by Warren Steptoe

I knew Boston Whaler’s new 370 Outrage was coming up for test so I took the opportunity for a sneak preview at the Brisbane Boat Show. There it sat with a crowd lined up waiting to mount a viewing scaffold alongside. I shuffled along with the rest and have to say; I wasn’t particularly impressed.

With its plush bow lounge and a barbeque behind the console it was hard to see the boat as anything more than a rich kid’s toy. Nope, certainly not any kind of the serious bluewater fishing boat I expected!!!

Well; I’ve just completed the test and I have to tell you I was quite wrong!!! After checking the 370 Outrage out in more depth during several hours at sea, I’m hugely impressed.

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With the benefit of hindsight, perhaps I should have had more faith. I’ve done plenty of sea time in Boston Whalers over the years and every single one of them impressed with their particularly solidly constructed hulls and over engineered fittings. Boston Whaler’s design and appearance leans towards the quirky sometimes but when the wind gets up and the spray starts to fly, every Boston Whaler I’ve ever ridden in never failed to deliver outstanding performance.

This boat nonetheless, in a Boat Show setting at least, didn’t come across like the rugged purposeful Boston Whalers of previous experience. And when you check out the standard equipment inventory that impression holds good. It’s got a sun bathing lounge you could play touch footy on. And that flash bow lounge/dinette. And 3 supercharged 300 hp outboard motors. Even an air conditioned centre console no less!!!

So onto the water. Idling towards the Gold Coast Seaway I found that converting that bow lounge/dinette into a casting deck is a work of moments. With the lounge upholstery removed, an electrically operated table powers down to become a deck.

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Beneath the sun bathing lounge is a monster stowage compartment. It has racks for scuba tanks and lock up stowage for rigged game rods plus a whole heap of space for all the stuff that always seems to end up aboard with nowhere to put it.

As you’d expect in a 37 footer the centre console is massive. Substantial metal braces supporting the hardtop are very neatly integrated into the console and hardtop mouldings. I’d have no concern about installing an upper control station atop the console – which would afford an eyeline at the (upper) helm equivalent to a flybridge boat. A pair of Grand Slam telescopic outriggers were one of few options on our test boat.

Stepping down inside the console it’s time to forget centre consoles and think centre cabin – it’s hardly cramped in here. There’s a queen size bunk which converts into a lounge, and a shower and toilet, although a classy glass sink atop the vanity definitely looks more art decor than a place to clean off fish slime…

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A Fischer Panda diesel gen set installed in the bilge (below a hatch in the cockpit) supplies power to the console’s air con, its microwave and its Isotherm fridge. In this boat there was another twin drawer fridge each side of the seating console. Freezer plates in a pair of below decks fish boxes stretching aft to the transom on each side of the cockpit are an option it didn’t have.

In addition to the console/cabin’s aircon etc , in this boat the gen set also powered a “Summer Kitchen” option located across the back of the helm seating. It includes the barbeque and a sink complete with pressurised water on tap.

Alternately, the Summer Kitchen can be replaced with a fishing option incorporating a rigging station, tackle storage, a big livewell, and a single cooktop. An electrically operated awning extends from the aft end of the hardtop over the cockpit to shade the kitchen, or rigging station, if fitted.

The helm seating console is a work of art in itself. Three bucket seats with flip over bolsters to convert them to leaning support while standing sit across the front side. The entire helm and seating area behind the console can be enclosed with clears – and its then the aircon vents in the top of the console work effectively.

One thing you expect in centre consoles is to get wet; even when they’re 37 feet long. Standard equipment clears around the console seating in this boat solve that.

At the helm in the 370 Outrage you’re faced with everything you’d expect in a serious fishing boat. A pair of Simrad NSE 12 display screens dominate the dash. These feature scratch resistant glass screens capable of overlaying broadband radar and fish finding functions with GPS mapping. An auto pilot can also be integrated along with underwater and cockpit cameras – and the massive amount of engine information available from Mercury’s “Smart Craft” monitoring system.

The three motors are controlled by 2 levers, but it isn’t a problem. Mercury’s “DTS” (digital throttle and shift,) system controls the motors electronically, automatically synchronising them while allowing separate control or control of all 3 at the touch of a selector button.

A tilt adjustable stainless steel steering wheel that wouldn’t be out of place in a much larger boat serves the power steering you need with 900 hp out back.

Continuing our tour, in the starboard side of the aft bulkhead a big transom door opens onto a small boarding deck. Although if diving from this boat most people would probably use an even bigger dive door set into the portside. Diving is apparently viewed as importantly as fishing in this boat’s design if the dive ladder stowed across the underside of a fold away lounge set centrally in the aft bulkhead is any indication. This clips solidly into a metal fitting in the deck revealed when the dive door opens.

There are quite a few pumps aboard when you start counting up macerator pumps for the fish boxes and toilet, bilge pumps, deck wash pumps, livewell pumps, freshwater pressuriser pump and power steering pump, and they’re all located in the aft compartment along with the gen set where all can be easily accessed for servicing. The portside corner of the aft bulkhead is occupied with a plumbed live bait well.

One and one only aspect of this boat didn’t meet with 100% approval during our protracted transit to open water. That was how the cockpit sides supported, or rather didn’t support your legs. The 370 Outrage’s sides are high and the boat’s periphery is enhanced by an upholstered bolster around the inside topsides. But it doesn’t quite prevent your toes touching the (fully moulded) sides before your upper

Finally, after an onboard tour that took longer than most we could open the taps.

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Our lengthy idling speed journey had already shown the 370 Outrage’s power steering was sensitive enough at low speeds to avoid any of the wanderings from side to side fast boats often suffer. Thankfully the boat continued to be as easy to drive as a runabout half its size when we leapt onto the plane (in a blink) and were at last away. Did I say fast?

It only took a few seconds to accelerate from displacement to planing speeds and we were running out of room fast before we could determine precisely what the 370 Outrage’s top speed might be. Somewhere north of 50 knots will have to do!

Besides precise low speed steering the other really noticeable thing before we accelerated was an almost complete absence of noise at idling speeds. Noise from those three 300 hp Verados gracing our transom remained minimal at higher speeds too, until the slipstream across your ears drowned them out anyway. At 38 knots we were still conversing in normal tones without raising our voices in the helm area.

Surprising quietness is but one thing that makes this boat deceptively fast and I must say that how little noise they made (actually didn’t make) is definitely a big plus in favour of the outboards on this boat when compared to the pair of inboard diesels bluewater fishers are so addicted to.

At sea the 370 Outrage rode just like every Boston Whaler I’ve ever tested, only better. It’s soft and it’s dry and thanks to the awesome structural integrity that’s a feature of Boston Whalers generally, the hull performs as a singular unit to a point matched by very few boats of my experience indeed.

To jump ahead of ourselves for a moment, it was only afterward while idling back through the interminable speed limit zones going back to the marina that we noticed the windscreens around the console. After noticing there weren’t any salt water spots on the glass, we looked harder – and couldn’t find even one!

There’s actually quite an area of glass around the 370 Outrage’s console and it still blows me away that we couldn’t find a single dried salt spot. Conditions outside the Seaway were good during our test and photo shoot with maybe 10 knots of southerly across a mild chop but there was certainly enough chop to generate plenty of spray and how not a drop could find its way onto the glass beggars the imagination.

Chalk up yet another new centre console experience to the 370 Outrage!

People familiar with fishing and fighting fish from inboard game boats have some adaptation to do when fishing from this boat, or any outboard powered centre console for that matter. Outboard powered boats simply don’t back up well placing emphasis on fishing and fighting fish out the sides of the boat instead of over the transom.

With a flat non sip deck like the one in this boat though any disadvantage in this is negated by being highly mobile. If a fish dives under the boat and/or heads forward you don’t have to wait for the skipper to turn the boat, you can follow in a flash and keep everything under control.

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Which is just as well; one thing the 370 Outrage does not do at all well is turn on the proverbial dime like a good twin inboard can. Even using the two outer Verados it’s slow to react and the bow thruster, while more than handy for docking etc, falls short of the kind of fast pivoting twin inboards do so well.

Personally, having fished much of my time offshore from centre consoles I’m happier moving forward to control fish than relying on the skipper, although most of my offshore fishing does involve the casting and standup light tackle stuff centre consoles are so good at. If there’s one kind of fishing where this boat compares unfavourably against a twin inboard it’s clearly heavy tackle chair fishing. Maybe you could mount a chair in place of the sunbathing pad and fish effectively enough by going forward, but backing up it won’t do well.

Lastly we come to something that should be everyone’s first priority and that’s safety. Once upon a time Boston Whaler were known for taking a chain saw to a floating hull and cutting it into pieces to prove their boats really are unsinkable. These days they’ve moved on from that particular Boat Show attention grabber and developed a new stunt to challenge everybody else who claims their boats are unsinkable.

Our 370 Outrage is the biggest boat Boston Whaler have ever built and maybe they couldn’t bring themselves to take a chain saw to their pride and joy so instead they opened the bungs and the dive door and pumped water in until it was full to overflowing out the dive door. With 40 people aboard, (yes 40!) the 370 Outrage not only stayed afloat and upright but the triple Verado’s powerheads were still above the water.

Spec Check

Price as Tested

Approx $650,000.00

Priced From

Approx $580,000.00 with 250 hp Verados

Standard Equipment Inventory

Console – 8000 BTU air con, 19” flat screen TV, convertible settee/double berth, Vacu-Flush toilet, pressurised shower and curtain, screened portholes, hanging locker, glass vanity and mirror, Isotherm drawer fridge, microwave, coffee maker, Flexiteak flooring, task lighting, Clarion iPod ready stereo system and DVD player.

Other – Hardtop, floodlights, interior and cockpit lighting, 2 X Isotherm 2 drawer fridge/freezers, power anchor winch, transom and dive doors, 4 kw Lewmar bow thruster, electric trim tabs, 2 X 2000 gph bilge pumps & 1 X 750 gph bilge pump, 8 kw Fischer Panda diesel gen set w/ 90 litre fuel tank, hot & cold pressurised freshwater system, 110 litre aerated livewell, saltwater wash down system, windscreen wipers and washers, Smartcraft display system, full coaming bolster, bow lounge/dinette, foldaway stern lounge, dive ladder.

 

Optional Equipment Inventory

Stainless steel anchor, electrically operated cockpit sun shade, 3 X 300 hp Verados w/DTS system and power steering, Summer Kitchen option, Simrad NSE 12 electronics, Grand Slam telescopic outriggers.

General

Material – foam filled GRP composites

Hull Type – mono hull centre console

Length – 11.4 metres

Beam – 3.5 metres

Draft – 0.6 metres

Deadrise – 23.5 degrees (at transom)

Weight – approx 6125 kg (hull only)

 

Capacities

Maximum Rated Power – 900 hp

Maximum Engine Weight – 950 kg

People – 14

Fuel – 2050 litres

Fresh Water – 225 litres

Holding Tank – 38 litres

 

Engine

Make/model – 3 X Mercury 300 Verado

Type – supercharged dry sump DOHC straight 6

Rated hp – 300

Displacement – 2598 cc

No. cylinders – 6

Weight – 288 kg

Gearbox ratio – 1.75:1

Propeller/s – Mercury Revolution 4 blade, 19 inch pitch

Highlights

*soft surprisingly dry ride (for a centre console)

*complete standard equipment inventory

*a much better boat and better fishing boat than first impressions indicated

*quiet motors

*bloody hell it’s fast!!