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The 13 foot Hull

Dimensions & History

DIMENSIONS (from 1998 Catalogue listings)
  Length......................13 feet 4 inches (13 feet 3-1/2 inches c.1960)
  Beam........................5 feet 5 inches  (5 feet 3-inches c.1960)
  Length/Beam Ratio...........2.5:1
  Draft.......................6 inches (with engine tilted clear of water)
  Weight......................320 pounds Standard to 410 pounds SS Limited
                              Original hulls c.1959 weighed approximately
                              250 to 275 pounds 
  Maximum horsepower..........40 HP (20-HP on early tiller steering models)
  Minimum Horsepower.......... 9 HP
  Capacity....................6 Persons
  Swamped Capacity............1,600 pounds


HISTORY
  Designer....................Dick Fisher, Ray Hunt, Bob Dougherty
  First year offered..........1958
  Last year offered...........Still available in the GLS model
  Color.......................1958 - 1972 White Hull/Blue interior;
                              1973 - 1993 Desert Tan
                              1994 - 2000 White
                              1998 - White Hull/Blue interior on Limited Edition
  M.S.R.P.....................$ 750 in 1970 for Standard hull
  
MODELS AVAILABLE
  
  RECREATIONAL
      Standard ..........1958 - 1970 white hull, blue interior
      ("The Cox'n")                  mahogany thwart seats, white rub rail,
                                     transom cut for 15-inch short shaft
                                     outboard motors.
                                               
      Sport .............1958 - 1970 as above, plus mahagony side console,
      ("The Bos'n")                  wheel, and pulley steering; thwart seats
                                     move forward about one foot.
                                               
      Trophy............ 1969 - 1971 tamdem swivel seats, stick steering
                                     on molded interior insert.
                                                          
      Standard .................1971 new hull design with "smirk", new motor well,
                                     and new two-piece black rub rail;
                                     mahogany thwart seats. The change
                                     came mid-year and without much
                                     fanfare from the factory.
                                     [Note: In the following years,
                                     the Standard model was always
                                     available on special order but may
                                     not have been shown in catalog.]
                                     
                                1972 changed to 20-inch height transom,
                                     hull and interior gelcoat changed to
                                     desert tan.
                                     
                                1977 liner mold changed to add two step pads
                                     in the bow; bow storage becomes more
                                     squarish.
                              
                                                                    
      Sport..............1971 - 1993 as above but with mahogany side console
                                     and steering wheel; initially wire rope
                                     and pulley steering.
                               
                              c.1980 steering wheel changed to six-spoke
                                     stainless steel; wire rope and pulley 
                                     steering replaced with cable steering 
                                     
      Sport .............1971 - 1976 steering moved to centerline;
      (Center Steering)              full-width narrow console.
                                     
      Sourpuss...........1971 - 1975 similar to Sport (Center Steering)
                                     but adds wrap around railing
                                     with pilot seat backs; blue padded
                                     seat cushions.
                                     
      Special Edition....1982 - 1983 [need details of this model]                
      
      Super Sport .......1985 - 1994 adds low profile combination
                                     bow/side railing, seatbacks, and
                                     storage compartment.
                							   
      Super Sport
         Limited ........1986 - 1989 molded dual console with
                                     windscreens, upholstered seats.
                                               
      GLS................1989 - 2000 replaced SS Limited; all molded interior,
                                     no wood; thwart seats and side console.
                                     
      GLS................1994 - 2000 hull and interior gelcoat changed to white;
                                     new  interior and side console.
                
      40th Anniversary Classic
        Limited Edition.........1998 returned to blue/white gelcoat, white 
                                     rub rail, mahogany seats and
                                     console of Sport style; only 250 made.
                
    COMMERCIAL
      Alert..............1983 - 2000 grey gelcoat hull and interior, 
                                     tiller steering                
                
      Utility............1983 - 2000 as above but with molded side console
                
      [NOTE: Prior to the creation of the "Commerical Division" Whaler
      offered the option of "workboat" specification layup, adding
      additional laminate and resin to the hulls for heavy duty use.]
      
   SERIAL NUMBERS
      1958-1961...........100 thru 4499
      1961-1963...........4500 thru 8499
           1963...........8500 thru 11300
           1964...........11301 thru 14700
           1965...........14701 thru 17500
           1966...........17501 thru 21200
           1967...........21201 thru 24600
           1968...........24601 thru 28500
           1969...........28501 thru 2A2400
           1970...........2A2401 thru 2A5600
           1971...........2A5601 thru 2A7800
           1972...........2A7801 thru 2B000
           1973...........2B001 thru 2B2700
 
 PLEASE NOTE: Photographs of any of these models would 
 be very much appreciated!
                              

Description

The 13-foot hull was the original Boston Whaler boat, the one that started it all. The story of its conception and development is told in a separate article.

In 1958 Boston Whaler introduced a 13-foot utility boat that would soon become the most succesful recreational boat of all time. It was the Volkswagon Beetle of boating.

Fiberglass boats were just being brought to the recreational market in 1958. Compared to other boats of that time, the Boston Whaler offered exceptional utility. The complex shape of the hull could never have been mass produced in wood or aluminum, but its unique design allowed the ride and stability of a much larger boat. The foam filled construction kept the hull weight low, and at the same time provided unmatched floatation. The boat was truly unsinkable. Low weight made for good performance with small horsepower motors, too. The fiberglass laminate and gelcoat made for simple maintenance, while the varnished mahogany seats and trim lent a yachty look to the otherwise spartan boat. The molded liner provided a broad flat interior simply unheard of in a 13-foot boat, and by placing the deck floor above the waterline, the cockpit was also self-draining.

The design of the 13-foot Whaler was extraordinarily innovative, and its continued production over a 40 year span is testimony to that. It is nearly indestructable--almost every Whaler-13 made is still afloat--yet the market for it seems beyond saturation. Year after year, the 13-foot Whaler is a strong seller.

History

The hull and liner molds had several variations over the 40-plus years of production. From 1958 to 1970 the design stayed relatively constant. In 1971 a major overhaul was made to both hull and liner. The new hull had the bow reworked to add the "smirk." This chine, formed by carrying the line of the runners up and across the bow, helped to deflect water away from the boat. In the liner, the motor well changed to a wrap around style; previously a straight bulkhead had separated the transom from the cockpit. The rub rail was changed to a 2-piece implementation.

In 1972, the transom height was raised to 20 inches from 15 inches, probably to keep pace with the use of higher horsepower motors. Both the hull and liner laminates changed to the Desert Tan gelcoat color. The hull had been white and the cockpit either a baby blue or turquoise.

In 1977, two step pads were molded into the bow at the corners of the liner and the shape of the forward locker cover became more squarish. The standard steering wheel was changed to a stainless steel six-spoke model. In the early 1980's the steering mechanism was upgraded to TeleFlex-style cable steering, doing away with wire rope and pulleys.

Embedded Wood

Because of the unusual construction, it was necessary to encapsulated hidden wood in the hull/liner composite to provide a suitable bed for attachment of fasteners. The below diagrams show the location of embedded wood in various models:

In the 1990's the wood was replaced with a synthetic "WhalerBoard" which provided a rot-free alternative.

Commercial Division

In 1983 the "Commercial Division" became a second marketing entity, but as early as 1970 it was possible to order the hull with the "Workboat/Bassboat" specification, recommended "for unusually abusive service." This added an additional 50 pounds of resin and laminate to the hull lay up and about 10-15% to the base hull price.

Photographs

Photo: Whaler 13 c.1980 1970 Standard 13
Notice the shape at the bow: no smirk. This is the original hull mold. This catalog photograph shows a constant theme of the 13-footer: boys (big and small) fishing.
PhotoCredit: BW Catalog

 

Photo: Whaler 13 c.1980 c.1978 Sport 13, opt. railing and seatback
This photograph ran in a advertisement with the caption:
"The most compelling reason to put your trust in a Boston Whaler just went to baseball practice."
The unsinkable nature of the Whaler and its inherent safety when used by young boaters have always been strong selling and buying points.
PhotoCredit: Boston Whaler

 

Photo: Whaler 13 and young boy fishg c.1980 Whaler 13 Sport
The Whaler 13 was often shown being used by young people without adult supervision. Here a young boy stands and casts his fishing net by himself at dusk, a situation in which, if you're the parent, you've got to have a lot of faith in the boat and the boy. Owning a Whaler encouraged both.
PhotoCredit: BW Advertisement

 

Photo: Whaler 13 Hull, cut into three pieces This 1999 catalog photograph reprises the famous George Silk Life magazine layout from May, 1961, which showed Dick Fisher (in a sport coat, bow tie and hat) yawning while his boat was cut in half by a huge saw. Advertising--as near genius as the boat itself--propelled Boston Whaler into public awareness far beyond just the boating crowd.
PhotoCredit: Boston Whaler

 

Photo: Whaler 13 Hull section Cutting Whaler hulls in half seems still to be a tradition. This Florida dealer has a 13-footer on display, nicely revealing the construction technique and the hull form.
PhotoCredit: Larry Goltz

Models

The arrangement of seating and console determined the differences among the many models. These are described in more detail in a separate article.

Owner Testimonials

Whaler owners are generally pleased with their boats, and the Whaler-13 is no exception. Owner experiences and testimonials document this satisfaction.

Many thanks to all contributors, but especially Larry Goltz, who has provided me with a wealth of historical documents on this model.


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This article first appeared February, 2000. Copyright © 2000 by James W. Hebert. All rights reserved.
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Author: James W. Hebert