In the world of serious fishing rigs, Boston Whalers are iconic. In more than 50 years, the US-based company has earned an unmatched reputation for practical design and quality construction, all wrapped together in an unsinkable package.
Boating enthusiasts might know of Boston Whaler’s now famous party trick of founder Richard Fisher, who took a chainsaw to his first 13ft twin-sponson boat, cut it in half, and demonstrated that the two separate halves would still float while supporting a heap of friends.
Enter the Boston Whaler 370 Outrage – the biggest boat to come out of the factory yet – which, despite its name, it’s not so much outrageous as it is unique; at least for a Boston Whaler. Not only is it a formidable fishing rig, which is to be expected of anything bearing the famous name, it’s a serious dive boat and entertainer, with overnight accommodation to boot.
For serious fishing, the Boston Whaler name is legendary and is very highly regarded in fishing circles in the US and elsewhere. But it’s rare that a boat that functions so well in one category can work so well in two others. Generally, when boat designers create a craft to work across several applications, there’s a compromise of some kind. Which is why it’s not surprising that the 370 Outrage won this year’s European Powerboat of the Year and the NMMA (National Marine Manufacturers Association) Innovation Award at this year’s Miami International Boat Show. The fishing, dive and entertainment functions of this boat are so well integrated it is hard to separate them.
For instance, there are no less than 20 rod holders mounted in all the right places in the gunwales and on the T-top frame, as well as a couple of Grand Slam radial outriggers.
The self-draining cockpit is huge, with the kill tanks in the floor fitted with freezer plates. As expected, the gunwale padding is at the right height and the toeholds are comfortable for someone wearing boating shoes.
TAKING A DIVE
Meanwhile, there is enough room in the cockpit for a team of divers to suit up and then step out through the side door. To get back on board, a stainless steel ladder clips into plates in the floor and when not in use is stored under the self-supporting, fold-down bench seat across the transom.
An innovation is the barbecue and sink unit mounted directly behind the helm seats. It replaces the live bait well, which is now mounted in the transom. When not being used to cook up the snags, the area can double as a bait preparation station. Another big welcome feature is the electrically-operated sunshade that slides out over the cockpit and, when not in use, is stored in the T-top.
The three seats at the helm station have bolsters, so the skipper has the option of driving seated or standing. The helm itself is well laid out, with a couple of Simrad NSE 12in screens, which are user-friendly and include the Broadband radar and autopilot and Smartcraft vessel monitoring system. The dash also includes a VHF radio, digital trim tab controls and a Lewmar bow thruster. The bow thruster is probably overkill, although the boat is 37ft long and it could just save the day in a tight marina situation if the wind and tide were making life difficult.
It was good to see that the stainless steel wheel was fitted with a ‘captain’s knob’. Stainless wheels get slippery when wet and the knob makes it so much more positive to operate, especially when manoeuvring into tight spaces.
The test boat had an optional camera looking back into the cockpit, so all the action can be recorded and played back on the way home, or shown to shore-bound mates who don’t quite believe the story about the one that got away.
Downstairs – yes, there is a downstairs – boasts full headroom and a bunk big enough for a couple of adults to crash out on. The cabin includes a glass sink, microwave, slide-out drawer fridge, toilet and shower and a swing-out TV – all very neat.
In front of the centre console is a sunlounge, with chair backs, arms and a table. But fishos need not despair – the table folds down electrically to form a casting platform. The sunlounge also lifts up for access to built-in racks to store scuba tanks and there is enough room to mount a compressor to fill the tanks and other water toys.
The distinctive profile of the hull begins with a very sharp forward entry and maintains a 23.5-degree deadrise at the transom. The broad 11ft 6in beam allows for large lifting strakes and stabilising chines at the waterline.
Boston Whaler is owned by the giant Brunswick Corporation, which also owns Mercury, so it’s not surprising that the 370 is powered by 300hp Verado outboards – three of them – with four-blade 19in Revolution stainless steel propellers that have a very firm grip on the water.
The combined 900hp may sound a little daunting, but this is no snarling monster; the package is well-balanced and smooth to operate, with two control levers. The two outboard engines can be operated individually, with the centre engine slaved, and on a long run to sea the trio can be synchronised to operate from one lever.
For a big boat traveling at a comfortable 28 knots (50km/h), the ride is remarkably soft and a quick check showed the three outboards were gulping ULP at a rate of 125lt per hour. This would give the boat a range of some 380 nautical miles (700km). Drop the speed to 25 knots (46km/h) and the range will increase to around 440 nautical miles (815km).
There was no need to use either the outboard trims or trim tabs. About the only time the trim tabs would be needed would be to drop the bow down in a head sea or raise it coming in over a bar. The rest of the time, no need to bother.
At trolling speed, the Outrage tracks well and doesn’t wander all over the place – and those Verados are so quiet.
It took just 5.7 seconds to jump out of the hole and onto the plane at 28 knots – again not bad for an 11.4m (37ft) boat that weighs in dry at around 6124kg (13,500lb).
Top speed recorded on the day was 47.5 knots (88km/h) at 5700rpm, which equated to the official factory figures.
The first 370 to arrive in Australia has gone to an owner in the west and I’d have to say what an ideal rig it is for the Perth boating lifestyle.
The 370 will eat the chop across the paddock to Rottnest Island for a day out, diving for crays or a spot of lunch. And it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to go further west out to the edge of the Shelf to chase the big stuff.
I’d suggest it will suit the lifestyle just as well on this side of the rabbit-proof fence. Imagine the fun to be had with this boat in the Whitsundays or further north. A trip out to the Reef would be no problem.
The test boat was supplied by Queensland Marine Centre on the Gold Coast and, except for a few covers and centre console clears, it came fully optioned-up.
SPECIFICATIONS: BOSTON WHALER OUTRAGE 370
LOA: 37ft 6in (11.4m)
Beam: 11ft 6in (3.5m)
Draft: 23.5in (0.6m)
Displacement: 13,500lb dry no engines (6123kg)
Fuel capacity: 1703lt
Water capacity: 227lt
Engines: 3 x Mercury 300hp Verado, four-stroke outboards
Passenger capacity: Price as tested: $650,000
More information: Andrew Bennett, Queensland Marine Centre, tel: (07) 5591 7032, www.bostonwhaler.com.