As memories are revisited, a classic 25 Whaler is given a new look and a new commission.
Back in 1988, there was little doubt that a career on the water was in the cards for Allan Black. He grew up on the northernmost Bahama Island of Walker’s Cay under the guidance of his father, Billy Black, the widely known charter skipper of Duchess fame. The waters surrounding the northern Abacos were his playground. Various small skiffs were the primary mode of transportation used for traveling between Walker’s and neighboring Grand Cay, where most of the locals called home. Among the most memorable of these water taxis was the 25-foot Boston Whaler that ferried locals and guests alike between the two islands, either to work on Walker’s or to eat and drink at Rosie’s, the restaurant on Grand Cay. Allan surely logged many miles on this vessel and if you visited Walker’s during the 1980s or ’90s you almost certainly rode on the Love Train yourself.
Thirty years later, Allan is married, with a son of his own (Marlin) and, like his father Billy, Allan is a successful sportfish captain. When the opportunity to acquire a classic 1988 Boston Whaler Outrage 25 came along, it seemed like a no-brainer. Black’s former employer was in failing health and decided Allan should have a boat to enjoy with his own son. The man generously offered to give him this boat, of the same era from Allan’s own youth. Of course there’s always a catch: The boat was in need of extensive repairs and given Allan’s nature along with his knowledge of boat maintenance and repair, he wasn’t going to do it halfway.
Not long after Allan accepted possession of the boat, his former employer lost his battle with cancer. Subsequently, Allan decided he should go all the way on the rebuild to honor its former owner. He also saw this as an opportunity to tackle the project with his son, much as his own father might have done when he was growing up.
To get the lengthy process underway, the first project was repairing structural damage to the cap and rub rail, which was cracked and separated along the port side. Grinding the broken seam and rough edges out was followed up with extensive patch and fill work. Mixing epoxy resin with Cabosil powder and milled fiber, Black filled the cleaned joint and extensively screwed and clamped the seam back together, building
a solid bond between the cap and hull.
Backing plates to support heavy duty swivel base rod holders were also added to the underside of the gunnels.
Upon closer inspection of some of the structural components while working on the rub rail, Allan decided to rebuild the entire deck to both remove the old wood core and strengthen the walking surface. By carefully peeling the top laminate skin off the entire deck and removing the wood core, he was left with a template that could be reinstalled easily after reconstruction. A new deck was constructed under the old skin using Coosa board, a high-density polyurethane foam board reinforced with layers of fiberglass and vacuum bagged for maximum bonding. The result was a deck that was 50-percent lighter and significantly stronger than the original.
Extensive fiberglass work throughout the entire boat was necessary and rebuilding the console was next. Using the existing console for a model, he cut the wall surfaces away, effectively skeletonizing the box and left the existing framework dimensions intact and rebuilt a new structure out of Divinycell HD foam and carbon/Kevlar, again creating a lighter, stronger structure. This move would also provide a stronger platform for attaching the pipework on a new hard top. A PVC board backing plate was also incorporated into the structure to provide a secure bonding point for sound system amplifiers while also providing an anchor point for two of the hard top legs.
Enlisting the help of a local aluminum fabricator to build the pipe frame, Allan then designed a new hard top and constructed a new fiberglass overhead deck with reinforcing plates that would be capable of supporting the heavy outriggers he’d need to pull a large billfish spread along with heavy dredge frames. The new top was wired with internal recessed navigation and courtesy lights. Before installing the top, an L-bracket support was built out of 5/16 aluminum which was then drilled and tapped into a bulkhead below the deck to serve as additional support adding a more secure connection point for the new structure.
A complete paint job would follow from top to bottom. Prep work began with going over the entire boat to repair dings and scratches with Awlfair surface fairing compound to provide a smooth surface before primer. Extensive sanding would follow including using a 4-foot-long flat board to block sand by hand as well as a dual action power sander inside the boat with paper ranging from 180 grit up to 300 grit.The entire exterior hull surface was hand sanded only with the 4-foot board six times working up to 400 grit paper for the finest base surface possible. Awlgrip 545 epoxy primer was applied to all surfaces and final fairing was completed before painting. A combination of paint was used including Awlgrip inside of all interior compartments and hatches along with finishing exterior surfaces and the entire hull with Imron MS600 topcoat.
While the original diamond non-skid pattern was still functional, Black had experienced bonding issues trying to simply paint over the original molded pattern without grinding out and rebuilding an all new skid proof surface with Griptex or similar products. To save money and labor time, both while adding a clean finished look with a modern touch to the classic Whaler, it was decided that rather than try to resurface all of the non-skid on the decks, Black elected to cover them with a complete SeaDek pattern.
A complete rewire was next. As a boat captain, Black knew how important it would be to lay out all wiring in a manner easy to access and identify for future service or replacement. Using only top quality marine wire, each run was coded with a label maker and clear tape was used to protect labels at each end of every wire. Four group 27 batteries were installed to provide power to the house systems and start the engines. Wiring receptacles for electric reels was necessary to accommodate deep drop reels and for dredge fishing. Using 4 GA wire routed to a 40A swing breaker accomplished this and an onboard charging system was added to complete the system.
For both style and function, Lumitec LED accent/courtesy lights were added throughout the boat including both underwater lights along with a 4-color Orbits light in the hard top.
For the type of fishing Black enjoys most in the depths of the Gulf Stream for swordfish and deep dropping in the Bahamas, a depth recorder with a transducer capable of reliable operation while underway was necessary. This presented a bit of a challenge due to the solid foam core design of the old Whaler hull. A fairing block and channel was molded into the keel after removing a section of the solid foam core, and a 50/200 kHz through-hull transducer was installed. Next, a 6 kW open-array radar was added for chasing tuna under birds. A pair of 12-inch Furuno VX2 NavNet displays completed this package. Finally, a pair of old vintage outboards needed replacing.
Fast approaching the limits of his original budget, Black found a super clean, freshly rebuilt pair of 2004 Yamaha HPDI 200s which perfectly fit the boat’s 26-inch centers bracket.
With the exception of the ever-present little tweaks and refinements, after two years, Allan’s dream boat project was almost complete. Standing back admiring their handiwork, Allan and his son needed one last thing for the boat, a name. After reflecting on the ups and downs of this project, they decided that although the gift of a boat was a very thoughtful gesture, if one isn’t prepared for the responsibility of ownership or the effort and expense of a rehab project such as the one they had just completed, it could be a double edged sword. The extreme late hours of that night found Allan awake surfing the web looking for a word to describe this double-edged blade. Thanks to a bit of Google searching, the word “Xiphos” jumped out at him. A Greek double-edged blade used in battle seemed like a good fit and when considering his passion for catching swordfish (Xiphias gladius) on top of all others the name fit perfectly.
These days you’ll find Allan and his family enjoying the waters between Stuart, Florida and the Abaco islands, where they spend vacations fishing, diving and keeping the family tradition alive. FS