By Captain Steve
The Boston Whaler 285 Conquest's Mission Statement
The mission of the 285 Conquest is to combine a well-built boat with an offshore pedigree with the features that can handle a gathering of friends for cocktails or two couples or a small family on overnights. This continues a long-standing trend towards using fishing boats for cruising due to their sea-keeping abilities, dry ride, and protection from the elements.
Some of the key unusual features of the 285 Conquest include:•
Choose the Layout.
Our test 285 Conquest featured a cockpit sink with the availability of an optional cockpit refrigerator ($1,416) which when combined really bring the cruising capabilities of this boat to light. One can also add a cockpit table ($1,812) and port and starboard fold-out bench seats ($1,573 each) to add to the seating provided by the aft fold-out bench seat.•
Choose the Cabin Style.
The helm deck can be outfitted with sloping Downeast-style side windows as on our test boat, or have windows that go all the way to the hardtop ($3,054). A third option is to go with a fully-enclosed helm deck including an aft bulkhead with door.•
Clever Passenger Seating.
On the port side of the helm deck there are booth-style seats facing forward and aft. A filler cushion turns the seats into a lounger, as one typically sees on most express boats, and the aft seat back will slide forward to form an aft-facing seat with a pull-out foot rest.
Fully Foam-Cored Hull and Deck Bond.
Boston Whaler mates the hull and deck with an expandable foam that bonds the two components together not just at the hull-deck joint around the perimeter of the vessel, but all over its deck surface. It's an unusual process, and one that the boater can see in our Boston Whaler factory tour video.(See construction video.)•
The USCG only requires boats 20' and under to float level when swamped. Those over 20' don't have to float at all under such conditions. Boston Whaler doesn't agree. The 285 Conquest not only floats if swamped, but Boston Whaler assures us that she'll float level as well. •
28" (71.1 cm) Cockpit Depth.
ABYC standards call for 24" (60.9 cm) of protection above a weather deck. Boston Whaler takes it a little further and adds another 4" (10 cm) of security. •
A Division of Brunswick.
The Brunswick Corp. is the largest single company in the marine business and owns over a dozen boat brands and makes both outboard and sterndrive engines as well. Boston Whaler is a leading Brunswick brand and as such has an infrastructure, business practices, and engineering departments that are more sophisticated than what one finds with many builders.
Performance and Handling
The Boston Whaler 285 Conquest has a length overall of 27'10" (8.51 m), a beam of 9'6" (2.9 m) and a hull draft of 20” (.50 m). With a hull weight of 7,300 lbs. (3,311 kgs.), half fuel, two people and test power we had a test weight of 9,590 lbs. (4,349 kg). With a pair of 225-hp Mercury Verado 4-strokes powering our 285 Conquest we reached a top speed at 6000 rpm bringing us to 43.8 mph. At that speed we had a fuel burn of 47.05 gph for a range of 167 miles.
Best cruise came in at 4000 rpm and 25.7 mph. Here her fuel burn was 17.15 gph which gave us a range of 270 statute miles. The 285 Conquest had an average time to plane of 3.8 seconds; we reached 20 mph in 5.3 seconds and accelerated through 30 mph in 8.8 seconds.
Upon acceleration the 285 Conquest exhibits a 16-degree bow rise which keeps the horizon in clear view. In a hard over turn there is only a 10-degree roll which both the operator and passengers will find comfortable. When taking power off, the 285 Conquest will settle back into the water stern first and then the bow will come down shortly after. Remember, because there is a hardtop on the 285 Conquest the turn to starboard will produce no loss of visibility, but turns to port will bring the hardtop down into one's line of sight so be sure to clear the area first.
I found the 285 Conquest to be responsive to the helm both at cruise speed and at minimal speeds. Her hard chines gave her good stability and since they are carried so far forward to the bow, spray was kept low and thrown wide providing a dry ride. I found she also had excellent response to the throttle with the 225-hp Verados, so unless the boater really needs to add more speed to their 285, I think they’ll be happy with these engines over the optional 250 Verados ($3,957).
At the bow, our 285 Conquest was equipped with the standard electric windlass and there's an option for swapping out the anchor line for an all-chain rode ($775). To the sides, 8" (20.3 cm) cleats are mounted well outside the toe rails eliminating the need for chafing gear or chocks. Our test boat was equipped with the standard bow rail, and a split bow rail ($207) is offered as an option.
Professional Windshield Treatment
Not being a big fan of isinglass, I really appreciate the standard hardtop with windshields that run up fully to integrate with the hardtop, much as one would see on a sport coupe design. Visibility is outstanding with narrow window mullions and at the top forward center is an electrically actuated windshield vent that does a remarkable job of scooping air into the helm deck. Windshield wipers with integral washers are standard.
Transitioning to the cockpit is safe thanks to the 15 ½“ (39.4 cm) space between the rails and the cabin sides as well as the grab handles running along the hardtop, the aft ladder supports, and a step leading to the cockpit. Water, however, will not have such an easy trip into the cockpit as the side deck is molded to channel water that comes over the bow right back over the side just ahead of the midship cleat.
The wide open cockpit measures 54 sq. ft. (5 sq. m) and can be configured for cruising or fishing. The fishing amenities start with the standard transom mounted insulated livewell. The acrylic lid is gasketed all the way around. There were optional electrical connections under the gunwales for the downriggers ($652) and at the bottom of the rod storage racks are toe rails to give you a little more security when fighting fish.
There are two sizable insulated fishboxes to either side of the cockpit, both with hatches that are Divinycell cored for lightweight, gasketed all the way around and supported by gas assist struts. To either side of the cockpit, there's the option of having fold down trolling seats ($952 ea), and the hardtop is set up for mounting the optional radial outriggers ($2,718).
Safety is, of course, a concern for Boston Whaler and the bolsters surrounding the cockpit start out at 21 ½” (54.6 cm) and top out at 28” (71.1 cm). All the way aft is a standard flip-out bench seat that I found easy to deploy. There are options for adding two more of the same bench seats to both the port and starboard bulwarks ($1,573 ea) which will turn the entire cockpit into a comfortable gathering area. The owner can also add a cockpit table with Flexiteek top for cockpit dining ($1,812). Forward is a sink with pullout sprayer and Corian countertop. There’s a conveniently located grab handle and storage is underneath, which can be optioned out for a cockpit refrigerator ($1,416). If a little more shade in the cockpit is desired, then simply add the optional retractable cockpit sunshade ($4,976) that manually extends and retracts from the back of the hardtop.
The starboard side transom boarding gate is up 9” (22.9 cm) from the main deck and leads to a modest swim platform with a recessed three-step reboarding ladder and stainless grab handle. A standard transom shower is plumbed to a 30-gallon (113.6 L) freshwater tank.
Port Helm Deck Seating
Stepping up to the helm deck, to the port side is an improvement over the regular lounge seating that is usually seen on express cruisers. Here we have booth-style seating that can accommodate a filler cushion to convert into a lounge. Additionally, the aft seat has a seatback on a slide that allows it to convert to an aft facing seat with a pull-out step just below. This not only makes a welcome addition to the cockpit seating but can also serve as a place to watch the lines, or for that matter, the wake shrinking in the distance. In the "clever innovation" category, Boston Whaler has also created an optional table ($1,751) that will deploy between the opposing seats and stows neatly out of the way in the port side bulwarks.
I think Boston Whaler designers really had their act together when they created this comfortable pedestal mounted helm seat. It's heavily padded, vented at the back, swivels and slides, has cast flip-up armrests and a flip-up bolster. The main battery switches and breaker panel are located just underneath.
The helm is straightforward thanks to the complete lack of gauges due to the SmartCraft VesselView display. Our test boat was fitted with the optional autopilot ($7,463) and 14” widescreen display. The stainless steel wheel is mounted to a tilt base, which I found extraordinarily comfortable in the full up position, like on a large convertible. To the right, I was happy to see that Mercury's digital throttle and shift system (DTS) was mounted on the horizontal and it offers a wide range of options such as single lever control and troll mode. All switches are waterproof and lighted when activated and our test boat was also fitted with the optional bow thruster ($7,019).
Tabs and Enclosures.
Trim tabs are standard but I never found the need to use them. This helm deck is offered in three configurations: First is the standard configuration that includes the open side windows that are reminiscent of a more Downeast design; Second you can get full glass up to the hardtop on the sides ($2,491), and third is the pilothouse design with an aft bulkhead and door.
As we move down below, immediately to port is a modest galley with the usual amenities of microwave, single burner stove, sink and refrigerator. The single burner stove is actually part of an optional cruising package that also includes a dockside hook-up to the water system, and a water heater ($1,712). Natural light comes in through hullside port lights and an overhead skylight. The ship’s electrical panel is located right next to the microwave.
Just aft is a mid-berth measuring 4' x 6' (1.22 m x 1.8 m) with a variable geometry overhead running from 1'9" (.53 m) to 2'5" (.74 m) and topping out at 4’ (1.22 m) at the entry. There's a leather headboard with storage just behind. Our test boat was fitted with the optional cabin comfort package ($2,778) that includes comforter, sheets, pillowcases and a privacy curtain.
Forward is a U-shaped settee with rod storage overhead and the rod holders flip-out of the way when not in use, which conveniently protects one's noggin. In the center of the settee is a dinette table with extended leaf. In the collapsed position the leaf support doubles as a stainless grab handle. This entire area converts to a berth quite easily by lowering the table, extending the table, and sliding the cushions towards the center. On the aft bulkhead are flip-down garment hooks.
To starboard is a wet head that while modest, was roomy enough to serve its purpose. It’s completely fiberglass lined with plenty of storage and Boston Whaler went with a VacuFlush toilet as standard. On the aft bulkhead is a hatch leading to the backside of the helm console for service and installations.
Pricing for the 285 Conquest
The Boston Whaler 285 Conquest has a base price of $201,723 which includes the pair of 225-hp Mercury Verado 4-strokes. If the boater wants to go full-out for entertaining and cruising, then they can expect to add options that will bring the total up to around $260,000. Most of us may end up somewhere in between.
Considering how well built this boat is, her inherent safety factors, and the outstanding sea-keeping ability of the 285 Conquest, we think this vessel deserves serious consideration by anyone looking for a cruising or fishing boat in this size range – if only to use as a benchmark. I cannot help but add that Boston Whalers are not only famous for their capacity to resist sinking, but for their longevity as well. While some of this is undoubtedly due to the high-caliber maintenance of the owners, the brand’s build attributes must also be due some credit as well. As long as one doesn't find themselves entering the 2’ syndrome (where the boat the boater needs is 2’ bigger than the one they have) this may very well be the last boat they will ever own.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Boston Whaler 285 Conquest (2015-) is 43.8 mph (70.5 kph), burning 47.05 gallons per hour (gph) or 178.08 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Boston Whaler 285 Conquest (2015-) is 25.7 mph (41.4 kph), and the boat gets 1.50 miles per gallon (mpg) or 0.64 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 270 miles (434.52 kilometers).
- Tested power is 2 x 225-hp Mercury Verado.
Standard and Optional Features
|Washdown: Raw Water||Standard|
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|
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