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Author Topic:   Wild Whaler Tale
JohnJ80 posted 06-02-2003 03:44 PM ET (US)   Profile for JohnJ80   Send Email to JohnJ80  
Last Friday, we had sustained 30mph-40mph winds. This all occurred late at night (approx 11pm). I went out to check my boats and dock.

We live on a river that has a tendency to funnel and concentrate the wind - similiar (but not as dramatically) as what happens in the Columbia River Gorge.

What I saw was incredible. My dock was on the verge of being destroyed by the 4' waves that were hitting the dock broadside. This is a dock that is built to float and is anchored by 4-8" water pipes. The dock is built arount two 40' telephone poles - a substantial structure that has withstood incredible weather before.

Alongside the dock I have a jet dock (windward side) upon which is stored my Dauntless 15. Apparently this had slammed so hard into the dock that the whaler had rebounded off the jet dock to windward. It was still tied by the bow but the stern was pointed directly into the 4' waves. The boat was completely swamped with the edge of the transom just below the water.

I ran down there to cut the whaler loose in the hope that if it was away from the dock, maybe I could save the rest of the dock and my other boat, a 27' sailboat.

While standing waist deep in water in the Whaler, I decided to test and see if whalers were really unsinkable. If it all kept going the way it was, the whaler would be a write off anyhow. If it didn't work I could easily make it to shore - about a 100' swim (I had an inflatable life jacket on just in case).

So, I got the motor lowered from its tilted position, cut the bow loose and tried to start the engine. Amazingly the engine started and I noticed that the boat was now riding a lot better. The water had started to drain out and the boat was starting to float level instead of stern down and the water seemed to be receeding.

I drove it around to the leward side of the dock, I was going to tie it up on that side where it wouldn't pound as bad. By the time I got to the other side, the boat was riding well and only had about 6" of water left. I drove it around for a few more minutes before I elected to drive it down to the local marina and leave it overnight (about 4 miles downwind).

This was not a simple task on its own due to the wind driven sea state and that it was a pitch dark, moonless overcast night. However, I know the river very well, the ride was downwind and I knew the whaler would handle that ok. She handled great - in fact, I didn't even get another drop on me even though I was going through pretty heavy chop.

long story made short - I made it without further incident. The whaler is unharmed except for a minor scratch on port stern. These things really are unsinkable!

I was a believer before, but now - well, you get the picture.


prj posted 06-02-2003 04:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for prj  Send Email to prj     
Good stuff John.

Where are you/is the boat? Fill out that info in your profile!

JohnJ80 posted 06-02-2003 04:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for JohnJ80  Send Email to JohnJ80     
Boat is on the Lower St. Croix River on the Minnesota side.


Walter G Hannig posted 06-02-2003 09:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for Walter G Hannig    
John...great story. The older style Outrages from 18' to 27', if you ever noted from the side, had the power head above the gunwale for this reason. They could be fully swamped and the motors would still run. I remember talking about the with Bob Dougherty many years ago. I believe this is what made them attractive to the CG. The Dauntless is similiar. Nice ride.
Samars posted 06-04-2003 08:12 AM ET (US)     Profile for Samars  Send Email to Samars     
Can relate a somewhat similar story although forgetting to put the drain plug in is a rookie mistake.

launching in front of dozens of onlookers all waiting to get their boats in the water, I forgot to put both drain plugs in my 13 Whaler. Parked the truck (actually Whalernut parked my truck), and all is ready, we are in the boat and water has crept up past the console !!

Jack indicates to simply start the motor and go ! ! wait a minute...Lake Erie...boat taking on water and you want me to drive away from the docks?

Well, I listened him and within a few minutes
the boat is empty and all was well. Had me scratching my head a few times...explains how with just the one plug in, Wife's grandfather used the rear part as a livewell.

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