Our resident used boat expert Phil Sampson explains what to look for in a secondhand Boston Whaler 305 Conquest…
In build: 2004 to 2012
Price range: £95,000 to £135,000 (inc. VAT)
Coincidentally, the founder of the Boston Whaler brand of legendary sportsfishing boats was a man called Fisher. He – full name Richard T. Fisher – had a dream to provide his customers with the safest, highest quality, most durable boats in the world.
In 1958, he set out to realise that dream by creating Boston Whaler hull number one in Braintree, Massachusetts, USA. Fisher claimed two innovations for his boat; firstly, it featured a twin sponson hull design for outstanding stability and a dry ride and, secondly, it had a unique foam core which, Fisher bragged, was unsinkable.
Of course, in a land which grew up with snake oil salesmen, a mere claim was never going to satisfy the good folk of Massachusetts (where the legal ruling judging snake oil to be a scam was made).
Fisher needed to show his cards. To prove the point, he sawed one of his boats in half and duly motored away into the sunset on the half with the engine still attached.
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The critics silenced, Boston Whaler set about building its market share and today the brand, now owned by the Brunswick Boat Group and built in Florida, is respected far and wide for its strength, durability and robustness.
The subject of this review – the Boston Whaler 305 Conquest – combines the marque’s ruggedness with a degree of comfort likely to appeal to boat owners and guests of all persuasion as well as dyed-in-the-wool anglers.
Its smooth external lines make it easy-on-the-eye but it’s apparent from the minute you step aboard that it wears its sturdiness on its sleeve. The oversize stainless steel scaffolding cocooning the wheelhouse screams toughness, and every moulding, hinge and latch feels built to last a lifetime.
We use the term ‘wheelhouse’ somewhat loosely here, for the Boston Whaler 305 Conquest is actually an open boat with a T-top over the helm area. However, once the full set of covers has been fitted to the hard top and windscreen, it creates an enclosed wheelhouse of sorts.
But there’s no question this boat wants to be used with the covers down so you can feel the rush of the great outdoors. In addition to its rugged construction, another reason the fishing community likes Boston Whalers is because they are quick and reliable with superb sea-keeping for craft of their size.
This Boston Whaler 305 Conquest, with its twin 250hp Mercury Verado outboards, will comfortably exceed 40 knots, while models featuring the larger twin 300hp option will be nudging 50.
Even the smallest option of twin 225hp will still be as quick as most sportsboats. The deep-vee hull should slice its way through unforgiving seas while that robust sandwich construction will ensure it rarely feels out of its comfort zone.
Ideal fishing setup
A look around the Boston Whaler 305 Conquest confirms its many appealing attributes. The engine mounting area, including all cabling, pipework and linkages, is uncluttered and accessible.
Three rod holders are sunk into the transom here with three more adorning each side of the cockpit coaming and a further five ‘rocket launcher’ ones on the trailing edge of the T-Top.
If all that’s not enough, this boat has outriggers too, allowing fishing lines to be splayed wide of the boat like a mini beam trawler.
Of course, all these rods mean that you’re going to need a lot of space for the anglers. Thankfully, the 305 Conquest’s large cockpit provides a generous 58ft² of space, while it’s super-buoyant foam core means that even if it’s swamped by a rogue wave it will still stay afloat with a payload of up 1,190kg, equating to 14 people or a whole lot of fish!
The transom houses a deep bait well on the port side and a deck shower on the starboard side. There are three more deck hatches in the cockpit sole.
The first and largest of these is accessed by folding up the aft bench seat and houses the boat’s batteries, a life raft and a bait sentry pump which provides waterflow to the vessel’s two live wells (floodable lockers for keeping fish alive) located beneath the other two hatches.
To the rear of the helm seat is what we’d normally refer to as a wet bar but in the case of the Boston Whaler 305 Conquest is perhaps better described as a bait preparation area. Beneath the sink is a locker with pull-out drawers designed for storing fishing tackle.
Sturdy and reliable
There’s a small step up from the aft cockpit to the forward area, comprising the helm to starboard and a curved passenger bench to port.
The back of this passenger seat swivels through a full 180° to become a rear-facing, rod-watching view. In a similar vein, the bolstered helm seat rotates 90° to port to create a more sociable seating arrangement when at anchor.
The helm itself is simply laid out in a practical and unfussy manner. The thick rimmed stainless steel steering wheel is a Boston Whaler signature item and comes with a spinner knob for single-handed operation.
It also flips up to horizontal to allow easy access to the helm. The matching chrome throttle assembly looks just as sturdy and is located on a small raised plinth to bring it closer to hand.
The trim tab switches are located alongside for easy fingertip adjustment. The navigation aids, including the all-important fish finder, are mounted vertically on the helm for easy viewing whether seated or standing.
Apart from the well-padded helm seat, a pair of sidewall-mounted cup holders is the only concession to creature comforts here. The single storage recess in the dash moulding will just about accommodate a smartphone, but there’s no provision for anything else.
Access to the foredeck is by way of well-guarded and protected side decks on either side. In addition to the dolphin-nosed pulpit and windlass, there is a skylight/escape hatch for the cabin and a padded seat – not a sunpad but a useful perch to escape the anglers aft.
Down below awaits another collection of well-planned spaces. Descending the two steps from the deck brings you first to the galley, an attractive cherry wood and Corian assembly of cupboards, lockers, storage space and worktop.
Equipped with a microwave, single burner electric hob, fridge and sink, the galley may be small but has everything required for a day or two at sea. The remainder of the cabin is taken up by a horseshoe seating arrangement boasting a plush settee which wraps around the variable-height centre table and can be converted into a decent-sized double berth.
The seat cushions are covered in a vinyl known as OMNOVA and protected by a finish called PreFixx, which provide a durable, easy-clean surface suited to its dual purpose role as a fishing/leisure boat – something borne out by the excellent condition of the sofa on this 16-year-old review boat.
Another space which is generously proportioned considering the size of boat is the heads. There’s a VacuFlush loo, overhead and under-counter lockers, and a pull-out shower-head tap on the basin so you can use it as a full wet room for overnight stays.
Finally, there’s a permanent double berth tucked behind the companionway. Given that this boat packs so much into its relatively small frame, there had to be a compromise somewhere and this is it. It’s a bit of a squeeze getting in and out, and the low headroom will not be to everyone’s liking.
But, with all but the most serious fisher folk using the Boston Whaler 305 Conquest as a day boat or at best an occasional weekender, we suspect it’s much more likely to be used as additional storage rather than by anglers dreaming of the one that got away.
While it may lack the creature comforts of a true cruising vessel, the Boston Whaler’s timeless design, sea-kindly hull, reliable outboard power, easy-to-maintain layout and peerless build quality make it an excellent dual-purpose craft that will never go out of fashion.
And while there may be cheaper secondhand 30-footers on the market, you only have to look at the price of a brand new Boston Whaler to see that this used one still represents good value.
Boston Whaler 305 Conquest surveyor’s report
Boston Whaler builds boats with positive buoyancy that stay upright and afloat even when flooded. The peace of mind this gives should not be underestimated. The quality of build is also exceptionally good, and as these craft are sought after, prices should remain high for a well-kept example.
Points to note when considering buying:
- Ensure the foam between the hulls is dry and not subject to water ingress from impact or poor repairs.
- If water has soaked into the foam, any heavy pounding in a seaway will ‘hydraulic’ the GRP, as it can not compress.
- This results in stress-cracking to the inner hull. Make sure the hull is carefully checked for moisture by an experienced surveyor familiar with foam-injected boats.
- On deck, check carefully around the hard top flanged mounts for cracking due to unsympathetic use.
- Inspect thoroughly all around the transom mount and the corners where the hull meets the transom. Vertical crazing would be evident in the radii if the boat has been driven excessively hard in heavy seas.
- Check the engine service history, ensuring all scheduled works have been carried out, including anode changes, oil, seals and so on.
- Ensure that the fuel system has been scrupulously maintained and the fuel in the tank is fresh. Check when the filters/separators were last changed.
These are robust and powerful fast sports/cruising boats. Provided you find a good example, it should prove a sound boat, which will stand the test of time.
-Chris Olsen, Olsen Marine Surveying
Boston Whaler 305 Conquest specifications
Type: Cabin cruiser
Designer: Ron Berman
Hull type: Deep vee
RCD category: C
Market value: £107,000 – £128,000
Draught: 0.6m engines up / 0.9m engines down
Air draught: 2.76m
Displacement: 4,490 kg
Fuel capacity: 1,135 litres
Water capacity: 90 litres
Cruising range: 260 nm at 18 kn with 20% reserve
Annual fuel burn: 50 hours cruising at 18 knots would consume 2,520 litres
Annual marina mooring: £6,500 (based on £650 per metre on the Hamble River (UK) downstream of Bursledon bridge)
What’s on the market?
Price: £109,500 (VAT paid)
Location: Port Hamble, UK
Engines: Twin 250hp Mercury
Price: £107,378 (inc. VAT)
Location: Morbihan, France
Engines: Twin 250hp Mercury
First published in the June 2022 issue of MBY.
In association with SETAG Yachts. Design and refit specialists SETAG Yachts bring luxury to the pre-owned market – by creating the bespoke yacht of your dreams, with no compromise. To fall in love with your boat all over again visit www.setagyachts.com or call +44 (0)1752 648618 for more details.
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