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.
For those who regularly fish from the bow, I’d like to see Whaler offer a half-height rail. The large cockpit feels just like a big boat, too. Don’t expect to reach over and rinse your hands off in the ocean. With a cockpit deck about as far above the sea’s surface as most 50-footers, you’ll be gaffing fish rather than tail-grabbing them.
Boston Whaler has always done a good job of designing fishing amenities, and the 28 carries on the tradition. The helm seat sits atop a fiberglass “pod,” or box, with cutouts for knives, pliers and rigs, in addition to containing a bait well, large tackle storage cabinets and a bait-prep station.
The best feature of the 28 Outrage has to be its room to move. Multiple anglers will have no problem, thanks to the 30-foot length (including the pulpit) and beam over 10 feet. Besides letting you move anywhere about the deck unobstructed, the 28’s design makes for a rock-solid platform in all kinds of sea conditions.
Whaler refers to its totally foam-filled construction as Unibond. The company injects foam under pressure into the voids between hull and deck, bonding to each surface, which essentially results in a one-piece boat. While this certainly makes small boats virtually indestructible, I discovered it makes larger boats so quiet that it feels like you’re driving from the cockpit of a 60-footer. I heard no water noise against the hull or thumping as we dropped the bow off a wave. Yes, it adds some weight to the boat, but remember: Weight and smoothness of ride go hand in hand.
A double berth fully 7 feet long with the insert in place provides the main sleeping arrangement, while an additional lower single bunk runs obliquely along the port bulkhead. You have to remove the insert to access the galley sink and stove, while the microwave mounts in the starboard bulkhead an arm’s reach away and the refrigerator faces you at knee level. A small but functional stand-up head with shower finishes out the belowdecks accommodations. You’ll find a locker that stores four rods and reels right at the base of the stairway that reaches down to the cabin’s teak and holly sole.
Walk-arounds need hardtops just as most center-consoles need T-tops. Besides providing shade, they support additional rod holders, raise the outriggers up off the gunwales, provide more room for electronics in the overhead box and give you a place to attach enclosure curtains. The 28’s hardtop provided a superb handhold for passengers who inevitably ride standing behind the helmsman. The top also sports ladder rungs and a cutaway section on each side, affording access to the upper station if you choose to put one up there.