At first glance, the new 250 Dauntless from Boston Whaler seemed too pretty to fish—too comfortable, too dandy to get bloody. With all the fine dayboating features, its fishing armaments are nearly concealed like a professional gambler’s pearl-handled derringer. Never assume this Boston Whaler 250 Dauntless is unarmed.
Our test boat’s 250 hp Mercury V-8 pushed it to a top speed of 48 mph. If it wasn’t set up for speed, it was definitely propped for the hole shot, coming on plane in 2.6 seconds. We think the power will lift the boat easily on plane even with a passenger load of six, with power to spare. The boat performed so well at 250 hp, we wondered about the point of jumping to the max of 400. But, fill the livewells and coolers, and add tackle, wakeboards and beach bags, and the number 400 not only looks macho on the motor, but it also adds fun for the day-cruising ride.
If it were going to find its home in shallow bays, the 300 V-8 would be the max I’d choose for optimizing the performance, fuel economy, purchase price and insurance costs of this unsinkable boat. A 90-gallon fuel capacity and an optimal cruise speed at 3,500 rpm get a range of 222 miles with a 10 percent fuel reserve.
Interior and Accessories
Serious anglers will appreciate the ample 35-gallon livewell, with a blue-painted interior lighted for night fishing. It is hidden beneath a hatch flush in the center of the aft casting deck and flanked by stowaway seats also tucked beneath flush-mounted hatches. While many bay boats, such as the Ranger 2510, center a dual seat in the aft casting deck, Whaler’s seats, separated and set closest to the gunwales, give passengers a better view forward. But, in inclement weather, they offer less protection from spray than the centered seats.
While the aft casting deck has a deep motorwell, Whaler’s designers had some tricks to expand the casting-deck area. They concealed the boarding ladder in the extended casting-deck starboards and, you guessed it, tucked it beneath a flush-mounted hatch. The portside hatch conceals storage. The result is plenty of walkabout space for casting or managing a ski rope.
Whaler also thoughtfully engineered the rod-holder placements. One pair flanks the leaning post, and two additional pairs are set in the aft deck, one pair per side. They could be used for shotgun rods or flat lines. Even the leaning post features six rod holders in the sleek pod. Beneath them I found space for utility boxes, tools and gear.
Every Boston Whaler carries the armaments for fishing, but this completely new Dauntless camouflaged fishing power beneath gracious cruising features. The double lounge molded into the forward console is a luxury-first in a bay boat of this size. Underneath the lounge, I found more gear and rod stowage. Passage between that and the casting deck is generous.
Regulator’s XO 24 is a tough competitor to the Whaler ($141,995 base with hardtop and Yamaha 300 hp outboard), but it doesn’t boast the forward lounge where dual seats, typical of bay boats, pamper the guests. However, the XO 24 does have a large, thickly padded forward deck that accommodates riders and anglers when cushions are stowed. Its beam is an inch narrower and lacks a few inches in length overall, but its console is actually larger, giving more room for electronics and a more spacious head compartment below.
The forward casting deck of the Whaler might never see an angler. It’s covered in thick upholstery, creating a comfy sun pad, and boasts a pair of pop-up seatbacks for forward-facing seating. Instead of centering its aft seats behind the leaning post, Whaler put a fold-up seat at each gunwale, so there’s a pleasant forward view not available on most bay boats. Grab rails recessed into the gunwales provide safety for the seated. (There are grab rails for the aft jump seats too.) Storage and an insulated cooler beneath keep the crew organized and refreshed.
Tuck away the aft seats and remove all the cushions, and your step up to the foredeck is comfortable and footing is secure thanks to its nonskid surface.
At the helm, the captain gets three choices for seating. Our test boat had the deluxe leaning post with a thickly bolstered and upholstered leaning-post seat that offers ergonomic comfort whether you’re seated or standing behind the generously sized helm station and beneath the optional hardtop. It also has fold-down armrests and a drawer system for tackle and rigging. Additionally offered is the competition leaning-post seat with dual seats, a flip-up bolster, and four rod holders in the back. A reversible pilot-seat option includes a 32-gallon livewell.
With the combination of Whaler’s reputation for unsinkability and family-friendly options surrounding serious fishability, you have a boat that each family member can truly enjoy.
How We Tested
- Engine: Mercury 250 hp V-8
- Drive/Prop: Outboard/Mercury Enertia 16″ x 18″ 3-blade stainless steel
- Gear Ratio: 1.85:1 Fuel Load: 80 gal. Water on Board: 0 gal. Crew Weight: 400 lb.
- Optional deluxe leaning post offers excellent tackle storage or can be used for cruising convenience.
- Factory installation of Raymarine electronics, a Power-Pole and a trolling motor puts these accessories on the factory warranty.
- Optional sports pylon is durable and adds towed sports to the play menu.
- Aft seats were a little low but allowed for an easy step to the casting deck.
- Entry inside the console to the head is tight. It is even made tighter if lounge rod storage is employed.
Pricing and Specs
|Price:||$128,153 (base with engine, hardtop and side color)|
|Displacement:||4,740 lb. (with engine)|
|Transom Deadrise:||18 degrees|
|Fuel Capacity:||90 gal.|
|Available Power:||Single Mercury outboards to 400 hp|
Speed, Efficiency, Operation
Boston Whaler – Edgewater, Florida; 877-294-5645; bostonwhaler.com