BOAT TEST: BOSTON WHALER 255 CONQUEST

By: MARK BRACKS, Photography by: BARRY ASHENHURST


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Those readers in the market for a true pocket gameboat that can still fit on a trailer are going to find it hard to go past Boston Whaler’s awesome new 255 Conquest. Mark Bracks finds out that when it comes to serious bluewater boats, you get what you pay for

BOAT TEST: BOSTON WHALER 255 CONQUEST
BOSTON WHALER 225 CONQUEST

 

KING KONG


Admiring the Boston Whaler 255 Conquest as she sat in the dry dock of Hirecraft Marine, it's hard to believe that it can be towed: you have to admire its sheer size and incredible versatility.
At over 8m in length and with a beam of just over 2.5m (which will require a towing permit in some states), it is as big as trailerboats can get. But there is also no denying its workmanship and finish - a quick walk around the deck will confirm that.
The Conquest in a class of it's own for top-of-the-range offshore trailerboats and offers the same comforts and performance of larger big game boats with the advantage of being trailerable - which will allow you to fish Cairns for blacks one day and cube for 'fins off Bermagui the next.
Another admirable quality of the Conquest is that it possesses the same attributes that have made the Boston Whaler name so recognisable and respected. The Conquest upholds the fine tradition of heavy-duty, well-finished craft and attention to detail that is arguably second to none. But what really is the core to its success and design is in the Unibond construction which is used to create an unsinkable hull which backed by a 10-year warranty.
The original test of the craft's unsinkability occurred in 1961 when the company owner and founder Richard T Fisher sat in New York Harbour and literally sawed his boat in half then calmly motored off in half a boat!
The obvious safety advantages offered by the hull design help explain the price, as this craft sells as tested (and loaded with options) for just under 170k. Some may think it's too much for a trailerboat, but more than 30 grand is in the donk and if you ever have to test its claim to unsinkability, then you'll appreciate every cent. There's a lot of confidence knowing that with a full load of passengers - 14 as the plate states on the Conquest - you can still get back to base safely after severely drilling the hull.

 

 

EXUDES QUALITY


A quick squizz after climbing aboard over the integrated swim platform and through the transom door is all that is needed to realise that no detail has been overlooked, from the number and quality of stainless steel cleats, the stainless locks on the storage boxes to little touches like the heavy-duty rubrail and carbon monoxide sensor in the cabin.
The spacious transom doesn't lose out too much on the overall length available, offering enough space for two guys to fish off the stern in comfort.
Besides the 275hp Mercury supercharged Verado engine on this particular incarnation a number of configurations are available in single or twin installations.
The spacious, flat deck has plenty of room and practical fishing features, demonstrating how much thought goes into the design process before even a drop of catalyst is added to the resin. The fold-down seat at the stern is a blessing, as unlike some craft it folds right out of the way under the transom when not in use with a brace system for added strength and ease of operation.
At least six adults could fish in comfort from the deck with plenty of room to cast and move about without hands in each others pockets. With 28 inches (70cm) of freeboard there's plenty of security when anchored in a swell.
Everywhere you look there is some form of storage whether it be the tackle-box holders next the rear-facing passenger seats, a huge underfloor fishbox that could hold the world's largest kingie, and the spacious rounded live bait tanks with water pumps and lights - plus plenty of dry storage in the expansive cabin.
While it looks like a huge cruiser to be seen in, any doubt it's not designed as a serious offshore fishing rig is dispelled looking at the amount of rodholders scattered about the hull: there's five moulded into the hull while the under-gunwale racks hold another four outfits. There are also four racks in the cabin plus extra rocket launcher pots to compliment the outrigger setup.

 

 

ACRES OF SPACE


Heading to the helm area, you'll find two fully adjustable helm seats to cater for all sizes, and vision is excellent whether sitting or standing and the screen and canopy setup affords fantastic weather protection.
The dashboard is cleanly laid out due in part to Mercury's Verado multi-function engine management display front and centre, but the computer screen is one of my few criticisms as in glary daylight its nigh on impossible to see anything but the major numerals (there's a light switch there somewhere!). It's standard with the Verado engine package and since our test the Conquest had a Navman 6600 colour sounder and GPS fitted. With smaller output engines the Conquest comes standard with a SmartCraft multi-function gauge.
Behind the helm in the cabin is another example of its strength only evident when you open an access locker to the back of the instruments for the wiring.
The bulkhead has been doubly reinforced as there are two walls adding extra strength.
The cabin is spacious and airy, with ample room for a group of adults to sit in comfort. There's a removable picnic table to stage lunch and a roomy V-berth with infill, and the cabin has a lockable door for privacy and security, which you'll appreciate when using the pump out porcelain (yep, porcelain) toilet.
To help with ventilation there's two opening portholes and a huge access door to the bow, although a spacious walkaround makes it just as easy to access the bow stepping up from the cockpit. It's very neatly finished throughout and has courtesy lights, a sink with pressurised water and is finished in easy-to-clean materials.

 

 

RIDE OF YOUR LIFE


Even with a 275 supercharged motor powering it through the water it still takes time to get up on the plane as the Verado pushes the 2222kg hull through the blue. Once there it's boating pleasure at its finest.
The Conquest is right at the top of its class and has many of the features that larger big game boats possess for a lot fewer dollars. The Unibond hull has a lot of vee and aggressively reversed chines, which combine to deliver what I (and many others) consider to be simply the best ride in the business, barring catamarans, and they're a different kettle of fish. Things like self-draining deck and very high sides add to a feeling of security when powering through the swells.
For night fishing there is plenty of light with "spotties" and cabin lights well positioned.
Being so well balanced, combined with its size, the Conquest - like its siblings - offers probably one of the most comfortable rides you'll ever experience on a trailerable boat. Ably assisting in the ride and manoeuvrability is the recessed factory-fitted trim tabs that with electro hydraulics quickly balances the craft to negate any differences in passenger weight from port to starboard. When underway there is more noise from the power steering unit than the engine itself and with electronic throttle control engine response is immediate and smoother than Lake Macquarie at sunrise.
Hirecraft Marine at Toronto has just become a Boston Whaler dealer and has decided to keep two boats as demo models to prove to customers the capability of the brand. Since I conducted this test, the lads at Hirecraft have had it out in a tournament 40 nautical miles offshore and nabbed five marlin. The reports of the boat's performance were glowing.
If there's any east-coast anglers interested in seeing the Boston Whaler 225 Conquest in the flesh, it'll be decked out and locked and loaded for the annual Trailer Boat Fishing Tournament in Port Stephen, NSW next March.

 

 

WHO IS BOSTON WHALER?


Boston Whaler is an iconic name in boating in America and is synonymous with fishing and safety. The company came into existence in 1958 in Massachusetts founded by a man called Richard T Fisher who originally called it the "Fisher-Pierce Company" (no, not the toy company!). He soon changed the name to Boston Whaler and pioneered the unique hull construction, "Unibond."
Unibond is a construction technique that is the core of the Boston Whaler fleet: an inner and outer skin of fibreglass that is filled with liquid polymer expanding foam injected at high pressure to fill the voids in the hull, setting to become one solid piece. The outer and inner hull moulds are laid up simultaneously. The inner mould is lowered into the outer mould and they are locked together. Whaler boats are two and a half times more buoyant than the minimum requirements set by the US Coast Guard.
To test the effectiveness of the hull, the US Marine Corps fired more than 1000 rounds of .50 calibre and 7.62mm ammunition into a 22-foot hull which although resembling a colander, remained afloat.
From 1983 Boston Whaler has produced military, law enforcement, fire/rescue and commercial work boats.
Boston Whaler is part of the huge Brunswick group (which owns Maxum, Bayliner, Sea Ray, Mercury and Navman among others). The boatbuilder produces 18 models ranging in length from 11-32ft.

 

 

HIGHS


* Finish attention to detail and practicality of features
* Security and safety
* Ride and comfort

 

 

LOWS


* Diagnostics a bit hard to read in bright sunshine
* Will need large vehicle to tow
* Priced at upper end of market

 

 

 


Specifications: Boston Whaler 255 Conquest

 

 

HOW MUCH?


Price as tested: $168,000
Options fitted: Mercury Soundcraft diagnostic computer, Navman 6600 colour combo sounder and GPS, Clarion stereo, porcelain head with pumpout, safety equipment, Felk 2514 trailer with electric brakes, hardtop, outrigger bases and electrical box, anchor winch, dongle interface, fishing package (fishbox pumpouts, live well with light and refill, raw water washdown, two tackle drawers, cockpit coaming bolsters and three extra stainless rod holders) plus boat and trailer registration
Priced from: $143,000 with supercharged 2375hp Mercury Verado

 

 

GENERAL


Material: Unibond GRP with foam core
Length (overall): 8.2m
Beam: 2.66m
Draft: 0.4m
Deadrise: 20°
Weight: 2222kg (dry sans engine)
Rated HP: 225-450hp in single or twins

 

 

CAPACITIES


Fuel: 567lt
Oil: 12lt
Water: 90lt
Accommodation: Two adults
Passengers: 14

 

 

ENGINE


Make/model: Mercury Verado 275hp
Type: Supercharged four-stroke in-line six cylinder
Displacement: 2598cc
Weight: 302kg
Drive (make/ratio): Mercury outboard 1.85:1
Props: 15in stainless-steel Mirage

 

 

SUPPLIED BY


Hirecraft Marine, Toronto, NSW, Victory Parade, tel (02) 4959 1444, email info@hirecraftmarine.com.au or visit www.hirecraftmarine.com.au

 

 

Originally published in TrailerBoat # 190

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