Boston Whaler 285 Conquest

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Boston Whaler 285 Conquest


There are a number of US builders that produce outstanding blue water fishing boats that Kiwis are keen to own. Boston Whaler is one such brand. Barry Thompson checks out their latest 285 Conquest.

While they have been saying for years that the Boston Whaler is “the unsinkable legend” I wasn’t about to find out, but what I can say is that the 285 Conquest is one hell of a boat. It’s a boat that you would happily take out in a Force 8 gale and know you were going to survive.

We have all seen the images of a Boston Whaler cut in half and floating or the one where they drove a bulldozer over an upturned hull to demonstrate the toughness of the construction. Founder Richard Fisher was so confident in his fail-safe boat that he tested it publicly—by sawing it in half. LIFE magazine documented the whole thing, and the legend was born. Again we were not about to attempt either, but if everything the company says about their construction and toughness is right, then you’de be hard pressed to find a stronger and better-built boat.

Boston Whaler is built using a unique Unibond construction, which comprises a buoyant closed cell foam that is poured between the hull and deck to form a single unbreakable unit. This is what gives Boston Whaler its remarkable strength, unsinkability and buoyancy. These unique features allow Boston Whaler to offer a ten-year transferable warranty on every boat they build.

For 60 years now, Boston Whaler has engineered some of the most reliable and forward-thinking boats on the water. Every chapter of their history starts with a belief in pushing the limits of what’s possible.

Fishing, Fishing & Fishing

Back in 2013, we reviewed the ‘new’ Conquest 285 and while it hasn’t changed a lot, it has had some refinements, all of which just improved what was already an awesome fishing machine. And that’s what the Boston Whaler Conquest 285 is all about. Fishing! Yes, there all the necessary comforts for family boating and cruising, but a quick walk-through and you soon realise that this is one boat that cuts no corners when it comes to setting up the ultimate fishing platform.

The 5 sqm cockpit is essential one big working space with all the necessary equipment readily at hand. While there is plenty of seating provided, it is folded out of the way when you are fishing. The cockpit sole has two large underfloor wet lockers for your catch as well as an access hatch to the batteries and other ancillary equipment. Across the transom, you’ll find a deep insulated live bait tank, a trio of rod holders and gate access to the boarding platform with telescopic stainless steps.

You have the option of electrical connections under the gunwales for downriggers and electric reels. If you plan to run downriggers, then they can be safely mounted on the hardtop framing.

The broad flat coamings are fitted with all flush mounted hardware, so nothing gets in the way of your fishing. The side bolsters surrounding the cockpit are well position with deep toe space for stand-up fishing. Aft of the passenger seat are three tackle drawers and there is the obligatory rocker launcher off the rear of the hardtop.

The hardtop is supported by an alloy frame and comes with built-in steps for access above. A retractable sunshade that manually extends and retracts from the back of the hardtop offers extra sun protection. The new 285 Conquest now offers optional fold away seating, (across the transom and on either side) so after fishing, the cockpit can be transformed into a great space to relax and knock back a few cold ones. There is also an optional table available.

While the cockpit is dedicated to fishing, the area under the hardtop is all about comfort. To port is a multi-facetted seating design, which gives a variety of options, from aft facing and booth style to a full lounger. The aft seatback slides forward to form an aft-facing seat with a pull-out footrest. Well thought out and very functional.

The helm opposite speaks all about having enough space for big MFD screens. Our test boat had a single Raymarine 12”. But there is room for two or maybe one big 20”. The helm on the test boat also featured a Mercury SmartCraft Vessel View display, stainless steel wheel mounted to a tilt base, and Mercury’s digital throttle and shift system (DTS).

Boston Whaler was apparently thinking about the skipper’s comfort when they designed the helm seat. It’s heavily padded, vented at the back, swivels and slides, has cast flip-up armrests and a flip-up bolster. When I have had to drive a 285 Conquest in rough weather, I appreciated the comfort the seat offered.

Aft of the seat is a sink unit and refrigerator, plus the main battery switches and breaker panel are located underneath. Moulded steps either side of the cockpit lead to the wide side decks, with good handholds and high bow rails.

Weekender Cabin

A lockable sliding door divides the accommodation off from the rest of the boat and I was quite surprised just how much space there was. This is a two cabin one bathroom boat, although to be fair the rear cabin is mostly only a large queen size berth under the cockpit sole. American boats are well known for what they call a mid-cabin design and if you don’t have someone sleeping in there, it’s an excellent space for stowing gear.

Central accommodation is a large island berth forward, which doubles as a U-shape the lounge area with a table during the day and is quickly transformed into a bed at night. There’s also a vanity with sink unit, fridge, microwave and an option for an electric cooktop. A Magma BBQ on the transom would be my pick for this boat. Natural light comes in through portlights in the topsides and an overhead skylight.

To starboard is a completely fibreglass lined head/shower unit that is roomy enough to serve its purpose. On the aft bulkhead is a hatch leading to the back side of the helm console, for service and installations.

Performance and Handling

The Boston Whaler 285 Conquest is available with either a pair of Mercury Verado 225s or 250s and for my money, I would probably go straight to the smaller engine option. With a couple of 225s, top speed is 40.1 knots and with the twin 250s, all you gain is around another 2 knots.

The smaller engine package also means better fuel consumption and range for very similar speeds. At 4000rpm, the pair of 225s record a speed of 22.9 knots, with a fuel burn of  64.3 lph which gives a range of around 230nm. Conversely, the 250s at 4000 rpm run to 24.3 knots, with a fuel burn of 78.3 lph, for a range of 200nm.

At trolling speeds, both engine options will give you somewhere around 300nm range and at wide open throttle @ 6300/6400 rpm, expect 150nm from the 225s and 130nm from the 250s. The range is based on 90% of the total 760-litre fuel capacity.

Our test day was reasonably calm on the inner Auckland Harbour, but I can attest to the 285 Conquests rough water capability. A friend of mine has had one for three years and his regular fishing trips are out wide from Gulf Harbour. The Mokos, Little Barrier, Great Barrier, Horn Rock, all are well within a days boating and some of those trips I have been on have been in exceptionally nasty seas, especially in late afternoon. The ride is exceptional, although in a big following sea the bow does tend to push through rather than riding high. I reckon it makes the ride better and along with the overall weight of the boat attributes to the soft ride. Not an issue and the wipers soon disperse any spray on the screens.

The boat retains a moderate bow rise at speed, but you’ll have no trouble with the visibility and the horizon is always kept in sight. One thing I was impressed with was the turning ability of the 285 Conquest. The hard chines which carry well forward to the bow give the boat exceptional stability and apart from when I dived into a deeper than expected ferry wake, we took no water on the screen.

Talking about the screens, these are extra large. While in previous models the side screens were a combination of Downeast-style side glass windows and clears, the latest 285 Conquest is all safety glass three sides. Another option is to go with a fully-enclosed helm deck which includes an aft bulkhead with a door. This turns the 285 Conquest into a pilothouse version.

Visibility is outstanding, with narrow window mullions and at the top forward centre 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.

The 8.51m 285 Conquest carries a 2.9m beam and a running weight loaded with fuel, bait, fishing and dive gear and everything else you need for a days fishing, of over 4500 kg. It’s this weight and the solid construction of the hull that helps give the 285 Conquest it’s seriously good ride.


The Boston Whaler 285 Conquest is quite simply an exceptional vessel in its class. That class is a bluewater fishing machine that is overbuilt in every aspect, from the construction to the fitout. If you like doing your fishing well off the coast and want plenty of comfort for overnighting, then the 285 Conquest is ideal. This is a boat that will not appeal to everyone, but if you have a spare $300,000 plus, to spend on what is essentially a very large trailer boat (trailerable with a special permit), then I suggest you should add it to your bucket list.

I know I would!


  • Model: Boston Whaler 285 Conquest
  • Base Price: $NZ318,500
  • Price as tested: $NZ349,850
  • Year Launched: 2017
  • Type: Hardtop
  • Construction: GRP/composites
  • LOA: 8.51m
  • Beam: 2.90m
  • Deadrise: 20 degrees
  • Power: 2 x Mercury Verado 250
  • Horsepower: 250hp @ 6000 rpm                
  • Power Options: Twin 225hp or 250hp Verado
  • Fuel Capacity: 760 litres
  • Contact: Sports Marine             ChCh Ph: +64 03 379 9208 Auck Ph +64 09 274 9918 W:


Boston Whaler 285 Conquest

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