FROM THE ARCHIVES: First published in TrailerBoat #178, March 2004
It’s hard to believe that nine months have slipped away since Trailer Boat took delivery of its shiny new Boston Whaler 240 Outrage project boat. Since then, the boat has turned most of Australia’s elite gamefishermen green with envy, reduced grown men to pleading — chequebooks in hand — to be allowed to take her home, and made more heads turn than you’ve had hot dinners.
There’s no denying that this boat has charisma on the water. But with just a few months left before we reluctantly hand back the keys to boat importer Barry Bailey, we thought it timely to offer this summary of how the boat has performed under fire so far.
DON’T MENTION TITANIC
Since the boat landed in Melbourne, Trailer Boat has put about 60 hours on the two OptiMax 150 outboards, mostly spent chasing snapper and flathead in Port Phillip Bay.
David Lockwood and I also enjoyed some fishing off Sydney a few months back, and that session proved to be one of the crucial litmus tests for the rig as the conditions were bad enough to completely obliterate a new 40ft express cruiser in dense sheets of spray. In fact, we’ve encountered fair conditions and foul in the time we’ve spent with this handsome American — a worthy tour of duty for any pocket gamefisher.
As many readers may know, Boston Whaler boats are constructed using a special technique known as Unibond — essentially an inner and outer skin of fibreglass with expanding foam injected at high pressure into the void between the moulds. As the foam hardens, the hull becomes a single, solid piece, much like a surfboard.
The advantages? Well, Boston Whaler claims the boat is unsinkable and has a list of testimonials as long as your arm to prove it. These were watertight enough to convince the US Army and Coast Guard to sign up for a fleet of boats.
Thankfully, we haven’t put the unsinkability claim to the test, but it is reassuring to know that if you’re unlucky enough to hit something at speed, the hull can apparently still be driven home even with a full load of people aboard and the hull filled with water. Exceptional performance aside, this factor is enough to convince many buyers to hand over their money. You can’t put a price on your life.
I’m not alone when I say the performance of this boat in heavy weather is simply outstanding. Every guest that’s been aboard Outrageous — and there’s been plenty of them; mostly highly experienced boaters — have come away dragging their jaws on the floor after a throttles-down blast through rough water.
TB editor-in-chief Mike Sinclair has also regularly used the boat single-handedly (with a little help from his seven-year-old son) and reports the rig is remarkably easy to fish one-up.
The main change Mike would make would be to add a windlass, as pulling up the anchor without being able to drive up on it can be a chore.
It’s been interesting to experience how the 22° deep-vee hull handles differing ocean conditions. Without doubt it shines brightest in the long, loping bluewater swells you encounter off the eastern and western seaboards. A few trips off Sydney in 3m rollers did not faze the Whaler in the slightest. And I’m talking about 25–30kt cruise speeds in conditions that most people would think carefully about before venturing out in.
But Port Phillip Bay in a gale is another story. Most Melbourne-based readers would know what I mean: slit-trench troughs and breaking crests hammering in with the violent frequency of a gambling addict playing a one-cent poker machine. And the wind...
Very few trailerboats can cruise at speed through this mess, but on a few occasions we’ve managed to make it back home comfortably with 17kt showing on the Furuno plotter. Sometimes, though, discretion is the better part of a broken back and we’ve elected to cruise just off the plane with the big bow thrust skyward to keep the green, wet stuff where it belongs.
Following seas allow for extra throttle with confidence — headseas not so much. This boat refuses to broach. In normal offshore conditions, however, the boat is remarkably soft-riding, quiet, dry, and easily maintains fast cruise speeds. It’s an excellent canyon runner in the right environment.
The power package on this vessel has proven a sweet match. The thrill of powering at 44kt with just the tailfeathers touching the water hasn’t paled at all. We haven’t been able to confirm exact economy figures, but suffice to say the range this boat offers is incredible thanks to its 600lt tank. Twin 175hp two-strokes would deliver top speeds in excess of 50kt, but serious gamefishos should consider a single 250hp four-stroke or twin 150 fours for more economical performance. Both engines have always started first go, seldom cavitate, show no signs of corrosion and only blow steamy smoke when cold. The difference between the OptiMax mill and a standard two-stroke is marked.
The only real glitches we’ve experienced are the throttles coming out of alignment, making synching the engines more of a challenge. They’ve also become a little stiff over time; however the next service should take care of the problem.
Likewise, the steering system is also due for a tune-up, but the stainless wheel with forklift knob sure takes the work out of docking the rig. In the right hands, this boat can be slipped into a narrow marina pen before you can say “fenders”.
BUT WHAT’S IT LIKE?
A seaworthy hull does not a fishing boat make. What’s it like to fish from? The first thing you notice when the boat is at rest is its stability. Because of the depth of the hull, it sits “in” the water rather than on it, while those very broad chines also limit rock ‘n’ roll.
The full-width integrated swim platform is a double-edged sword in terms of fishing. If you’re using longer rods (like standard 9ft, 6kg snapper outfits) then clearing the engines doesn’t present a problem. In calmer weather we fish off the platform itself in safety, and enjoy unparalleled access to the water.
If you’re targeting tuna or marlin, you pretty much have to trace your fish over the side of the boat, as stand-up rods lack the length to clear the outboards. That’s goes with the territory on most trailerboats, though, and isn’t much of a criticism.
The 240 Outrage has functional workstations. The deluxe helm seat and bait tank/work preparation console does eat up space in the cockpit. But there’s still enough room for two or three anglers to fish out of the stern, and in rough seas having the central bait tank and cutting board within arm’s reach is a blessing. You don’t need to stagger drunkenly around without anything to hold onto just to grab a knife or another pillie.
The central bait tank is a beauty: it’s curved (the preferred shape to keep livies, well, alive), holds 100lt and is serviced with a high-flow pump. It also has a light for night-time sessions on mulloway or kings.
There’s another smaller pitchbait tank in the port quarter of the transom bulkhead. The foldaway stern lounge is the best I’ve seen on a trailerboat: it locks away flush so you don’t even know it’s there.
The cabin has standing headroom and a toilet, but we’ve used it to store safety gear (although the EPIRB and extinguisher are mounted within easy reach in case of emergency), tackle and clothing. Having a lock-up space to store gamerods has also proven its worth at ramps and marinas.
THREE AIN’T A CROWD
Outrageous is a comfortable boat to fish from, with wide gunwales serving as impromptu seats when trolling or feeding an unweighted pilchard down for snapper.
Stainless-steel toerails and padded gunwales make fighting fish a breeze, and the vinyl — here and elsewhere in the boat — is showing little sign of wear. You really do feel safe and secure in the deep cockpit.
The aggressive non-skid glues your feet to the deck but it’s a devil to keep clean. Having a high-flow saltwater wash-down is a lifesaver. The boat has a freshwater transom shower, too, which is greatly appreciated after a dip.
More laid-back anglers are going to love the spacious and very comfortable sunpad in the bow. It makes a great place to sprawl between bites or when off strike during a marlin-trolling session.
The only minor irritation is the fact that you have to snap off the big one-piece cushion to get at the huge storage locker underneath.
The boat can realistically fish four anglers at sea and probably six in a river. Centre consoles are simply the best layout for fishing if you’re prepared to perch on the gunwales between bites. The seats up front are great, but they place you away from the action.
This rig has no shortage of rodholders, with a sturdy six-pot launcher, four stainless self-draining pots in the gunwales, one teaser rodholder in the transom bulkhead and two three-outfit racks under the gunwales. The setup on our rig had bungy straps, which I think are a little clumsy if you need to grab a gaff or tagpole in a hurry. Perhaps this system needs refining.
Okay, so we know the boat rides like a dream, handles well and is built for fishing. Any downsides? Well, sort of. The biggest thing to understand about a boat like this is that it’s built for one purpose — offshore fishing. And it just revels in it. It’s a no-compromises boat, and if you are an active angler and not a passive one, then a boat like this will suit you down to the ground.
Sure, there are lounges in the front, but to some extent they isolate passengers. It’s not really the boat for a young family used to the comforts of home.
Is the Boston Whaler 240 Outrage worth the $108,000 it’ll take to get you into one? If you are serious about your offshore fishing and do it a lot, then yes. You’d be hard pressed to find a safer, better-riding and sweeter-handling boat. If you’re more persuaded by creature comforts — like better protection at the helm, more seating and so on — then you could consider a different style of boat.
A hundred grand opens up a lot of options, especially when you take the second-hand market into account. But consider this: how many boats offer such a high level of safety? How many can claim to handle as well? And would you be able to tow the boat easily and safely?
The Boston Whaler is a premium-end pocket gamefisher than can mix it with the big boys, but has the added attraction of being trailerable.
The build quality, usability, quality of the fixtures and overall design are really first class. In short, it’s a hell of a lot of boat for its waterline length. Only those with scales under their nails and briny in their blood need apply.
The following is a list of things you’ll find on the Boston Whaler trailerboat that are usually found on larger gameboats — items that make chasing the big ones a whole lot easier:
• Bait tanks and fish lockers have quality seacocks
• Massive aluminium cleats and hawsepipes make docking easier
• Rope and chain lockers of substantial size
• Trim tabs incorporated into hull, not tacked on afterwards
• Huge dry storage area in cabin
• Wiring looms, circuit boards and battery isolators beautifully setup
• Oversized fairlead secures large plough anchor in place
• Lockable dashboard and electronics cabinet protects big-dollar gear
• Helm seat has flip-up bolster and raised step for 360 vision
• Oversized stainless bowrail adds security
• Marlin door allows large fish to be hauled aboard
• Top-quality rodholders used throughout
• Fuel tank has manual sender
• Deck is a genuine self-drainer with oversized ball scuppers
• Safety glass screen, not plastic
• Nothing flimsy on the boat, all rock solid
BOSTON WHALER 240 OUTRAGE
Prices as tested: $158,000
Options fitted: Black Marlin t-top, Furuno sounder/plotter, radios, engine upgrade, deluxe helm pod, high-profile bowrail, baitwell plumbing, front lounge cushion, outriggers, deckwash, marine toilet, heavy-duty MacKay trailer and more
Priced from: $108,000 with 225hp Mercury OptiMax
Material: Unibond GRP with foam core
Rec/max hp: 2 x 150/2 x 175
Towing weight (laden): 3200kg
Passengers: 12 (max)
Make/model: Mercury OptiMax Saltwater 150
Type: DFI two-stroke
Rated hp (ea): 150
Displacement (ea): 2.5lt
Weight (ea): 195kg
Drives: FloTorq II 1.87:1
Props: Vengeance stainless steel
Sea Ray Gold Coast, Marina Mirage, contact Barry Bailey, tel (07) 5532 9122, mob 0438 252 812. In Sydney, Andrew Short Marine, tel (02) 9524 2699. In Melbourne, Boronia Marine, tel (03) 9760 2222. In WA, Challenge Marine, Balcatta, tel (08) 9240 8060. More information at www.whaler.com
Excellent safety features
Superb offshore performance
Top-quality fittings and build standard above average
Dicky seats in the back would make things more comfortable
Long reach over boarding platform
Non-skid hard to keep clean
Needs a non-feedback system on sub-floor fish lockers — they keep half-filling with water
Story: Phil Kaberry Photos: Ellen Dewar
First published in TrailerBoat #178
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