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October 26, 2001

Boston Whaler 28 Outrage

This boat sets a new smooth-ride standard for the size range.

No one can dispute that Boston Whaler makes a truly excellent boat. Even many non-boaters know you can cut a Whaler into pieces and it will still float. But what that solid "Unibond" construction does for models larger than the company's classic skiffs can only be described as innovative. Hull number one of Boston Whaler's new 28 Outrage honestly sets a new smooth-ride standard for the size range.

Deceptively calm seas greeted us at the often-feisty Ponce Inlet in New Smyrna Beach on Florida's east coast. Once offshore, we found that glassy conditions belied a 2-foot ocean swell coming out of the northeast.

Running in the troughs provided a calm-water ride, while heading up- or down-sea let us take flight. For some unknown reason, our twin Mercury 225 EFI outboards - still in the break-in period - fell several hundred rpm short of the factory-spec 5,500. At 5,100 rpm, the Outrage hit 42.8 mph. I expect that at full rpm, this boat should come close to 50 mph. At 4,000 rpm, I got a very reasonable 31-mph cruising speed, and not once throughout the day did I get a drop of spray on the windshield.

The Outrage will protect you from lack of prudence if you crank in a hard turn at high speed. It turns 180 degrees in under three boat lengths but loses enough speed in the process that it doesn't throw you across the boat.

Whaler's engineers would be hard-pressed to improve the ergonomics of the helm station. Adjustable, heavily padded seats double as leaning-post bolsters at the flip of the thigh-support and, despite the mass of the cabin house, the view in all directions remains clutter-free. With ideal distances to controls, perfectly angled footrest and generous handholds, this helm station works as well as that of a Coast Guard crash boat. Items that could use improvement have nothing to do with Boston Whaler. The stiff Mercury throttles with confusing engine-trim switches haven't changed in decades, and as good as Teleflex's SeaStar hydraulic steering is, on a boat this size I'd prefer a no-feedback system.

A low center of gravity contributes to a very short roll moment, meaning that the 28 Outrage rolls only slightly to each side, making it a very stable platform for drift fishing. I also appreciate that I could steer down-sea without power. Side walkways - another terrific feature - allow you to move to the bow as easily as if you were shaggin' down the boulevard. You'll find enough room on the bow for several anglers, single fly-caster or cast-netter. Whaler even installs two rod holders on the bow as standard equipment.