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Review: Boston Whaler 285 Conquest

Variety is a good thing in life and in boats. Am I right? Boston Whaler seems to think so, if the iconic builder’s new 285 Conquest is an indication. This outboard-powered cabin boat is rigged right for fishing, sure, but it’s also outfitted for entertaining, overnighting and cruising. It even comes in a fully enclosed pilothouse version for those of us who like to stretch the season as far as we can on both ends.

The name 285 Conquest might seem familiar to some. That’s because this boat is a replacement for the previous Whaler of the same designation. But don’t be quick to dismiss it as a simple “makeover” model; the new 285 is a total redesign from bottom to top. The hull is deeper, and Whaler raised the sheer line while lowering the deck profile. These design changes increase the sense of space in the cabin and give the boat a rugged and ready appearance on the water.

There’s more variety on display at the helm, where owners can choose from an open windshield, an enclosed windshield or the aforementioned pilothouse. The helm seat and port lounge sit high for good visibility; the latter has a “flip and slide” backrest that lets users face forward for cruising, or aft for fishing or watching the kids swim around behind the boat. Drawer storage beneath this seat holds fishing tackle or other handy gear. Opposite, a starboard bait-prep area stores larger items or can be equipped with a refrigerator.

Fishheads won’t be disappointed with the new 285. It features a foldaway stern bench for more cockpit space and a pull-out port or starboard seat for watching the spread. Other standards include a multipurpose live well, rod holders and dual insulated in-deck fish boxes with pump-outs. Not enough for your intrepid angling adventures? Add 12-volt transom receptacles for electric reels, hardtop-mounted outriggers, and Raymarine chartplotter and fishfinder upgrades.

Once you put up your rods for the day, pop open the optional sunshade and arrange all the seats around the cockpit table (also an option). Or, head below for a snack at the galley with refrigerator, microwave and sink. There’s a skylight here, which is a nice touch, and good storage. The forward dinette converts to a V-berth, and a mid-berth can sleep a second couple. Wood-grain cabinetry, stainless-steel hardware and an earthy color palate create a premium feel that you won’t find in too many boats this size.

Twin 225-hp Mercury Verado four strokes will be power enough for most of us, but you can opt up to dual 250-hp Verados. The 200-gallon fuel tank should give owners peace of mind for offshore runs or weekend cruises. Another confidence-builder: Boston Whaler has long been known for its patented Unibond system, which fuses the inner hull to the deck and fills any air pockets with flotation foam, creating a single unitized piece. If the variety of the 285 Conquest doesn’t get you, maybe the brand’s unsinkable reputation for safety will.

SPECIFICATIONS
LOA: 27 feet, 10 inches
Beam: 9 feet, 6 inches
Draft (hull only): 1 feet, 8 inches
Dry Weight (no engine): 7,300 pounds
Fuel Capacity: 200 gallons
Water Capacity: 30 gallons
Max Horsepower: 500 hp
Base Price: $183,552

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