WEB EXCLUSIVE - tradeaboat TEST

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Boston Whaler 280 Outrage

WEB EXCLUSIVE - tradeaboat TEST
WEB EXCLUSIVE – tradeaboat TEST

The new Boston Whaler 280 Outrage centre console and 285 Conquest walkaround redefine our notion about what constitutes a serious fishing boat. The former breaks new ground with three-sided armour-plate safety class around its centre console, an electric forward vent window, and a T-top big enough to cast shade. The latter takes fishing comfort a step farther, with weather protection behind a full-width windscreen and under a hardtop, not to mention offering a cabin that can sleep four for weekend trips away.

But don’t mistake creature comforts for going soft. The 280 and 285 are turnkey tournament fishing boats with everything but the electronics bundled aboard. As tested, the boats have outriggers, big livewells, serious underfloor fishboxes, bait-prep centres, terrific rod storage and heavy-duty deck gear. Add a spread of your favourite fish-finding gadgetry and you’re ready to hit the water.

As luck would have it, I got to test these boats in the kind of weather that fish enjoy more than battle-weary anglers. There were 15 to 20kts of bracing southeast wind, two-metres of short-packed swell, black clouds, showers and — dah dah — a rainbow. But the Whalers made this not-so-pretty day bearable, riding high and dry, with a real sense of purpose. Ultimately, these seakindly boats mean more fishing days.

Marine multinational Brunswick Corporation owns Boston Whaler and Mercury, so it comes as no surprise to find both boats were pre-rigged for a pair of Mercury’s latest supercharged four-stroke outboard Verado outboards. The 280 Outrage was the real weapon with twin 300hp (224kW) Verados, the biggest six-cylinder outboards in the four-stroke range, while the 285 Conquest was a tad tamer with twin 250hp (186kW) six-cylinder Verados and a beamier, higher-volume hull.

Finding the comfort zone offshore with the 285 Conquest required tugging on the reins and settling back to 24 to 25kts at 4000rpm, but I let the leaner Outrage centre console have its head and it cruised at 31kts at the same rev setting. Although the 280 Outrage was the better of the two boats for straight-line speed, once you reach the grounds and dispatch the lures, or set up a drift, the 285 Conquest comes into its own.

Importantly, these boats have a great sense of freeboard, making you feel doubly safe in their self-draining cockpits. With diamond-pattern non-skid underfoot, toerails and padded bolsters, you gain a real sense of security aboard these mid-range boats. Another nice thing is the buoyancy at rest and underway, with the transom easily carrying the weight of the big Verados, while the bow has a natural tendency to lift over, rather than duck into, the swells.

Interestingly, Boston Whaler says its new 280 Outrage has been redesigned from the keel up with, among other things, a beamier hull. There is now more room around the centre console (you can fit optional snap-in trolling seats for your crew) plus improved storage. But both boats are big on storage, yet another sign of a seriously good fishing boat. You’ll find a place for everything, and everything, right down to special downrigger weight holders, has its place.

Boston Whaler made a name for itself on the back of its apparently unsinkable hulls. Each boat is built with a hull and a liner, then the void between them is pumped full of liquid foam that sets hard. The resulting boat enjoys incredible reserve buoyancy. Swamped capacity of the 280 Outrage is 1588kg, while the beamier 285 Conquest is rated to 1723kg. Boston Whaler says both boats will still float after having live rounds pumped into them, when chopped in half, speared with a bill, or run up a reef. The foam insulation adds to the ride comfort, too, helping dampen noise along the way.

Beneath the entire forward casting platform on the 280 Outrage is a catacomb of storage space. Plenty of thought has gone into it, with concealed rod lockers for six outfits (rod storage is inside the cabin of the 285 Conquest) and a central fishwell with pump-out and dedicated recesses to hold twin buckets filled with, say, chum or cubes.

With clip-in cushions in place, the casting platform converts to a sunlounge for apres fishing family days. It could even double as a bed if you were happy to sleep in the open air. Think about some custom camper covers. Additional dry storage, the boat’s batteries and main breakers, Vacuflush loo and even a handheld shower all exist inside the cavernous centre console of the 280 Outrage.

But the 285 Conquest has an even bigger cabin, with comforts ranging from an aft double bed to a separate head with handheld shower, through a dinette that converts to a second double bed, to a galley that can be optioned up with a Cruising Package including microwave oven, water heater and electric stove.

Having now spent the best pat of a blustery winter’s day at sea, I was encouraged. The Whalers are well thought out, considerate and comfortable. In fact, they are so obliging they make you feel keen again. Set the alarm. We’re going fishing.

— David Lockwood

AT-A-GLANCE - Boston Whaler 280 Outrage & 285 Conquest

Price as tested: Approx $299,900 w/ twin Mercury 300hp four-stroke Verado outboards and options; approx $300,000 for 285 Conquest with twin Mercury 250hp four-stroke Verado outboards and options
Length overall: 8.40m/9.19m (inc. pulpit or bowsprit)
Beam: 2.84m/2.95m
Draft: 0.50m
Weight (hull): 2767kg/3401kg
People: 14
Fuel: 757lt/783lt
Water: Enough for a weekend
Engines: Mercury 300hp/250hp Verado four-stroke six-cylinder outboard with supercharging
Rated HP/kW: 300/224; 250/186 at 5800 to 6400rpm
Props: Three-blade stainless steel
Supplied by: Andrew Short Marine.
Visit: www.whaler.com for interstate dealers


 


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