The 280 Dauntless is the flagship of Boston Whaler’s Dauntless bay-boat lineup, and it delivers a high-quality fishing platform adorned with family-friendly creature comforts. Designed with a 9-foot beam and a shallow deadrise that tapers to 18 degrees at the transom, the 280 Dauntless is meant to be a stable casting platform that floats in skinny water. Despite its 28-foot length, Boston Whaler claims it can float with the engines trimmed up in just 1 foot, 6 inches of water. With the flatter running surface, it’s not going to be a tippy boat when anglers drop lines or cast from one side or the other.
Interior and Accessories
While the 280 Dauntless has plenty of fishy bona fides, including the 19-gallon transom livewell, seven total rod holders, and recessed grab rails and cleats to reduce snags, what really sets it apart is the spacious seating. The doublewide helm seat has flip-down armrests and flip-up bolsters, so you can sit or stand while driving the boat. It can be electrically actuated to convert to a simple leaning post at the helm while creating two plush aft-facing seats for the crew. Combine those with the cushioned transom bench that lifts out of the aft casting deck, and you’ve created a cockpit conversation pit.
The creature comforts extend to the bow with the spacious forward-facing sun lounge complete with flip-up armrests that sits forward of the center console. The hatches on the opposing raised stowage lockers in the bow have removable cushions to create another conversation pit forward.
The 280 Dauntless has several great options, from a Seakeeper 1 gyrostabilizer to a hardtop to a sunshade. I’d opt for the “swim patio” built into the port gunwale. It lowers to the water on gas struts to create a mini swim platform, moving the swimming access completely away from the propellers. Boston Whaler builds in an automatic engine cutoff sensor, so the outboard(s) cannot start when it’s deployed.
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The boat can be powered with a single Mercury 350 or 400 Verado, or with twin 250s or 300s. We tested the boat in New York Harbor with twin 300s and topped 50 mph in tough conditions spurred by heavy ferry traffic. Mercury’s own test data shows the 280 Dauntless can hit close to 60 mph with the twin 300s.
How We Tested
- Engine: Twin 300 hp Mercury Verado FourStroke outboards
- Drive/Props: Outboard/15 1/4″ x 19″ 4-blade stainless steel
- Gear Ratio: 1.85:1 Fuel Load: 100 gal. Water on Board: 0 gal. Crew Weight: 380 lb.
- Standard helm seat electrically converts to a leaning post with aft-facing bench seats at the push of a button.
- C-Zone software in the flush-mounted Simrad touchscreen displays lets you digitally control the ship’s systems and switches.
- Wireless charger on top of the helm console has a grippy pad so you can juice up your phone while running.
- Shallower 18-degree transom deadrise means you will have to pick your days to run out to the blue water.
- No undergunwale rod racks.
Scout’s 281XSS is another flagship bay boat with tons of family features that starts at $238,069.
Pricing and Specs
|Displacement (approx.):||7,410 lb.|
|Transom Deadrise:||18 degrees|
|Fuel Capacity:||160 gal.|
|Water Capacity:||18 gal.|
|Available Power:||Single or twin Mercury gasoline outboards to 600 hp|