Iconic for building strong and unsinkable boats, Boston Whaler has proven with the new 350 Realm that amenity and luxury can go hand in hand with strength and safety. This is no fishing boat gussied up with comfy seats and extra drink holders. Instead, the 350 Realm represents the current pinnacle of boatbuilding design, construction and aesthetic.
I had the opportunity to sea-trial the 350 Realm while carrying a crew of seven, including Boston Whaler’s engineer, Chris Wachowski, who provided some great backstory about the Realm.
Missionwise, Wachowski placed the boat between Whaler’s offshore Outrage series of center consoles and the versatile dual-console Vantage series of boats. After testing, I can attest that the Boston Whaler 350 Realm displays a level of sophistication all its own. Some examples of this include the seamless way the hardtop supports meet the gunwale; the way the bow lounge fits into the forward deck and coaming; and the recessed, polished hinges for the side boarding door. Pull a hatch, open a door, look around; throughout the 350 Realm one notices a decided lack of the grommets and the superfluous trim pieces to which boaters have become accustomed. Aboard the 350 Realm, the overall look is integral and cohesive rather than assembled. In the understatement I’ve come to expect from engineers and naval architects, Wachowski noted, “Everything fits together and flows.”
Shopping? There’s no boat the same size as the 350 Realm that offers what it offers. Do check out the Tiara Sport 38 LS, a longer, wider, heavier boat with a similar mission, and aboard which many of these same design attributes apply. It costs $499,900 with triple 350 hp Yamahas. You can read our review of the Tiara Sport 38 LS online at boatingmag.com/3050.
Triple 350 hp Mercury Verado outboards propelled the 350 Realm and all seven occupants to over 50 mph (carrying two-thirds fuel and full water). The design of this hull is informed by that of its made-for-bluewater fleet mate, the 350 Outrage, and it’s built with Whaler’s rattle-softening foam-filled method. As such, you can push it into chop at higher speeds without giving up much in crew comfort, but running at 4,500 rpm produced a 35 mph cruising speed and 0.81 mpg efficiency. Deploying the trim tabs fully, trimming the outboards in completely, and throttling back allowed me to keep the loaded 350 Realm on plane and maneuverable at just 18 mph. That’s a great ability should its skipper ever find herself in real rough stuff. Visibility forward and to the sides was good while seated or standing; you will have to scrunch down to see under the hardtop when making very sharp turns. A step for those needing more height to stand and see is built in. I did not need it.
The black helm won’t reflect in the big single-pane windshield and features accessory switches arrayed in a row across its top, an arrangement we first saw aboard the 420 Outrage (Boating’s 2015 Boat of the Year). We liked it then, and since it returns here, we bet Whaler owners have given this the thumbs up too. Two large Raymarine screens occupy the area directly in front of the skipper, providing the information and control for navigation, communication and entertainment. The rightful inclusion of a magnetic compass made me smile. The helm seat fits two people and swivels 180 degrees to face aft when in port. Abaft is a second doublewide seat with a flip-flop backrest so it can face the swiveled helm bench or also serve as cockpit seating. Beside these seats are two counters, one containing a sink, against which a pair of crew could stand and lean, well-braced. In short, five crew can join the skipper comfortably in the helm area.
Assessing the aft cockpit, I gently pushed the faux-stone lid of the prep center, and it rose and pivoted sideways to reveal the grill beneath. Beside this — under the reversible seating — you’ll find a 230-quart cooler. I like that this opens fully for easy loading but also features a small, clear-acrylic access door, which looks cool and allows grabbing a drink without displacing a person seated atop it. Of course, the acrylic will not hold the cold like the insulated fiberglass surrounding it.
Go forward along the port side to the bow. Here you’ll find commodious and luxurious wraparound seating, done up in multitoned, multitextured vinyl. Consider adding the optional bow shade. Along with the standard anchor chute and windlass with 400 feet of rode that ease anchor handling, the bow of the 350 Realm proves as functional as it is comfortable.
Belowdecks, you’ll find a cabin with a convertible V-berth, a flat-screen TV, and a pretty head with shower. A couple could weekend aboard, and at the least, the amenity and privacy provided ensure larger groups pleasure during day cruises.
Want to see how far boatbuilding has come? Sea-trial Boston Whaler’s 350 Realm.
- This boat scores the highest marks for fit and finish.
- Quick and agile, it will also stay on plane at low speed, which can enhance safety and comfort.
- Marvelous use of space, making the helm a multipurpose area.
- You may need to crouch to see into a sharp turn.
- One of the three fuel filters is blocked by the other two, impeding service.
Price: $467,164 (with test power)
Available Power: Outboard
How We Tested
Engine: Triple 350 hp Mercury Verados
Drive/Prop: Outboard/145/8″ x 17″ port/19″ center/17″ starboard
Gear Ratio: 1.75:1
Fuel Load: 290
Water on Board: 45 gal.
Crew Weight: 1,050 lb.
Boston Whaler – Edgewater, Florida; 877-294-5645; bostonwhaler.com