0715 After a sound sleep on the sofa-bed in John Flook's "cook cabin" I am awake on Neptune Island to a gray morning. The clouds are low and it looks like we are just on the verge of rain. I think it did actually drizzle for a few minutes earlier; that is what woke me up.
The conditions match the predictions I heard on the weather radio broadcast yesterday: wind from the east, high probability of rain, morning mist and fog, mostly cloudy. There must be a low pressure trough to the south of us, and we are getting the counter-clockwise flow around it from the east.
We've lost that beautiful fair weather we had for two days, but at least it isn't raining. And if things hold as they are now, the day will be decent for boating since the winds are very light. We just need a little breeze to come up and blow off this mist and haze hanging over the water.
0745 Shortly I am joined by John Flook, and we enjoy a cup of coffee (or two) on the porch. John reminisces about coming to the island in previous years. His family acquired ownership of it back in the 1930's. Even today, it is not a place you can easily get to. There are hundreds of miles of two lane highway on the route and maybe a long ferry ride just to get to Manitoulin. From there you have to come out by boat. In 1930 there were hardly roads around here at all, and coming up for the summer must have taken practically a week of travel each way. You had to have really wanted to get up here to make that trip.
By a qwirk of nature, about 100 feet of water separate Neptune Island from Great La Cloche Island. Without that intervening gap, Neptune would be part of Great La Cloche, a really huge piece of property (46,000 acres and 17 lakes) which has never been subdivided and is still owned by one individual.
As we are rocking on the porch, enjoying some specialty coffee, John tells me a few stories, including one about getting stranded in their old "camp boat" and having to walk back miles along the north shore of Great La Cloche and then try to swim back across that 100-feet of ice cold water in late Spring.
Great La Cloche has remained virtually undeveloped, a surprising situation considering almost all of the smaller islands--there are hundreds-- that surround it in the Bay of Islands have seen development as cottage sites. It may be the result of an agreement to abate the taxes on the huge property in exchange for leaving it as a wildlife preserve. In any event, for privately owned land in this region it is wonderfully preserved in its natural state.
The schedule of events calls for a reunion of the Whaler gang here this morning for a big breakfast, then a second cook out dinner early this evening. John and Katie have been wonderful hosts, and their hospitality is unmatched.
0900 Quite punctually, the flotilla of Whalers begins to arrive. This will be our biggest gathering, as the Boehle's have returned to join the fleet from yesterday, making a total of eight Whalers moored at the dock, and a crowd of about twenty.
John takes up his station at the grill, cooking sausage and other meats, while Katie and the ladies turn out piles of waffles, toast, and other breakfast treats. The coffee pots are continuously brewing, and the breakfast is in full swing.
1200 By noon, everyone has had several cups of coffee and a full meal, and it is time to go boating. Today we are going to head north and east, across the Bay of Islands, to the little town of Whitefish Falls. It's a course through hundreds of islands, and the government chart (2286) doesn't show a single buoy on it in this region. The little spars and cans are out there, they just never made it on the chart! I've never been farther than about two miles to the east, so we are going to depend on John to guide us through the maze of shoals and rocks.
I've always wanted to explore the Bay of Islands, but the lack of good charts and accurate hydrology has kept me out of there for years. In 1997, we did sail down east a few miles to Sturgeon Bay, but that is as far as we got with the 5-foot draft sailboat. Now, with some nimble Whalers and a guide like John Flook, we are going all the way to Whitefish Falls, a little village at the head of the Bay. You can follow along on Chart 2286, but that red courseline is just a guess about where we went!
Also joining us will be John's daughter and his neice, who are taking the family's Montauk-17. John wants to season his daughter with some more boat handling and navigation, and this cruise of Whalers is a opportunity for her to get some good experience in both.
Jim Gibson brings MEMORY out into deep water departing from Neptune Island. Your author stands next to him, still adjusting to the cool and damp weather.
PhotoCredit: Tom Birdsey
Larry Goltz (LCG) pilots the Outrage-18 eastward along the north shore of Great LaCloche Island, just off Alert Point. The Sunday afternoon cruise was made in overcast conditions.
Snug behind all that Mills Canvas, Larry Goltz (LHG) take the Outrage-25 across our wake, showing us a bit of that Classic Boston Whaler hull in the process. Behind him are Great LaCloche Island, Bedford Island, Amendroz Island, and Clapperton Island.
Bruce Boehle's son drives the family eastward along Great La Cloche Island.
Tom Birdsey pilots his Outrage-18 eastward toward the Bay of Islands. In the background are the LaCloche Mountains of Lake Huron's north shore.
Approaching Wells Island
The boats approach the narrows at Wells Islands. That's John Flook in the lead. The red daymark on the tip of the island to the right is one of the few prominent aids to navigation in this maze of channels.
Rear Guard Montauk
John's daughter piloted the Montauk-17. With all the crisscrossed wakes, she found a comfortable spot to run at the back of the fleet. We've just come through the narrow gap at Wells Island.
From Neptune our fleet heads east, coasting down the north shore of Great La Cloche Island, and passing south of Wells Island, until we encounter a Channel Bifurcation Buoy. We take the northern course, and proceed through a maze of islands. Only a few of these are named. Most are just numbered in correspondence with the platted maps of the tax assessor. On many of the islands there are structures, ranging from elaborate summer estates to simple cabins. And there is a fair amount of boat traffic along the waterway: guys out fishing, folks out for a cruise, kids trying to waterski or tube. This end of the Bay is a hidden little community of cottages that you don't see much of in the North Channel.
Since we've turned north, I have lost track of where we are. It is too hard to follow our path on the sketchy outlines of Chart 2286. The aids to navigation are arranged just close enough to one another that you can lead yourself along the route, although even John has to stop down once to verify that we're taking the proper fork in the trail. I'm back on board MEMORY, and Jim Gibson is moving us in and out of the fleet as I take some pictures along the way. About five miles up from the RGR, we arrived at the village of Whitefish Falls.
To enter Whitefish Falls from the Bay of Islands requires negotiating some narrow passages between rocks. It's a tight squeeze. Once in the village proper, the waterway narrows to the point where you could--even if you don't have a good arm--throw a football across. Each side is lined with small, rustic cottages with short boat docks extending outward. Whitefish Falls is really in the backwaters of the North Channel.
The Whaler Gang
The arrival of eight Boston Whalers to the little village of Whitefish Falls caused some excitement on shore.
Our eight-boat flotilla filled up the waterway for a few minutes while several of us refueled. The view shows a good comparison in size between the 18 and 25 Outrages. That's Bruce Boehle's Nauset 16 in the middle, with the only blue gelcoat in our fleet.
Introducing a fleet of eight Boston Whalers to this little waterway has the equivalent effect of the circus coming to town. Just about everyone on shore stops what they're doing, comes down to the sea wall, and gawks at the line of boats.
"Where ya from?" asks a woman on shore from 30 feet away. We explain the geographic diversity of our group. The question is repeated by the next shore resident we pass. And the next.
The town, small as it is, does provide two fuel docks, and a couple of the boats pull in for gasoline. I notice that these pumps are so old and so far off the main stream that they're still calibrated in Imperial Gallons, not litres-- another unit of measurement to deal with!
While the guys are fueling, the rest of us idle up and down the channel, still the object of close scrutiny from the shore residents. I guess Whitefish Falls doesn't get too many Boston Whaler Rendezvous.
"I feel like I am in the movie Easy Rider," says John Flook to me as we pass in the channel. That's a hilarious remark, and pretty much describes the situation we're experiencing.
Low water limits further exploration upstream, where we might be able to see the falls for which the town is named, but on advice from the locals about rocks in the middle of the channel, we forsake that part of the trip.
To make our cruise more interesting, John takes the southern loop of the small-craft route for the return, and we are off into another maze of islands and channels. The water clarity is still good here, but the sun is hidden behind solid overcast, making it hard to see submerged rocks and shoals. We're idling along, enjoying the scenery, picking our way among the channels, and having a good time. The weather has thankfully refrained from rain all afternoon, and it even looks like it is clearing up a bit. At least the ceiling has moved from 500-feet up to a couple of thousand feet of cloud cover.
This route is a real maze, and this arm is harder to follow than the more direct course we took on the way up. After a few more miles of slow twists and turns, we get back to the RGR buoy, and I again have a sense of where we are. From here it is a straight shot back to Neptune.
Heading west through the buoyed passage between Wells Island and Great LaCloche, we emerge into open water again. The wind is still just ghosting from the east, and the water quite calm. The course is straight and the path clear ahead. John goes back up on plane in the lead. LCG jumps our wake in the 18-Outrage and zooms past. LHG, whose been behind us all the way on the return, wheels the Outrage-25 outside of us, hits the gas, and comes roaring past us. As the big Whaler jumps our wake, I get to see the entire length of its keel, just the lower units remain in the water. I believe a drag race has broken out!
A high speed run back to Neptune Island ensues. Among outboard engine enthusiasts this is known as "cleaning off an oil-fouled sparkplug" or something like that.
1600 Back at the island camp, John prepares for another big cook out, and we try to lend a hand. There's another couple, friends of the Flook's who are coming up for a visit, and they need to be picked up down in Little Current, and there are four yellow drums of diesel that need refueling to keep the island's generator running. We load up WHALE LURE and head down to Little Current with BACKLASH joining us on the run.
On the way down, I get a chance to drive the Outrage-25 in calm water, and while we are flying south on the Waubuno Channel, LHG is entering data into the GPS Chart Plotting electronics. As we turn east and pick up the buoyed channel, Larry is busily entering an "event marker" for each pair of buoys on the route. I am getting the hang of driving this big boat, and I take her right to the fuel dock at Spider Bay.
While we pump some diesel into the WW-II surplus containers, John's daughter goes ashore to scout for the arriving couple. They're a little late, held up by some big Haw-Eater Weekend parade through town that shut down traffic for 45 minutes. We move down to Dock-8 and our assigned slips to wait. Shortly the newcomers find us on the dock; they're not boaters but know enough about Boston Whalers to recognize a couple of them on sight. They'd heard about the Rendezvous this weekend, and figured we must be their ride back to Neptune.
1730 For the trip back to Neptune, I jump to a new boat, the 21-Walk-Around. Lynn joins me, while John's daughter, his friends, their gear, and the diesel fuel ride back with LHG.
As we depart Dock-8, we are about to discover something that has been happening all day without our notice. As I described earlier, on Friday and Saturday we had a big westerly wind running, with the effect that a lot of water had been blown east, down to this end of the North Channel. Today, the westerly has died and been replaced with east winds. Some of that extra water we've been boating on has rolled back to where it came, and levels around here have dropped about 10-12 inches. What tips us off to this seiche is the thump that Steve's prop makes when we find a little piece of the bottom on the way out of the slip! Where did that come from?
A set back stern bracket has been installed, moving the 200-HP Yamaha about eight inches off the transom. A close-up view shows more details.
Water clarity--even in the Marina--is excellent, and you can also see the Doel-Fin mounted on the cavitation plate.
No real damage done to the stainless steel propellor, we continue back to Neptune. Steve gratiously turns the helm over to me for the short trip. The deep-vee hull tracks like on rails, and the ride is excellent. The 200-HP Yamaha V-6 provides plenty of power, and it is mounted on a setback plate that moves it about 8-inches behind the transom for improved performance. Most impressive is the installation Steve has made of the various instruments on the helm console. A matching Lowrance Global Map 1000 GPS and LMS-350A Sonar are set into the control panel. A KVG digital compass is beautifully installed on the sloping dash with a custom made bezel that levels the compass indicator to horizontal. I am very impressed with Steve's work; he must be a machinist!
Under navy-blue Mills & Co. canvas and a custom radar arch, the cockpit is very cozy. You sit protected behind a sturdy black-framed windshield. Across the top of the arch are four rod holders, three antennas (GPS + Radios), and two flag staffs. The Canadian courtesy ensign flies from the lower staff; the American flag from the main one. The flag ettiquette is a nice touch. Two yacht-like cushioned swivel seats provide both helmsman and co-pilot comfortable seating. The walk around design has nice access to the bow, with a long sloping bow rail that runs right to the cockpit. The transom notch is narrow, accommodating only one engine, and there are quarter seats with lockers beneath on each side of the engine splash well.
The quick trip in calm waters doesn't give me too much of a chance to see what this 21-Walk-Around can do, but she gives every indication of living up to the Boston Whaler reputation for rugged, seaworthy, and high-quality boats. BACKLASH may be one of the last of the "Classics."
Back at Neptune with our party swelled to its largest numbers, John and Katie serve up another delicious cook out. The socializing continues, and there is even more boating going on. Larry Goltz (LHG) goes out for a spin around Bell Cove with Bruce Boehle in the 16-Nauset. "He just loves that boat," says LCG of his dad's continued admiration for the Nauset hull.
1971 Whaler 16-Nauset|
Bruce Boehle trailered this blue-interior classic up from Ohio. Two-stroke 90-HP Yamaha main engine shares the transom with a 4-stroke Mercury auxillary.
After dinner, our big group gathers on the beach for a little ceremony. Larry Goltz (LHG) presents John Flook with the latest edition of the Richardson Chart Book. It's a small token of our collective appreciation for the incredible hospitality of the Flook's, but it brings a big smile to John's face. And before we run entirely out of daylight, we gather for a group picture on the floating docks, nearly submerging them in the process.
The Perfect Host
After cooking three meals for our gang, John was still in good humor on Sunday evening as we held a little ceremony to present him our gift: a new Richardson Chart book.
North Channel 2000 Classic Whaler Rendezvous
L to R: Sarah, Matt, and Bruce Boehle; Tom, Karen, and Scott Birdsey; John Flook, Larry Goltz, Jim Hebert, Jim Gibson, Patrick, Lynn, Larry Goltz; Steve and Carolyn Farnsworth.
Finally, the reluctant fleet begins to head back to Spider Bay Marina. It has been a wonderful day and evening on Neptune and in the Bay of Islands, but darkness is coming, and navigating demands departure.
Saying adeiu and getting underway takes time, and before Larry (LHG) and Tom Birdsey can motor out, the sun has set. It's not twilight anymore; it is night! I'm riding back on WHALE LURE, and I'm a little concerned. In 22-weeks of cruising these waters, we've never been underway at night before.
Larry has an ace up his sleeve: the GPS Chart Plotter. It holds the memory of five previous trips along this track. All we have to do is steer one of those old courselines, and we'll pilot ourselves right to Little Current.
As we motor out into the misty black night, LHG gives me the helm--"Larry must trust me," I think to myself--while he hunches over the GPS instrumentation. We have enough light to feel our way out of the passage from Neptune into the main channel, and Tom Birdsey and family are following us in their 18-Outrage. LHG's fingers are flying on the GPS keypad, adjusting the screen contrast, zooming in on the track, tweaking other parameters. Soon we are dialed in.
"Just keep her on this track," Larry says to me, "it'll take us right to the marina."
I give the big twins some gas, and we jump on plane. Our navigation lights blazing, we are cruising down the North Channel on a pitch black and misty night, running on instruments. In our wake, the lights of Tom's boat are falling farther behind, until it becomes clear that he's not running at speed with us at all. We have to go back to see what is the problem.
Retracing our path back to Tom, we find him working on the power tilt/trim on his engine. There seems to be a problem, but he gets it going well enough to continue the dark passage to Manitoulin. We turn west again, looking for the Waubuno Channel.
This night running is something new for me in the North Channel. Virtually no boat traffic exists after dark up here. We are holding our course to one of the previous tracks, turning south at Northwest Point on Great LaCloche, and going down the Waubuno Channel. To our left we can just perceive the dark shore of unlit, uninhabited Great LaCloche Island; to our right somewhere in the unseen mist is Halfway Island.
About a quarter-mile down the Waubuno Channel, I begin to see the flashing light on the tip of Narrow Island. It is reassuringly dead ahead, and this provides confirmation that our GPS is giving us an accurate track. We are heading south at planing speed, in calm water but restricted visibility. Larry expresses concern about striking a floating log or other debris, but I reassure him that I've never seen any such stuff at all in this part of the North Channel.
We turn east when the track plot calls for us to, and in a few seconds we can pick up the lighted buoy at Picnic Island. When I center us on the GPS track, the light is dead ahead. We close down on it, reducing our speed. Tom Birdsey is still behind us, following our wake and navigation lights.
Here the piloting gets critical, as the proper channel is only about 100-feet wide. As I watch the GPS display, Larry and Lynn look for the buoys to appear out of the mist.
"A Green buoy coming up on this side," yells Lynn from the starboard rail.
"Red one over here," says Larry from the port side. We are dead center on both the water and the GPS display. Four pairs of buoys slide past us in the dark, and then we arrive at Spider Bay Marina. Ambient light from the docks and overhead guides us in. We've made our first instrument landing!
Tom Birdsey is right behind us, and soon we are all tied up on Dock-8. It's time for bed, but first we try to solve this tilt-trim problem with Tom's big 150-HP Mercury.
The culprit is a corroded connection in the primary battery power line to the tilt pump relay. Some WD-40 removes the burned residue of the remains of the connector, but the binding post has been heated so much that the retaining nut is frozen in place. It looks like something that will need more attention in the morning.
The Birdsey's depart for the comfort of the Shaftesbury Inn, while I move my flag over to their Outrage-18 for the night. Tom has the full set of Mills Canvas for the boat, creating a cozy space for me underneath it. I move the cooler seat from in front of the console to one side of it, and this opens up enough room in the bow for me to stretch out and sleep. I crawl into my sleeping bag, make a few adjustments to the zippered opening in the canvas at the bow to regulate the amount of fresh air coming aboard, and settle in for the night.
Just east of us, in downtown Little Current, the Haw-Eater weekend is wrapping up with a big fireworks display. That breaks up around 10:30 p.m. After that, I sleep the restful sleep that always comes when floating in the magical waters of the North Channel.
The 1989 Boston Whaler 25 Outrage is the queen of the fleet at our Rendezvous, and the largest Boston Whaler you can trailer without special over-wide permits. Her heritage is Classic Boston Whaler all the way, including the familiar lines of the Bob Dougherty-designed hull, the beautiful teak trim, hatches, gunwales, and seats of her interior, and the extensive Mills canvas in classic blue. Specially ordered, she came with the bow pulpit extension, a special order full transom, and a custom Armstrong stern bracket. Although her size has prevented her from being stored indoors, she's kept well covered when not in use, and the boat's condition is extraordinary.
I have to confess that, although I love the North Channel and Tobermory and boating in that area in general, one of the reasons I had to come to the Rendezvous was to get a chance to see, ride, and drive WHALE LURE.
I first saw her coming down the road to Tobermory for launching. The impression is immediate: big! This is a lot of boat, The addition of the stern bracket stretches the length, and the added radar arch increases the height as well. With the twin outboards tilted up for trailering, the overall trailered length from tongue to the skegs must be approaching 35 feet. With the hull sitting quite high on the keel roller trailer, the top of the radar arch towers 11-feet 4-inches above the pavement.
Once WHALE LURE slid into the water, she didn't lose too much of that size--she's still a big boat, particularly for an outboard. I think a lot of people would react on seeing her by saying something like "I didn't know they made Boston Whalers that big."
1989 Outrage-25 WHALE LURE
The Armstrong stern bracket holds a pair of 200-HP outboards on this big classic from Boston Whaler's finest era. Abundant wood trim, Desert Tan gelcoat, Dougherty hull, and Mills canvas add to the appeal. Owner Larry Goltz and companion Lynn are approaching Whitefish Falls, a little backwater in the Bay of Islands, North Channel of Lake Huron.
The lines of the Outrage-25 hull are similar to the smaller classic Outrages, and they produce similar performance. This style of hull is known for being very seaworth, stable, easy to plane, and economical to operate. These qualities derive from the hull form and from the unique Uni-Bond construction, which produces remarkable strength and rigidity in the hull yet does so with surprising little weight.
As naval architects can tell you mathmatically, and as every boater knows from experience, the bigger the boat the better the ride. The ride characteristics of the Outrage-25 are similar to the Outrage-18, but everything is better. There's more stability at rest and there is less pounding in waves. That's not to say that the 25-foot hull is immune to any hard motions or slamming--I believe I demonstrated this myself--but that it is proportionally more graceful in handling the sea than its smaller cousins. In fact, the qualities of a boat that we generally categorize as its "ride" tend to improve with its length at greater than a linear ratio. A boat twice as long as another will probably have four times the sea-keeping abilities, or more.
The 25-foot hull is still produced by the Commercial Division of Boston Whaler, and it is used extensively by the U.S. Coast Guard and other military and civilian customers. Some at Boston Whaler say it is "the best hull we ever made."
As a sailor, I used to see powerboats with outboards hung on a bracket at the stern and think it quite odd. "Why didn't they just make the boat longer," I would ask myself. Now I can see the advantages to mounting the engines behind the boat, as done onWHALE LURE.
In 1989, Boston Whaler was offering three choices of transom and power for the Outrage-25: the traditional cut-down transom, an Inboard/Outboard outdrive using an OMC Sea Drive, and a integral bracket design known as a "Whaler Drive".
The Whaler Drive was an appendage added to the hull--I don't think it it was part of the continuous hull mold, but something attached later--that carried the lines of the hull aft, forming a low bracket onto which outboard engines could be mounted. The intention was that the lower surface of the bracket would be in the water, acting as an extention of the hull and also providing additional floatation.
Faced with all these choices, Larry opted for a forth solution of his own design. He ordered the boat with the full transom, as if it were going to be fitted with an outdrive, but without the outdrive. This "Sea Drive Blank" option ($1,000 additional) was available only on special built-to-order hulls, and there is a good chance that WHALE LURE might be the only one ever built like this. After Whaler finished the boat in Edgewater, Larry delivered it to Armstrong in Stuart, Florida, where they fabricated and attached an aluminum stern bracket ($2,500) of their design to the full transom.
Going this route has several advantages, as Larry explains:
"The bottom surface of the Whaler Drive bracket basically runs in the water, the idea being that it extends hull length. But the greater bottom surface also reduces the efficiency of the boat. (I was told this by the factory people before I ordered the boat.) The Armstrong bracket rides completely clear of the water, and this allows the engines to run in the "swell" coming off the transom, and about 4-inches higher than normal, increasing speed and reducing lower unit drag. If you look carefully at some of the pictures of the 25 with other boats nearby, you will see how much higher the engines are."
The first advantage to the Stern Bracket is it restores the complete transom to the boat. A full, un-cut transom adds strength to the hull structure, and molding the aft deck and bonding it to the full transom increases hull strength even more. It also gives back space. The splash well area can be reclaimed and used for storage. On the Outrage-25, three large lockers are molded into the stern, all in the area that would have been used the splash well. The outer compartments house the batteries and oil resevoirs; the center compartment has a large lift-out well that can be used for bait, fish, or storage.
The full transom also tends to keep water out of the boat, particularly when backing down. And the wide bracket can also be used as a swim platform while not underway--two more advantages!
By moving the engines aft, their performance is improved as well. Several factors come into play. First, the efficiency of the propellors and lower unit can increase. Props that are located several feet behind the hull are able to operate in "cleaner" water, that is water that has not been disturbed by the passage of the boat's hull through it. Also, hydrodynamic forces tend to create a welling up of water behind the boat, allowing the engine to be raised slightly. The aligns the forward thrust more with the center of hull resistance, instead of locating it far below it.
Another advantage in performance occurs because the engines have a longer lever arm in controlling the bow. If you think of the boat while on plane as rocking fore-and-aft around a pivot point near the rear of the hull, moving the engines farther behind this pivot point gives them more leverage to keep the bow height stable. Changes in engine trim will produce greater effect, and thus the engine thrust can be maintained more closely straight ahead, i.e., less trim needed.
Beside the performance improvements, the noise of the engines is moved farther away from the occupants of the boat, and this is clearly desireable. The transom also acts as a shield, deflecting more of the noise away from the cockpit.
Bracket mounted engines seem to demand that their control cables be neatly assembled into protected bundles, and this is true on WHALE LURE. All remote control cables run via a large bundle from transom to engine, reducing the clutter so often found in the splash well of many boats.
The downside to brackets is that they are expensive--several thousand dollars additional on the OEM model and maybe much for an aftermarket unit, plus installation costs. Why the high cost?
The bracket must be superbly engineered to have the strength needed to support the weight of the (twin) engines cantilevered several feet behind the boat. The bracket must also be able to absorb the twisting and torque of the engines, their considerable thrust, and huge shock loads that will occur in waves. Engineering and constrution of an element like this does not come cheaply. Like many aspects of boating, all it takes is money.
Another concern might be the swamping of the engines in large waves. In Larry's design, the engines actually end up being mounted a little higher than they would have been if hung on the transom. They twin 200's are 25-inch shaft engines; the conventional transom uses 20-inch shaft engines. The bracketed engine powerheads are further above the water than the conventional transom mounted engines would be. In either case, these days engine cowlings are specifically designed to prevent ingress of water while still allowing air to be drawn in. Without a splash well surrounding them, there is nothing to retain water if the engines do get slightly dunked, and the bracket itself sheds water immediately.
The outboard version of the 25-Outrage is rated for 300-HP maximum, but with the full transom and bracket design that increases to a maximum power of 450 horsepower! WHALE LURE is powered with twin 1997 Mercury EFI 2-stroke engines of 200-HP, and there is plenty of power available at all times. I don't think we ever approached a full-throttle setting. Again, engine life may be extended by using moderate throttle settings instead of wide-open. The twins on Larry's boat are newer than the boat, the result of an unfortunate theft of the original engines right off the boat while it was moored at the dock of a Georgia marina! These 1997 engines performed flawlessly during the several chances I had to operate them. They were quiet--really very unobtrusive--and whenever you pushed the throttles forward they were there with power, power, power.
These Mercs have oil-injection and don't need pre-mixed fuel and oil. That makes fueling simpler, and with the big tank onboard, that can be significant. Metering a dozen quarts of 2-stroke oil into the tank during a fill-up could be a time consuming process.
I have already spoken at length about the features of twin engines (see the comments on the Outrage-18) and all of that applies again here. Particularly on a longer boat like WHALE LURE the ability to use differential engine thrust to move the bow is especially nice.
The minimum recommended engine size for this hull is 115-HP. Either of the twin 200's can produce good performance on its own, should the need occur. As mentioned previously, when running on a single engine, the prop pitch will be too high on the remaining engine. Since the engines are counter-rotating, Larry carries the smaller-pitched spare only for the left-hand engine, figuring that it would be the hardest one to locate in a pinch.
Use of fine wood (teak and mahogany) components in the interior and trim of Boston Whalers was approaching the end of its fashion run in 1989 when this boat was made. There is no argument that less wood means less upkeep, but, for owners like Larry Goltz who pride themselves on the appearance of the wood and enjoy working on it, there is equally little argument that the addition of all that wood adds immensely to the yacht-like appearance and visual appeal of the boat.
Larry has chosen to maintain the wood using a natural oiled look, just as it was originally delivered from the factory. The resulting tone of the wood is in harmony with the rugged and purposeful nature of the boat. You can step on the teak gunwales, and you don't feel like your feet have just marred a piece of furniture, which is, to my way of thinking, as it should be. Whalers have always been boats which are used; they're not just pretty things that are admired at boat shows.
A few small elements of the wood are varnished to a high gloss, like the flag staff on the transom or a small mahogany cover in the deck sole.
The big Outrage has only a single built-in seat, the one at the console. The rest of the seats are either cooler seats or comfortable cushioned deck chairts. Larry's philosphy on the deck chairs is interesting. "Eventually, they all get mangled," he says, "so I just use inexpensive ones and throw them away when they get wrecked." The deck chairs sit in the large rear cockpit and provide a nice perch, especially with your feet up on the cooler or the gunwales.
The console seat is another Whaler classic reversible pilot seat (RPS) with wooden seat back. The seat height has been raised six inches to permit enough space underneath for a large cooler and to also fit Larry's long legs better.
In front of the console there is another large cooler, which can also be used as a seat. And in the stern a third big cooler provides another cushioned seat.
Whaler offered several console variations in 1989, including a large "Super Console", but WHALE LURE was ordered with the smaller "Standard Console", which is an excellent design. It is well proportioned to the overall boat and it does not clog up the middle of the cockpit, making access to the bow easy. The stainless grab rail is a well-placed hand hold while underway. The trim and locker doors are are done in teak, while instrument and switch panels are set into black vinyl. The molded portion is done in Desert Tan gelcoat, as is the entire hull and deck. The console has been raised four inches by use of large blocks of wood, putting the controls where they feel better for a tall helmsman like Larry Goltz. The risers also create a nice little area underneath the console to store things. When cruising a low profile plastic container full of galley utensil and canned food stows there.
Larry did the rigging of this boat himself, including installation of all the gauges and instruments. The centerpiece of the navigation electronics is the Lowrance Global Map 2000, which integrates a Differential Global Positioning System Receiver, a Sonar Depthsounder/Fishfinder, and a sophisticated Chart Plotter course tracking computer system into one compact instrument.
Forward of the console is a large bow cockpit area. When overnighting on the boat, there is room for a queen-size camping mattress, making deluxe accommodations for the occupants. The entire area is enclosed and protected by the Forward Shelter canvas. Several molded-in lockers in the deck provide plenty of storage. The large central locker in the cockpit sole is often kept clear and opened to provide a well into which one can step to have full headroom for getting dressed under the canvas!
The Outrage-25 has a large built-in tank with 140-gallon capacity. When full, the fuel adds over 800-pounds of weight to the boat. Consequently, Larry tries to trailer the boat with the tank near empty, fueling just before going in the water. The boat's endurance with a full tank is probably greater than it's occupants.
Just astern of the console, a custom welded radar arch has been installed. This adds functionality to the boat, as well as appearance. When boarding the boat, the rails of the arch are a perfect handhold, as they also are when underway. The arch contains four rod holders for fishing, and a fifth central (gold) one used as a socket for a flag staff. And there are sockets for adding long (18-foot) outriggers for ocean trolling. The boat's antennas (GPS, DGPS, and VHF) are also mounted atop the structure.
The arch also carries a white masthead light that shows forward only. The transom mounted stern mast's white light shows aft only. This is another little detail that is part of the refinement of a Boston Whaler. Splitting the light into two segments maintains a zone of darkness right at the console, keeping the bright navigation lights out of the eyes of the helmsman. Also attached to the arch are two large flood lights aimed into the forward and aft cockpit to provide night lighting.
The arch is raked towards the stern, which to my eye is the correct inclination. I see plenty of boats with the arch raked forward, but that looks "wrong" to me. WHALE LURE's arch leans back, as it should.
Although she has travelled over 80,000 miles on land by trailer, and countless more miles at sea on both fresh and salt water, WHALE LURE is pristine. Every detail of her hull, cockpit, engines, rigging, and deck is in perfect condition, flawless really. One can only imagine the hours of care that have maintained her in such a state. Yet the boat is not just polished up for show, she is used and enjoyed. As a open boat for fishing or cruising the ocean coastline or the Great Lakes, she is wonderful, and rigged with her full canvas, she transforms into a very capable overnighter. She has speed when needed (60 MPH or more), endurance, and can handle the big waves as well as anything her size. She's a great boat!
Because of her size, indoor storage has been difficult to arrange, and the boat has spent most of her eleven years outdoors. During this time she has always been protected by a Wm. J. Mills & Co. mooring cover. After more than a decade of use, Larry describes the cover like this: "It has held up beautifully, and still has years left. No holes, no deterioration from ultra violet, etc. Only minor re-stitching has had to be done where some thread deteriorated. Other brands would have long been shot."
As you can see from the many details and refinements, WHALE LURE is not a boat that you just go down to the dealer and find sitting on the showroom floor. It is the fourth Boston Whaler that Larry Goltz has owned, and the many decision and choices made in assembling it reflect the years of experience Larry has had in operating outboard trailerable boats.
When you browse through the catalogue of Boston Whaler from this era (1989), you see pages of wonderful classic boats like this. The diversity and choice available in the product line was very large. In the 25-foot classic hull alone, you had three style of power available: outboard, Whaler Drive, or I/O. You could select either an open boat, the Outrage, add a flush deck cuddy cabin, the Outrage-Cuddy, or add on a full cabin molded top, the Revenge. In the Outrage style boats there were two choices of console: standard or super. Many optional styles of seating were also available. All these designs were produced with beautiful quality construction, and trimmed in fine nautical tradition with teak and mahogany components. The hull weights were comparatively light (in contrast to many newer models) and their performance excellent. As many have noted, this was perhaps Whaler's finest hour of boatbuilding. Certainly WHALE LURE must be one of the finest of these classic boats.
I'd be remiss if I did not publically express my thanks to Larry Goltz for the wonderful opportunity to ride and drive this great boat. I think I learned more about handling twin engine Boston Whalers in two days than I would have in two years on my own. Larry, your kindness in allowing me aboard and at the helm is truly appreciated. And that dark night run and full instrument landing was the biggest kick of all!
Now Ready: Day Four--Slogging Upwind to Tobermory
Copyright © 1999, 2000 by James W. Hebert. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited!
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Author: James W. Hebert