Boston Whaler 380 Realm Boat Test

Incomparable is not a descriptor we use much, but we use it to describe this Whaler.

Boston Whaler 380 Realm Boat Test
LOA: 38'0" | Beam: 11'8" | Draft (max): 2'5" | Displacement (approx.): 17,000 lb. | Transom Deadrise: 23 degrees | Bridge Clearance: 9'0" (10'5" with radar) | Max. Cabin Headroom: 6'6" | Fuel Capacity: 445 gal. | Max Horsepower: 1,600 | Available Power: Quadruple Mercury or Mercury Racing outboards | More Information: bostonwhaler.comCourtesy Boston Whaler

Granted, the larger a boat gets, the more it can blunt the old saw about every boat being a compromise. However, when said vessel boasts a versatile layout that’s innovation-laden and combines comfort and performance in uncommon measure, it tends to cut through the clutter of the marketplace and stand out as a result of those attributes. ­Boston ­Whaler’s 380 Realm is one such boat. How did Boston Whaler pull it off?

Hit the throttle! With quadruple 350 hp Mercury Verado outboards, I piloted our test boat to 54 mph in choppy New York Harbor with full fuel, full water, and a crew of eight aboard. Acceleration proved seat-squishing quick, whether from a stop or while coming off and on the throttle at speed. Dialing in the trim, it ran nice and comfortable through the slop at 40 mph — not even crew seated in the bow complained about the bumps. So, whether racing to your weekend cottage, to the offshore fishing grounds, or simply racing around to the delight of your crew, the 380 Realm proves a winner. The optional Seakeeper gyrostabilizer helps prevent green crew from turning green at the gills.

Boaters of any ilk will likely find the fit and finish top-notch, though the level of luxury evinced by the 380 Realm’s build should surely suit those seeking to impress as a priority. Examples include the seamless way the supports for the sleek and protective hardtop meet the gunwale; the way the bow lounge seating melds into the forward deck and coaming; and the massive recessed, polished hinges for the side boarding door. Pull a hatch lid up. Swing open a door. Look around. Some of the few things the 380 Realm lacks are the grommets and the superfluous trim pieces to which boaters have become accustomed. The boat appears unified in structure rather than assembled. It impressed me topside and belowdecks.

Boston Whaler 380 Realm Boat Test
The cabin is a quiet place in which guests can gain respite from the crowd.Courtesy Boston Whaler

Yes, while the 380 Realm might be termed an open boat, with bow seating and a huge aft cockpit, it provides an amenable cabin that will suit families looking for a place to nap the kids, as well as couples seeking comfortable digs for romantic weekends or, for those entertaining a boatload of guests, a private, quiet place in which guests can gain respite from the crowd. Step down and you’re met by a bright, airy space arranged with care that deftly mixes tradition and technology.

Boston Whaler 380 Realm Boat Test
Acceleration proved seat-squishing quick.Courtesy Boston Whaler

New aboard the 380 Realm, the teak cockpit sole is caulked with black sealant, which looks more traditional than teak caulked in white and doesn’t show grit. High and forward, set between the bookend-matched, wood-look paneling and cabinetry along the port and starboard cabin sides, is a large, flat-screen TV on center, with the main electrical distribution panels on both sides of it. This techno-traditional effect struck me as yachtlike and proved functional too. The panels were easy to access, at eye-height for this 6-foot-tall boat tester. Dropping the snazzy wood table on its chunky, chromed pedestal to create a bed out of the V-lounges revealed that the TV’s height creates a fine viewing angle for those in repose atop the berth. The off-white overhead amplifies the natural light pouring in through the overhead hatch and the opening port at the galley, where there’s a sink and counter with a fridge below, and cabinetry above and around. A hanging locker is just inside the companionway hatch, perfect for reaching in and grabbing a jacket while at the helm. There’s an enclosed head here, with a faux-granite top, a vessel sink, and fiddle rail on the counter to prevent items from sliding off.

Boston Whaler 380 Realm Boat Test
The cockpit serves up many opportunities for entertaining.Courtesy Boston Whaler

Topside, the aft cockpit features a ton of stowage-cum-coolers-cum-fish-boxes-cum-livewells, depending upon how you choose to outfit it. Suffice to say, whether you haul dive gear, bicycles, beach toys or a bunch of fish, the 380 Realm can handle it.

Boston Whaler 380 Realm Boat Test
The helm offers great visibility forward, aft, and even close aboard and abeam the starboard transom corner.Courtesy Boston Whaler

At the helm, the lounge seats two or three. It slides fore and aft, and I found the armrests functional and comfortable. From this seat, I noted great visibility forward, aft, and even close aboard and abeam the starboard transom corner — a blind spot aboard many boats. I also liked that this helm seat doesn’t run all the way to the side of the boat. By leaving a space, Boston Whaler designers allow the skipper to slide out to starboard and leave the helm, if need be. This seat also revolves to face the bench abaft it and, joined by the companion seat to port and the wet bar, forms an amenable conversation area that is protected by the full-width windshield forward.

Boston Whaler 380 Realm Boat Test
Stowage abounds on the 380 Realm.Courtesy Boston Whaler

In the bow, you’ll find a lounge with backrest and fold-down armrests with five integrated drink holders on which two can recline. You’ll also find wraparound seating with four drink holders, a full-height forward bolster and removable cushions.

Shopping? While many large dual or center-consoles combine luxury, performance and a cozy cabin, we don't know of another boat that offers bow seating along with a full-width windshield to protect the aft cockpit and helm, is unsinkable and is propelled by four outboards. The Tiara Sports 38 LS comes the closest ($517,900 base with Triple Yamaha F350s). So, get out there and see these boats for yourself.

Boston Whaler 380 Realm Boat Test
The bow features a lounge with backrest and wraparound seating.Courtesy Boston Whaler

High Points

  • Deck layout is unique in the industry.
  • More refined than powdered sugar, which is another way of saying this is one sweet boat.
  • About as versatile a boat as can be built — and it's unsinkable.

Low Points

  • Galley counter could use a fiddle rail around its perimeter to prevent items from sliding off.
  • We would like to have seen some form of natural ventilation for the head.

Price: $690,240 (base with test power)

Available Power: Outboard

Boston Whaler 380 Realm Boat Test
Boston Whaler 380 Realm Certified Test ResultsBoating Magazine

How We Tested
Engines: Quad 350 hp Mercury Verado outboards
Drive/Prop: Outboard/16" x 18" 3-blade stainless steel
Gear Ratio: 1.75:1
Fuel Load: 430 gal.
Water on Board: 50 gal.
Crew Weight: 1,200 lb.

Boston Whaler - Edgewater, Florida; 386-428-0057; bostonwhaler.com