Boston whaler 305 conquest

Length(with bow pulpit) 32'1"
Fuel Capacity300 gallons
Water Capacity40 gallons
Baseprice(Tw. 225-hp Optimax outboards) $153,716
Price(as tested) $175,224

The tall dash accommodates the Northstar 958 chart plotter, Mercury SmartCraft monitor, Raymarine VHF with room for more electronics. The hydraulic tilt steering, electric trim tabs and Clarion AM/FM/CD are standard.

Boston Whaler's newest cabin boat is a refinement of the popular 295 Conquest, and when you get a chance to go over the boat with the people who designed and built it, you can see how much thinking,and thoughtfulness for the end user,went into it. We had a chance to check out the prototype at the annual Whaler dealer meeting in Tampa on one of those rare summer days in Florida, with a cool breeze coming in of the Gulf and the water in the yacht basin slick calm.

If you start your tour at the bow, there's a dandy cushion on the forward edge of the cabin top where you can perch and admire the bow pulpit , and there's a lot up there to admire, from the hefty anchor roller, the one-inch stainless bow rail, the substantial cleats, the safety lanyard neatly attached to a U-bolt that secures the anchor chain, and the low-profile anchor windlass.

Open the hatch, and you'll find a remote control unit to operate the windlass neatly tucked there, along with a manual winch handle. The locker itself is deep enough to hold not only 200 feet of rode, but one of the Whaler engineers as well. We know this because one of them proved it by climbing down there. We let him out. After a while, anyway.

The side decks are recessed for added safety and are adequately wide to get fore and aft in a hurry with plenty to hold onto en route.

Once you're back in the 58-square-foot cockpit, there are some more details to admire, like the enormous hatch in the sole. This is gasketed and supported by gas lifts, and once open, provides unprecedented access to the bilge. The underside of the hatch and the inside of the bilge are both smoothly finished, and here you have wide-open access to all the crucial guts of the boat,the seacocks, the Kohler Diesel generator, all four batteries,it's all there with no kneeling, groping or reaching. And a good portion of the rest of the sole lifts out by removing just four screws, so there's even more access when you need it.

The hatch is easy to lift, despite its size. And one of those thoughtful touches that sticks with you once you notice it: a non-slip pad on the bottom of the bilge, right where you naturally want to put your foot as you step down.

The sound shield around the generator masks most of the noise, but when the hatch is closed, there's more sound coming from the discharge over the side than from the generator itself, and it's barely perceptible in the cabin. A 15-gallon stainless-steel fuel tank provides up to 30 hours of operation. The generator is part of the optional cruising package, and they're pretty adamant about not providing a gas generator for safety reasons. And the Diesel fill on the transom is separated from the gas fills and marked in bright green to prevent putting the wrong fuel in the right tank.

The bench seat across the transom folds away completely and easily. There are two big, two-inch scuppers draining the cockpit, the sole of which is low to the water, but high enough to be self-bailing. Under-the-gunwale rod holders have sockets that are designed to protect sensitive rod tips. And there are toe rails, gunwale mounted rod holders, sockets to secure downrigger weights, and two big, macerated fish boxes in the sole.

The bait prep station has a handy stainless grab rail, tackle drawers, and a sink and cutting board. They've moved the battery switches to the side of this console, behind a lockable hatch, so there's no stooping and groping to turn on the batteries every time you want to go out on the water. This is right behind the helm seat, so it's quite a handy arrangement.

The interior freeboard around the cockpit is a high 28 inches, and the thigh high bolsters around the coaming are standard.

The cabin is simple but accommodating, with a dinette that quickly and easily converts to a six-and-a-half foot double berth with the rearrangement of the cushions. A modest but functional galley area provides all the necessities: some countertop, an AC/DC fridge, a single-burner butane stove, a sink, a microwave, and storage. And enclosed head with a pull-out showerhead, sink and VacuFlush toilet rounds out the cruising amenities.

The helm deck is raised eight inches to provide optimal visibility. The helm chair is quite comfortable. The seat lifts up for a handy standup bolster and they've offset the forward stanchions of the bow rail to provide a clear view straight ahead. There's a comfortable lounge seat to port.

The hard top is supported by two-inch welded aluminum struts, and all the wiring runs down the starboard column with the port column open to accommodate wiring for after-market add-ons. The center pane of the aluminum windshield opens with the help of an actuator. The curtains roll up into troughs in the top, which in future models will be enclosed under a canvas valance, so there's no hunting for the plastic enclosure panels stowed somewhere in the cabin and then wrestling to mount them when you're hit with a sudden storm. Just unzip and let them drop and then zip them in place.

Powered by twin 225 CXL OptiMax Mercury outboards, the top speed at 5400 rpm was a good 35 knots, with about three quarters of the 300-gallon tank filled. Cruising speed was about 28.5 knots at 4500 rpm. The ride is exhilarating, with a quick response to the wheel. The hull seems to jump right up onto plane. The hull has a sharp-V entry that transitions to 20 degrees at the transom, and the wide ten-foot, seven-inch beams provides good lateral stability.

The dash is tall enough to easily accommodate the Northstar 958 chart plotter, the Mercury SmartCraft monitor and a Raymarine VHF, with room for plenty more electronics. Hydraulic tilt steering, electric trim tabs, and a satellite-ready Clarion AM/FM/CD digital stereo are among the long list of standard features.

And since it's a Boston Whaler, the 305 Conquest is built with Whaler's exclusive "Unibond" construction, filled with closed-cell foam, and so totally unsinkable, it can support 2,200 pounds even when swamped. The hull is covered by a 10-year limited warranty. Boston Whaler is owned by Brunswick Corporation.