[The following article originally appeared more than four decades ago in YACHTING magazine, February 1972 issue, page 74. The text and style appear as in the original; the placement and size of the illustrations differ slightly. Many thanks to Charlie Puckett for discovering this old article and providing a copy of it so that it could be recreated here.--jimh]
(Editor's note: This month's profile by Florida west coast correspondent Red Marston.)
Some years ago, at Wisconsin Dells, a 13' outboard-powered boat slowed and stopped before a small grandstand jammed with some of the more celebrated cynics of the nation's boating press. The pointy bow was missing. She appeared sawed-off forward, though the bow was rounded slightly if you looked closely, and she had port and starboard sponsons.
The boat operator produced a chain saw and proceeded to cut the boat in half transversely. Amazingly, the two section floated. Snickers echoed quietly off the rock walls surround the small lake, but, when the man started the small outboard and putt-putted off with the after section, applause broke out.
Thus the Boston Whaler was introduced—in pieces. Later, over his whiskey and water, one write was heard to say, "Okay, they proved the thing doesn't sink, but who would buy one of those ugly bathtubs?" The same sage, in coming years, was to be seen on Florida waters, first in a 13' Whaler and then in a 16' version, and no man ever spread the good word faster or wider. Today, anyone who hasn't seen at least a picture of a Boston Whaler has been living in a diving bell for a decade or more.
There's no record that any of the observers at Wisconsin Dells declared the original Whaler to be an outrage, though those who lived in the world of traditional line and proportion may well have been stirred by some such feeling. Now, however, there's the model called "Outrage," and Dick Fisher, Mr. Boston Whaler himself, designed and named all 21'4" of her. She's from the Whaler family tree all right, but Fisher considers her a stand-alone boat. The bow configuration strikes some as being on the wild side, but if you move around a bit, viewing it from different angles, the curled-lip look gives way to other things. You see a nice high bow, inset chines, a nice sheer and sponsons that come in well back from the bow, less pronounced than in other Whalers. Sponsons will toss water around, so their area is kept to a minimum, but the tri-hull design does provide stability when running downhill in a following sea.
The Outrage weighs 1,600 lb. empty, without motor. Characteristic of Whalers, she's a bit on the beamy side with a 7'4" measurement, but she draws only nine inches with the motor tilted. The freeboard is low, about knee-high for an average person standing inside at the gunwale. Fisher says too much freeboard is a nuisance, contributing more trouble than it's worth—catching wind, adding weight and in general fouling up maneuverability. As the New England Lobsterman keeps the freeboard down to reduce trap-hauling distance, so the Whalers and the Outrage are low aft of amidships to expedite landing fish or coming aboard from swimming, skin diving or water skiing.
Next to the flaring bow, the thing that catches the eye is the gunwale design. A husky rub rail capped with black vinyl is built out two inches from the hull, keeping the sides from being scraped against piers and doubling as a spray rail. Structurally, this is the dividing line of the hull, where the double bottom and the deck are joined. Above the rail, vertical support members spaced a few feet apart give the appearance of an external frame arrangement. Below, the successful Whaler construction technique is followed, the double bottom being filled with polyurethane foam for floatation and sound and shock absorption. It's a good package, reflecting the high standard of the Whaler.
My introduction to the Outrage came when Fisher himself stopped in St. Petersburg after being in the Everglades and Florida Keys for several days. He was making his way up the west coast, trailing his Outrage III, which is a model for a real fisherman. Dick loves to fish. For years he was an ardent fresh water angler, but his customers switched him. "They put me into salt water fishing and I haven't looked a pickerel in the eye since," he says.
The day I went out in the Gulf of Mexico the wind was out of the east at 15 to 20 m.p.h., creating a nasty offshore chop, a real rug beater. The Gulf has a way of producing waves that are closely spaced, and you're never off one before you're into another. Going was easy, though, and I took her out far because we wanted to get in a little fishing. However, the water was dirty and there was much grass floating around to foul the lures.
The return run was 12 miles into the east wind. We had taken turns out in the Gulf, running in beam conditions and following seas, but Fisher was at the wheel when we started back. We hit into it with thumps just short of outright jarring, so he started to vary the throttle settings for the single 85-hp. Bearcat engine. My practice when a sea starts bouncing things around in a planing hull is to change course and tack up the course line, but Fisher held course, moving the speed up a bit at a time. The water flew but not a drop came aboard. He had been insistent on getting a dry boat and this was his proof indeed. Keeping an eye on the wave patterns, Dick kept inching the speed up so that by the time land closed and some influence of the lee was felt, the Outrage III was really flying.
"That stuff out there reminded me of Buzzard's Bay in a sou'west breeze against the tide," observed Dick. It sure beat evaluating a boat out of a brochure.
The Outrage III is roomy with enough casting room for four anglers. It can be a good fishing machine. The minimum-sized stand-up console has a rack for six rods, and on the console is a mount for outriggers. The poles are light and the mount appears sturdy enough. Aft, there is a gin pole, suggesting a weight fish problem. It can be taken down in a jiffy or left as a potential status symbol.
Top: Centered control console has canvas windscreen laced to stainless steel frame. Compartment with flip-up lid above controls houses compact electronic gear and other accessories. Forward, twin chairs are staggered for better room and load distribution.
Center: 85-hp. Bearcat is good power, but she'll take up to 200 hp.
Below and left: Tri-hull has deep-V entry, sponsons well aft.
The console is of unusual design. It has a compartment with a 45-degree flip-up cover, and inside can be housed a depth finder, CB radio, portable RDF and binoculars or other odds and ends. Around the sides and forward (with a plastic window sewn in) is a canvas windscreen stretched over a stainless steel frame. In the console base is a side-opening locker for stowage of small items. Aft, the base of the helmsman's seat is molded fiberglass and doubles as a fish box, and forward, two fishing chairs are staggered port and starboard for better boat balance.
The Outrage is rated for a maximum of 200 hp., which is sufficient to make her move out in the 30-m.p.h. bracket. A pair of 100s should make her fly because my impression was that a single 85-hp. motor did a first-rate job. There are options for greater fuel capacity than the standard pair of 19-gal. tanks.
A basic type of boat, the Outrage III is not equipped with bow or side rails, though short grab rails aft provide added security for someone working near the stern. Fisher, however, has designed a strong and durable boat that is adaptable for many uses, though fishing was his primary thought. When fishing in Florida, he even sleeps aboard under a generous top that comes well aft. Some might think that is going too far, but the one-time student of philosophy thinks nothing of it. Indeed, it has always been his nature to be different; hence the Outrage.
For further information, please write The Fisher-Pierce Co., 1149 Hingham St., Rockland, Mass. 02370.
DISCLAIMER: This information is believed to be accurate but there is no guarantee. We do our best!
Portions Copyright © 2009 by James W. Hebert.
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Author: The HTML version of this historical article was created by James W. Hebert;
Original Article by Red Marston.
This article first appeared on-line on February 15, 2009. The original appeared in 1972 in YACHTING magazine.