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Why Are Boston Whalers Such Popular Boats?

Enter the boating world and it won’t take you long to hear the Boston Whaler name. Long associated with durability and a symbol of boating excellence, Boston Whaler has been one of the most popular boating brands for decades. But what makes this brand so special?

Boston Whaler: where a legendary boating company got its start

More than 60 years ago, a man named Richard Fisher used newly-invented materials of the era to create a prototype for an out-of-the-box boat that was unlike any of its time.

With hopes of designing an easy and fun boat for everyday people that would also stand the test of time with specialized Unibond construction, Fisher got to work.

By combining fiberglass with other sturdy materials, he was able to create a light and buoyant, yet extremely durable, boat. After finalizing plans and with a prototype in place, Fisher approached friend and naval architect Raymond Hunt to help develop and further his boat’s design. Together, Fisher and Hunt perfected their boat design over the course of a few years.

In 1958, both Fisher and Hunt released and marketed their very-first, original, 13-foot “Whaler,” under the company name Boston Whaler. Almost immediately after launching the company, Boston Whaler started earning its reputation as “unsinkable” legends.

The 13-foot Boston Whaler boat was unlike anything of its time, sturdy and quick enough, but also lightweight and able to carry more than a few passengers at a time.

How “unsinkable” Boston Whaler earned its legacy and popularity

A man riding on his Boston Whaler
A man rides in an older Boston Whaler | Steve Liss/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images

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The Boston Whaler company was founded on innovation, being the first to use its signature Unibond construction, which used a patented, molded fiberglass. The company’s design made the hull of its boats “so solid” and “so unsinkable” that Boston Whaler was a hit from the starting line.

According to Boston Whaler, Fisher “was so confident in his fail-safe boat that he tested it publicly- by sawing it in half” during a publication by LIFE Magazine. In a world where fiberglass was barely known, Boston Whaler quickly became the founding father of many of today’s boat designs.

In 1961, the company expanded its boating lineup past its original 13-footer to a larger, 17-foot Whaler that featured more upscale wood accents and for the first time, a center console for better center-of-gravity.

As the company’s boats got larger, so did its horsepower, and by the ’70s, multiple-sized Unibond-constructed boats were offered, which promised more safety, range, durability, and strength.

By the ’80s, the company with humble roots became the best-selling boating company in the country. With that came expansion, making bigger, faster, and tougher boats.

Where Boston Whalers were once reserved for fishermen and small families, its newer wide variety of designs (like a full cabin and new jet-powered boat motors) forced the company into becoming a household name. 

Are these boats still worth it?

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Fast-forward to today and the company still retains its title as legendary. While the company itself has experienced changes and struggles throughout the years, the boats are still known for incredible functionality and durability. The company’s Unibond construction and design continuously evolved and inspired innovation throughout the boating industry.

Today, many marine enthusiasts still trust the brand, but cannot necessarily justify its expense. As the boating industry is much more competitive than when Boston Whaler first began, there are many that wonder if the durability is worth the price tag.

On a boating forum called The Hull Truth, one person claims that Boston Whaler boats “just have a highly regarded name,” while another is so happy with his Boston Whaler that nothing else “floats my boat as an alternative.” Although people might not be able to agree on the value of its cost, no one can argue the durability of a Boston Whaler boat.