The new 270 Outrage from Boston Whaler is a spiffy and stylish departure from its predecessor, the 26-footer with a deeper vee and sleeker lines, yet retains the essentials that Whaler is known for: convenience, comfort, quality and safety. Fit and finish? These guys invented fit and finish.
Our test day gave us the luxury of fishing and cruising the 270 in the Florida Keys - kind of a hard-core fishing and family fun day. It's just what this particular boat is designed for, and it does it well. There were six of us aboard - a pretty good boatful - and while nobody got lonesome, neither did we ever seem to get in one another's way.
Despite the crowd, the 270 stepped out nicely, with the twin 200-hp Mercury OptiMax outboards pushing us through the two-footers on our way offshore. According to the manufacturer's figures, the 270 turns 40.6 mph cruising at 4000 rpm while burning 10.5 gph, and tops out at 54.7 mph at 5500 (wide-open throttle), burning 21.6 gph.
The ride was solid and comfortable, smooth enough to tie knots and rig rods in the stern where the fold-down seat in the transom comfortably seated two of us. Additional passenger seating in the bow remained perfectly habitable during the run offshore through a moderate chop.
Beneath the bow-seat cushions, twin vee-lockers provide 300 gallons each of lockable storage for gear and tackle, and there is plenty of room to lock up rigged rods. The stock lockers drain to the bilge, but can be equipped with overboard drains and a macerator pump to fit them out as fishboxes. A deep bin in the deck easily holds a five-gallon bucket upright, and a lot of other gear as well, with 334 quarts of storage room. Four drink holders at the aft end of the bow seats keep things tidy.
The anchor locker features a tie-off eye, so you can never let all your anchor rope out - a nice feature when family outings are part of the program. The anchor bracket is standard, with a windlass offered as an option.
At the helm, all controls are easy to reach and the seat/leaning post/ footrest configuration provides relaxed operation while running or fishing. The seat/leaning post features roomy storage space beneath a split seat cushion with a removable backrest. Beneath the seat is room for a 94-quart cooler. The console features a real glass wraparound windshield, and twin locking latches cover the electronics box. The cover to this box can be removed and stowed in the tip-out bin in the console face.
Within the lockable console lies the heart of the mechanical systems, all in finished, molded cabinetry. Electrical panel and battery switches are easily reached, and the ignition keys are down here too for safety and security. Twin rocker switches at the helm start the motors. All pumps and through-hull fittings are accessed behind molded panels. The console contains a porta-potty with pumpout and a fresh water sink.
In the cockpit, a stainless tow rail runs along the floor as far forward as the console, offering a secure place to park your toes when fighting fish. Coaming pads are standard. Under-gunwale rod storage will accommodate two outfits per side and features racks for downrigger balls. A 200-gallon fishbox in the deck comes standard with a macerator, and its foamed-in construction allows it to double as a giant icebox.
The 23-gallon live well in the port transom corner may not be the largest on the market, but it proved plenty big enough to hold the half-day's worth of Spanish sardines we took along. Netting the bait was safe and secure from the wide bow deck. The anchor bracket and windlass are low-profile and presented no obstacle when throwing the castnet. The baits we were chasing played hard to get in a narrow, hard-bottomed canal, but the quick response of the 270 gave us all the agility we needed to maneuver and keep the props out of the rocks.
The bait-prep station includes cutting board, storage for rigs and a knife-and-pliers holder. The transom door locks in place after it slams shut, so there is no fumbling to makes sure things are secure - another nice feature for family adventures. Four flush-mount rod holders are standard in the covering boards, and four more are located along the forward deck seat.
Oil fills are molded into the outside of the transom bulkhead, so oil stays out of the cockpit, yet can be added with little fuss. A standard fresh water shower is located in the walk-through where gear - or swimmers - can be hosed off on the integral platform, keeping the cockpit dry.
In keeping with the company's tradition, the 270 Outrage is a big, comfortable, safe and unsinkable update of classic Whaler functionality. Boston Whaler, Edgewater, FL; (800) WHALER;