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The 16/17-foot Hull

Dimensions & History

DIMENSIONS (from 1999 Catalogue listings)
  Length......................16 feet 7 inches
  Beam........................6 feet 2 inches
  Draft.......................9 inches (with engine tilted clear of water)
  Weight......................500-lbs Bare Hull 1966
                              550-lbs Bare Hull 1973
                              850-lbs Standard 1999
                              950-lbs Montauk 1999
  Maximum horsepower..........100 HP
  Minimum Horsepower..........35 HP
  Transom Height..............20 inches
  Capacity....................7 Persons
  Swamped Capacity............2,000 pounds

  Designer....................Dick Fisher, Ray Hunt, Bob Dougherty
  First year offered..........1961
  Last year offered...........Still available!
  Color.......................1961 - 1972 White Hull/Blue interior
                              1973 - 1993 Desert Tan
                              1991 - 2000 White
  M.S.R.P.....................$ 5,000 in 1996 for Base Hull
  Models offered
                "16" Hull.....1961 - 1976
                Currituck...c.1961 - 1975 side console, mahogany (became Sport in 1976)
                Nauset......c.1961 - c.1973 center console, mahogany, fixed pilot seat
                Eastport....c.1961 - c.1973 center console, mahogany, adds rear seat
                Sakonnet....c.1963 - 1976 center console, mahogany,
                                     reversible pilot seat
                Menemsha....c.1965 - 1972 cabin model
                Minot.........1969 - 1972 side console, molded, molded seat
                Katama........1969 - 1976 Minot plus canvas windshield, forward seats
                Bass Boat.....1971 - 1976 forward pedestal seat
                Tashmoo.......1971 - 1973 wide gunwales, molded center console
                Cohasset.............1972 pedestal center console, molded,
                                          single pedestal seat
                Cohasset II...1972 - 1974 Reversible Pilot Seat
                Montauk I.....1973 - 1974 new style center console molded, teak trim
                Montauk II....1973 - 1975 bow rail and molded bow platform standard
                Newport.......1974 - 1975 wide gunwales, large molded side console
                "17" Hull.....1976 - 2002
                Sakonnet.............1976 formerly 16-Sakonnet
                Bass Boat............1976 formerly 16-Bass Boat; forward pedestal seat
                Sport.........1976 - 1983 formerly 16-Currituck; wood side console
                Super Sport...1983 - 1989 seat back on rear thwart with storage locker
                Super Sport Limited
                    ..........1986 - 1990 molded drop-in interior seating and console
                (Sport) GLS...1990 - 1992 side console, molded, no wood
                Montauk.......1976 - 1993 formerly 16-Montauk; molded center console,
                                          teak trim
                Montauk..............1991 30-year Anniversary limited edition;
                                          white gelcoat with aqua cove stripes
                Montauk SE....1992 - 1993 white hull
                Montauk..............1994 teak optional; tan hull 
                Montauk.......1995 - 2002 white hull and deck, no wood; bow rail
                                          stanchion base changed
                Newport.......1976 - 1990 formerly 16-Newport 
                Striper.......1980 - 1989 (replaced Bass boat) forward pedestal seat
                Standard .....1996 - 2000 small side console, seat, molded
                Utility.......1983 - 2000 bare boat
                Alert.........1983 - 2000
                Guardian......1983 - 2000 (Montauk style)
      1961-1962...........3000 thru 3999
      1962-1963...........30000 thru 31499
           1963...........31500 thru 31600
           1964...........31601 thru 33000
           1965...........33001 thru 34399
           1966...........34400 thru 35800
           1967...........35801 thru 37600
           1968...........37601 thru 39750
           1969...........39751 thru 3A1300
           1970...........3A1301 thru 3A4100
           1971...........3A4101 thru 3A5200
           1972...........3A5201 thru 3A6700 (last blue hull 3A6250)
 NOTE: the stencil number does not encode any model information.
 DATES: In many cases the date of introduction is the year of
 first production. The model year designation may be the following


On January 7, 1961 the first "16-foot" hull was produced by Boston Whaler, with a 16-foot 7-inch length-overall and a 6-foot 2-inch beam. This hull weighed approximately 500 pounds and was similar in its lines to the the original 13-foot hull. Forward, there were two distinct and sharp sponsons or runners, set nearly the full width of the hull, and a moderately vee-ed center full. At the stern, the runners diminished to a gently rounded shape and flowed into a slightly rounded center section which provided a broad, flat area for planning.

These larger hulls used larger outboard motors, ones too big to be steered by the attached tiller-throttle handle. In the process of developing and testing the prototype hulls, a removable console was built which was placed in the middle of the boat's cockpit and permitted remote control of the engine steering and throttle while standing. Although tradition held that a boat should be steered from a seated helm position on the starboard side, Fisher and Dougherty found their test boats' "center console" was a terrific way to operate a small boat. The mid-line location permitted excellent access to all areas of the boat for fishing or maneuvering. The great stability of the hull permitted its occupants to stand while underway, and the standing position enabled rough water to be tolerated better than while sitting. Thus, while working on an innovation hull design, Boston Whaler also pioneered the center console small boat!

When the hull development was finished, the test center console was refined as well and moved into production. Three early models, the Nauset, Eastport, and Sakonnet, featured elaborate Philippine mahogany center consoles with wood-framed windshields. These boats were the first manifestation of the center console fishing boat so common today. The Nauset had a fixed pilot seat. The Eastport added a rear seat. The Sakonnet offered a forward raised platform, and introduced a unique new seating arrangement: the Reversible Pilot Seat. These interiors were constructed with beautiful varnished mahogany components. The Reversible Pilot Seat would later switch to teak construction and become standard equipment on the Montauk.

The 16-foot hull was also offered in several other styles, including just a bare hull to which the buyer could add his own interior accommodations. When fitted by the factory with thwart seats and a starboard side console, the base boat became the Currituck.

All the models had names, generally taken from surrounding seaside locales, most all with an Indian language influence. This in itself was another Boston Whaler innovation--the naming of models--as most boat builders just referred to their products by length or by length-related numerical designations.

In c.1965 the Menemsha, a miniature cabin cruiser model, was added to the 16-foot hull. Then in c.1969, the Katama and Minot were introduced, featuring molded interiors with side consoles. Only the Katama survived past 1972, and it was dropped after 1975.

In 1971 a Bass Boat 16 was added to the line. Intended for inshore or inland waters with a comfortable elevated seat in the bow for fishing and casting, it was the progenitor of today's common bass boat. Production continued until 1976.

Also in 1971 the Tashmoo model was introduced. A deck with wider gunwales was added. The Tashmoo had a center console and a unique rear deck platform that hid most of the cables and control wiring as well as the fuel tank and battery. The forward part of the cockpit was leveled out with a molded platform with available cushions.

In 1972 the Cohasset-I model appeared and had a one year run. It had an unusual molded center console which looked much like a bathroom pedestal sink, with a wide top placed on a narrower column. Seating was a single rotating pedestal seat at the helm console. That same year the Cohasset-II was available with the Reversible Pilot Seat.

See Cetacea Page 54 for more details of the Tashmoo and Cohasset models.

In 1973 the Eastport and Nauset wooden center consoles ceased production. A new style molded fiberglass center console and the Reversible Pilot Seat were adapted to the 16-foot hull, creating the Montauk-I model. A companion Montauk-II model added standard bow railings and a molded bow platform. After 1974 the bow railings were standard and the boat was referred to just as a "Montauk"; order the molded bow platform and you had a "Montauk-II".

In 1976 the 16-foot Whaler was redesigned, and hulls from the new molds were thereafter known as "17-foot" hulls, although they retained the same length (16' 7") and beam (6' 2") as the earlier boats. The original 16-foot hull shape, like its older but little-brother the 13-foot original Boston Whaler, had been the design of company founder Dick Fisher and naval architect Ray Hunt. The revised hull would carry the imprint of Bob Dougherty.

The change in model designator to a "17" from a "16" was done as part of a general overhaul of Boston Whaler model designators by designer Bob Dougherty. The new moderate V-hull designs that were now appearing were designated as 18, 20, 22, and 24-foot models, all even numbers, and the older, rounded bottom hulls were designated as 15, 17, 19, and 21-foot models, all odd numbers. Unfortunately for Bob's plan, the new "24" hull was rebadged in the marketing department to be a "25", breaking the consistency of the numbering scheme. This story accounts for the switch to "17" from "16" even thought the length was not changed.

Dougherty kept the runners sharp forward, but moved them inward slightly. At the bow, the line of the runners was carried forward and up, eventually turning laterally to join under the bow, creating the "smirk" appearance, a feature that would become a trademark of a Whaler. Besides adding visual appeal, the new design helped deflect water away from the boat and its occupants. In the stern he added a new sharper edge to the runners and extended them further and more distinctly from the central hull, which remained gently rounded.

As a result of these design changes, the Boston Whaler catalogue for 1977 noted: "This year, all of our 17's feature a re-designed hull for a softer, drier ride without sacrificing the boat's stability or its seakeeping ability."

The older hull was remarkable for its wonderful lateral stability, but it also was renown for its wet and hard ride. In Motorboat magazine for January, 1978, Marty Luray wrote:

The change from the early 16 to the 17-footer was caused by the necessity to create a softer riding dry boat out of one that initially was very wet and came down hard on the water surface. By straightening the "hollow" curved section of the hull and moving the runners in, the designers eliminated what, in effect, had been a "cupped hand" trapping water underneath the hull.

Observers who have been out in both hulls report that a small loss in lateral stability was sacrificed to achieve a smoother ride. The older design may have been faster, too, because of the broader planning surfaces at the stern.

As is common in the marketing of automobiles, the introduction of the "1977" model boats may have occurred in the fall of 1976. This has created some ambiguity about the precise date of the design change, as boats bought in late 1976 could also have the new hull form.

The new 17-footer also added weight, increasing a bare hull to approximately 700 pounds, likely due to a change in the lay-up schedule or inclusion of more embedded wood in the flooring and elsewhere. And about this time, the factory also began to offer two options for even heavier lay-ups. You could order extra strength construction in either "fishing" or "commercial" levels.

The redesign of the hull changed the interior somewhat, as well, and, possibly due to problems with fit, 1977 marked the end of the wooden center console boats like the Sakonnet. The high cost of the mahogany and changing preferences among buyers may have also affected the decision to stop fabricating center consoles in wood. The Bass Boat model was dropped after 1977, too.

The molded side console Newport debuted in 1977, featuring a side console and steering from a sitting position in cushioned seats. It replaced the Katama model in the lineup. The naming trend had shifted slightly, now using less of a place-name motif (and less Indian tribe flavor). Instead, model names hinted more at function. Thus that year's wooden side console 17-footer became the Sport instead of the Currituck. This also brought the 17-foot hulls model names into line with its two smaller sisters, the 13-foot and 15-foot hulls.

In 1978 and 1979, the 17-foot hull was offered only in the Montauk, Newport, and Sport variations.

For 1980, the Bass Boat was reborn as the Striper.

In 1984 the Sport interior was reworked to add seat backs and storage compartments, producing the new Super Sport model. Three years later (1987) a complex molded interior was introduced as the Super Sport Limited model. The trend seemed to be away from wood and toward all molded interiors.

In 1990 the Newport and Super Sport Limited were still available, but the Striper and Super Sport models were dropped from the 17-foot hull. A new side console with molded interior, the Sport GLS, was introduced. Those beautiful varnished mahogany seats and consoles were now a thing of the past, although some teak trim remained in the Montauk.

In 1991, a special Thirtieth-Anniversary model Montauk debuted with hull and interior gelcoat in all-white. The special anniversary model had an aqua cove strip in the hull gelcoat. Besides the color change, the new model had no wood trim. You could still get the classic Montauk with its Dessert Tan color and teak components, but you could no longer get the the Newport or Super Sport Limited.

By 1992 the 17-foot hull was available only in Montauk and the Sport GLS models. The new Sport GLS must not have been a big seller, and it was dropped for 1993 after a short 2-year lifespan.

In 1992 and 1993 the Montauk SE was available with the hull molded in white gel coat. In 1994 the base model Montauk came without teak trim, which was still available as an option with the Desert Tan hull. In 1995 the Montauk hull and deck colors were changed to white gel coat. The amount of teak trim decreased until by 1994 it was optional, and after 1995 no longer available. The hull gel coat color also evolved. The exterior of the hull was typically "Outrage Gray" (an off white) from c.1970 until c.1983. In c.1984 the gel coat changed to "Desert Tan", later to change to white in 1995.

When the 40-th Anniversary year of the Montauk, 2001, arrived and the factory produced no special edition to mark the occasion, many suspected that the end of the 17-Montauk was now close at hand. The next year (2002) proved to be the last for this venerable classic. The Montauk model had been in continuous production for over thirty years; that must be a record for any recreational boat.

The Standard was introduced in 1996, with a small molded side console and seats on its starboard side, reprising the earlier Currituck and Sport models. The 17-foot hull had evolved through twenty models over thirty-five years of production. Now just two, the Standard and the Montauk, would be carried into the new millennium.

Here is a sample of year-2000 pricing for the Montauk:

   2000 Montauk, standard boat, no options:     $10,650
                                  Shipping:         500
    2000 Mercury  90HP 4-stroke, installed:       6,800
          Galvanized 1,700lb-rated trailer:      $1,000
                                     TOTAL:     $18,950

This quote is from a high-volume Whaler dealer in Florida and thus it probably is a pretty aggressive price.

By the Spring of 2002 the price of a 17-Montauk exhibited at a large boat show had risen to close to $25,000. A new model, the 170-MONTAUK, had been introduced and priced about $8,000 less than the classic. Strong sales for the new model sounded the death knell for the classic Montauk in the recreational division. The Commercial and Government Products division continues to manufacture the 17-foot hull, and it is possible to build your own Montauk by ordering a bare hull and finishing it yourself with components purchased as replacement parts from Whaler or elsewhere. See Cetacea Page 60 for some examples.

Embedded Wood

Because of the unusual construction, it was necessary to encapsulate hidden wood in the hull/liner composite to provide a suitable bed for attachment of fasteners. Two different wood locating diagrams show the location of these wooden inserts on the 16-foot hulls ( c.1962 and c.1972) and another drawing shows the locations on the 17-foot hulls. In the 1990's the wood was replaced with a synthetic "WhaleBoard®" which provided a rot-free alternative. [Note: The diagrams reproduce and print quite well, but you need to shift your printer page set up to "landscape" mode. You will also have to apply a scale factor, approximately 35% to fit them on an 8.5 x 11 sheet.].

Commercial Division

The Commercial Division--as distinct from the Recreational Division--was begun in 1983, and it also offered the 17-foot hull to its customers. Models in Utility, Alert, and Guardian trim were available. The operation of this division was formally separated from the Boston Whaler recreational boats operation, and after July of 2001 boats molded by the new Commercial and Government Products operation received their own Manufacturer's ID Code (MIC) numbers beginning with "WCG".


Photo: Whaler 17 Montauk c.1980 c.1980 Whaler 17 Montauk
Three generations boating on Henry's Lake, Idaho, in a classic Montauk 17, perhaps the boat with the longest legacy in the Whaler line.
PhotoCredit: TAS


Photo: Whaler 17 Hull
c.1984 Whaler 17 Montauk
Although you often think of the Whaler as an East Coast boat, this Montauk made it all the way to California, where the owner had a local shop make a nice canvas enclosure. The bow and forward entry had been refined from the original 60's design by the time this hull was molded. The runners (outer keels) are carried up and join across the bow.
PhotoCredit: Jim Hooper


Photo: Whaler 17 Hull, rear view c.1979 Whaler 17 Montuak
This North Carolina boat shows the "twin sponson" nature of the hull. A 100-HP Johnson provides the power to get to the Outer Banks.
PhotoCredit: Tim Heath


Photo: Whaler 16 Hull, front view
1970 Whaler 16
The pre-1976 16-foot hull shown here lacks the "smirk". Also, the runners appear to be slightly wider. This form had great stability, but perhaps a rougher ride.
PhotoCredit: Boston Whaler


Photo: Whaler 17 Hull, front view 1999 Whaler 17 Montuak
The hull form has evolved from the original " sea sled" design. The center section of the hull has grown into a deep vee with fine entry, while the keels of the runners rise and curve upward to meet across the bow, creating the Whaler "smirk" appearance. The runners have moved inboard as well.
PhotoCredit: Larry Goltz


While the hull had only two variations over the years, the interior of the 16/17-foot came in over a dozen models. These are described in a separate article.

Owner Testimonials

Whaler owners are generally pleased with their boats, and the Whaler-16/17 is no exception. Owner experiences and testimonials are contained in a separate article.


The Whaler-16/17 is often re-powered with newer engines. A separate article calculates some potential performance with different re-powering options.


This article was initially prepared based on the excellent memory of contributors, in particular Larry Goltz, who whose assistance with the historical information on this model was invaluable. Most dates now are in accordance with a document titled "Boston Whaler History" and published by the factory. Tom W. Clark, who has collected a complete set of Whaler catalogues, has also contributed significant data for this article. All have my thanks.

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

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

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