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.



30 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. Jim Melanson

    what was the name of th company after Hi Liner. I know of 2 existing boats after the Hi Liner Co. They were an 18 or so foot utility skiff.

    October 31, 2011 at 6:48 pm

  3. 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


      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

    • Were you the one married to Penny Melby?

      September 16, 2014 at 9:02 am

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. Corky Heuring

    I have a 1959 Hiliner. It has a Volvo Penta drive unit ( supposedly the drive unit is the seventh I/o built by Volvo Penta). The boat is an 18 ft runabout. Do you have any information on this boat ? I’ll send pictures.I also have what I believe is the hull number, it’s stamped into the transom. I’d appreciate any info you may have. Thanks Corky Heuring

    February 23, 2013 at 9:54 pm

  9. Kathy Goodwin

    My husband and I bought what I think is a ’51 and have it at our lake house up in northern New York. My brother was using it over the weekend and broke the plexiglas wind shield. Can anyone tell me where we can get a replacement?

    July 8, 2013 at 5:38 pm

  10. 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

  11. David Taylor

    How about someone expanding upon HiLiner after it made C. Raymond Hunt fiberglass boats mimicking the legendary 20′ Bertram. This was in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Absolutely mazing boats.

    October 12, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    • jamesbowes


      Sorry it took me so long to get to your comment. Check out this link

      It has a letter written by Howie Fernald that explains the transition of the Hiliner Trademark.

      December 29, 2014 at 12:35 pm

      • Jim Boselli

        I am a lifelong admirer of HiLiner boats but mostly the newer fiberglass models. As a teenager, I marveled at the HiLiner brochure that said that the maximum horsepower specification for the HiLiner 19 (which accommodated twin outboards) was “UNLIMITED”! I couldn’t believe that was possible…especially with the massive Mercury 70HP models on the market at the time! It got my attention.

        Then, a HiLiner factory appeared at the corner of Canal and Granite Streets in Manchester, NH, my home town, around 1968. I stopped in to introduce myself and made numerous visits thereafter. At that time, they were building the “HiLiner 21″ a 21′ 6” boat that is still my favorite boat ever. They all had Holman and Moody modified Ford engines with Volvo-built outdrives in three sizes — 289 ci, 302 ci and 351 ci. The boats were all white. The passenger side glove box door had a trim piece indicating which engine each boat had.

        Around 1970-1971, there was a massive (and fatal) fire at the HiLiner factory. The building was ultimately razed and there is a bus stop there today. The molds were recovered and eventually they were set up in a new factory at Grenier Field (the Manchester Airport) by Dick Stahl, owner of Nashua Ford. They began producing the same HiLiner boats but with the new name “HiLiner 222”. Along with the new business came colored gelcoat hulls MerCruiser and OMC outdrive packages. No more Holman and Moody engines. That venture lasted 3-4 years and closed around 1974. At the time they had what appeared to be 20-25 HiLiner 222s in the fenced-in yard at the factory. They were sold at auction.

        Just a little history from a guy who was there.

        January 22, 2018 at 11:39 pm

  12. Shane

    Can anyone help me? I have a 1957 Hi Liner Speed Star 14′, I’m looking for a steering wheel. Shane from PA

    December 28, 2014 at 1:43 am

  13. Hi, very nice website. Got there by accident while searching for bow handles. Looking for two 12″ bow handles. Bob , Palmetto, FL

    April 26, 2015 at 12:12 am

  14. SHANE

    Does anyone know what brand of boat trailer Hi Liner used? Just wondering!

    March 10, 2016 at 9:57 pm

    • jamesbowes

      Shane, from what I know, back in the day different dealers offered different packages. The factory rarely delived boats with trailers. I did have this ad.

      March 11, 2016 at 1:23 am

    • Mickey Mouse

      My family had a 1957 Penn Yan Dynamold 14 ft boat bought in Lawrence, MA. It came on a Tee Nee brand trailer, color yellow. Maybe Hiliner used the same??

      February 24, 2017 at 9:43 am

  15. Ray Brown

    I have a 13′ 6″ speed star 1958 and am looking for a windshield for it if anyone might know of one. thanks 518-651-0689

    July 18, 2016 at 2:37 am

  16. Mark Stafford

    We just bought a 1959 HiLiner and put it into storage today. Can’t wait for Spring. Is there a group or club for HiLiners for information and assistance?

    October 8, 2016 at 9:54 pm

  17. Barry Blauvelt

    We bought our Hiliner in 1959 from Covell’s Marine, Rt. 17, New Jersey. Out the door price for the 16 ft. w/a mark 35 Merc. on it and a few add on’s, including the Magic Tilt, trailer, and cover, was $2,187.00 dollars. Now 73 yr’s old, at the time, just a 14 -year-old, kid. We had a camp on Greenwood Lake.NJ. Those were the best year’s of my life, Dad paid the bills and I was his son, what a summer it was! {Thanks, Dad}.

    June 17, 2017 at 6:08 pm

    • Gerry Murray

      Hi Barry. We as well bought a new HiLiner Fleet Star from Covall Marine in Hasbrouck Heights in 1961 with a new 50 HP Mercury. We traded in a little 14 foot ski boat my Dad and I got from a junkyard the year before and restored. I was 11 years old. I still have the original bill of sale and more,I still have the boat and just restored it. I cherish it and will have pictures on here soon. It is the finest wooden boat in its class hands down. I enjoyed your story.

      July 26, 2017 at 11:46 pm

  18. dave dealy

    1 have a222 gipsy ran great 5 years ago awas shrink wraped would love to find a new home

    August 21, 2018 at 1:05 pm

    • jamesbowes


      The Gypsy came after the wood Hiliners and was made by a different company. I know there is a Facebook group for the glass Hiliners. You would probably find more interest there.\

      August 21, 2018 at 1:58 pm

    • Allen

      Strong Trailer Co.

      July 25, 2019 at 5:13 pm

    • Allen

      How much and location?

      July 25, 2019 at 5:15 pm

  19. Allen

    How much and location

    July 25, 2019 at 5:14 pm

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