– Replacement Mahogany Seats Boston Whaler Classic 13 Footer

Replacing or Restoring your Classic Boston Whaler 13 Footers Seats and Interior Wood.

Once you are finished fixing soft spots, filling dings, glassing cracks, replacing hardware, etc… you are going to need to decide whether to refinish or replace your seats.  As a general rule of thumb if your seats are warped then replace them.  If they are straight then you can refinish them.

To refinish mahogany seats you simply need to sand and strip them and apply a few coats of exterior varnish.  A liquid stripper is fine and should be followed up with a good sanding.  If you wish you can stain the wood but since it is mahogany the wood will be beautiful in its natural state.  Make sure to use the spar type varnish / urethane that is made for outdoor applications. (see picture) The indoor polyurethane will only last a short while in a salt and sun environment.

If you choose to replace your seats you can get them from www.specialtymarine.com .  Their prices are good and they deliver quickly.  I had mine in just a few days.  I chose to replace mine since they were warped and had holes drilled everywhere.  I bought all the wood including the side panels for less than $500.

When you replace all the wood in the boat you are going to want to make sure the holes that you screw into are able to hold a screw.  Oftentimes the screw holes become stripped which is common with fiberglass.  Before I put my seats in I filled all the previous holes with epoxy.  Once the epoxy was set I redrilled small tap holes and installed the wood.  Also, I squeezed in some 3m 5200 to waterproof the hole.  This is mostly common sense but worth mentioning.

– Removing Water from a Boston Whaler Hull – Foam Waterlogged

The foam in a Boston Whaler is a closed cell type foam and always has been.  This means it does not readily absorb water.  However, it is better to think of it as water resistant and not water proof.  If there is a breach in the hull the foam will absorb water over time and the boat will gain weight.  This is especially a problem if the boat stays in the water and there is a crack below the waterline.  Or if the breach is inside the boat towards the back where water sits. In any event, if you find that your boat is way overweight then the only explanation is water in the foam.

Removing water from the foam is fairly simple and can be done via gravity or suction.  To remove water you are going to need to drill more holes.   Most people are hesitant to drill holes in a boat but since it is fiberglass, filling the holes back in permanently is not a big deal.  On the boat that I restored we removed water using two methods.  First, when the boat was upside down I drilled out  a large hole on each side of the boat.  The holes were next to the rub rail but since the boat was inverted they were at the bottom.  (see picture below)

As you can see I attached a shop vac to the hole.  Then I let it run for hours and hours.  I did this on both sides. This pulls a vacuum and drys out a large area of the foam. After I removed all the water that I could I filled the void with Gorilla Glue and taped off the hole to hold the glue in.  When it was dry I made a void and filled the area with epoxy inside and out.  Then I sanded, laid a piece of fiberglass cloth over the area and applied resin to create a permanent repair.

The second way I removed water was to put the boat at an angle like the picture above and drill some small holes at the lowest point in the rear of the boat.  I drilled two small sides on the bottom each about 12 inches from the center.  I let the boat drip for a few days and then dried the hole with a wet vac, made a void with a drill bit and then filled the holes with gorilla glue.  Then I made a void in the gorilla glue and filled with epoxy.  Then I sanded and smoothed on some West System epoxy.  The holes were small so no fiberglass cloth was needed.  When winter comes I may drill a couple of holes and let it drip all winter. Every little bit helps lighten the boat.

(Note – One thing to remember is to never pressurize the hull by blowing air into it.  This will cause all the foam to separate from the fiberglass.)

– Minimum / Maximum Engine Size for a Boston Whaler 13 Foot Classic

There has been a lot of discussion about what size engine is needed on the 13 foot classic Boston Whaler.  The boats intended use has a lot to do with this answer. In all cases below, a hydrofoil such as a Davis Doel Fin, an SE Sport Stabilizer or a Stingray Hydrofoil will help the boat achieve a plane and operate more efficiently.  Especially in rough water.

Lets first start with the absolute minimum engine needed to plane the boat.  This is going to vary between a 9.9 horsepower and a 15 horsepower motor.  A lightweight Whaler with a lightweight person aboard can possible achieve a plane with a 9.9 horse motor.  And as stated above, a hydro foil will help.  If the boat has more than one person aboard or is heavier because of water intrusion then this will not be enough horsepower.

A 15 horsepower outboard will more easily achieve a plane even with more than one person in the boat.  The top speed will be around 15 – 17 miles per hour.  If you intend on pulling a wake board or skier you will probably be disappointed in performance.  For a single person who uses the boat for fishing a 15 is going to be sufficient.  Your gas mileage will be great and you will be able to troll at slow speeds very well as well as get up on a plane and get home on time.

A 20 horsepower motor is the minimum that you will need if you want to carry several people at one time and want to pull wake boards or kids on water skis.  It will get onto a plane very easily and travel about 20 – 25 miles per hour.  Gas mileage will still be great and trolling still nice and slow.  We have a 20 horsepower Tohatsu with electric start and tilt on ours.  It is great for the kids because it does not go too fast but its still fun and feels like your flying even though you are only going about 20.

As you go up from a 20 horsepower you will no doubt want to switch from a tiller steer motor to a steering wheel.  As a general rule of thumb you get about a mile per hour from each horsepower.  A 20 hp will do 20, a 25 will do 25, a 35 will do 35 mph and so on.

A 40 horsepower motor is the largest that I would recommend for the boat.  It will carry you along at about 40 miles per hour and will put almost any size skier.  You would need to be careful traveling at high speeds in rough water.  A motor this size is not recommended for kids or beginners.  Keep them in slower boats for their own safety.

A motor larger than a 40 becomes dangerous for several reasons.  First it is too heavy for a 13 foot boat.  On a classic pre 1972 boat the transom would almost be under water at idle.   Second, it will make the boat go too fast.  13 foot boats do not need to be going 50 miles per hour.  A dive into a wave can easily throw everyone off the boat.  Also, a quick turn can flip the boat.  Going fast in a boat is fine but it needs to be done in a longer more stable boat.   For the 13 foot classic Boston Whaler stick with a 40 horse or below.



– Fixing Soft Spots or Delamination using Gorilla Glue or Foam Sealer

Gorilla Glue and Foam Sealer both expand when introduced into a void.  Gorilla Glue is especially water friendly and works in wet areas just fine.  In fact the more water the more foam it will create.  Gorilla glue dries harder and does not absorb water very easily.  Foam sealer is a little softer and will absorb water more easily.  In areas where water may get in again and where I need a very stable base beneath the fiberglass I use Gorilla Glue.  In areas that tend to stay dry and do not need as much support I use the foam sealer.

To fix soft spots with either Gorilla Glue or Foam Sealer you can follow these simple steps.

First, locate the soft spot and find its outer edges.  You can trace it out with a pencil if you wish.  If you have multiple spots just trace them all out at one time.

Second, drill holes using a drill no larger than a pencil.  The bit needs to be just large enough for the spout of the Gorilla Glue or Sealer nozzle to fit into.  The holes need to be all the way around the soft spot.   Say one every few inches. Also, put several in the center of the spot.  The extra holes will give the foam a place to escape.  One hole may not be sufficient. I use a very short drill bit so I do not go through the other side of the boat.

Third, squeeze in the Gorilla Glue or Sealer.  Fill each hole.  If you fill one hole and the glue comes out other holes that is good.  You will need to force the glue into the void.

Fourth, place a weight on the area.  This will keep the glue from bowing the surface.  I have done areas and not used a weight with no problems but it is better to be safe.  I use a concrete block and tip it on its edge.  This way it is easier to remove.  If you lay it flat you will glue it to the boat and will not be able to easily get it off.

Fifth, let the glue dry, expand, foam, etc..  It will come out of the holes quite a bit if the area was wet.  I normally wait a few hours or overnight.

Sixth, remove the weight and scrape the excess Glue off with a putty knife or any flat blade.  The grind away any excess until you are back down to the bare fiberglass and holes.

Seventh, take a drill bit or steel rod and put it into the hole and make a void right at the surface down just a fraction.  Do this for all the holes.  Then take a disc sander and hit each hole so it becomes a little divit.  Just slightly.  The idea with this step is to give the epoxy you are going to use a place to bond both inside and outside the holes.

Eighth, mix epoxy or use the epoxy in the syringe and force it into all the holes.  Fill them all the way to the top.  Then let the epoxy set up until it is completely hard.

Ninth, once the epoxy is hard, grind the area down smooth.  If the area is in a place that you feel needs more reinforcement then sand the area, apply some epoxy and fiberglass cloth and let it set up.

After you have completed these steps you can paint the area.

Foam goes in one hole and will normally come out multiple holes.  Use the type of foam that is designed NOT to bow or distort.  It is normally in the blue can.  The other type which is normally in a red can and called Great Stuff may bulge the hull.  I have found the blue can type to be safer.  Also, I have had no problems with the Gorilla glue bowing the hull.  After I filled the holes with foam I reamed out the hole and forced in epoxy. Then I sanded the area and applied a layer of west epoxy with the collodial silica thickener in it.  If there were cracks or weak areas I added some fiberglass cloth to the repair.  Then I painted the area with polyurethane topsides paint.

– Fixing Soft Spots or Delamination on your Boston Whaler – Epoxy

The Boston Whaler is constructed from a closed cell foam center sandwiched between two fiberglass shells.  In other words, there is an inner fiberglass shell, then closed cell foam and then an outer shell or hull.  This makes for a very stiff, unsinkable boat.  When the boat leaves the factory these three components are bonded together and are intended to stay that way.  However, in certain situations these three components can separate.  This is often due to water intrusion but not always.  You can find soft spots by simply pressing down on the inner hull and seeing if it gives any.  If an area gives a little then the foam and the fiberglass are no longer joined.

To fix this issue you are first going to need to drill holes all around the soft area.  I use a short bit so that I do not drill in too far.  A bit with a diameter like a q-tip is fine.  After you have drilled your holes you can press a q-tip into some of the holes to see if there is a water problem.  If the q-tip comes out dry then you can simply squeeze in some epoxy into all the holes an let it set up.  This will rebond the hull to the foam.  After you have verified that the soft spot is gone you simple sand the holes, fill them smooth with an epoxy and go on to the next spot.

If you test the holes and find that there is water in the hull you have a couple of choices.  First, you can cut away the fiberglass from the area, remove the wet foam, then replace the fiberglass piece by bonding it into place and then fiberglassing it in.

If you feel that there is only a small amount of moisture between the layers you can try a second method using gorilla glue or foam sealer described in the next article.  Click here.

– Cleaning and Stripping Your Boston Whaler 13 15 17

After getting your project boat home the first thing you will need to do is strip everything out of it. This includes the seats, wood rails, stainless railing, steering components, the motor, etc.. You can leave the little brass fittings that you tie off to and also the front eye that you use to pull the boat onto the trailer with. Once your Boston Whaler 13, 15 or 17 foot boat is stripped you will need to clean it with either a garden hose and soap or a high pressure washer like at the car wash. Blow off any loose paint, grime, dirt, etc..  As you clean the boat make sure to take note of any damaged areas. Once the boat is stripped and cleaned you are ready to begin the next step.

– Restoring a Boston Whaler 13 15 or 17 Foot Boat

Restoring a Boston Whaler is a fairly straight forward project.  You will strip the boat, check for soft spots, repair, fiberglass, sand, prime and paint.  Then you would either replace or refinish all the wood and reassemble the boat.  If the boat came with a motor you would clean, rebuild or repair it and then repaint it if necessary.  On my project, I scrapped the motor and bought a brand new tiller steer 20 horsepower Tohatsu.  In this series of articles I am going to cover all the steps we took.   Also, if you are looking for a boat to restore you can go to our section on how to find a used Boston Whaler by clicking here.

A 1968 – 13 foot Boston Whaler is used for this series of articles.  The same steps would apply to the 15 and 17 foot boats as well as the larger ones.  For larger boats you will need some help moving the boat around.  Also flipping a 17 foot or larger boat would require several people.


– Used Boston Whaler Classic 13 Sport For Sale

The Boston Whaler Classic 13 foot skiff is perhaps the most popular 13 foot boats every manufactured.  It is seaworthy, can carry a huge load and is unsinkable.

Finding a used Boston Whaler Classic 13 footer is fairly easy if you look in the right places.  We have compiled some links to the best sites for finding 13 foot Boston Whalers below.

Craigslist – this is by far the quickest way to find a Whaler.  You have two choices.  You can either find a Boston Whaler 13 already listed or you can post a WANTED ad.  I found mine in one day doing the latter.  To search craigslist simple go to www.craigslist.org and choose your city or a city near you.  Then type Boston Whaler into the search box and hit enter.  You can also go to www.searchtempest.com and search all of craigslist at one time plus some other sites.

Yacht World – this is a great site that has boats for sale all over the world.  Just go to www.yachtworld.com and use the search function.  You would want to type in Boston Whaler 13 to keep from getting too many results that included the other sizes.  You can then modify the search by price, country and region.

Boat Trader Online – this is a good place to find a variety of boats including classic Boston Whalers.  You can search using different criteria and can also limit the results to those near you.

Boats Dot Com – this site is similar to the boat trader site.  I normally type in boston whaler as the model and then under keywords type in 13 or 13 foot.  There are normally a few of the 13 footers on the site.

Continuous Wave Website – this is a website dedicated to the Boston Whaler.  There is also a discussion board built in where people sell their boats or discuss the boat.  Use the site search function and type in “Boston Whaler 13 for sale” or something similar.

American Classifieds – this is an established classifieds site that also puts out the Thrifty Nickel.  Searching is easy either by keyword or section.

More Information about the Boston Whaler Classic 13 footer

A 9.9 horsepower engine is the absolute minimum that you would need.  With a hydrofoil installed on the motor and not too much weight in the boat it should get you onto a plane.  A 15 horsepower or above is best.  A 15 horse will get you up to about 20 mph and a 20 horsepower outboard will push you to about 25 mph.  The largest engine that you could safely run would be a 40 horsepower.  The largest outboard that can be run is a 50.  Also, if you were to run an engine this large you would want the newer model with the higher transom.  Anything over a 50 hp is in my opinion unsafe and too much for the boat.  You should refer to the manufacturers recommendations before powering the boat.



Purchased Off Craigslist for $500. Added Engine.



– History of the Boston Whaler

In 1954 Dick Fisher, a Harvard graduate, read an article on a brand new type of material called polyurethane foam.  He likened it to synthetic balsa wood because of its stiffness and light weight.  It was also very buoyant.  Mr. Fisher had been toying with the idea of building light weight boats for some time and the introduction of this light weight foam opened up some opportunities.   Fisher first built a small sailing dinghy using the foam covered with a fiberglass skin.  His goal was to build small sailboats that would compete with the Alcort Sunfish later to become the AMF Sunfish.

Mr. Fisher showed the boat to his friend Ray Hunt a naval architect. Mr. Hunt was very impressed with the fiberglass over foam concept.  However, he felt that the small sailing dinghy market would be limited and suggested that they build motor boats or skiffs.  Using some ideas based on a Nova Scotian boat called a Sea Sled, Hunt drew out a hull design and presented it to Dick Fisher.  Fisher built a prototype and began testing the little craft.  Initial designs suffered from cavitation so the design was slowly altered until this problem was resolved.  Fisher presented the modified prototype to Hunt who then redesigned the hull.  Another prototype was built and tested.  The boat was found to be very wet in choppy seas so the mold was redesigned to create more of a V in the hull thus solving the problem.  Based upon this final design the Boston Whaler 13 went into production in 1958.

The little boat was unique, incredibly seaworthy and could carry a heavy load.  Because it was so light, a small outboard was all it took to push it along.  The dual hull design made it so that the inner hull was actually above the waterline.  This meant that the boat could actually be moored with the plug out and rain water would simply run out the back.  Also, the production technique allowed for all compartments and hull components to be designed into the mold instead of having to be added later.  All of this made for a very cost effective manufacturing process.  From 1958 to 1961 the 13 foot model was all that the company produced.  In 1961 the 16 foot model was introduced.  This model was replaced by the 17 foot model  in 1976.

The company has had several owners.  In 1969 the company was sold to the CML Group.  Mr Fisher stayed on as a consultant until 1972. Under CML the company flourished and many new models were added.  During this period sales skyrocketed and more models were added. In 1970 the 21 foot Outrage came out and in 1972 the 19 foot Outrage was introduced. In 1973 the first 21 foot Revenge model appeared.  Also, in 1974 the inboard/outboard Revenge and Outrage models were made. In 1975 the 15-foot hull was added and in 1976 the popular 17 foot model was created. Many other models and improvement continued throughout the 1970’s.  This was a good time for the flourishing boat company.  It seemed as though everyone had to have a Whaler.  The best Whalers are said to be the 80’s models.

In 1989 the company was purchased by Reebok.  That’s right.  The shoe company.  The era of expansion and improvement came to a screeching halt.  The classic hulls were still made but new designs came out and the company spent a great deal of effort marketing the new designs.  Customers were resistant to the new designs and this coupled with the recession of the 90s took a toll on the company.  At the end of 1993 Reebok sold the company at a 25 million dollar loss to Meridian Sports.

Meridian Sports also owned Master Craft boats which was a very popular ski boat at the time.  Meridian owned Boston Whaler from 1994 – 1996 and did poorly with the company.  Two models from the Fisher era, the 13 and17 and two models from the CML era the 19 and 27 were produced.  To cut costs Meridian moved all operations to Edgewater Florida where they remain today.

In 1996 the company was purchased by Brunswick who also owned Mercury Motors and Sea Ray Boats.  Bruswick paid a mere 27 million for the entire company.  To give you an idea of how cheap this was consider that Bruswick paid 110 million for Igloo Coolers and 425 million for Sea Ray Boats. (10 years earlier)  You may recall that Boston Whalers started to show up on showroom floors equipped with Mercury outboards.  That is around the time Bruswick purchased the company.  Overall, Brunswick has done a good job with the company.  They run multiple shifts at the main plant to keep up with demand.  The only classic design left is the 11 foot model.  All other models have been redesigned but still have that original look to them.  They also continue to be unsinkable just like the original.