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Red Sky at Night with JB Cornwell | Boston Whalers I Have Known: Striper 15 RED SKY
Article courtesy of JB Cornwell

Sometime about 1970 a marine architect named Bob Dougherty joined Fisher-Pierce, the Boston Whaler organization. Within a few years his design genius showed up in revision of the 13 and 17 hulls to include the famous (infamous?) smirk and deepened bow, and three new designs arrived: The 19 and 21 Outrages (the look was considered an outrage at the time) and the 15. Like the 13 and 17 hulls, the 15 was offered in a variety of configurations but was quite a different hull shape from the 13 and 17 . . . she had a vee bow rather than a modified cathedral. That made her much smoother riding in a chop, though slightly narrower and less stable.

My personal opinion is that the 15 was Dougherty’s masterpiece, and I lusted for a Striper 15 model from the day I first saw one on Lake Minnetonka in 1981.

My lust was put on hold because I moved to Fort Lauderdale and started fishing blue water in my 1966 Sakonnet 16, Sunshine.

In the years that followed Sunshine was replaced by other Boston Whalers that you have read about here.

I found this 1986 Striper 15 on the Texas gulf coast in 2006, where she had been used as a flats boat. She was equipped with a 1986 Johnson 48SPL on a CMC 130 power tilt/setback unit. Her mahogany brightwork had not survived the Texas sun and salt water. All had been replaced with either pine 2x4 stock or ¾” plywood. Both pedestal seats had been replaced with economy models. The hull was in fine shape, inside and out. Her name in that life, BETITO, was on her starboard side in 10” high block letters. I have no superstitions about changing the name of a boat when she changes lives.

She got new seats, including the cushioned 50 qt Igloo cooler that serves as a pilot seat.

All fittings that were originally mahogany were reproduced and installed.

The two small automotive batteries were replaced with one big, dual purpose Marine Maxx. Then I made a new wiring harness to the console.

The foot-steered trolling motor was replaced by a Minn Kota AP 55 with quick release mount. New power was wired to the bow station with a plug in connector for simple install and demount of the troller for transport.

The 7.5 gallon fuel tank was replaced with an Atwood 11.5 gallon tank and mahogany cleats.

The console was equipped with an in-dash compass, Eagle SONAR, Garmin chart plotting GPS, tachometer and a breaker/switch panel.

Finally, she got a wet sanding followed by a good buffing and a new name, RED SKY, suggested by my iboats forum friends.

It wasn’t my intention to restore her to new, merely to equip and rig her to suit the fishing I wanted to do on Lake Of The Woods with my son.

In 2006 son John and I made our excursion from Texas to Lake Of The Woods. Angle Outpost Resort had been our summer trip destination for about 10 years, and it was there we aimed our vehicle.

The Garmin GPSMAP276c on the console (on the dash of Ole Blue when traveling) housed the Mapsource Recreational Lakes chart of LOTW plus about 100 waypoints collected over the years where muskies had been raised or caught. We were well equipped to cash in on knowledge gained during years of fishing with guide Scott Edman and exploring on our own in other Boston Whalers.

Our first day dawned cool, still and drizzling. Well fortified with John’s legendary coffee and cocooned in Frogg Toggs we set out in RED SKY to find some muskies.

This was the first time I had her on water and I was impressed. Though rated for up to 70HP she scooted along at 30mph with the Johnson 48SPL humming smoothly. She answered her helm quickly and without torque steer. She was not crowded with two adults but would have been a bit tight for three.

That was the most successful musky trip we made to LOTW. In 5 days, John boated (and released) six 40”+ muskies, I caught some nice snakes and we had a limit of walleyes frozen in the cooler when we started home. Many large smallies kept us entertained between esox attacks.

RED SKY was my last Boston Whaler and in some ways my favorite for fishing alone or with one companion. She was light, fast, smooth, agile and economical, but most of all she had Boston Whaler safety, quality and panache.

[EDITOR’S NOTE] now offers new lines of fishing gear such as Abu Garcia, Shakespeare, Berkley, Fenwick, Pflueger, Penn and more. Click here to shop Rods & Reels.

JB Cornwell writes from “The Hideout” in Whitt, TX, and is also an expert moderator, instructor, and fountain-of-knowledge in the Boating Forums, where he may occasionally share a yarn of his own.

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