Boston Whaler has been building 30-something fishing boats and 30-something dayboats for years now, and we’ve taken in-depth looks at models from the dual console 320 Vantage to the centre console 380 Outrage, but with this year’s introduction of the 350 Realm Boston Whaler has essentially melded these two distinct boat types into one. Join us for a brief look at the Realm up-close and personal in the First Look Video we shot at the 2017 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, where the Realm made its premier public appearance.
First, let’s look at the ways in which the 350 Realm is no different than all those other Whalers we’ve run in the past. First and foremost, it’s built with the company’s one-of-a-kind glass-foam-glass construction. The hull and deck liner are molded, then get mated in a two-piece mold. Polyurethane foam is pumped into the mold under pressure, filling each and every cavity and air-space between the hull and liner. As the foam solidifies it bonds to every inch of fibreglass, resulting in a single piece that’s incredibly rigid, and yes, unsinkable.
Anyone who’s been on a Boston Whaler can tell you that this construction method results in one heck of a hull, which can hack its way through rough seas without vibrations, creaks, or groans. But if it works so well, why doesn’t every builder use it? Because building boats this way requires heavy-duty molds and heavy-duty engineering, which naturally drives up cost.
The boat’s bow cockpit is a great place to start, and in truth, this part of the boat also isn’t too huge of a departure from the norm for Boston Whaler. There’s less deck space forward of the console as compared to Whaler’s fishing models and instead, the bulk of this territory is dedicated to relaxing. The front of the console sports a massive lounger, with fold-down cupholder-equipped arm rests. Forward of the lounger there’s a collapsible dinette table, which can be dropped (and a cushion added) to join the lounger with the forward settee and create one massive padded playpen. Also note that the Realm has the same bumped-out forward gunwale around the forward settee that’s found on Whaler’s centre console models, which takes full advantage of the boat’s beam.
Those who enjoy occasional angling need not fear a complete absence of fishability, though. The cockpit of the boat still has plenty of open casting space once you fold up the transom bench seat, plus a 15-gallon livewell in the transom, twin insulated fishboxes in the deck, four gunwale-mounted rodholders, and three more holders in the transom. You can opt up to a 32-gallon livewell, but only at the cost of swapping out the electric grill and refrigerator found in the back of the second-row seating module. And we think that for most of the folks interested in a boat like the Realm, that would be a tragedy. Wouldn’t you rather make do with the 15-gallon livewell, and have the option for fresh-grilled mahi-mahi after a successful afternoon of fishing?
Wait a moment - did you catch that brief and non-descriptive mention of second-row seating? Yup, that’s right, the 350 Realm has a second row aft of the helm station, a feature normally only found on boats in the 40-plus-foot range. Once again this is a tilt towards comfort and away from fishing, since dedicating space to it means cutting back on room in the open cockpit. But for cruises with large numbers of people aboard (the Realm’s rated to carry a whopping 14), those extra seats will be much appreciated.
When the party’s over and your guests depart, you can retire to the console cabin and enjoy a bit of peace and quiet. The cabin is relatively svelte, with a wrap-around settee that converts into a berth and a stand-up enclosed head compartment. What else might you need to enjoy a weekend aboard? Maybe a boob-tube, which is why a 28-inch flat-screen comes standard. Add to that a pair of USB charging ports, dimmable LED lighting, and a 120-V receptacle for your blender, and you’re all set for a party of the more private variety. And let’s not overlook the fact that the boat comes standard with a 7.5 kW genset and a total 30,000 BTUs of air-conditioning, so those parties can take place in complete comfort.
All of the comfort-enhancing features and entertainment options are great, but Whaler fans are going to expect one more thing: stellar performance. They won’t be let down. With triple Mercury Verado 350 outboards on the transom, the Realm cruises in the mid-30-MPH range and tops-out at a hat-stripping 52.7 MPH. Efficiency in the cruising range is about 0.9 MPG, and at wide-open, 0.5 MPG. The 350’s are an upgrade over the stock 300’s included as standard equipment, but another option many modern boaters will be interested in is Mercury’s Joystick Piloting. Yes, this adds a significant amount to the boat’s cost, but joystick controls for outboard boats have become incredibly popular in recent years and it’s no wonder why. Close-quarters manoeuvreing becomes a breeze, and docking the boat goes from being a chore to a reason for cheers.
If fishing plays second-fiddle to other waterborne activities but you still want the option to wet a line now and again, the Boston Whaler 350 Realm might just be the right boat for your needs. If you enjoy entertaining a crowd and comfort is high on your must-have list, it’s certainly a model you’ll want to check out. And what about those of you who consider both of these things important, and also demand sporty performance? What if on top of all that you’re a long-term Whaler lover? Prepare to enter a completely new realm.
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Boston Whaler 350 Realm specifications
LOA: 35ft 6ins
Beam: 10ft 10ins
Draft: 2ft 1in
Deadrise: 23 degrees
Displacement: 13,600 lbs
Fuel capacity: 385 gal.
Water capacity: 45 gal.