Rough and ready fishing craft
Written: Oct 5, 2000
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Readily trailered, fast, stable, durable, fishable
Cons:Heavy for size, very rough wet ride
While I view marketing gimmicks with a healthy heap of skepticism, Boston Whaler's favorite marketing point provided real piece of mind in our family's most dramatic boating drama. Deep in Baja, on a Peninsula called Punta Chivato, my wife had just driven our 1974 Montauk off the trailer when we got nailed by a freak Baja thunderstorm that came up, literally, in seconds. Instantly, winds whipped the waves into a froth, and several bolts of lighting knifed the water around the boat, missing my wife by feet. She panicked, understandably, and slammed the boat into the dock, allowing me to jump in and her to jump out! I motored the boat into deeper water through the angry sea that stood the boat on end.
Just as suddenly, the storm was gone again, the lightning had moved to the horizon, and the sea went calm, but not before another American family, including a grandmother, baby and the baby's mother and father, had slammed their boat into offshore rocks where it foundered. We motored out to the rocks to pick up the shocked and huddled family, and watched in awe as their cheap tri-hulled boat turned bow up and slipped to the bottom. It was then that I came to appreciate the Whaler's stability and "unsinkable" nature.
About the boat:
I bought our Montauk second-hand and outfitted it with a 90-horse Evinrude Ocean Pro.
The original boat came with badly beaten side console, which I replaced with a home-built center console of stitch-and-glue plywood and fiberglass, a bench seat for driving, and a 60-quart cooler as a seat and fish box forward of the console.
The boat also featured BW's old robin's-egg-blue interior, which had numerous spider web fractures, and a number of small epoxy repairs, but was otherwise in decent shape. The exterior hull was clean, except that abrasion with numerous beaches had worn the gel coat from parts of the keel.
The new Evinrude tripled the price of the used vessel, but added immensely to the pleasure and reliability of driving it.
I also added fishing rod holders clamped to the stainless rails, and a Lowrance GPS/Sounder.
I used this boat all over the West coast including fishing for salmon out of Half-Moon Bay, Halibut and Stripers in San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento Delta, kelp bed fishing out of Monterey and La Jolla, and one fantastic trip trailering the boat to numerous destinations along the length of the Baja peninsula.
What I liked about this boat:
Durability: After more than twenty years of use, the boat showed its age, but was basically sound throughout and had held up well to the use and abuse of time. The end for this boat came when a drunk driver, doing 60, crashed through the chain link fence of the boat yard, running through my boat and five others before coming to rest. Under normal circumstances, it might have lasted another 20 years.
Performance: With the 90-horse motor, this was a fast boat. Flooring the accelerator suddenly was sure to send passengers flying across the deck. Fuel efficiency was excellent, since the boat planes quickly and rides effortlessly once out of the water. With 90 horses, we skied and wake boarded behind the boat, but the hole shot was too slow for some skiers to hang on. The boat probably would have done fine with a 70-horse motor, though I wouldn't have gone much smaller.
Stability: The Montauk is a very stable fishing platform, and handled as many as five fishermen running about the deck and good size wind chop, with no sense of tippiness.
Portability: Trailering a boat the length of the Baja peninsula is probably the toughest trailering test you can do. It includes rough roads, steep passes, and launch ramps made of stone-filled truck tires or clam-shell-covered mud. The Whaler made this trip without causing any trouble for my four-cylinder 4WD Toyota truck. At the same time, we were able to launch the boat and use it in the weedy mangrove backwaters of Magdalena Bay, and had no trouble in the shallows or wide tidal flats.
What I didn't like:
The Ride: The Montauk is a hard-riding hull. My 60-year-old father regularly winced in pain as we beat our way through rough water. My land-lubbing Italian cousins gripped the rails in terror as I motored home across San Francisco Bay in a 20-knot wind. Even my most rugged fishing friends had to hang onto rails and stay on their feet to soak up the jarring shock of even small chop. I mounted rocket launcher style rod holders to the front of the center console, but this was tough on rods as their tips constantly slammed into each other while bouncing through chop.
Exposure: You're completely bared to the elements in this boat. On San Francisco's chilly bay waters, the ride was always too wet and too cold. Miles offshore in the Sea of Cortez, the sun beat down mercilessly and the wind desiccated us like Egyptian mummies.
The Deck Layout: The older Montauks had a funny bow layout with small steps on either side leading up to a very small forward deck. This resulted in a lot of wasted space. The new Montauk's have a much cleaner forward deck that's actually big enough to stand and fish from. Five people is max capacity for fishing, and three or four is closer to optimum. The Montauk has virtually no storage. Depending on where you put the fuel tank, you'll have some room under the seat or in the console, and in front-mounted cooler. There's also a little room under the forward deck in the newer models. However, it's always hard to find room for a family's gear.
Overall the Montauk's a great fishing craft, if you're the rough-and-tumble type who puts fishing, and not comfort first. It's safe, stable, and sturdy in a wide variety of situations, although its too wet and wild to be a good all-purpose family boat.
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