Many of us, myself included, cut our nautical teeth at the tiller or varnished wood helm of a Boston Whaler 13.
I have fond memories of layering up and blasting through no-wake zones in the dead of winter with my hometown crew—blame the vagaries of youth—to tooling around Virgin Gorda in boardshorts, gunwales high with Kalik.
The brand has cemented a reputation and fanatic brand loyalty over 62 years by building a robust, outboard-powered model line (the 34-foot inboard Defiance of the early aughts a rare exception) comfortable chasing down fish offshore or tied up at the sandbar. The unsinkable videos certainly helped.
Banking on the boom in outboard power, the 405 Conquest is the largest Conquest model ever and marks the second time Boston Whaler has eclipsed the 40-foot barrier. Her Ft. Lauderdale boat show debut was a standing-room-only affair, with journalists attempting to take in her wares while avoiding a blistering midday sun. Sensing that the crowd was overheated and amped to board, the Whaler brass kept it brief, dubbing her the “SUV of the Sea” replete with fish- and family-friendly options before inviting us onto the vessel.
The banality of the aforementioned comparison was quickly forgotten once I boarded from her swim platform, skirting the optional battalion of four, 400-hp Mercury Verados (quad 300-hp Mercs are standard). I immediately went to the starboard helm and took in the commanding views—like a big sport-ute, the 405 gives one the feeling of being above the melee—via the large, single-piece windshield and optional side glass panels. The clean, unfussy helm housed twin 19-inch Raymarine Axioms, the latest Fusion Marine stereo head unit and Seakeeper dash display, all options. Joystick piloting is at the helmsman’s right hand. Not to be left out, the double companion seat to port has a dedicated 24-inch Axiom and joystick. Sliding windows on each side ventilate the command bridge and provide quick access to the amidships cleats.
On that SUV comparison, they may be selling themselves short: The flagship Conquest is closer to a big, luxe 4×4 towing an Airstream trailer. She’ll sleep six, split between the forepeak master, amidships double and convertible settee in her salon. But what I was really impressed with is the multiplicity of the cockpit area. The port double seat can face fore or aft and convert into a sunpad, excellent for keeping an eye on activities astern—fishing, swimming—or in concert with her command bridge seating area for dining. To starboard, the back of the seat becomes additional counter space when folded, expanding the small, well-appointed galley. Three-zone AC keeps things cool on the command bridge and into the cockpit.
The transom prep area continues the theme. It can be outfitted with fishing or entertaining features—or both—from an electric cooktop to a 40-gallon livewell. Dive tank storage can be added in a dedicated bilge area, with easy access to her wide, starboard transom door. It seems Boston Whaler has thought of just about every buyer.
To that end, the 405 Conquest was presented at the show with three packages: Silver, Gold and Platinum. The options list is long and exhaustive, which may turn off some buyers. But it gives the customer a 1,200-hp base model with the sterling rep of Boston Whaler and allows them to outfit her any way they please. To me, that’s as priceless as those long-gone days at the tiller, trying to make it home in time for dinner.
Displ.: 29,500 lbs.
Fuel: 600 gal.
Water: 90 gal.
Standard Power: 4/300-hp Mercury Verados
Cruise Speed: 38 knots
Top Speed: 52 knots