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February 23, 2009

Boston Whaler 220 Outrage

The 220 Outrage features significant hull improvements over previous Whalers, resulting in one of the company's best rides ever.

My older brother still has one of the original 15-foot Boston Whalers; it's still unsinkable and indestructible. But back in the day, that "gull-wing" hull design could rattle your kidneys when crossing an open bay in a nasty chop. Whaler  has come such a long way from the "good old days." Its newest issue, the 220 Outrage, may be the smoothest and driest ride the company has ever produced in an open boat.

The 220 offers a choice of engines, including the 225 hp Mercury Verado that we tested, 250 and 300 hp Verados as well as twin 115 hp outboards. Our 225 lifted us to a top end of 45.8 mph, using 23.8 gph, and a cruise of 26.5 mph at 4,000 rpm while burning 8.6 gph, which calculates out to a respectable 3.07 mpg. It's not a Prius, but certainly gets better economy than many boats out there.

The 300 raises the top speed to 54.2 mph at almost 30 gph, and a cruise of  29.3 mph at 4,000 rpm provided the most efficient fuel flow of 2.62 mpg. Remember, however, the 300 requires at least 91 octane fuel.

I found it interesting that the twin 115s tally virtually identical performance figures - from stopped to top end - as the 225, and every engine package performed  similarly up to 2,500 rpm.

Returning the boat to its trailer in a crosscurrent proved a piece of cake, as the 220 didn't fly sideways too quickly and responded to idle-speed wheel corrections instantly. I also thank Whaler for wisely including the Lenco trim tabs  as standard fare instead of optional as in previous models.

Whaler offers an optional "fishing package" that includes cockpit coaming pads, a raw-water washdown, macerator pumps in the fish boxes and additional transom-mounted rod holders. Interestingly, the 20-gallon livewell with knife and pliers holder, cockpit toe rails and downrigger-ball holders come standard. Go figure.

One feature I really like is the under-gunwale stern cleats with large hawseholes in the cap rail. You'll never fear snagging a fishing line on a transom-mounted cleat; plus, each hawsehole has an integral polished stainless-steel drink holder.

Speaking of gunwales, Whaler made the cap-rail inserts and under-gunwale rod storage spaces longer, so you can now actually store two real-world rods under each rail. Overall, Whaler provides plenty of rod storage, especially if you opt for the T-top that adds another five rod holders (and optional outriggers) to   complement the vertical rod holders on each side of the console.