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September 21, 2007

Boston Whaler 34 Defiance

Boston Whaler took a bold step last year when it reentered the inboard market with this striking new 34-foot express fisherman. Dubbed the Defiance, the new boat has greatly expanded our notions aboutwhat to expect from the venerable company that built its fameand fortune around an unsinkable 13-footer.

The Defiance is obviouslya far cry from the old 13 Super Sport, but when you look closely,you'll discover some similarities, too. Like all Whalers, thenew Defiance is unsinkable, which is pretty amazing for a 34-footinboard. Whaler pulled it off by modifying its famous Unibond construction technique.

The new process is calledDuobond, and it starts with an integral structural grid stringersystem molded into an inner liner that is permanently bonded tothe hull. Closed-cell foam is injected between the inner linerand the hull, forming a tight bond and providing structural support,sound suppression, and flotation. Not many companies can say theyhave an unsinkable inboard express boat.

Less Fumes!

But unsinkability is only part of the Defiance story.But unsinkability is onlypart of the Defiance story, and Whaler has managed to throw insome other in novative touches. For instance, the boat has anew exhaust-processing system that channels smoke and fumes awayfrom the cockpit, virtually eli minating that noxious diesel smell.At idle speed, a series of pipes carries the exhaust underwater,where it is expelled. At speed, the fumes are expelled throughthe bottom of the chamber, which is permanently attached to thelower half of the boat's transom, so that smoke and fumes popup in the wake, well behind the boat. Noise is reduced, as well.

We ran the boat off Miami,and found that the exhaust system worked well. As the boat climbson plane, the diesels generate smoke, but it appears far enoughaway that it doesn't engulf you, as it does on some other boats.

The Defiance is builton a deep-vee hull and rides smoothly, with a level running attitudethat affords excellent visibility from the helm or anywhere onthe bridgedeck. And speaking of the bridgedeck, the entire thingslides aft to completely expose the engines for major servicework. A day hatch on the centerline lets you check the fluidsand belts. The cockpit is set up for major fishing action, witha 54-gallon live well installed on the centerline of the transom.There's also a unique transom door to starboard under a hinged covering board. The door slides into a recessed slot in the transom when open, so there's no swingingdoor to worry about.

Coaming pads surroundthe pit, and two large, insulated fishboxes in the sole drainthrough individual macerator pumps. The lazarette contains theoptional 5kW Kohler generator, and provides thorough inner-hullaccess. Rods can be stored in StarBoard racks under the gunwales,or in the six rod holders in the covering boards.

A tackle center, locatedto starboard at the aft end of the bridge deck, contains a freshwater sink and a bait-prep area, along with slide-out tackle boxesand a knife-and-pliers rack. An aft-facing seat outboard of thisunit has several large drawers beneath it that can hold all ofyour loose tackle. A second aft-facing seat to port is mountedatop an insulated drink box.

On the bridgedeck there's rod storage beneath the lounge seat to port, and our test boat had an optional icemaker beneath the starboard seat. The helm sitson the centerline, and there's a large, flat surface above itthat can accommodate lots of flush-mounted electronics. There'sa chart flat to starboard, and the wraparound aluminum windshieldeven has a power-activated vent that lets in fresh air while underway.

Plush, Spacious Cabin

Boston Whaler 34 DefianceAccommodations belowdecks are plush and surprisingly roomy. A double berth forward conceals additional storage, and a starboarddinette converts to a second berth. A lighted rod-storage lockerabove the dinette holds four rods, or eight if you're creative. The head is aft and to starboard, with the spaciousgalley to port. Carpeting comes standard, but our test boat hadthe optional teak and holly sole.

Twin 340-hp Caterpillar3116 diesels are standard, with several optional diesel powerplantsavailable from Yanmar. The big Whaler runs well, cruising at 29.2knots at 3200 rpm with the top-of-the-line 420-hp 6-LY2MSTE Yanmar diesels. The Defiance tops out at 32.5 knotsat 3500 rpm.

The 34 Defiance is clearlygeared towards the top end of the express boat market. It comeswith Whaler's famous attention to fit and finish, un sinkable construction, and a soup-to-nuts standard-equipmentlist that leaves very few options available. It's a Boston Whalerthrough and through, which is very good news for those of us wholike to fish far offshore and want comfortable accommodationsaboard.

Boston Whaler, Edgewater,FL; (800) WHALER9; www.whaler.com.

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