ride/hard hit of a whaler is a myth,, I think we all have had a hard hit or 3 in our whalers so would that same hit have been less in another boat,,A hard hit is a hard hit that is only perceived to be "Hard" by the operator
Peter posted 09-26-2009 07:22 AM ET (US)     Profile for Peter  Send Email to Peter     
I agree with the theory. If there was an objective way to measure the stiffness of hulls, I think the Whaler Unibond hull would be off the chart relative to other boats. On larger boats, they are not required to have a hull full of foam (bonded or not) so the impact of a wave on the hull (the chine for example) is not going to be transmitted in the same way as it is transmitted on the Whaler where the inner hull and the outer hull are bonded.

I think it is analogous to a car with a very stiff suspension. You're going to feel bumps in that car that you would not feel in a car with a soft suspension.

The hull shape also has some contribution, of course. Classic Whaler hulls do not have the extreme deadrise, bow and stern, which softens the ride in a head sea. Accordingly, they will not cut through waves as well as an extreme deadrise boat. Apparently running into a head sea is the only measure of a boat's ride characteristics in the other website. Put the extreme deadrise boat up against a classic Whaler hull of like size in a significant following sea and which boat would you rather be in? One that tracks straight or one that knifes around almost uncontrollably because its trying to lay down on one side of the planing surface with a high risk of burying the bow in the next wave? Of course those trolling for criticism have never been in extreme following sea conditions in a classic Whaler hull to know of the Whaler's following sea handling quality.

Every hull design and construction is about making compromises. The somewhat harsher ride into a head sea is the compromise for unsinkability, much better handling in a significant following sea and a dry ride.

One last comment, the proper use of trim tabs on the larger Classics that are most likely to be used in rougher conditions helps with ride comfort. In quartering seas, using the windward tab to lift the windward chine up so that the waves are not banging on the windward chine makes an enormous difference in ride comfort.

contender posted 09-26-2009 01:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for contender  Send Email to contender     
RTM is correct what other 13 foot boat gives you the ride and safety of a 13 Whaler. PS why do you think so many boats in the 50foot and up range use them for life boats? RTM I think the only other boat that was as wet or wetter as the Aqua is the Sea Craft, I think they design the hull so while the boat is under way in any kind of chop the driver gets wet. In South Florida any Sea Craft owner that used their boat with any frequency knew they had to install spray rails on the hull or take a soaking. As a matter of fact there was one person in Coarl Gables Fla. that started his business just by installing these rails...
number9 posted 09-26-2009 02:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for number9  Send Email to number9     
The relatively thin hull, liner and foam even though bonded together probably provide more shock absorbing properties and flex than we might think.

Did Boston Whaler or Whaler ever feel the need to offer a response to suggestions their boats may have rough ride qualities?

SJUAE posted 09-26-2009 02:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for SJUAE    
Jim's on the right track as the Boston Whaler boats are a homogenous, dual, stressed-skin construction it is probably stiffer per square foot than typical glassed-in stringer construction.

On the hull bottom of typical stringer construction it is more laterally (port-starboard) direction where there are less bullheads or intermediate stringers and rely on the single skin to transfer loads over a greater area that are more likely to deflect than a Whaler.

Fore and aft where main stringers usually run on the bottom are substantial and the difference is likely to be minimal and possibly stiffer as the loads cannot be distributed as efficiently as the Whalers.

Cockpit floors that are the inner part of the skin on a Whaler are more likely to transfer shock.

Cockpit areas that are suspended floors (e.g. over in-deck tank or fish well lids) these spans are probably the same for both methods of construction and should deflect equally (given the same build quality) as they are both fixed simply around the perimeter.

Quartering seas is where we are likely to see the real rigidity of the Whaler over other construction methods, as we know by the thump test on any side of a Whaler.

Centre console Whalers are more likely attached to the inner skin of the hull, so possible more shock is transmitted, as it can be through screws clamping the two parts together.

I think the over generalisation of a hard ride in a Whaler is more of a left over from the traditional/classic smirk and less V shaped hull than due to its construction method.


jimh posted 09-26-2009 04:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
While anecdotal reports of the ride qualities of the Boston Whaler, its unsinkable nature, its ruggedness, and so on, are appreciated, I would prefer if we could focus on the influence of the hull construction technique, the double-bottom Unibond hull, and how it affects the ride.

I have read that older boats built from wood with traditional construction methods of frames and planking tend to have desirable ride qualities, that is, they have a soft ride. I assume that the soft ride comes from the characteristic of the hull to have some give--its structure is not as rigid as a Boston Whaler.

I have to confess that I don't have much time underway on any small boats other than Boston Whaler boats. I don't have a good basis to make a comparison. I do know that if a Boston Whaler hull smacks into a big wave, it does create a substantial jolt to the occupants. On the other hand, I am not sure I want a boat, at least not a fiberglass boat, whose hull has enough flexibility that it can be deflected by the impact of a wave.

Mr T posted 09-26-2009 05:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for Mr T  Send Email to Mr T     
This is my 9th boat and first whaler. I believe the construction of the other boats I have had (3 glass, 4 aluminum and 1 wood), all had the same issue, namely that the hull was not connected directly to the deck; in the whaler, it is a straight line so to speak from whatever wave or anything making contact with the hull to you inside. All the other boats "felt" more detached from what happened outside the hull. I know this is anecdotal, but cannot think of a way to support this contention without some pretty serious test equipment and a few boats laying around. (anyone have some accelerometers handy?)

I hear that the plastic hull of the Triumph boats are supposed to offer a very soft ride because of the flex inherent in the palstic it is made of.

It makes sense to me.

acassidy posted 09-26-2009 07:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for acassidy  Send Email to acassidy     
Compared to the Kingfish style offshore tournament boats with a deep V, high HP and narrow beam, Whalers with their cathedral hull design offer a poorer heavy water high speed design. Any boat with a Deeper V entry will run smoother in rough water and will require more power.

I do not think that there is very much flex in any other brand boat construction. If there is any flex in a boats deck or hull there would develop stress cracks . Most stringer and bulkhead design boats are very stuff. Triumph on the other hand have no gelcoat and probably do flex.

I think that this theory does not have very much to do with a boat being rough or not. I think hull design, hull weight, boat speed, boat trim have everything to do with how rough a boat rides.

That being said, there are a couple of brand boats around the Galveston Bay, TX, area that delaminate and separate from flexing. These boats are being ran hard and ran fast in rough water by their owners and they do actually have catastrophic hull failure. Local fishing boards talk about them often. These boats probably do flex more than they should and ride softer than a whaler. If you where to run a whaler this hard, it probably would not hurt the boat, but would make you back and knees have catastrophic failure.

This is all my opinion of course.


TransAm posted 09-26-2009 08:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for TransAm  Send Email to TransAm     
I think the unibond construction of a Boston Whaler has very little to due with the particular ride it exibits and relative to hull stiffness. There are far more influential variables which have been mentioned here, mainly the Operator/Captain, the deadrise of the hull and the speed and angle at which the seas are attacked to mention a few.

As for the stiffness of the Boston Whaler hull. I would like to see comparative data that measures hull stiffness between competing models of similar design between boat manufacturers. In home construction, we see the use of standard and composite construction materials engineered and assembled to produce components that are more rigid and sturdy then comparable components of so called "solid" nature. Take for instance engineered floor trusses. By using an engineered floor truss constructed out of 2 x 3 framing members at top an bottom with 1/2" OSB webbing, we can create a floor joist that spans longer and is far stiffer than comparable dimensional lumber. In other words, a 11 1/2" "I" beam floor joist constructed of 2, 2x3's and 1/2" OSB is stiffer than a solid 2x12 piece of dimensional lumber. I don't see why the same principals could not apply to boat-building, and perhaps they do.

If there is any data on comparable hull stiffness between boat construction techniques, it would be interesting to review the differences between the various construction methods. My sense is any measurable difference would be negligible as compared to the other, more influential factors mentioned above and elsewhere by others.

Jerry Townsend posted 09-26-2009 11:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jerry Townsend  Send Email to Jerry Townsend     
Jim - my thoughts are that the relative stiffness of the hulls is not the principal difference regarding "roughness" of the ride - but rather the hull design and weight - hull beam and length being compariable.

First - some will "knock" another brand/design or product other than their own. As such, those inferring a BW gives a rougher ride - may never have been in a Whaler.

Granted, a flexible hull absorbs some energy, but that amount of energy required to cause the flexing is negliable.

The weight has a direct relationship to ride, as in the engineering world, there is a controlling formulatiion of F(orce) = M(ass) * A(cceleration) - or rearranging, A = F/M. That is, the heavier the body, given the same force (wave, wind, et al.), the acceleration will be decreased. Or, the lighter the body, the greater will be the acceleration due to the same force. The greater the acceleration (velocity / time), the rougher the ride.

Hull design also plays a part - in that some hulls will move differently due to similar forces. In other words, given a force acting on a hull, that force is transformed to the hull in X, Y and Z components which are determined, in part, by the design of the hull. --- Jerry/Idaho

elaelap posted 09-27-2009 01:25 AM ET (US)     Profile for elaelap  Send Email to elaelap     
I spent this morning in Warren/WT's Montauk 170. We were volunteering as one of half a dozen or so guide boats (mostly Whalers) for the International Paddleboard Competition which was held in San Francisco Bay. Warren took hundreds of photos and I expect he will post some of them over in the Gam forum with more details about our fun day. But amusingly relevant to this topic is the following:

We spotted this beautifully-restored Nausett and chatted with its owner before the race started. It was only the third time the boat was on the water, and it gleamed like the classic jewel it is. I told the owner (whose name I'm embarrassed to say I've forgotten--another senior minute) that my first Whaler had also been a smirkless 'old blue' 16'7" model, in my case a Katama. Then I said, "Man did I love that boat, but I sure hope you've got a good chiropractor." His reply? "I am a chiropractor!"
We shared a good laugh. IntlpaddleboardcompetitionSFBay012.jpg
Sweet, eh?


New 2 Whalers posted 09-27-2009 08:18 AM ET (US)     Profile for New 2 Whalers  Send Email to New 2 Whalers     

The picture is beautiful and by the looks of the tiny chop, I could run at WOT with no discomfort in my Sakonnet.

We ordinarily have a 2+ foot chop on Tampa Bay.

Any 16 footer rides rough in that stuff:-)

SJUAE posted 09-27-2009 10:40 AM ET (US)     Profile for SJUAE    
May be we should distinguish between the two affects that we feel whilst boating.

Firstly- G forces due to +/- accelerations are mainly a function of the hydrodynamics and mass of the boat and as ours are small craft the construction method and so rigidity /torsional stiffness is likely to have a minimal impact on how these loads are dampened by hull deflections.

The forces may be dampened locally in the vertical plane (eg to our feet) simply be absorbing the acceleration by a cushioning affect.

This could be in the form of sponge like mat or a deck floor area that act's similarly by slowing the acceleration over a greater distance at a different rate by air/hydraulics or even minor deflections locally (springiness) in the floor.

Whaler's construction method other than it is likely to be heavier, is more probable to give a better ride, providing all other characteristics are equal.

Secondly - The shock load that is transmitted through the hull material and ultimately to our hands and feet will be a function of the material and distance between the source of impact and us.

As we noted previously due to Whalers Unibond method, certain portions of the deck/cockpit are in direct contact with the hull and so the vibrations can be transmitted from the source of impact to us.

Deck/cockpit areas not in direct contact with the hull (i.e. suspended floors over tanks etc) have a much more limited and complex path to transmit the vibrations.

Therefore, Jims observations on traditional planking may simply be the timbers ability to absorbed the vibrations.

Additional the older construction methods may have tended to transmit the forces and/or vibrations out towards the edges of the hull, rather than through the deck.


Slick 50 posted 09-27-2009 11:15 AM ET (US)     Profile for Slick 50  Send Email to Slick 50     
Quote from Jim.
"While anecdotal reports of the ride qualities of the Boston Whaler, its unsinkable nature, its ruggedness, and so on, are appreciated, I would prefer if we could focus on the influence of the hull construction technique, the double-bottom Unibond hull, and how it affects the ride."

I do not think the double hull foam design of Boston Whaler has anything to do with ride quality. Whalers are rigid just like many other quality boats.

I grew up on my fathers 17' Lamar Lancer with a 60 HP Evinrude and then a 85 HP Johnson. We fished and ski'd from that boat for many years. It was comparable to the Montauk in weight, length and beam. It rode as well or better than my 1985 Montauk but it would sink. The fact of not sinking, superb fit/finish and the high quality bright work of Boston Whalers is what made Whaler what it is.


gnr posted 09-27-2009 01:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for gnr    
All things being equal (operator, seas, course etc) the method of hull construction has very little to do with the relative ride characteristics. There may be slight variations but it would be immeasurable by the seatofthepantsmeter.

Any differences in ride quality would be due to the relatively flatter bottom and the somewhat tri-hull design.

There is a price to pay for the great stability we enjoy.

dfmcintyre posted 09-27-2009 06:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for dfmcintyre  Send Email to dfmcintyre     
More important then the type of material used, is the understanding that the marine architect has of the word deadrise, it's concept and effect.

Everything else is secondary. Period.

Basshole posted 09-27-2009 11:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for Basshole  Send Email to Basshole     
I definitely agree with that theory. Whalers are very stiff because of their construction. It also allows you to plow through chop with authority.

I think Whaler's have gotten a bad rap here. They ride rough because people operate them at higher performance levels in rougher conditions than other boats. This is mainly because of their unsinkablity and the extra confidence it affords.

Just the other day I was mashing thru white-capped bay chop at 47 MPH and passed a C-Dory putting along at 30. Yeah, I took a couple of hits but I asked for it too. It's almost as if it is a more "athletic" boating style, kind of like riding a giant Jet Ski. I think we should call it "Whaler-Style".

I'll never forget a threesome in a 16 Dauntless I saw going out the Golden Gate thru the famous "Potato Patch" , an area of steep confused swell. I was in a 43 foot boat that was bouncing like crazy and these guys were blasting through that stuff taking spray over bow and launching big airs at 35 MPH. So technically, in this case yes, the Whaler was a rougher riding boat but only because it was running in conditions that would give other boat brands in the 24 foot plus range a run for their money. I'd rather be out in the Potato Patch in a small Whaler than a Wellcraft, Seaswirl, or Bayliner of any size.

surveyingdawg posted 09-28-2009 07:15 AM ET (US)     Profile for surveyingdawg  Send Email to surveyingdawg     
df is absolutely correct. Deadrise is the reason for a good ride, not boat flex. I have owned 7 whalers, all pre 85, and yes they do ride rougher than some boats. It is not due to rigidity, my last Contender had a stringer system that allowed zero flex, but could run in most seas at speed that the same size Outrage would turn around in. The old Whalers may ride rough, but man I love them. Now the new ones are totally different. They do ride rough, and with no cause either. I have spent time on numerous Outrages from 21'-32' and they leave a lot to hate about them in the ride quality. But I am not going to start bashing them on here with you guys. Its funny how these trolls can get us so fired up and divert us from all other issues while we banter back and forth about their post.
jimh posted 09-28-2009 08:42 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
How deadrise influence the perception of the ride is a good topic for its own discussion. Boston Whaler boats have many different deadrise angles among all the various models, so it is hard to attribute the deadrise angle as being the common characteristic that would make all Boston Whaler boats have a rough ride.
Peter posted 09-28-2009 09:10 AM ET (US)     Profile for Peter  Send Email to Peter     
The only way to really answer the question is that someone here has to sacrifice their classic 22 or 25 foot Whaler hull for an experiment of Unibond sandwich construction versus stringer construction. Note: I purposely chose the 22 or 25 foot Whaler hull sizes because I don't have one and I won't have to make the sacrifice. ;)

In that experiment, the sacrificial Outrage will have its inner and outer skins separated from the foam. The lower skin will be thickened to typical thickness of a stringer strengthened hull so that we'll call it a "hull". A stringer system will be created and bonded to the hull. Then the upper skin (thickened as needed) will be fastened to the hull using traditional stringer reinforced boat building techniques.

Which of the boats (original Unibond vs. or stringer) will be stiffer? Further note: I'm not questioning the bottom part of the hull where the stringers apply their rigidity but the whole structure. My bet would be placed on the Unibond composite. Because of this rigidity, I think wave impacts are felt more so than they are in traditional stringer constructed boats that have air voids here and there between the hull and the liner.

macfam posted 09-28-2009 11:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for macfam  Send Email to macfam     
It's all about hyrodynamics and hull design.

Let's take it to an extreme:
Although not always attractive, the catamaran hull will outride virtually any monohull in slop and chop.
Its their inherent design, not deadrise, not stiffness.

All hulls are a myriad of tradeoffs.

Very few monohulls will "outride" a downeaster hull in real slop and crap, take for instance the 29 Dyer.
29 feet, yet fuel efficient, and smooth riding with merely 200 hp diesel. But ya might get wet if that wind is blowing.
But you'll be comfortable with that super keel. You can't go in super shallow water and you can't pull waterskiers.
But it is one of the best handling boats ever produced.
And they are one boat that holds their value BETTER than a Boston Whaler.

And the other extreme is a "go fast" like a Fountain or many others. Good for nothing except going straight and going fast.....and I think their plenty stiff for what they go through.

I'm not convinced that the unibond constructions lends itself to any increase in "the impact is transmitted directly to the cockpit deck" more than any other construction technique.

Tom W Clark posted 09-28-2009 11:41 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     

I do not concur with your theory. There is nothing about the Unibond process that makes the Whaler hull unusually hard riding. I say that having spent my life in a huge variety of boats made from different materials and with different designs. The hulls of most recreational powerboats are quite rigid.

The reputation Whaler has earned for the ride of their hulls has mostly to do with an entire generation that grew up with the 13 foot and 16 foot Whalers when the Whaler reputation was forged in the 1960s and 70s.

Tom W Clark posted 09-28-2009 11:43 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
Folks tend to hold on to their prejudices and hand them down to their children.
Tohsgib posted 09-28-2009 12:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tohsgib  Send Email to Tohsgib     
13's and non smirked 16/17's are pretty rough and wet riding boats. I was amazed at how much more they are than my later year Montauks/Newports. They are also much lighter which could explain a little. I will however say that when you do smack down hard(kidney killer), the boat does not sound like you did(unless something is lose). I have owned other brands and when you do crash it, it gives a hollow echo that you never get in a Whaler.
brisboats posted 09-28-2009 02:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for brisboats  Send Email to brisboats     
I concur and doubt the construction method has little to do with the ride. Plate alloy boats are very rigid and yet can be very smooth riding on a hull with a V configuration. The early Whaler non smirked hulls have a reputation as rough riding and probably deservedly so. However, very few 13 and 16 foot boats ride as well in my opinion. Small boats that do have a reputation for a nice ride ie., the Mako 17, Seacraft 20, Wellcraft steplift 20, all have a deeper V, more hull weight and more dead rise than a Whaler.

If this theory were to hold water hulls laid up thin and easily flexed would be better riding boats than those with stiffer construction. This would mean that Galaxy, Renken, Raven, Bayliner and other paper thin price point hulls would have a better ride. I think most would agree that have ridden in these craft that this simply is not the case. Some manufacturers have tried grid systems beneath the decks as opposed to longitudinal stringers and have failed both in ride and quality. Wellcraft did this with the eclipse series in the mid to late 80's.


andygere posted 09-28-2009 03:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
While I agree that the construction of Boston Whaler boats makes them quite rigid and durable, I think that the ride characteristics are primarily a function of hull form. That said, I haven't been in another 22 foot boat that rides as well as my Outrage 22 Cuddy in so wide a variety of conditions. As Tom suggests, the folks that label Whalers as rough riding haven't been in anything bigger than a classic 16'-7".

As for thin hull skins, I've often wondered where this comes from. Check these photos of actual cores taken from my 22 hull when enlarging the cuddy sump drain to accept the new plastic drain tube.

Exterior skin: Outerhullskin.jpg

Interior skin: innerhullskin.jpg

WT posted 09-28-2009 04:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for WT  Send Email to WT     
Aren't aluminum boats more rigid than a Boston Whaler hull?

If so, many aluminum boat owners don't seem to mind the "rough ride" of their rigid hulls.

Which may mean the guys saying that Boston Whalers are rough riding are really trying to say something else.


Jerry Townsend posted 09-28-2009 05:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jerry Townsend  Send Email to Jerry Townsend     
Basically, the rigidity of the BW boats is not surpassed by any other hull design. That is, the bending strength is obtained via separtion of the structure - and in general, the greater the separation, the greater the rigidity. In this case, the outer and inner "shells" are separated by several inches of foam - that is what provides the strength.

An aluminum boat will have formed beams (U or Z shaped) "beams" formed into or rivited (welded) to the hull. But that structure is not as rigid as that of a Whaler.

Some have commented on the transmission of shock and vibration right up to the deck. In actuality, all shock and vibration loadings acting on the outer "shell" are attenuated via the foam. On the BW boats, the foam reduces / dampens any shock and vibration. This is provided by the "non-solid" / "pourous" structure of the foam. Certainly, if the foam were of a solid material (and heavier), it would not be providing the dampening effect. And that dampening is not only affecting shock and vibration - but also sound.

In this end, I am reminded of a friend and myself being able to get right up on deer, coyotes and other wildlife(for photgraphy purposes) when in a wood-stripped fiberglass canoe - but not within a quarter of a mile in a aluminum canoe. ---- Jerry/Idaho

gwcpa posted 09-28-2009 09:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for gwcpa    
Good lord, yes a "classic" 13/15/17 Whaler rides hard comprared to a modern design. The have the "hand clap" design that does not cleave the water, but traps it and lands harder than a mod V.

But they are stable, sturdy and great boats. I can attest that the "PC" (post classic) 190 Nantucket/Outrage rides great and is surprisingly dry. But it is not a deep V. But alas nothing is free, and they weigh much more and require more power to operate efficiently.

The unibond construction is not the cause of the perceived hard ride, it is the hull design.

However at moderate cruising speeds, I think the old 17 rides pretty well, and dry. That works for me.

L H G posted 09-28-2009 09:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for L H G    
If your classic Whaler is riding hard, you are going to fast for conditions.
gwcpa posted 09-28-2009 10:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for gwcpa    
Same for any boat isn't it? If you are getting wet and or pounded, you are going to fast for the conditions.

A Carolina skiff 16 pounds in a 8 inch chop, but that is not because the conditions are hazardous, it is because the boat is as flat as a sheet of plywood.

hauptjm posted 09-28-2009 10:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for hauptjm    
I believe rigidity plays a definite part in the ride of two comparable hull forms: to the better. I've ridden in a few "government" projects that were made with carbon fiber and the ride was significantly easier on the backside versus the traditional glass laid counterpart.

Reality: this hull alone cost $80,000, so I don't think it to be practical for every day consumers.

number9 posted 09-28-2009 11:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for number9  Send Email to number9     
Just read today on a manufacture site carbon fiber/epoxy construction is more rigid than GRP. Those high dollar government boats using carbon fiber probably have other design enhancements and more weight to smooth out the ride.
diveorfish posted 09-29-2009 12:51 AM ET (US)     Profile for diveorfish  Send Email to diveorfish     
I feel the opposite is true. Based on my very limited experience riding on non-whalers: one 19ft Wellcraft center console and a 20ft bowrider (I think Four Winns) the stiffness and sound absorption of a whaler makes the ride seem softer not harsher. When I hit a wave wrong on the non-whalers, the extra flex and hull noises gave the impression we hit a lot harder than we did. Both boats felt like they were going to come apart if driven any harder although this may not be the case for a higher quality non-whaler. Foot per foot and trimmed correctly, I believe classic and post-classic Whaler Outrages ride as good as any other boat built for the same purpose.

I do believe that variable deadrise hulls, Whaler or otherwise, are more difficult to get trimmed properly because they naturally ride bow high as opposed to a steeper constant deadrise boat. My boat will pound you without mercy if you don’t get the bow down to its sweet spot. When the bow is up the hull hits the water father back where the deadrise is more shallow and hence a good pound. When the boat is at the proper angle of attack though, the ride is acceptably smooth. It took Whale Tail XLs to keep my bow down in the rough stuff but my boat rides great now.

Out here on the west coast popular offshore boats like ‘Davis’ and ‘Farallon’ have very shallow transom deadrise because they are very concerned about the steep following seas we very often get out here. Generally, the shallower the transom deadrise the more stable the hull will be in confused and following seas.

For the west coast, Whaler hulls are a good compromise and really come into there own in a confused seas with large swell.

diveorfish posted 09-29-2009 01:33 AM ET (US)     Profile for diveorfish  Send Email to diveorfish     
I also forgot to mention a question in my earlier post:

Whaler could make a hull anyway they want to. Why don't they make a 24.5 degree deadrise like Contender, for example? There must be a reason?

SJUAE posted 09-29-2009 07:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for SJUAE    
Although I agree with Jerry

all shock and vibration loadings acting on the outer "shell" are attenuated via the foam. On the BW boats, the foam reduces / dampens any shock and vibration. This is provided by the "non-solid" / "porous" structure of the foam.

It still remains true that there is a medium for transferring loads via the foam from the outer shell to the inner shell. If it was a void between the shells there would be no transfer and no strength.

It is the ability of the foam to rigidly bond and hold the 2 shells apart that makes a Whaler strong.

In this case, the outer and inner "shells" are separated by several inches of foam - that is what provides the strength

I agree the load transfer between the 2 shells is likely to be negligible and the grater the thickness, the further it is distributed, but it still theoretically remains.

This and the fact that there is less deflection possible vs a simply suspended deck/cockpit area is the only possible and minuscule downside and is far out weighed by the other benefits of the structural sandwich of the Unibond hull.

This is all splitting hairs as the forces are likely not to be detected by human measurement and the deck areas that are the inner skin we walk on are usually a small percentage of the total available area on Whalers 18ft and larger.


bluewaterpirate posted 09-30-2009 09:11 AM ET (US)     Profile for bluewaterpirate  Send Email to bluewaterpirate     
diveorfish .....

Actually the new Outrage hulls have much more deadrise than the older models.

220 Outrage 22 dr at the transmon

250, 280. 320, 350 Outrage 23.5 dr at the transom

The new Outrage hulls target the offshore go fast crowd. I fish with a friend who has a new 280 and I must say it is a soft very dry ride.

I have a 210 Ventura (hull of the old 210 Outrage) that I fish offshore. I've found out over the years by extending the tabs I can oush the bow down and that really softens the ride.

In the first picture shows the new design on the 250 Outrage .... you can really the difference in the bow area. Gone are the blunt rounded design. Image-4892322-61694491-2-Web_0_c850a10564af6f9b78c6cdd647acfe59_1

In this picture you can see to the left a 250 OR and to the right a 280 OR. Image-4892322-61694476-2-Web_0_f8117a16f3047fc12af7837e99b3b9a0_1

In these pictures you will see a 2007 240 OR and a 320 OR. You can really see the difference in the bow chines and the bow rack between the 2007 and the 2009 hulls. Image-4892322-31031758-2-Web_0_d2e163d9bff4b9ee59c36ab698f27a5d_1 Image-4892322-31031503-2-Web_0_e19c45e1ce3e9be665621584a1bbf746_1


diveorfish posted 09-30-2009 12:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for diveorfish  Send Email to diveorfish     

Thanks for the pictures.

I know the new designs have more transom deadrise, but I didn't know it was 23.5 degrees.

I guess my question is really is: What was the thinking at the time when they designed hulls similar to your Ventura and my Outrage. The "offshore go fast" boats existed then also. Even now, Whaler still uses our hull design in the current Ventura, and Conquest 255 as well as some of the commercial Whalers. Heck, some commercial Whalers still use the classic hull.

I would someday like to ride in a similarly sized boat as mine (22.5 feet long, 8.5 feet wide) that has a 24.5 degree transom deadrise. They are hard to find out here in Northern California. I'm really curious to feel how they handle in our swelly slop.

bluewaterpirate posted 09-30-2009 01:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for bluewaterpirate  Send Email to bluewaterpirate     
One other thing I've heard is there will be a new Ventura model (220 Ventura) in the near future (that will replace the 210 model) using the new 220 Outrage hull as it's foundation.

That would give the boat 22.5 dr at the transom, plus give it better legs (115 gallons of gas), a wider beam 8'6", max engine rating of 300hp, and finally it could handle up to twin 150's.

We'll just have to wait and see.

When they designed our boats I don't think their target group was the go fast offshore fisherman. It's interesting to see how they evolved in todays market ... they've always found a way to use just enough hp to run the boats and now they're pushing the envelop with twin 300/triple 300 hp installs.


deepwater posted 09-30-2009 01:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for deepwater  Send Email to deepwater     
To go back to the question,,Your theory is no theory but is in fact ,, A Fact,, Whalers are built better stronger and as a compleat filled unit,,The result,, Is when a whaler encounters a wave,,As theorized a Big wave and hitting hard happens,, Is it felt differently in a whaler or another cheaper substandard less reliable poorly constructed loose fitting deck shifting boat,,We are just glad were in a whaler and not something thrown together like a UN meeting,,I say again A hard hit is a hard hit and only the lone driver feels it
Tohsgib posted 09-30-2009 02:17 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tohsgib  Send Email to Tohsgib     
If a Dolphin farts...the ripple is a hard hit in a classic 13'. ;)
SJUAE posted 09-30-2009 03:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for SJUAE    

My best guess on lesser dead rise is due to Whalers being slightly heavy compared to similar size boats meant they could achieve similar speed with same power buy this reduction with only a marginal decrease in offshore handling vs better stability.

As a side note we could say how good the Whaler hull is by those miraculous increase in transom capacities we have seen, with no changes to construction.


jimh posted 09-30-2009 08:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
It is fun to speculate about hull shape and dead rise angles, but these really have nothing to to with the topic under discussion, which, if I may remind readers again, is a discussion of how the hull construction technique influences the perception of the ride in a Boston Whaler boat.
surveyingdawg posted 09-30-2009 09:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for surveyingdawg  Send Email to surveyingdawg     
Jim you could make the hull out of Kryptonite or cotton and it would still ride rough. It is the hull design and deadrise that creates the perception ( or reality) of a rough ride. I have thousands of hours on many, many different boats. Hull construction technique has little to do with a "rough ride" unless it falls aprt running down the ICW.
fishgutz posted 09-30-2009 09:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for fishgutz  Send Email to fishgutz     
In contrast, other boats have hull structures which may give slightly and absorb some of the force of the impact. Also, their deck is not as tightly coupled to or bonded to the hull bottom, so forces from the hull are diffused and weakened before they reach the deck.

Should read : In contrast, SOME other boats have hull structures which may give slightly and absorb some of the force of the impact. Also, their deck is not as tightly coupled to or bonded to the hull bottom, so forces from the hull are diffused and weakened before they reach the deck.

I'm sure there are other boats that have a solid deck to hull connection.

A larger contributing factor for a rough ride is hull shape.
And what about just plain weight of the boat. A heavier boat will most often have a smoother ride. My Dauntless 14 has the same bonded hull as all Whalers and the ride is most often like being on a pool table.

I'd bet my old 14 foot V-hull Alumacraft had a much rougher ride than any Whaler. The contributing factors there were hull shape and weight. Very light and a relatively flat bottom about 5 feet aft of the bow. That boat was terrible in a 10 inch chop unless my friend Chris was sitting up front. Chris tipped the scales at about 325.

So, yeah, I guess your theory is fairly accurate but there are other factors that contribute more to a rough ride.

jimh posted 09-30-2009 10:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I don't understand Jerry's explanation that the foam attenuates wave impacts on the hull bottom and attenuates the force transmitted to the deck. In order for that to happen the foam would have to absorb energy. It seems to me that in order for the foam to absorb energy the foam would have to be compressed.

My experiences is the opposite of what is suggested: the foam is very rigid and does not compress at all. It transmits the wave impact on the hull bottom to the deck as if they were a single structure, because they are a single structure.

If the foam were elastic in its nature, you could feel the deck moving or having some spring to it. I don't get that impression from a Unibond hull, unless the foam has broken down and has failed.

deepwater posted 09-30-2009 10:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for deepwater  Send Email to deepwater     
Ok than ,,Foot for foot a whaler rides harder than any other boat side by side,,Whalers are lighter so the get more air and loose contact with the water and slam back down ,,We all get air time and the grin,,The construction makes them lighter and stronger so they ride higher and the grin gets bigger as the waves get bigger,,How many times can this circle go around ^@^
Tom W Clark posted 09-30-2009 11:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
The Unibond construction of a Whaler's hull uses polyurethane foam to fill the space between the fiberglass skins of the interior and exterior moldings.

The polyurethane foam is a closed cell foam. Thin walls surround each cell which contains a gas. Gas is easily compressible.

It is perfectly reasonable to assume that the Whaler's hull has some resilience because of all this compressible gas in all the million of cell's within the hull and that "the foam attenuates wave impacts on the hull bottom and attenuates the force transmitted to the deck."

It is true the Whaler is very strong and stiff, but it is not absolute. Wood is a very strong too and does not bend easily. But I would sure as hell rather be hit over the head with a piece of wood than a piece of steel. BIG difference. Ask me how I know...

kwik_wurk posted 10-01-2009 12:39 AM ET (US)     Profile for kwik_wurk  Send Email to kwik_wurk     
Next time I have my Montauk and Trophy out on the water together, I'll take some accelerometer readings.

From this we can see very easily what the difference is in shock impulses on both boats.

(Hopefully the engine vibration won't affect things too much.)

jimh likes hard data, so I'll try and full-fill his craving.

dfmcintyre posted 10-01-2009 07:17 AM ET (US)     Profile for dfmcintyre  Send Email to dfmcintyre     
Kwik -

Ummm. Might it be an apple / orange thing, since it's two different hull designs and weights?


jimh posted 10-01-2009 08:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I am not clear on how the hull structure can be simultaneously rigid and elastic.

The foam construction very likely has extremely high acoustic attenuation, so it certainly may reduce the noise transmission, but I would be surprised if it absorbed impacts.

Dauntless_14_TX posted 10-01-2009 09:23 AM ET (US)     Profile for Dauntless_14_TX  Send Email to Dauntless_14_TX     
From my experience of running various makes of boats (trophy, BW, grumman, sea ray, chris craft) on the Great Lakes and to having my own BW here on the Gulf Coast, I find BW's to be quite nice riding boats. Any boat will have a rough ride if conditions are bad and engine not trimmed correctly. I notice that BW's are heavy enough to cut through waves and not bounce across the top, and the foam filled hull drastically cuts down on noise (big plus IMO). Plus the fact that its the safest thing on the water is worth something. I may be biased, and have my two cents worth, but I'll never own anything other than a Whaler.
Peter posted 10-01-2009 09:25 AM ET (US)     Profile for Peter  Send Email to Peter     
Isn't there a pretty simple test? Don't they use this test to show the difference between a Whaler construction and others?

That test is to pound your hand on the side of a Whaler hull and then pound your hand in the same way on a conventional hull. In the case of a Whaler hull you get that solid thud. In the case of a conventional hull you get that hollow sound with a feeling that the hull absorbs the blow somewhat. Realize that the conventional hull may not have stringer reinforcement where you pound it and that if you were to pound it where there was some stringer reinforcement, the feeling would be different, unlike in the case of a Whaler were it is substantially the same no matter where you pound along the side.

I think the difference in the experience you get when you pound these different hulls is also felt when the Whaler is underway and subject to wave impacts.

Tom W Clark posted 10-01-2009 12:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
I am not clear on how the hull structure can be simultaneously rigid and elastic.

Rigidity and elasticity are not like black and white, they are shades of the same color. It is all relative.

deepwater posted 10-01-2009 01:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for deepwater  Send Email to deepwater     
Many many years ago I was approached by several sunburned fellows driving a rather large cabin cruiser and as they pulled along side of my Montauk,, One asked,,Do you know where the hell you are?? This is the deepwater man the poormans are you crazy what will you do when the big waves show up,,I said,,"Surf in",,Its a Whaler so if ya need help ill be here all night and I tell ya the look I got was was priceless,,We fished all night and trolled all the next day about a mile apart and the big waves came and that big boat hit hard time and time again and I slid and popped up on top and smacked my bow and surfed along and had a very good scare going untill I saw land,,At the dock I was that crazy guy out in the deepwater sooo that is what iam,, I have been in 26' steel Chris crafts 22' Grady's and 7' ramX Colman's and a 260'+ navel supply ship off korea during a blow and several more,, A hard hit is a hard hit only to the person on the boat and I dont think there is a wrong answer for jimh question except ,,Its a Whaler it dosent feel pain ^@^
SJUAE posted 10-01-2009 11:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for SJUAE    

I don't understand Jerry's explanation that the foam attenuates wave impacts on the hull bottom and attenuates the force transmitted to the deck. In order for that to happen the foam would have to absorb energy. It seems to me that in order for the foam to absorb energy the foam would have to be compressed.

You are correct if the force is large enough the foam would compress

Obviously whaler hulls are thick enough to withstand the wave slam loads such that it's mainly the trapped air in the voids that is compressed and that is where the energy is transferred. Although a residual amount it still transferred through the matrices of the foam to the inner shell.

This is another reason the hull has to be thicker so that the force/vibration is transmitted over a greater distance and area. The impact area force radiates out and through the hull. The thicker the hull the better the dispersal will be and so a less dense/strength of material can absorb the loads.


Jerry Townsend posted 10-02-2009 04:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jerry Townsend  Send Email to Jerry Townsend     
Jim - the foam attenuates the impact loading because those impact loads are transmitted cell/molecule to cell/molecule the foam which is light and filled with voids. Now, we are talking of the impact loading only - not the longer term movement - or deflection. If the foam were replaced with a denser material - those impact loads would be transmitted more directly/efficiently. To test the difference - take a short length of steel pipe, rapp one end with a hammer with a hand on the other end - and the impact load will be transmitted undamped. Now, take a styrofoam tube, bond metal ends to the styrofoam ends to eliminate damage and rapp the end of the tube the same way. The impact load will be attenuated significantly relative to the test with the metal pipe.

In general, a less dense material (foam, cotton, balsa wood, unsaturated fiberglass, et al.) will attenuate many things - heat, vibration, noise, impact loading, etc. - but, by themselves are not very strong.

In the case of a BW hull, mpact loads are restrained by the fiberglass - which, in fact is not good at withstanding impact loads. Consider the damage to a hull by hitting it with a hammer. Fortunately we don't experience real impacting loading such as a hammer hit.

But, as we have talked about before, the bending strength from a BW hull stems from the separation (provided by the foam) of the load bearing materials (fiberglass shells). This fact pertains only to the bending loads. Certainly, the BW hulls are more succeptable to crushing loads, but that is not the point of the discussion. Recall the BW ads showing a small cat on a inverted 13 sport? That simply demonstrates the bending strength design of the BW construction. ---- Jerry/Idaho

SJUAE posted 10-02-2009 04:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for SJUAE    

Thanks I was trying to think of a tuning fork example for Jim so your pipe example was good.

Now you have raised another interesting thought on point loads on a Whaler hull vs single skin

Although a Whaler hull is stiff and can handle forces distributed over a reasonable area which is the norm for wave slam etc

As the Whaler hull is a composite of two GRP shells separated by the foam core it's probably true that the outer skin is more likely to be penetrated by a point load (e.g. hitting the end of a 4x2 at speed) than a conventional single skinned construction if the GRP is thicker on the single skin hull.


Jerry Townsend posted 10-05-2009 08:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jerry Townsend  Send Email to Jerry Townsend     
Steve - basically, any glass material is not ductile and is brittle. As such, a sharp blow can damage or even hole the glass material. And here, the unibond structure doesn't make any difference - because the foam is easily penetrated or deformed. ------- Jerry/Idaho
SJUAE posted 10-07-2009 03:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for SJUAE    

Sorry maybe I confused the issue

I'm presuming/guessing that a conventional single skin hull is say 1/2" thick and a Whaler has an inner skin 1/4" thick and outer skin 5/16" thick, seperated by the foam core.

Therefore as the foam offers little or no additional resistance to a point load the Whaler outer hull may be penetrated/holed easier than a conventional single skin that is possibly thicker.


Tohsgib posted 10-08-2009 12:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tohsgib  Send Email to Tohsgib     
Not really. Think about this, drop a glass bottle on the ground and it breaks. Fill a glass bottle with water and do it again, and again. Foam does the same thing.
fishgutz posted 10-08-2009 12:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for fishgutz  Send Email to fishgutz     
The bottle filled with water broke when I dropped it. And I cut my foot. Now I have a big mess.
TransAm posted 10-08-2009 04:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for TransAm  Send Email to TransAm     
Whenever I drop a bottle of beer, it breaks. Whenever I drop a bottle with some other liquid in it, it does not break.
jimh posted 10-08-2009 09:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Liquids are not compressible.
fishgutz posted 10-08-2009 10:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for fishgutz  Send Email to fishgutz     
Sorry, jimh. You're wrong.
jimh posted 10-08-2009 10:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Fish--You take over, professor.
fishgutz posted 10-09-2009 08:45 AM ET (US)     Profile for fishgutz  Send Email to fishgutz     
Liquids are compressible but not much.
Paragraph 4 TH6.htm
Tohsgib posted 10-09-2009 03:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tohsgib  Send Email to Tohsgib     
You need to have the cap on when you drop it there professor.

T/A drinking bottled beer without shoes is pretty careless if you have a habit of dropping your beer. ;)

Tohsgib posted 10-09-2009 03:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tohsgib  Send Email to Tohsgib     
Lastly a bottle filled with foam will still break, just not as easy as when empty and will stick to the glass...hence the poor analogy with water.
SJUAE posted 10-10-2009 09:29 AM ET (US)     Profile for SJUAE    
We can now see how far CW has come

We gone from hydrodynamics/structural engineering/naval architecture/material properties/ etc

To the real science of the analogy with beer bottles LOL


Assuming there is two beer bottles both empty with the same mass, material and external dimensions

Bottle A - Is a conventional single skin glass bottle

Bottle B - Is a double skinned bottle (separated by a thin foam core) but the outer glass skin is half that of bottle A and the inner skin is slightly thinner than the outer, to match the mass of bottle A.

Both bottles are dropped from the same height vertically at the same time on to the same solid concrete surface below. Both hit the floor on the same edge/area.

Is bottle A less likely to shatter from the impact load?

If the impact load is enough to shatter the external skin on bottle B is it also likely to shatter the inner skin?


jimh posted 10-10-2009 09:50 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Recently I was at Lockeman's Boat and Hardware, who happen to sell YAR CRAFT fiberglass boats. The YAR CRAFT boat uses a foam core material in their laminate construction of the hull. The foam core is about 0.5-inch thick, and is pre-molded in sheets with orthogonal rows and columns of scored narrow notches; these notches permit the foam core sheets to flex during assembly and conform easily to curved hull surfaces. YAR CRAFT uses this foam coring between layers of normal fiberglass laminates. To demonstrate the effect of the foam coring on the strength of the laminate, YAR CRAFT supplies two sections of laminate which are laid up similarly, except one omits the foam core. These samples are about two-feet long, and, as a demonstration, a customer is directed to attempt to bend or deform them. The sample without the foam core is easily bent. The sample with the foam core is so much stronger that it is virtually impossible to bend it. This demonstration was very convincing, and it clearly shows the enormous difference in stiffness that results when a foam cored laminate structure is used.
SJUAE posted 10-10-2009 02:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for SJUAE    
Another example of laminate materials is the advance of structural glass panels comprising of a top layer tempered glass for impact resistance and a heat-strengthened bottom layer, bonded with a clear resin interlayer.

Like our hulls the composite panels give outstanding strength


fishgutz posted 10-10-2009 05:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for fishgutz  Send Email to fishgutz     
OK, the whole glass bottle thing, I don't get. If I drop a bottle it always breaks into a million pieces.
And to answer jimh's original questions: no, no and no.
R T M posted 10-10-2009 05:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for R T M    
Don`t assume all composite boats are created with the same quality.


jimh posted 10-15-2009 08:44 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
[A sidebar discussion about beer containers has been deleted.]
Hoosier posted 10-19-2009 06:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
This link from the thread about wake making actually addresses the seakeeping of the whaler hull form (a planing hull) and recommends active trim tabs as a solution. "Active" means that they almost instantly respond to boat motion in a sea.

roloaddict posted 10-19-2009 11:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for roloaddict  Send Email to roloaddict     
Hull design. The same relitively flat hull that is easy to push fast with moderate hp, is the same one that will punish you for your mistakes. I learned this as a front seater in our family's '70 Katama. As an operator I can't tell you how many times I have yanked the throttle back when that wake got a lot bigger than I expected.

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