Despite the dire weather predictions in early January, captains Wil Rogers and Brandon Jimenez brimmed with exuberance as we boarded the new Boston Whaler 350 Outrage. Our goal: Test the mettle of the 350 Outrage center-console in the course of pursuing sailfish off north Key Largo, Florida. Wrought by the infamous Polar Vortex, the offshore forecast called for 35 knots, 6-foot seas and air temperatures in the mid-50s — not exactly a chamber-of-commerce day.
“This is what sailfish like,” said Rogers, large-boat business manager for Whaler. “And we have the right boat to get the job done.” With his expression of confidence, I shook off any trepidation, if not the wind chill.
As Rogers pulled the 35½-footer away from the dock, using the optional Mercury Joystick Piloting system, I climbed inside the console, and donned an extra layer and my foul-weather gear, while at the same time checked out the amenities: a shower, VacuFlush toilet, hanging locker, storage cabinet, and vanity with a sink and mirror.
Whaler has staked its reputation on building unsinkable boats ranging up to 37½ feet in length. While the 350 is not the largest center-console in the fleet, it’s one of the fishiest. “This boat’s big sister, the 370 Outrage, is loaded with creature comforts and accessories,” Rogers explained. “Yet the 350 is designed more for the angler who wants to shoot out to fish for a day or less, and then come back to the marina. You can order all the options you want, but in its basic configuration, it’s more of a pure fishing machine.”
Our boat bristled with fishing rods loaded into two distinct racks — one for seven sticks just aft of the helm seating and a second for five rods in the transom bulkhead. That’s not counting the eight gunwale rod holders, under-gunwale storage for six sticks, and storage for another six rods as part of the watertight mini coffin box built into the forward section of the center console. When the box is closed, you find a padded lounger for two on top with fold-down armrests.