Sure, everybody knows Boston Whaler can build a hearty tender; older 13 Montauks are still a prized runabout by many. But can the brand hang with the growing (in size and competitiveness) center console market?
That’s what I set out to determine with Whaler engineer Spencer Traynom, as he idled the 330 Outrage away from a dock at a recent dealer meeting in Captiva, Florida, in search of open water. This boat has big shoes to fill coming into the lineup as the replacement for the 320 Outrage, one of the most successful models in the builder’s stable.
“We started with a rich heritage here so we didn’t need to start from scratch,” explains Traynom. “We went out and talked to 320 owners and owners of competitive brands and found that this boat needed to be three things: simple, comfortable, fishable. It’s simple in that it’s low maintenance—just hose and go. Comfort comes from all our innovative seating, and trust me, this boat can be fished hard.”
Traynom’s words about seating echoed a phrase I had heard multiple times on the dock that day: Seating sells boats. If that’s true, then the order book for the 330 is bound to be pretty full. This boat has seating everywhere, most notably in the form of aft-facing bench behind the console that converts—in just seconds—to form a table that will be used by fishermen to prep baits and (later, after being washed down, I hope) by families making sandwiches or serving appetizers at cocktail hour. Seating for two more can be found via fold-down gunwale seating aft. There are also fold-down gunwale seats to port and starboard amidships, for those looking to stay in the conversation going on at the helm. A forward sunpad plus seating for three more brings the grand total of seats to ... anyone? That’s right, 13 guests can have their own comfortable, designated spot to sit aboard.
Just when I was really soaking up the boat’s layout and daydreaming about firing up the barbecue, Traynom opened up the throttles and we took off across the flat, sun-speckled water at 45 knots, courtesy of twin 350-horsepower Mercury Verados. As I grabbed the wheel and heeled the boat over in turns, each tighter than the last, I couldn’t help but think, Man this boat is smooth. Running from 4500 to 5200 rpm (28 to 45.2 knots), it was hard to pick an optimum cruising speed; each throttle setting felt comfortable.
Before long, we were tied back up to the dock and I looked at my watch: 45 minutes. That’s all it took for me to realize that Boston Whaler is a force to be reckoned with in the large center console market.
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This article originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.