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Whaler Insights Please!!
#1 Print Post
Posted on 08/04/17 - 4:20 AM

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Hello everyone. We are not Whaler owners, at least yet. Boaters for a couple of decades, we made what I consider to be a big mistake when we downsized from our 2008 Sea Ray 33 Dancer back in 2015. Long story short, with an eye on saving some money and on the advice of our dealer, we ordered a brand new Sailfish 275DC. Great hull, ride, and best layout we've seen in a dual console of that size. However, she's been nothing but problem after problem, every season! From day one there were issues. In fact, the only parts of the boat with no issues are the power pack and electronics my own guy installed. Anyway, their service after the sale is horrendous and we are at wits end, seriously considering unloading her and getting back into a quality boat. That said, quality to me means Whaler, Grady, Pursuit, etc. Big money but in the end probably worth it. I looked at a 315 Conquest the other day. Massive cockpit for a ton of people if ordered with both fold down seats, etc. Getting back to a cabin boat may be in the cards for us. So I ask of the Whaler owners on this forum, please share whatever you care to share about your experiences. I'd like to hear about any issues with spider cracks or worse cracks, powder coating issues, engine vibration at idle, quality of components, experience working with Whaler after the sale on anything that pope up, etc. Thank you all in advance!!! Steve & Janis (the boss!)

#2 Print Post
Posted on 08/04/17 - 7:16 AM

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My experience after owning an old Sundancer and three Whalers is that the Whaler quality is far superior to the 70s and early 80s SeaRays. Even our tiny classic 1981 Whaler Sport 13 quality is better. Given the popularity of SeaRays I expect the later models were better boats.

The problem with any boat comes down to the builders choices for all the outsourced components. That includes everything from engines to heads and fuel tanks. Fortunately, for the premium one pays for a Boston Whaler, our builder usually selects high quality outsourced components.

An experienced buyer can always find some component they feel is not up to par. Bilge pumps come to mind as well as batteries. Those types of things are easily changed by a dealer before delivery. I suggest you require a new boat be delivered with the right size Odessy (sp?) AGM batteries for both starting and house loads. As to the rest, I would probably see how things hold up before worrying about it.

#3 Print Post
Posted on 08/04/17 - 7:36 AM

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Thanks Butch. The two Sea Rays we had weren't without issues but this Sailfish is making us nuts! Appreciate you taking the time on this!

#4 Print Post
Posted on 08/05/17 - 12:44 PM

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Joined: 08/29/14


Welcome to Whaler Central!

Most of the members here own and operate earlier generations of Boston Whalers than the Conquest you are considering. The most common style of boat represented here being the open-skiff style from the 1970s/80s/90s. A few have some of the cuddy cabins, and a fair number also operate the "Revenge" series boats (Revenge was the model series from the old classic Whaler line-up that most closely resembles today's Conquest series in design purpose.)

So I don't know that you will get a lot of first-hand feedback here about today's Conquest models. I just have not noticed too many owners of those boats here at Whaler Central.

As Butch said, Boston Whaler is rightfully known for high quality designs, materials, and construction. So that is the good news.

But when it comes to today's Conquest series, it is very tough to make a "buy" recommendation. These Conquest designs depreciate tremendously during the first 3-5 years, so you should only consider buying a new one if you are prepared to take a bath on it. Otherwise, look at other designs or possibly used examples that have already taken the huge depreciation hit.

In the size-range of the Conquest 315, there are much better, more capable, more comfortable, and more reasonably priced options. Once you move up into this size range of boats (i.e. no longer trailerable), most discerning buyers expect more cabin space for their money and would not be satisfied with gas-outboard powered designs -- inboard diesel is far preferable.

As much as we love our Whalers here, I would urge you to take your time and consider the many other options available.

Edited by JRP on 08/05/17 - 12:47 PM
#5 Print Post
Posted on 08/05/17 - 1:10 PM

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Thanks JRP!

We started boating with express cruisers........first one with twin IOs and second with massive twin V drives that burned over 36 GPH at cruise. Feels like downsizing to the Sailfish 275DC might have been too much of a downsize but I have to say I love having outboards and wouldn't consider doing back to inboards. Our split between fishing and cruising is probably 25/75 which is why this style boat has some appeal, but I hear you about getting crushed buying new! My issue is unloading what I have. Still waiting to hear from the dealer about how much mine is worth private party and on a trade. Also have to see how a new one might price out.

I just came from a sea trial with two Whaler reps on board. I have to say its one hell of a boat!! Steve

Phil T
#6 Print Post
Posted on 08/05/17 - 6:05 PM
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For many many years, Boston Whaler has had limited issues with quality fabrication.

For the larger, more sophisticated boats i.e. larger Conquest and Outrage series, there have been very few issues with the hull.

I recall reading of one boat (3xx Conquest) that suffered an electrical fault when using the anchor windlass. After much investigation by the dealer and factory reps, it was determined there was a flaw in the electrical design.

There have been a few issues with the Mercury engines but they were stand alone events.

One of the reasons why there are not many large boat owners who are members here is they are relatively new and don't have a need for help or advice.

Whaler has always stood by their products. They do take Customer Service seriously for all buyers, large and small. It may take owners a bit longer than they want to resolve an issue, but it gets resolved.

Edited by Phil T on 08/05/17 - 6:07 PM
1992 Outrage 17, 1992 Evinrude 115
#7 Print Post
Posted on 08/05/17 - 7:07 PM

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Joined: 08/04/17

Thanks Phil. Very helpful and nice to hear!! Steve

#8 Print Post
Posted on 08/06/17 - 7:17 AM
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Steve & Janis: my boat is a newer model (2015), but a far cry from what you're looking at. I had a few issues with my boat, but they're so small ... they shouldn't dissuade anyone from BW.

My boat is a 150 Super Sport. $23k of boat.

Here's my few complaints:

Cheap, shallow plastic cupholders (which I priced at $1.39 each online). I replaced with deeper stainless cupholders with drains ... about $5 each on Amazon.

The rubber trim around my console wasn't glued on properly. Cost me about $1.00 in 3M 5200, and now it will never, ever come off.

Nuts on the trailer towing eye came loose, first season. Free to fix. In retrospect, I think there's a lot of "curing" the hull goes through and a lot of shakedown stuff that could happen, so I do not consider this a fault. Just thought it was weird at first.

I can't think of anything else. Hull is perfect, flawless. Motor and rigging is perfect, flawless. Everything else is perfect, flawless.

So, really, no actual complaints or problems.

This is why a Whaler fanboy might buy a new Whaler. It is so perfect. And if they make perfect at the 15' level ... they put a lot more into the larger boats like yours will be.

If I ever buy another new Whaler, I'm going to sit on that boat for hours in the dealership and just make a list. Anything I find cheap, I'm going to deduct from the price I pay, whatever it costs to replace it. If it is just cupholders ... wow. Some boats, you find real problems. I don't think I'll find much.

Finally, everybody knows the math about the used Whalers. Evaluate the motors ... and if they need to go, add the price of new motors to the used boat price. Too often, you'll find a brand new boat is less expensive. The real bargain is if you can do your own motor maintenance, and all the other usual boat maintenance tasks. Then used is the way to go ... like was suggested above about letting the other guy take the depreciation hit. Honestly, a lot of boats do a lot of sitting at the marina ... low engine hours.

Good luck, and you will never regret having the best. It's cheaper in the long run. (I'm thinking of the recent boat sinkings here in Lake Erie, watching good boats from reputable makers take a dive.)

ClevelandBill Ferry
2015 150 Super Sport 60hp Merc
#9 Print Post
Posted on 08/06/17 - 7:45 AM

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Joined: 11/22/11

I doubt you can find a safer, better outboard cruiser/fisher than one made by Boston Whaler. Unfortunately it follows that the boats are among the pricer brands.

If resources are not a problem a new boat is always fun although with a cruiser and it's more complex systems such as generator and air conditioning the first couple of outings can be a little frustrating. A good way to reduce the frustration level is to have a long and thorough shake down/delivery cruise with a dealer's rep. Ask for a demonstration of everything even if it isn't used on the cruise. Make sure you know where every valve, switch and breaker is located and how it operates. This applies to used boats, too.

I would look for a lightly used late model Whaler that meets all your requirements before spending for new, but our resources are limited.

#10 Print Post
Posted on 08/06/17 - 9:40 AM
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An alternative suggestion to ruffle feathers:
As the 70's and 80's Whalers favoured by many were designed by Bob Dougherty, I'd look at Everglades Boats if I was shopping for a new boat. Bob and his family ended up there long after their Whaler years.

1984 Outrage Cuddy 22
#11 Print Post
Posted on 08/07/17 - 6:11 AM

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All reports indicate Everglades are fine boats and could be a good Whaler alternative. I would debate any claim that Everglades designs, build quality or safety features are superior to those of Whaler.

The single advantage, for some buyers, is that Everglades are powered by Yamaha engines. Given that all new engines are roughly equal I would always choose a US manufacturer when buying.

I have heard of several instances when a Whaler dealer would agree to remove the factory supplied engine and rigging and replace it with a different buyers choice of engine. This is often done with full credit for the removed Mercury. I don't know if the mega dealer, MarineMax, is quite that accommodating.

#12 Print Post
Posted on 08/07/17 - 12:15 PM
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I thought Mr. Dougherty first went to Edgewater Boats, who build a fine machine, then on to Everglades, also a fine machine. The design is important ... the tech is important, too, and it is EXPENSIVE. No boat manufacturer has the R&D resources Whaler (and its parent) have.

I really appreciate the super-duty railings and etc on the Everglades I last saw ... but it's evolutionary, not revolutionary over the Whalers. It is also a whole heckuva lot more expensive.

BTW, my Mercury runs really, really well. I really only had experience from years ago with Johnsons ... but Dad has a Yamaha on his boat ... and mine runs as well and quietly. In my experience as a USCG Auxiliarist, however, the Hondas on the 25' Response Boats are really, really quiet ... in the auto world, nobody builds a motor to tighter tolerances than Honda ...

ClevelandBill Ferry
2015 150 Super Sport 60hp Merc
Paul A
#13 Print Post
Posted on 08/12/17 - 3:22 PM

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Joined: 01/10/14

I or my family have owned 6 BW and 3 Grady White in Wisconsin (all under 25 ft). I have the greatest complements for both. My brother just purchased a used Intrepid that blows both away with incredible electronics, "weight" and fabrication/construction and incredible condition after aggressive use. I say this because there is a reason some boats cost more and it is worth it. Resale and enjoyment as well as customer service. My 1985 Grady White Sailfish rides like new and looks the same with newer hull Emron paint job. Spend the money for the style that fits your budget, lifestyle and water conditions. Used boats are great value with a little TLC.

#14 Print Post
Posted on 08/13/17 - 8:40 AM

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Steve & Janis, my wife and I finally sold our 2005 Sea Ray 38 Sundancer (with a 10' Zodiac mounted on the swim platform)last year after we (accountant wife) did an analysis of the average cost per use of the boat and 5 year total cost of the boat. It was a bit staggering to say the least, we could have paid cash for a waterfront condo on what we spent. We were in an expensive marina slip, kept the boat in a heated "boat condo" in the winter, etc. so we probably could have gone cheaper but we didn't. Also, we mostly used the dinghy, taking the big boat out was more effort and limited where we could park. So we sold the big boat and started shopping for a Whaler to keep in our garage and use when the weather cooperated here in Michigan and we had time. After 10 months of search, I found a 2003 160 Dauntless, 115 Mercury with 112 hours, fully equipped with GPS, depth sounder, stereo, two way radio, etc. that we could trailer behind her Audi Q5 and fit in the 3rd bay of my garage.

The boat is a tank, it's overbuilt in many ways and reminded me of the difference between a Sea Ray and a Tiara. Heavy duty everything, two batteries, two bilge pumps, tough as nails. The bow rail is the same diameter as my Sea Ray that weighed 22,000 lbs. We boat mostly on inland lakes and rivers but do venture out on near shore Lake Michigan and do so with confidence. Learning the trailer techniques has been the main challenge. I can do most maintenance and improvements myself thanks to You Tube and forums like this one. I work on it myself and don't need the computer diagnostics that the Sea Ray required. I absolutely love the boat and get a lot of compliments with the pontoon crowd we hang out with. There's nothing like a Whaler in my opinion. Good luck!

#15 Print Post
Posted on 08/14/17 - 12:36 PM
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surline my admiral must know your admiral. (although I knew the cost)
We too got rid of the large twin V8 inboard cabin cruiser as we did us the big boat as well as the 14'Achilles a lot. Replaced it with a big sailboat and she hated it. Cost was the same except no gas cost but still slip, inside storage, maintenance, etc. I couldn't give up boating so we sold that one too after several seasons. Being on Lake Michigan the boating was always the same; go out 10 miles up or down the coast and come back.
Replaced it with a small trailerable Whaler and now we go wherever we want might it be for several hours on an inland lake or travel to larger bodies of water farther away for vacation.
She loves it and we're all happy.

Skipper E-J
m/v "Clumsy Cleat" a 2008 Montauk 150
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