Boston Whaler 345 Conquest Review

From advanced electronics to fishing appointments to every creature comfort you have at home, Boston Whaler has scored a grand slam with its new 345 Conquest.

08whaler

08whaler

The last time Whaler tried building a big boat, it didn't work so well. But that was an inboard. Sticking to what it knows best - outboard boats - Whaler introduces the 345 Conquest, and this time around, the company got it perfectly right.

Performance
I sure see many more triple-engine installations these days! The Whaler 345 sported three 250-hp Mercury Verado outboards, linked to electronic Shadow technology controls. Trolling at 6.5 mph, while burning 5.3 gph, produced minor sub-surface turbulence in the wake as far back as the third wave and very scattered hull foam.

After planing in a mere 3 seconds without tabs, the 345 cruised at an economical 30 mph at 4,250 rpm, using only 32.5 gph for all three engines. A top speed of 49.6 mph, turning 6,050 rpm and burning 87.4 gph, made for outstanding performance considering the size and weight of this boat. But should you lose an engine, you'll be comforted to know that the 345 gets on plane readily and runs 36 mph, burning 58 gph.

Dead down-sea, the 345 tracked perfectly with nary a swerve or lag at the back of the next wave.

Interestingly, the 345 backs beautifully if you steer going backwards, but doesn't like going straight back just using the throttles and gears. Dockside maneuvering shows inch-by-inch control. Spinning on a fish with the outboard engines in opposite gears works well. Throwing the standard-equipment bow thruster into that mix will make you positively dizzy.

Drifting in 2- to 3-foot seas, the moderate roll moment produced gentle transitions.

Fishing
You'll find a 40-gallon livewell in the port transom and a tackle prep station in the port cockpit module (unless you opt for the electric grill). I love that Whaler has built-in spots under each gunwale for downrigger balls. They always present a storage problem.

Stern cleats, though not the pop-up variety, mount on indents on the transom coaming and cant slightly inboard, preventing any problem of snagging lines while fighting a fish.

Standard issue includes three rod holders across the back of the transom, two more in and under each gunwale and three more on each hardtop leg, for a total of 17 around the cockpit. And I particularly like the new posi-lock under-gunwale rod holders. You never need to unhook a bungee cord again and can now place and retrieve rods from these holders one-handed.

Drifting and trolling in a beam sea proved terrifically stable.

Design and Construction
As you'd expect, Boston Whaler builds the 345 the same as all its other boats, with unsinkable flotation. I found features such as the helm seat that adjusts up/down, in/out and spins 360 degrees and the huge hardtop with mammoth wraparound windshields and commensurately large windshield wipers (complete with a substantial freshwater wash reservoir) pleasant surprises.

This factory boat had a pair of Northstar's new 8100 displays coupled with a 4-kilowatt radar, and they worked superbly.

Every hatch has a hefty pneumatic ram that definitely makes lifting those massive lids a breeze.

Under the main cockpit hatch, the lazarette holds a Fischer Panda generator, fuel tank and spaces for shore-power cords as well as substantial storage. The cockpit also features Whaler's signature transom seat. One change I'd like to see regards the generator exhaust. I'd rather it exit out the hull portside instead of starboard where the swim ladder resides. Even though you don't suffer the carbon monoxide danger with diesel that you do with gas, it still smells and who wants their face in the diesel exhaust when swimming?

The bridge deck sports a centerline helm seat, flanked by a companion seat to starboard and a settee with adjustable ends (as seat backs) to port. Besides the companion seat sliding inboard by several inches to provide greater shoulder room for your passenger, it also hides a host of removable tackle boxes.

An interesting and attractive curved stairway leads to the belowdecks cabin. However, its middle step effectively blocks the end of the starboard-side settee/single berth. I'd love to see the resourceful engineers at Whaler design a swivel mechanism, allowing the center step to swing out of the way for sleeping and sitting comfort.

An island double berth resides on centerline forward and another double berth hides amidships under the bridge deck, with a more-than-adequate opening for easy access. An interesting feature I haven't seen before - the head of the island double inclines on rams - makes it easier to watch the LCD flat-panel TV on the aft bulkhead.

The beautiful galley with the latest appliances to port boasts a Karadon-composite counter and rests just forward of the stand-up head with shower.

I particularly appreciate the lighting and joinery in the 345. Indirect architectural lighting provides a warm ambience while frosted glass panels covering the portlights in the hull sides offer handsome, diffused light. And since cherry happens to be one of my favorite woods, I like that Whaler used it in the floor and cabinetry throughout. Whaler provides copious storage under the settee, forward berth and numerous drawers and lockers.

From advanced electronics to fishing appointments to every creature comfort you have at home, Boston Whaler has scored a grand slam with its new 345 Conquest.

LOA.....35 ft. 11 in.
BEAM.....11 ft. 8 in.
HULL DRAFT.....1 ft. 10 in.
DEADRISE.....20 deg.
WEIGHT.....14,200 lb. (w/o engine)
FUEL.....421 gal.
MAX POWER..... **(3) 250-hp OB
**MSRP.....
$358,822
(w/Triple 250-hp Verado 4-Strokes)
NMMA Certified

Boston Whaler / Edgewater, Florida / 803-WHALER9 / www.bostonwhaler.com