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Cetacea Page 25

November 11, 2000

The Menemsha

This week's installment of Cetacea is focused on an early 16-foot model, the Menemsha.

Menemsha--The Town

Dick Fisher was a pioneer in the use of model names for his innovative boats. For many of the early styles of Boston Whaler boats, he used curious geographic place names that reflected both his own New England heritage and that of the boats. One of the more unique names was "Menemsha", borrowed from a 300-year old fishing village on Martha's Vineyard in the Atlantic Ocean. Outside of downeast fishermen, when this model debuted in 1965 most people had never heard of Menemsha, nor could they pronounce it!

Even thirtyfive years after its introduction, most Boston Whaler fans can't point to Menemsha, Massachusetts without consulting an atlas.


[MAP: Menemsha Village on Martha's Vineyard]
Menemsha, Massachusetts on Martha's Vineyard
Dick Fisher chose this little fishing village as the name for one of his early Boston Whaler models. When he tossed his dart at the map, imagine what would have happened if it had landed just a little to the left and a bit lower...


Menemsha ("still water" in an American Indian dialect) used to be known as Creekville in the 1800's. It was just a narrow waterway connecting Vineyard Sound to Menemsha Pond. The channel was dredged and a stone jetty was build into the ocean, leading to the establishment of a commerical fishing fleet operating from the village by 1910.

Although you might never have been to Menemsha, there is a good chance you've seen it. Menensha harbor was used in the movie JAWS as a stand-in for the docks of the fictional town of Amityville.

In 1938 a hurricane nearly took Menemsha off the map. Today, it is a quaint tourist town in summer (population 4,357), a small seaside village (650 residents) the rest of the year. Menemsha refers to itself as "an unpretentious community whose livelihood and inhabitants are deeply connected to the sea." In many ways that also describes the Menemsha model of Boston Whaler.

Menemsha--The Boat

The Menemsha model was an early example of a construction technique that Whaler would continue to use for many years and with other models. The basic boat hull of the 16-foot model was turned into the Menemsha by the addition of a third molded assembly, a superstructure that was placed over the hull and mechanically fastened to it. The new molded assembly formed a small cabin and bridge, turning the basic Boston Whaler 16-foot hull into a mini-cabin cruiser! The Menemsha was made from approximately 1965 until 1972.


[Photo: 1970 Whaler 16 Menemsha Catalogue Photo]
1970 Boston Whaler 16 Menemsha
The Menemsha as it appeared in the catalogue. Note the stern railing which was standard on this model.

PhotoCredit: BW Co. Catalogue 1970


1970 Catalogue Description

The Whaler catalogue described the Menemsha like this:

"The Menemsha is built on the 16' 7" Boston Whaler hull with minor modification to permit installation of head and cabin shell. A fully lined monocoque cabin encloses two settee berths. The head is located under the fold-up section of the starboard berth. Privacy curtains close off the cabin entrance when snapped in place. A folding table is hinged to the control console. A notable feature is the large and rugged fore hatch which because of special hardware may be left open underway and is big enough to stand in, sit in, enter and exit by. The hatch and cabin may be walked upon and prominent ribs both secure footing and provide hand grip.

"A massive anodized aluminum windshield carries two opening panes and may be provided with a windshield wiper. The canvas navy top erects to a clearance height of about 6' 3" and together with the side curtains and rear drop curtains makes a fully secure enclosure.

"The pilot seat is cushioned and of a height permitting seated vision through the windshield. Controls are comfortable for either standing or sitting and both foot rest and foot stool are provided to permit persons of any stature to see over the windshield when desired.

"A locker lined with wood is below the pilot seat, and a seat and fish locker are part of the same structure. At the port side rear is a seat covering the place for battery installation, balancing the weight of the head. All wiring and control cables go through an under-floor tunnel, as on other 16' 7" Whalers. Two 12-gallon gas tanks may be carried in a wide open space below the pilot seat structure which stands free on tubular supports. The gas hose passes aft through the starboard rail cabinet.

"The special stern rail is provided for passenger protection in an emergency tilt and is a most congenial addition for casual leaning or gripping. The wast rails are provided with handsome weather cloths, and all rails are stainless.

"The Menemsha give the hardnosed outdoorsman a feeling of mastery over any possible water environment which is at least partly justified. And it gives his "better half" a sense of security, protection and comfort far greater than any previous Boston Whaler.

"STANDARD EQUIPMENT: Fiberglas cabin assembly with forward hatch; Forward locker and cover; Head (w/o treatment or storage); Privacy curtains; Twin bunks with cushions; Hinged cabin table and locaker; Control console assembly with foot rest; Single lever control (specify make and model); Mechanical steerer; Wiring panel with switches and fuses; Compass; Fire extinguisher; Safety glass, windshield opening type; Pilot seat assembly with helmsman's seat, storage locker and fish box; Stainless side rails and weather cloths; International lights; Dome light; Battery deck seat; Stainless stern rail; Vinyl rub rail; Forward tie up bit; Two deck lines; Lifting eyes (2 stern, 1 bow); Towing eyes (2 stern, 1 bow); Drain plugs."

MENEMSHA TOTAL................$ 3,700

Electric bilge pump kit........ $  38
Electric Windshield Wiper
 installed..................... $  32
Navy top with boot,
side curtains, windshield panel
and drop curtain............... $ 240
Mooring Cover.................. $ 97
SPECIFICATIONS: Centerline length.....16' 7" Width, extreme........ 6' 2" Transom height........ 21" Transom width......... 36" Load capacity........ 2400 lbs. Weight............... 1200 lbs. Motor capacity....... single engine up to 100 HP; auxillary 5 to 18 HP, both long shaft


Extant Menemsha's 2000

Tom Birdsey <> was vacationing in New Hampshire and took this photo:


[Photo: Whaler 16 Menemsha on trailer]
Boston Whaler 16 Menemsha
This Menemsha sits in a boatyard at Lake Winnepasaukee where it is affectionately nicknamed "the duckbilled platypus" by the guys in the repair shop next door.

PhotoCredit: Tom Birdsey


Dave Stark <> of Tacoma, Washington, recently bought a Menemsha and sent these photos of the boat and its former owners:


[Photo: Whaler 16 Menemsha on trailer] Boston Whaler 16 Menemsha
When you add an adult aboard, the small size of the little cruiser becomes more apparent.

PhotoCredit: Dave Stark


Dave writes:

"My Menemsha has a 1988 Suzuka 85 HP with a stainless prop. I was a bit skeptical about this engine when I first got the boat, but I've been really happy with it. It's very reliable and powerful. With just me aboard, this boat will do an honest 33-knots wide open. She likes to cruise at about 23-knots using some 7 gallons per hour. I installed two 13-gallon poly tanks in her which will give me a range of about 80 miles.

"The boat also has a 2 HP Johnson kicker. Even this little guy will push her along at a good clip, about 6 knots. The boat was pretty well 'used' when I got it (it still is), but I did some work on it:

"I just got an estimate to replace the canvas, including a camper back, so I will probably go ahead with that this winter. I also plan to install two nice pedestal seats up front sometime soon."


[Photo: c.1970 Whaler 16 Menemsha] Boston Whaler 16 Menemsha
This mini-cruiser even has an auxillary engine! The classic 16-foot hull lines are clearly seen.

PhotoCredit: Dave Stark


"I use the boat exclusively on Puget Sound, and I am planning to take her part way up the Inside Passage next summer, so that should be fun. I have slept on her a few times, and--actually--those bunks inside are reasonably comfortable. It's nice to know that you can sleep off shore if you have to. All in all, I am really happy with this boat. I'm a Whaler guy from way back and I always wanted a Montauk, but the Menemsha and its little cabin is way better I think, at least for the cooler climate of the pacific NW.

"I will take some better pictures in the near future, Jim, thought I may wait until I get the canvas done first. Thanks again for your fine work on the site."


[Photo: Whaler 16 Menemsha Bow Hatch] Boston Whaler 16 Menemsha
The bow hatch was a unique two-sided affair that opened up the entire front of the boat. Again, the early Whaler bow minus the "smirk" is seen here.

PhotoCredit: Dave Stark


Mike Housey <> sent these shots of his Menemsha . He writes:

"I have owned the Cajun Dolphin for two years now and am deeply in love with it. Someone told me that there were only seventeen boats of this particular model made. Can this be confirmed? [I would think there must have been more-JWH] What can you tell me about it? Any information would be greatly appreciated."


[Photo: 1969 Whaler 16 Menemsha on canal]
1969 Boston Whaler 16 Menemsha
Not all the Menemsha's are stuck on trailers. This one is enjoying life on the backwaters of the bayou at Delacroix, Louisiana. Note the weather cloths strung onto the side rails, typical of early Whalers. They provided protection without adding much weight.

PhotoCredit: Mike Housey


[Photo: 1969 Whaler 16 Menemsha at wharf]
1969 Boston Whaler 16 Menemsha
An interesting boat at an interesting waterway, Camp "Hogg Heaven" on Grand Bayou, Louisana.

PhotoCredit: Mike Housey


[Photo: 1969 Whaler 16 Menemsha hatch open]
1969 Boston Whaler 16 Menemsha
The unique opening bow hatch is one way to identify a Menemsha. Dockside on Grand Bayou, Louisiana

PhotoCredit: Mike Housey


[Photo: 1969 Whaler 16 Menemsha Windshield detail]
Windshield detail
Ignoring for a moment 1st-Mate Darren Housey holding a Black Drum in the foreground, this view shows the windshield details, the bimini, and the side curtains. The original factory canvas from this era was always tan (and made by Wm. J. Mills & Co.), so this is likely from another source.

PhotoCredit: Mike Housey


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