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Owner Testimonials

Performance of 15-Foot Hull
by Clark Roberts

The 15-foot and 17-foot hulls both do about 34 MPH with a 50 HP engine. The only reason I can think of for this enigma is that 50 HP is not enough for the 15 to get into its performance band (not enough power to lift hull to point of max performance/minimum hull resistance), and that 50 HP is enough to reach "hull high" attitude on the 17 due to its broad planing surfaces (compared to the 15's deeper V and minimal flat planing surface.

If you increase power to 70 HP then the 15 will actually fly and climb so high that only a small pad of hull is in the water. The same 70 HP on the 17 will perform brilliantly but not enough power to lift the 17 hull much more than the 50 HP. A 90- or 100 HP engine will lift the 17 but it doesn't like it, and the 17 will start to porpoise up and down or "chine walk" in a way, complaining that "air time" is not its thing.

On the other hand, the 15-foot hull loves "air time" and doesn't tend to porpoise so long as fore/aft weight distribution is favorable. Max performance is, after all, a function of proper engine set-up (height on transom, jack plate, tune, proper trim, etc.), hull condition, weight distribution, optimum prop type and pitch, good fuel, and so on.

By way of comparrison, I have a 15 with a 40 HP four cylinder Merc, raised about 5 inches on a "Bob's" Jack Plate MJ-5, turning a Yamaha 14" cleaver type ss prop that will run with most 15's with 50+ HP. But if I put 3 adults aboard it doesn't perform very well at all! It's a great one or two passenger rig. If I normally carried a heavy load I would need more "power". The intended use will drive the decision on power. The 17 is more forgiving than the 15 when adding weight as it has tremendous load carring capacity, and the 15 is very sensitive to port/starboard trim and added weight.

Clark Roberts; E-Mail:

Performance of 15-Foot Hull
by Douglass Atkinson

I got my boys a 1990 GLS 15 with a 2007 Honda BF50 last year, and they spent the summer in Marblehead, Massachusetts, blasting around the North Shore. As luck would have it, a friend of theirs has a Montauk 17 with the exact same Honda BF 50 motor—same year as well. Needless to say, it didn't take them too long before they were drag racing each other all around the outer harbor. And the outcome was always the same: the 15-foot Whaler wins going away. While I think the comments by Clark Roberts are striking and in a way controversial, and I am sure it is his sincere belief that they go roughly the same speed, it has been my experience that it is simply not true. And I believe that is based primarily on simple physics. A 17-foot Montauk weighs over 800-lbs, while a 15-footSport weighs 500-lbs and change. Regardless of the hull shape, those 300 pounds against a 50-HP motor will most likely rule the race.

Douglas Atkinson

Growing Up Whaler
by Doug Merril

"I grew up on the Severn River, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay near Annapolis, Maryland When I was about 14, my parents purchased a new 1983 Whaler 15 Sport. It was definitely one of the best investments they made in my (and my sisters') childhood. My two younger sisters and I spent summers in sailing school in Annapolis, a four mile ride down the Severn. The Whaler was our transportation to and from sailing school, friend's houses, and summer jobs in Annapolis. It gave us kids a tremendous sense of independence, not to mention some just plain fun water skiing after school and all summer long. We were taught by my father to be self sufficient, responsible boaters at a very early age, and looking back, I have to admit that his trust was well founded. We valued our independence, and used it responsibly. Even though I haven't lived in Maryland since leaving for college, I still return for at least a week in the summer to visit family and friends. The 15 is still at the dock, now on a lift since it is not used nearly as much as it was in its early days.

"We purchased the Whaler 15 in 1983 with a 70 HP Mercury. The Merc was never set up right, and I can't recall why, but it was in and out of the shop at least six times that first summer, and the dealer finally put a new '84 Merc 70 HP on it under warranty the first winter. The following summer we had better performance with the engine, but still more trouble than you would expect for a brand new motor. The third summer we traded the motor for a 70 HP Yamaha. No problems. That motor is still on the boat today, and still highly reliable.

"The Mercs were always a little faster than the Yamaha. The speedo on the boat (terrible by comparison to todays handheld GPS's) told us we would hit 47 MPH with the Mercs. The Yamaha would hit about 44 when new. My guess is both figures are about 3-5 MPH higher than true speed, but who knows. The difference in pulling power was night and day. While the Merc would pull up a slalom skier, it was definitely maxed out. The Yamaha didn't seem to care what was dragging behind the boat, it just got up and went. In one case, I remember pulling two slalom skiers out of the water, with three people in the boat. Incredible for a 15 foot boat. Over the years, the motor's strength has deteriorated somewhat. We have swapped to a lower pitch prop to maintain its ability to pull a skier--the skiers seem to be getting heavier, too--at the price of top speed. The 14 year old motor will still pull me (175 lbs) out of the water adequately, and top speed is about 36 mph. Not bad for the old girl.

"The boat is used about 10 days a year now, covered and lifted out of the water when not used. My dad is talking about repowering, possibly with a 4-stroke. I can't help thinking that the boat is looking forward to the increased use it will get when my son is old enough to ski, explore, and just mess around on the Severn River. He was just born this summer, so it will be a few years, but the Whaler will be ready!

"I moved to a lake in Maine about 5 years ago, and tried to bring the 15 up with me. My parents would have no part of that plan. Even though it only gets taken out about 10 days a year, they want it as bait to keep the kids (and grandkids now) coming home. So, this summer I finally bought my own Whaler, choosing a '91 17 Outrage which has proven to be great for skiing and messing around on the lake, but rugged enough to take down to the coast for exploring on nice days."

Doug Merrill E-mail:

15-Foot Hull Speed with 70 HP
by Mark Wendt

My 1985 Whaler 15-Sport will hit 49 MPH with a 70 HP Johnson turning a 13-1/4" x 19" stainless prop. At this speed absolute glassy water is a must, and chine walking is considerable. My Dad clocked this speed on the speedo reading of my Eagle depth finder. At 35 MPH the depth finder reads consistent with my GPS, so I think this is fairly accurate at higher speeds. Needless to say, taking your eyes off the water in front of you to read a 1/4" display on a handheld GPS is not a good idea running above 40 MPH. The speedo readout on the depth finder is 1/2" lettering, so it's much easier to read.

Mark Wendt; E-Mail:

Sink Less in Seattle
by Mike Kaplan

"I bought a whaler about two months ago. All I really knew about them was the 'unsinkable' part and that a 15-footer would fit sideways in my slip. I went shopping and saw about seven of them in two days all right here in Seattle! I felt pretty cocky that summer was almost over and I had so many to choose from. Buyer's market: I should be able to get a great deal.

"I don't mind telling you about the used prices in the Seattle area. From what I've seen online, prices here seem higher than the eastern half the country but I suppose fewer of them made it out here. I use Montauks as a benchmark and very rarely do you ever see one (even bad ones) here for less than $10,000.

"Most of the 15-foot boats I saw in September of 1999 were right around $6,000 with trailers and motors that were about 10 years old. Summer prices where about $1,000 more. I saw one center console (with a 50HP motor) that was a bit rough but seemed sound and fairly original. He was asking $6,200. I went to see it twice but wasn't sure if it was the right boat.

"I was also looking at a sport with seatbacks, a newer trailer, Evinrude 70HP, three batteries and an electric trolling motor (mounted to the cavitation plate of the main motor). He was asking $5,900 but was considering my offer of $4,500. I don't know what happened to that boat but two days later I called back on the center console and it was sold. I shouldn't have asked because it ruined my day--he told me he sold it for $3,700.

"Then I saw a 1984 Center Console Sport. The asking price was $8,900 (with no trailer) which is why I hadn't gone to see it yet. After I saw it, I loved it but played it cool. I made an offer on it, but it was not accepted.

"I couldn't quit thinking about it, and we had a wonderfully sunny weekend coming up. It was really different from the others and in very good shape and had a 1995 Mercury 75 HP on it. I got hooked on this boat and had to have it. So much for a good deal. I caved in, called the seller and we settled at $6,500.

"But, oh, what a day my son and I had driving our "new" boat from her dock on Lake Washington across the lake, past the University of Washington and Husky stadium, through the Ship Canal to Lake Union along the edge of the city and then through the locks, out into Puget Sound and over to our dock on the salt water side of the city. A day to remember.

"I love this little boat! Now that I have it, I think the power is too much. The engine weighs over 300 lbs and makes the boat a little twitchy at full throttle. It really pops up and handles nicely, though I'm sure it would be just as nice with 60 HP and 100 lbs less motor back there."

Mike Kaplan, Seattle, Washington. E-mail:

15-Striper with Cleaver Prop
by Archie Akins

"Many decades ago I had a Boston Whaler 15-Striper on Lake Mead, Nevada. It had a 70-HP Evinrude/Johnson, 13 1/4 x 17 cupped propeller. Top speed was about 42 MPH. One time I tried a stainless steel cleaver propeller, and it was a bit difficult getting the boat to plane. However, once on plan it got up to about 50-52 mph. It was all I could to to hang on for dear life after that point.

"The first day I had the boat, I jump the wake of a fully loaded 28-foot Carver at WOT about 100 feet behind the vessel. I flew so high, the skipper of the Carver said my prop would have cleared his bridge. When I landed I hit just before the other side of the wake. As my bow came up high off of the other wake, I whipped the wheel hard to port and headed back to where I had just come from. I flew high into the air once again. When I landed safely on the other side, I backed off to half throttle and cruised back to the harbor as thou nothing had happened. Needless to say, I washed my clothes repeatedly for a week in order to remove the stains from that venture.

"I have been out in winds in excess of 100 MPH and waves where the bow had another 7-feet to peak. I have rescued numerous other boats with this little craft. On one occasion, I drove it 25 miles up the Grand Canyon in the middle of the night to rescue some dummies who ran out of gas. The stories go on...

"If you have one, keep it forever!

"If you know of one for sale, please let me know."

Archie Akins. E-mail:

Great Lakes, Fresh Water, Trailered Boat
by Jim Hebert

"I bought my first boat, and my first Whaler, in 1997. I thought I wanted a Whaler-13 Classic, and I had been looking for one locally (in SE Michigan) for some time, when I came across a posting on USENET's for a 1976 Whaler-15 for sale about 90 miles away. We drove up on a Saturday to look at it and made the deal right away. It took me about two weeks to arrange a tow vehicle, since we didn't own a car that would be suitable for long distance towing. In two year since then, we have put on over 5,000 miles on the road and many miles on the water. We've had fun with that boat!

"After trying it out on some small lakes that fall, the next year, 1998, we took the Whaler-15 on a long road trip, hitting three of the Great Lakes, including Superior! While I am too prudent to intentionally go out in really big wave conditions, we have been out in some fairly good sized waves. We have always felt very comfortable in the Whaler, and we've never taken much water on board at all. Hardly a drop, really.

"In 1999 we trailered about 1000 miles down to Kentucky Lake and back. We also added a bimini top and a depthsounder.

"The boat handles very nicely. It tracks extremely well, and its behavior is never unexpected. The stability is very good, although the Whaler-15 is more sensitive to trim than the Whaler-13. I usually move my seating position from side to side on the bench seat to compensate for trim as fuel load and passenger position change.

"The boat is powered by a Mercury 50 HP 4-cyclinder 2-stroke outboard. This is an excellent combination, as the motor is not too heavy and matches up with the lightweight hull very nicely. I currently have it propped with a Mercury Black Max three blade aluminum prop, 10.12-inch diameter and 15-inch pitch, with cupped blades. This gives a top speed of around 35 MPH.

"Next season I plan to experiment with a larger diameter and smaller pitched 4-blade prop. I am hoping to be able to get up on plane and hold plane at slower speeds. With the current set up, I have to run about 3400 RPM and 22 MPH in order to maintain plane. Since we are really old sailors at heart, this is often just too fast for us. When off plane, your speed with reasonable wake making is limited to about 1400 RPM, about 5 MPH. This is sometimes a little too slow. So with a different prop we may be able to reach a compromise.

"The things I like best about the boat: it is paid-for, it fits in the garage, and it goes out in any conditions that I will. It is also easy to handle. When on the trailer and level ground, you can easy roll the boat in and out of the garage or drop it on the tow hitch without assistance. This makes launching and recovery very easy, too. I can winch it up on the trailer without breaking a sweat. It is a great little boat, but it gives you much more sense of security than you'd get from almost any other 15-foot boat on the market.

"A great thing about owning a Whaler: the complements you get from other boaters. One of the best we've received was from a teen-aged boy--a kid who had grown up on purple and yellow jets skis and the like--who saw our little Whaler and said, 'That's a cool boat!'"

Jim Hebert, Beverly Hills, Michigan. E-Mail:

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DISCLAIMER: This information is believed to be accurate but there is no guarantee. We do our best!

Copyright © 1999, 2000 by James W. Hebert. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, all photographs Copyright © 1999, 2000 James W. Hebert. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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