Online collection of pictures and information about vintage wood Hiliner Boats

Hiliner History

Over time,  I will put up as much information as I can about the Hiliner boats.

The short version of the story starts sometime in the mid 1950′s.  The factory was located in Ipswich, MA.   In 1958, Bunny Fernald took over as President of the company. Bunny also owned a Marina in Newbury, MA.   Bunny implemented a number of changes, including the “Clipper Bow” design.  If you take a look at the early and then the later boats, you can see the more aggressive rake of the Clipper Bow.  Bunny introduced the fiberglass over the hull.  Bunny also spearheaded the design of the Sea Star, he wanted a simpler, more utilitarian, low cost boat,more  suitable for fishing than the other runabout designs.  He also pushed for the 19′ Coast Clipper, the largest Hiliner built.  

In the early 1960′s, with the advent of all fiberglass boats, many small wood boat companies went out of business.   In 1963, Hiliner went out of business.  But, a number of unfinished hulls were auctioned off and purchased by former employees.  A shop was set up in Newbury, MA and these boats were completed in 1964 and 1965.

There’s much more to the story…..  So check back for updates.

Jim

9 responses

  1. rick

    I want to start off by saying I love this site. My grandfather had a brand new 1959 speed star that stayed in my family until 1999. My father, grandparents, brother, sister and I all learned to ski and drive for the first time behind the wheel of this awesome boat.I was devistated to learn that my father had sold the boat thinking no one would want to fix the aging hull.

    In 2007 i recieved a call from my nephew that he had saw a Hiliner on the side of the road for sale. Always wanting to get my own Hiliner to replace the one my grandfather had, I went to check it out. Out of pure luck or from my grandfather looking down on me I had found My familys long lost boat. I purchased it and have been working on it as money allows ever since.

    Its great to go to this site and see other people who love Hiliners as much as I do.

    Thanks, Rick

    August 10, 2011 at 2:59 pm

  2. Dean Melby

    I was trying to gather more information on the Hiliner. We grew up with 3 different foot lengths the last being an 18 foot Sea Star. I photos of it I will share later, a couple of which us me as a little guy a friend, my brother and father with the boat upside down after we had to replace 80% of the bottom. Thanks for gathering all of this and look forward to seeing more

    Dean Melby

    December 1, 2011 at 12:31 am

    • geoskala@comcast.net

      Dean, my uncle purchased a new Hi Liner,14′, in 1954 with a 25hp Evinrude. A year or two later he popped a hole near the back of the boat and had the entire hull fiberglassed. This is the rig his son and I learned to ski behind. He sold the boat in the 1970′s and we lost track of it. If I remember correctly, the dealer had a 16 footer in stock when my uncle purchased his boat. The dealer was located in Springfield, Ma. Happy boating. George Skala, Agawam,Ma

      February 18, 2013 at 5:54 pm

  3. james

    does anyone know where 1960 brochure (or copy) of HiLiner Fleet Star can be purchased?…….james 3.25.12

    March 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm

  4. I own a 1958 Hiliner 14 ft. with a 59 thirty five hp Evinrude, Iskiid behind this boat in 1959, its hard to believe that I am only the second owner. Tom in Ma.

    June 21, 2012 at 6:01 pm

  5. Keith L. Symmes

    Glad to have found this site. I have an unusual HiLiner. It is a 1957 twin cockpit with the steering in the rear cockpit, but is only 12′ long and has the original 1957 Johnson 18 HP. It was my aunt’s boat used inland in Amesbury, MA. and has been in storage for many years. It is in pretty good shape and I am restoring it. Being in nearby Essex, MA, I am very fond of its Ipswich heritage. As I look at the brouchures the Speed Star of 1957 seems to be 13’6″ so I wonder if this was special ordered. Any insights?

    August 25, 2012 at 2:01 pm

  6. jamesbowes

    Keith, I will soon be posting the 1955 catalog, which has a the Hiliner “140″, listed at 11′ 7″. I’m pretty sure this is your boat.

    August 29, 2012 at 12:48 pm

  7. I am looking for fleet star plans. Do you know if they exist?

    September 10, 2013 at 11:31 am

    • jamesbowes

      As far as I know, they no longer exist. I’ve been looking for them for years. I asked Bunny, before he passed away, if they were around. He said he never had them.

      September 10, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 55 other followers