Installing Reflective Striping to make your Boston Whaler more Visible

Installing reflective striping along the top edge of your Boston Whaler will make you and your boat much more visible to marine traffic. Also, when being trailered the tape makes you visible to automobile and truck traffic. Imagine having your beautiful little Whaler parked in a lot and having someone turn the corner and head right for your boat and trailer. A simple strip of reflective tape would make your rig visible to even the most distracted driver.

There are several choices for tape. The least expensive and most versatile is going to be a flexible engineer grade. It comes in the most colors and is perfect for marine applications since it is only one layer and will not delaminate. A 1 or 2 inch roll is all you need.  This material is very flexible and easy to get to conform to curves.  It feels the same as what electrical tape would feel like.  Only very bright and reflective.

A second and even brighter choice would be a V82 Oralite tape.  It is going to be about 8 times brighter than engineer grade.  Since it will not stretch it would need to be applied to a flat, smooth surface.  V82 is just like a SOLAS tape but in colors.

Both of these tapes are a single layer design and will not delaminate making them perfect for marine environments.

– Boston Whaler 13 Sport Outboard Motor Tiller Handle Extension / Extender Review

If you install a tiller steer outboard motor on your 13 foot Boston Whaler Sport, the first thing you are going to notice is that the tiller handle is too short.  You have to reach way back to steer.  You can move the rear seat back some but then there will be no room for a battery or gas tank. I solved this problem on my boat by installing a tiller extender.  A tiller handle extender is a simple device that is actually made for electric motors but will work on outboards as well.  (Note – this works great for me but it is up to you to determine whether this is a safe option for your motor) I purchased mine through and received it in just a few days.  I paid about $30.  It was the Minn Kota brand.  I recommend that you get the shortest one that you can.  A long extender is going to be in your way and will bend too much.  I would think the shorter the extender the safer it would be.

To install the outboard motor tiller extender you simply loosen the nut and slide it onto your tiller and then tighten it.  Make sure to push it as far on as it will go. That is basically it.

If you look at the picture of my engine below you will notice a little red handle that slides side to side.  This is made to increase and decrease friction so that your engine stays in one position while running.  I have found that it works best to have this loose when running slow and tight when running fast.  I keep mine tight at high speeds so that if the extender came off or broke the engine would not fly to one side or the other and flip the boat or throw me out.  Just a precaution.  Also, I recommend you clip yourself in to the engine so that if something does happen it will cut off.  

I have a picture at the bottom of this page of an extender that I made my self using a PVC pipe and a hose clamp.  The one I made is not pretty but is actually more substantial and safer than the one I purchased.  I keep it on the boat as a spare.


– Boston Whaler Tohatsu 20 HP Outboard with Sport 200 300 Hydro Foil Review

The Boston Whaler and the outboard motor have been an almost perfect match since the inception of the boat.  This is mainly due to the wide stern and seaworthy hull design.  You get a safe feeling in a Whaler that you don’t get with other designs.  When your kids go out in a Whaler you don’t worry quite as much. There are, however, some issues that if corrected would make the boat even safer and more enjoyable.  Especially in heavy seas. These issues center around the outboard motor.

An outboard sits at the very back of a boat which is where the operator, fuel supply and battery are as well.  This creates a boat that is back heavy.  On longer boats this is not as much of an issue but on 13 and 15 footers it is.

One of the issues with a short boat that is back heavy is the tendency of the bow to rise excessively during planing.  In heavy seas this can create an uncomfortable situation for the operator. When running into the wind it feels like you will flip over backwards.  Also, when slowing down the boat tends to want to come off of a plane quicker and the bow goes back up.  In heavy seas you often want to slow the boat down but not to the point where you come off of a plane.

Another issue for boats that are underpowered is the time it takes to get onto a plane.  In some situations the motor is not able to do this at all.  For example, a 13 foot Boston Whaler with a 9.9 horse engine will barely get onto a plane if at all.

Short boats in heavy seas tend to get tossed around quite a bit.  On longer boats in excess of 17 feet this is not as noticeable. Although this cannot be eliminated, it can be reduced.

I installed an SE 200 Hydro Foil on my 13 foot Boston Whaler Sport and noted the following improvements –

  • The foils provided lift and keep the bow of my boat down during planing.
  • They also make my boat plane much quicker.  The bow stays down. (It is my understanding that on a 13 foot whaler with a 9.9 hp motor you can get onto a plane with a foil installed.)
  • The boat remains on a plane at much lower speeds which is great in rough seas. This is probably the best feature.  When it gets rough I have a wide range of speeds that I can choose from.  Before, I only had full speed and idle because when I slowed a little the bow would rise and the boat would get tossed around.
  • The fins seem to stabilize the boat as well.  This is also true when we tow it provided the motor is left down. The effect is similar to a gyroscope.
  • The SE Hydro Foil seems to reduce cavitation.

There are several fins available and they all work in generally the same way.  Some provide more lift than others.  Some are two piece and some are one piece.

I have a video at the following link that show my boat planing.  You will notice that the bow stays almost level the entire time. Boston Whaler 13 with Tohatsu 20 Horsepower and Hyrofoil Planing

It is my opinion that the foils or stabilizers work best on smaller boats.  The reason is that larger boats simply do not have the same issues to correct.  Also, you will see where people claim it makes the boat go faster.  I have not seen a noticeable difference.  If anything it may knock a half a mile per hour off your speed.  It really depends on whether the stabilizer remains underwater at full speed.

Here is a list of stabilizers.

Sport Marine SE 200 Hydro Foil

Sport Marine SE 300 Hydro Foil

Davis DOEL Fin

Stingray Speed XP

Stingray Junior

Seasense Outboard Motor Foil



– Boston Whaler 13 Sport Planing Out with 20 HP Outboard

This is a video of my 13 foot Boston Whaler planing out.  It has a 2011 – 20 horsepower Tohatsu outboard with power tilt and electric start.  I added an SE Sport Hydro Foil to the engine which also helps in faster planing.  You will notice that the nose stays down while accelerating.  This is due to the Hydro Foil.  The Tohatsu motor  cost around $3,200 via the online outboards website.  A 20 horsepower is the largest engine that they will ship.  Larger engines have to be installed at their location.  This is the main reason I went with a 20 horse versus a little larger engine.  I am very pleased with the performance of the boat and would recommend this setup to anyone.  We have had 4 adults in the boat and were still able to plane quickly and run about 20 miles per hour.

The purpose of this video is to visibly show that a 20 horsepower motor will plane out a 13 foot Boston Whaler very easily.

– 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.



– 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.