Boston Whaler 345 Conquest

The Whaler is built to fish, but many buy it for the aggressive look with family comforts -- a need filled by foldaway benches that convert fish-fighting space to lounging space.

What we think: "Is it a Whaler?" is all some customers need to ask before they open their checkbook, but if you haven't been dialed into the unsinkable Boston Whaler mystique, we'll walk you through it.

Step up through the cockpit to the salon and you'll find the helm is centered in the 345, putting the captain at once in the best piloting position and the best social position of the craft. Electronics (all optional on the 345) are arrayed on the station in a clear and commanding position.

The Verado triples come with digital throttles, power steering and electronic instrumentation, a combination that gives the captain complete and easy control but also total information on how the ship is running.

We pressed the throttles forward easily with one palm, then regulated speed with our fingertips -- a sure sign of comfortable control.

The Whaler is built to fish, but many buy it for the aggressive look with family comforts -- a need filled by foldaway benches that convert fish-fighting space to lounging space.

The cabin is decked in teak and the counters are granite -- a nice touch but one we thought contrasted oddly with synthetic veneers in cabinetry on a boat we'd expect to be finished in natural wood. Still the galley and cabinets were convenient and the living space offered long-range comfort.

We found good handrail placement and solid footing on a nonskid deck. Ladder rungs are even incorporated into the hard-top, making a crow's nest an easy angler's add-on -- all in an unsinkable boat that doesn't need many add-ons.

Who should buy it: When "How strong?" is a more important question than "How much?" you are a Whaler customer. This one is ideal as a vacation home in your favorite marina or as a weekend cruiser to offshore destinations.

Vital Stats * Length Overall: 35'11" * Beam: 11'8" * Dry Weight: 14,200 lb. * Seating/Weight Capacity: 14/4,300 lb. * Fuel Capacity: 347 or 421 gal. * Max HP: 750 * MSRP: (w/ triple Verado 250s): $ 408,344 * NMMA certified: Yes

Power Picks
* Twin Mercury Verado CXL DTS 300 hp -- $ 349,918
* Triple Mercury Verado DTS 250 -- $ 385,830

Also Consider...

255 Conquest
Length: 26'11"
Beam: 8'9"
Max HP: 450
Downsized but still a Whaler, this one can be trailered or easily and economically dry-stacked. ** **

305 Conquest
Length: 32'1"
Beam: 10'7"
Max HP: 600
Running well on fewer engines means more range to reach the serious tuna grounds. For the hard-core angler, the smaller rig may be the better choice.** **

Test Drive * Test Engine: Triple Mercury Verado 250s * Test Prop: Enertia 17 * Test Load: People (520 lb.); Fuel (290 gal.) * Top Speed: 48.9 MPH @ 6,150 RPM * Time to Plane: 4 sec * Time to 20 mph: 11.2 sec. * Min. Planing Speed: 18.4 MPH @ 3,500 RPM