I respect a company that has staying power like Boston Whaler. Fifty years is a significant milestone, and during that time the company has produced some true classics.
But even the classics can use a new look after awhile. That's why Whaler's recent makeover of its line of center consoles is so refreshing. In redesigning the 250 Outrage, not only did the engineering department think outside the box, they added some interesting curves and angles. The result is a functional, well-crafted fishing machine.
I had a chance to climb aboard and run the 250 during her unveiling last summer in St. Petersburg, Florida. From the dock, the most striking feature was the distinctive fiberglass hardtop, an option that's sure to be popular, especially with anglers along the mid-Atlantic and West Coast. The D-shaped frame is recessed into the console to provide more fishing room. A tempered-glass windshield bonded to the frame replaces the typical enclosure, and fasteners are hidden. The result is a clean, contemporary look that offers excellent protection from the elements. The top also has an electronics box, life-jacket storage and factory-mounted stereo speakers. An electric windshield vent and wiper will help ensure visibility.
The console itself is large, with an emphasis on ergonomic comfort. The operator can easily scan the electronics panel, which is large enough to flush-mount twin 12-inch displays along with an autopilot and radio. The Verado engines come with Mercury's SmartCraft DTS digital controls and a Vessel View monitoring system. Beneath the console, the head compartment includes a porcelain head, shower, storage and easy access to the electrical system.
Angling highlights start with the deluxe leaning post that has dual bucket seats with flip-up bolsters for standing operation. A pressurized 40-gallon livewell comes with a blue gelcoat interior and a prep sink; tool/rig rack and storage drawers keep business close at hand. I especially liked the built-in trash bin - having a dedicated receptacle for discarded line, bags and cans is handy. The post also has dual rod holders for quick rigging.
The hardtop option adds a five-rod rocket launcher, plus there is room for six more rods under the gunwales and three across the transom. The aft gunwale bungees on our test boat might cause hang-ups with rod butts, but Whaler's engineers promised to look into moving them aft. Otherwise, they should be useful for stowing dock lines, towels and other necessary items.
Another thoughtful touch, long overdue, is the option of flip-down trolling seats amidships. Nestled into the interior deck coaming, these seats are perfectly positioned to watch baits while taking advantage of the shade provided by the hardtop. When they're not needed, they stow conveniently out of the way. The secondary tackle center on the port side of the transom holds lure bags and leader spools. Large, insulated fish boxes in the cockpit sole will keep the day's catch chilled. For banner days, the bow compartment is also insulated and drains overboard. Two downrigger ball cradles are integrated with the stainless-steel toe rails above the cockpit deck.
For a midsize center console, the 250 looks and rides like a much bigger boat. It sports a 9-foot beam, and the ring deck design, matched with the new integrated hardtop, really gives you a ton of room in which to work. Scrambling to the bow on a hot fish would not be a problem. The interior freeboard is 26 inches, and like all Whalers, the 250 is injected with foam for an unsinkable and solid ride.
Whalers have never been known for speed, but that too changes with the new 250. Starting with a sharp entry forward, the hull transitions aft to finish with 22 degrees of deadrise at the transom. Two full-length strakes per side, combined with more aggressive chines, give a soft and mist-free ride. Although the bay was slick calm during our test, we found enough wakes to simulate real-time chop. Despite my best efforts, we stayed bone dry. The hull bites and holds well in hard turns. Shimmies and shudders were nonexistent.
Running a pair of 200-horsepower Verados, we were able to spin up to nearly 49 miles per hour. Easing the throttles off to 4,500 rpm produced an easy cruise of 33.2 miles per hour. At that speed we were using an economical 17.4 gallons of gas per hour. With a standard 175-gallon tank, that's a lot of water to cover in the course of a day. A single 250-horsepower Verado four-stroke is the normal configuration for the 250. Canyon runners and island-hoppers can opt for twins up to 200 hp apiece.
Performance aside, the 250's look is also tastefully modernized. Two-tone upholstery complements the optional hull colors nicely. Other noteworthy add-ons include shore power, a split bow rail, filler bow table and head pump-out.
Bottom line - this is not your dad's Whaler. It's even better than the classics. But don't take my word for it. Check one out yourself and see if you don't agree.
Boston Whaler 250
DRAFT......1'6" (boat only)
WEIGHT......5,050 lbs. dry
w/ Mercury 250 hp Verado four-stroke**
Boston Whaler ? 386.428.0057 ? www.whaler.com