Content courtesy ofThe new model of the Boston Whaler 345 Conquest is full of delightful, innovative surprises. We like express fishboats because they have a foredeck which means that they are well-designed to handle most any reasonable condition offshore. Add to that an enclosed pilothouse with hardtop and the boat's utility just about doubles. The new 345 Conquest can fish or cruise and can even be used as a harbor dayboat for entertaining.
Prices, features, designs, and equipment are subject to change. Please see your local dealer or visit the builder's website for the latest information available on this boat model.
Contents of Report
Mission of the Boston Whaler 345 Conquest
Like most boats that Boston Whaler is introducing these days the 345 Conquest has been carefully designed to cruise, fish, or both. By creating a semi-enclosed hardtop pilothouse she becomes a four-season vessel, and her cabin below is a cozy place for a couple to hang out, or for a relaxed bunch of angler buddies to yak about the catch after fine day of fishing. She’s also appealing to the person looking to downsize from the expense and maintenance of a big battlewagon. This boat can go out in most of the same conditions at a fraction of the cost, and operating expense.
She is also designed for the boater who is ready to move up from an open boat, one who is looking for some creature comforts, overnight capability, and a foredeck. This boater might be an avid angler, or a casual one who likes to do some cruising with the family.
• Convertible Cabin V-Seating. By far this is the most unique feature on the 345 Conquest. At the push of a button, the dinette table lowers, the two seats pivot together and a berth is formed, complete with steps leading up to either side.
• Portside Helm Deck Dinette. This makes a convenient place for quick bites while still being able to keep an eye on the lines. It’s also a nice spot to bring out the paper charts and go over the waypoint numbers from previous trips. Plus the aft seatback is reversible to convert to aft facing and remaining in the cockpit.
• Upper Galley Area. A cockpit grill and an optional freezer drawer conveniently located right near the helm deck sink make it easy to cook up a quick meal on the fly.
• Multi-tasking Cockpit. While some may think of this as a dedicated fishing machine, the simple fact is that it’s also a capable cruising boat and that means she’s going to be entertaining guests in the cockpit. All of the fishing amenities can be closed off, and optional bench seats to the stern and starboard side can be deployed to make a convenient gathering area.
• Level Flotation if Swamped. All Boston Whalers, no matter how large, float level when swamped. This is a claim that only a couple of other boats this size can make.
It is a pleasure to review a new boat that has been in so many ways designed and outfitted right -- as standard! We can hardly think of anything to quibble about with this boat. Her option list is quite creative, but only real boating connoisseurs will need to visit there.
First, Who is This Boat For?
The answer is she is built for adventuresome anglers who like to take off for the fishing grounds in pretty much whatever kind of weather is forecast. This is not a fair-weather-only boat. She is also for anglers who want to cover some distance, fish, overnight, then return to home port a day or so later without having to worry about a front moving in.
Cruise Ready. The 345 Conquest is also designed for cruising with the family. We'd gladly take her on long weekends out to remote island destinations or cruises to nowhere. While no boat is safe in more severe storms, the pop-up weather that we boaters have all encountered is a non-issue for this cruise-friendly vessel.
Entertaining? The folks at Boston Whaler have seen it all and they know many people buy boats for some of the simplest work and often "over-buy" simply because they either like the look of the boat, or are enamored with the vessel's potential. So, yes, the 345 Conquest can also be used for harbor cruising with several couples along to enjoy cocktails, grill burgers or fish on the boat's standard grill.
Thinking Out Of The Box. Here is where the "unusual" option comes into play: Big fishboat cockpits often don't lend themselves well to entertaining because while any man would happily sit on the cockpit gunwales, most women don't like to. Boston Whaler has thought of that, and makes optional fold-out bench seats for both the port and starboard bulwarks so three couples can comfortably sit. Fold the companion seat back forward, and the lucky owners can join in the conversation.
Major Features --
Hardtop with Integrated Windshield. In the standard model there are no downward sloping glass side windows leaving the top area open and breezy, which is how a lot of people in Florida and the tropics prefer it. Of course it can also be fitted with removable isinglass. The hardtop provides UV and rain protection, and gives the owner a place to mount the standard side and back curtains. Above, there is plenty of room for all kinds of antennas. Full side windows and even a glass bulkhead aft with a door are optional.
Wet Bar. The starboard wet bar comes standard with a refrigerator that faces inward towards the entrance to the helm area. When the freezer option is selected, the standard location of the refrigerator becomes the freezer and refrigerator is moved to the cockpit area.
Air Conditioning is Standard. There is a 12,000 BTU unit for the cabin below and an 18,000 BTU unit for the helm-deck/pilothouse. Both are reverse cycle so our friends up north can have a four-season boat. A/C requires shore power or a generator, so a 7.5 kW LOW CO gas generator is included as standard.
3 Outboards + Bow Thruster. The 345 Conquest weighs 14,200 lbs. (6,441 kgs.) dry, without engines. Add the standard triple Mercury 250-hp Verados, fill up all of the tanks, add gear, food, drinks, and six adults and we're looking at a boat that weighs over 20,000 lbs. (9,090 kgs.). Boston Whaler states that the minimum horsepower for this boat is 750, and her maximum rating is 1,050-hp. Since the previous version of the 345 was powered standard with twin 300-hp engines, we would trust the builder's judgment on this score. The standard 4 kW bow thruster makes docking this boat a piece of cake. A control upgrade to the outboard joystick is available.
Well-Equipped Galley. The 345’s galley is small but it has a refrigerator/freezer, a microwave, and sink. What else is needed?
Sleep Tight. We are partial to boats that have U-shaped or V-shaped seating in the bow with a table. The reason is that we have spent many a night at anchor sitting at a table like this with friends, a bottle of Burgundy, some grilled fish with lemon juice and good conversation.
Automatic Table/Queen Bed. At the push of a button the V-seating and table morphs into a "queen size" bed and it’s an exceedingly clever solution and a great use of space. The table automatically lowers and the twin seats “scissor” together to form the island berth, complete with stairs to both sides.
Want Two Singles? If two singles are preferred, then simply take the finger off the button once the table is lowered, and before the two side seats come together. The real beauty of this design is not only in its ingenuity, but in the fact that no filler cushions are needed and therefore no need to find room to store those fillers.
The Mid "Cabin." There is a mid "cabin" that is a crawl-in design but the overhead is really too low to use it as a sitting room. For sleeping it’s fine. Its cushions make into another sleeping space with a privacy curtain. A bench seat is to starboard that opens out into a berth large enough for a single adult, or two kids. The wet head has a curtain to keep the sink and the VacuFlush toilet dry.
Optional Joystick Control. With multiple outboards, maneuvering around the dock with an adverse current running can be challenging, particularly for those not used to it. By equipping the boat with a joystick specifically calibrated for the 345 and the number of engines employed, all of the complex mental maneuvering calculations are done by the on-board joystick system.
Optional Upper Helm. Boston Whaler has a tower station available with a full set of controls and electronics including a small RayNav display and the Merc VesselView. Joystick-controlled boats will also have a second joystick in the tower as well. Having this tower not only lets the fish slicks be seen from a long way off, but it raises the height of eye from the 8’ (2.4 m) level of the lower helm, to 14’ (4.27 m), and that means the visible horizon goes from 3.5 miles (5.6 km) to 4.6 miles (7.4 km) out.
Feature Rich. There are really too many standard items on the 345 to mention -- often things that are usually optional on many boats in class. But just to suggest what is going on here -- 10" cleats, 4 spring line cleats, cockpit coaming bolsters, a hot and cold water shower in the cockpit, cockpit wet bar with refrigerator/freezer and sink, trim tabs, 3 pantograph windshield wipers with washers, dockside TV inlet with antenna, windlass, raw water washdown, isolation transformer, etc., etc.
Floats Level If Swamped. The folks at Boston Whaler hardly mention this little detail anymore, thinking that this horse has been beaten to death over the decades. Indeed, at times in this brand's long career it was the only thing really going for it. Times have changed. As we said, we think virtually everything has been done right on this vessel. From a seaworthy standpoint the most important thing about the 345 Conquest is the fact that she is a well-found express design which will easily shed green water. Indeed, even her side decks include molded channels to direct water directly over the side instead of into the cockpit.
A Tight Ship. Between this, her large, dual 2” (5 cm) deck drains to either side of the self-bailing cockpit, double-clamped hoses and ball valves all keeping her hull tight, frankly, little more is needed. But the 345 has more -- between her hull, inner liner and deck there is enough foam flotation to keep her level if she is somehow swamped. Call it extra piece of mind. We hope the company never abandons this dead horse.
The Boston Whaler 345 Conquest has a LOA of 35’11” (10.9 m), a beam of 11’8” (3.6 m) and a draft of 22” (56 cm). With an empty weight, including the optional tower, of 14,620 lbs. (6,632 kg) half fuel, two people and test power, we had an estimated test weight of just over 19,000 lbs. (8,618kg).
With a triple set of 300-hp Mercury Verado’s turning 17p Revolution 4 propellers, we reached our top speed of 43.5 kts at 6000 rpm. At that speed we were burning fuel at a rate of 81.7 gph giving us a range of 192 naut. miles. Best cruise came in at 4500 rpm and 28.1 kts. That speed reduced the fuel burn to 39.6 gph which the 345 could keep up for just over 9 hours and 256 nautical miles while still holding back a 10% reserve. We reached planing speed in 4.4 seconds, accelerated to 20 mph in 7.1 seconds, 30 came and went in 11.1 seconds, and we continued accelerating through 40 mph in 16.1 seconds.
Simply put, the 345 Conquest is a joy to operate. She clearly has the pedigree of an offshore capable boat and it shows in her solid handling characteristics. She throws water well off to the sides and far enough back to present a dry ride. She has a natural bow high cruise attitude and adding trim just boosts the speed, it does not change the attitude. She has a narrow entry and cuts cleanly through large waves rather than pounding over them. Operations from the tower are comfortable, but it’s clearly made for standing rather than sitting while driving. In the sitting position the helm it just out of reach so clearly the long hauls will be spent at the lower helm, likely on auto-pilot.
The folks at Boston Whaler tell us that the new model 345 Conquest has been designed with lots of customer input. Further, they say that she is built and equipped for veteran boaters, those who know what they want and need to go offshore safely. When comparing express fishboats, remember that the 345 Conquest is fully equipped. Don't compare her on price with other boats in class that need to be loaded up with options to get the job done. All of the needed equipment has to be paid for one way or the other.
Test Result Highlights
Boats More Than 30 Feet
Pricing Range: $430,243.00Prices, features, designs, and equipment are subject to change. Please see your local dealer or visit the builder's website for the latest information available on this boat model.
Test Results - Change Measurement Unit
All fuel consumption numbers are the total for all engines in the boat. Speeds are measured with Stalker ProSports radar gun or GPS. Fuel consumption (gallons per hour) measured with Floscan digital fuel-flow meter or by on-board factory-installed diagnostic instruments. Range is based on 90% of published fuel capacity. Sound levels determined using Radio Shack digital decibel meter on A scale. 68 dBA is the level of normal conversation. Time to plane is measured from start of acceleration to formation of rooster tail behind boat.