Boston Whaler Outrage 26

Boat Reviews - Boston Whaler Outrage 26
Foam filled boats that don't sink, at least not all the way. That seems to get a lot of people's attention. This makes good sense, too, for people who have such worries, and later on I'll explain why that's a good thing with this boat.

Boston Whaler, like just about everyone else these days, has jumped into the high end center console market. Or at least high end from the standpoint of the cost of an open outboard boat. There are so many outfits building these things I could spend an entire year just looking at them all. Just about every day, someone calls me and asks something like, "What do you know about the new Insanity 272 CC?" And I say, "Sorry, haven't heard of it." This is usually followed by an incredulous silence.

And he says. "Yeah, why not? Yer a surveyor aren't yuh?"

I reply, "I'm still working on seeing all the new 1998 models. By the year 2010, I should be current up to 2002. Call me back then."

Of course, the man will be looking at a 2008 model then.

You get the point, there are a heck of a lot of boats out there and no one could begin to see them all. So what's Boston Whaler done to distinguish itself from the thundering herd? Other than the flotation thing? Well, for one, this boat uses a grid liner AND a lot of foam in the hull construction.

What's that, you ask? A grid liner (aka, structural grid) is a large molded part that has things like stringers and frames built into it. Along with the hull, it makes for an inner and outer shell which are then literally glued together with gobs of sticky, gooey adhesive putty that, when it dries becomes hard.

Before I get started here, I will issue a warning: The less discriminating, less experienced boater, will probably find my views nitpicking. However, the serious and experienced fisherman certainly will not: he'll know exactly what I'm talking about.


Hull grid liner of the type used by Triton Boats,
shown here for illustration.

This is an alternative to cutting stringers out of plywood or foam and glassing them up and into a hull. Personally, I really don't see the point of going to all the trouble of molding a grid liner, as I doubt it makes for better boat building, and certainly not cheaper boat building. The other thing I don't like about it is that with boats built with this method, there is never any access to the interior hull. It's kinda like a house without an attic hatch; you know there is void space up there, but no way to get to it. Poke a hole in the hull, you certainly can't get to it to plug it up.

Another problem is the question of the strength of these glued together parts, and the effectiveness of the gluing. From what I've seen so far, there is far less assurance of that than what is achieved doing things the old fashioned way.

Anyway, in this boat there is zilch access to the inner hull, so what's going on down there is anyone's guess. If the structural grid liner is coming unstuck, there's no way to know about it until something really bad happens. On the hull insides, I could determine that there is 2" of foam between the side liner and the hull. In other words, short of cutting it apart, there's no way of telling exactly how and of what, it is built.

Layout-wise, this boat is basically like all the rest. I mean, how many variations can you have with a 26 foot center console? This market is overloaded with competitors that will soon be separating the wheat from the chaff, the men from the boys. Will Whaler be one of the survivors?

Boston Whaler Outrage 26 - Cockpit

With a huge console and seating unit, there isn't much space left for people.

The console is very large and is one of those go-inside types. Not easily, mind you, but you can squeeze yourself in there assuming you aren't too big. Football and basketball players need not apply. Once you're in there you can drop trow and sit on the throne comfortably. Well, almost. Most folks would probably find it more convenient to do the ole over-the-gunwale thing when nobody's looking. On this boat, the split door gets tangled up with the T-top leg causing a larger person to engage in a little worming action to try to enter. You gotta know they put the potty in there because that's what the competition is doing. If you want to see how to design this right, go look at the Pursuit 2740. Now there is a well-executed design.

Otherwise, I like the console and helm layout. The leaning post/seat/wheel/controls placement is fine. Notice the unusual way in which the engine controls are mounted on an aftward angled column that extends beyond the wheel. Ergonomically, this seems an ideal set up. Then there is an instrument panel laid out like you'd expect a panel to be. No ridiculous under-the-helm switches either; what you need you can easily see and reach.

Another nice feature is the grab rail at the front of the console, something not found on many boats. The stainless hand rail around the helm seat perimeter is another great feature. Pneumatic cylinders on the forward seat lockers would be cause for additional kudos but for the fact these are made of STEEL.

You ever get the sense that designers never use the products they design? Otherwise how can you account for the fact that in both cars and boats, there is never any place to set things down. Wallets, sunglasses, car keys, stuff like that. There's almost always a large area on top of the center console that gets totally wasted because it is rounded, humped, bumped and otherwise stylized just like the dashboard of your car so that it's not possible to ever set anything down without it ending up on the floor. Same here, the console top is rounded; the one spot where you are naturally inclined to set things down, will instantly dump them on the deck.

Boston Whaler Outrage 26 - Bow seating

Lots of seating in the bow makes this more of a party boat than fisherman.

For a twenty six footer, I felt the boat was cramped. The console is a bit too large, making for small passage ways around the sides. Unlike similar boats, the Rage 26 has an 8'6" beam, which is what cramps it up. Here we've got a 26' open boat and it seems small. The mistake here is in attempting to give you a sport fishing boat AND a Gran Tourissimo with all that seating up in the bow. The result is cramped up boat for any purpose. But, walk-in consoles are the rage, so you got that; but as a fisherman, it's definitely thumbs down. There's just no way I could tolerate that tiny aft deck area. It'd be like trying to fish from a cocktail cruiser.

It doesn't help that with the integral extended platform, the faux transom is a bit too far forward. The platform area is huge, but the designers foiled usability of this area by putting a very large motor well here. What for? A large well is not needed, only a well large enough to accommodate the motor mount brackets, which amounts to a 4" slot. So what could have been a nice swim platform is contoured like a punji pit and draped with cables and hoses.

Boston Whaler Outrage 26 - below deck

This is how systems are installed below the deck. Helter-skelter plumbing and wiring makes for poor reliability and difficult service.

As I said, it's doubtful that designers ever use the products they design, else how to explain this thoughtlessness. Indeed, one has to wonder if some of those people EVER spent anytime on a boat. And yes, I do get tired of writing the same old gripes over and over, but that's because these builders keep doing the same dumb things. Apparently they go to boat shows and copy the mistakes of all the other guys. Sheesh, how about some originality folks.

The worst thing about this design is that you've got all your electrics back there, batteries, cables, pumps, oil injection system and whatnot, but the design is utterly devoid of any consideration for access maintenance or ever adding any kind of new equipment. You can get at the batteries okay, but these two are under a hatch (non latching) on the platform deck. Yeah, right where waves will crash over when you stop the boat at sea. Needless to say, we've got corrosion problems because of all the leaks.

On most boats, you will get good access from the forward face of the faux transom. Not here, because they put in a folding seat exactly where the access doors should be. Oh, there is one access door on the port side, but when you open it, what you see is the bait well. It's like opening a door and finding a large oil drum inside, rendering that cabinet useless. They shouldn't even have bothered to put a door there and save a few dollars.

Next, I'm going to go into my usual litany about non water tight outboard motor wells. This one has one, a big well with a large plastic hatch at the bottom PLUS cable holes in the side below the level of the transom. Out at sea, with the boat at rest, need I say that waves slosh over this entire platform area? Need I point out that water just pours into the hull from all these openings? And the single little Rule 1000 bilge pump is supposed to take it out faster than it comes in? But remember folks, this boat is unsinkable, so you really don't need any pumps at all, right?

Well, now you know why I said earlier that it was a good thing the hull is filled with all that foam; this boat may have a dire need for it!

And as if this weren't enough, guess where they put the engine oil filler caps? Yep, right down there on the platform. Fail to screw the caps down tightly and you now got water in your oil tanks  (See next photo below).

The thing about so many of these over-priced center consoles is that a lot of people are paying big bucks for some really poor designs. When you look at enough of these boats, it becomes apparent that there are some designers who know what they're doing, and others that don't.

The cockpit deck is flush with no step-ups. The bow area has large, molded in seats on each side with storage beneath. Thing about these seats is, they're fine for slow speed touring, but no one could tolerate sitting up there at higher speeds when the bow is pitching. It's like a bucking bronco ride up there. Moreover, the seats take up all the deck space so it's rather cramped. Over all, I thought the overall layout was ill-conceived; the designers take a 26' foot hull and make it every bit as cramped as a twenty footer. Sure, you got everything you could want in a boat, but you have to trip and stumble over it all, too.

Then there's a pulpit with an aluminum bow rail that is ill-supported at the pulpit.  This one was bent downward already.

Though the hull is vee bottomed, the vee is flattened off on the apex, yielding about a 12" wide flat at the stern. For our sea trail we had a strong breeze just coming up out of the north on a previously flat sea that raised an 18" chop, but no swells. I hate to say it, but the ride of this boat is one of the worst I've experienced of its type. I couldn't figure how a twenty six footer could be slamming on an 18" chop, but it was. And the boat is as noisy as a percussion band. None of the hatch covers or cabinet doors have any rubber moldings under them so that they banged and rattled something awful.

Boston Whaler Outrage 26 - Motor well

The large leaky hatch at bottom of motor well, plus the oil fillers located within the well are just begging for trouble. Batteries are in hatch at top far right.

Nor could I get this boat trimmed out level transversely; it had a pronounced list to starboard that even full extension of the starboard trim tab alone couldn't eliminate. So, we went banging along leaning to the right, and that makes steering a chore.

This boat doesn't need trim tabs; extending them only over-trims it, this with a full tank of fuel. Therefore, I think I'd have to say that the balance of this boat is not quite right with a bit too much weight forward. In fairness, a lot of these boats today are leaners, but that doesn't make it right. The last two CC's I owned did not list despite much deeper vees.

Boston Whaler, as you probably know, turns out a large line of boats. And like a lot of companies that do so, it looks like not enough time was spent perfecting this design. There may be more good things to say about this boat, but the problem is that the negatives overwhelm the positives. I can only write so much, and people will only read so much, so what you get is mostly negative.

When I compare this to some of the competition, it just doesn't stack up against the likes of Pursuit, Contender, Intrepid, Regulator, Jupiter, yet alone even Edgewater or Triton. It's about on par with the Century 300 (a 27' boat) we checked out recently, and priced similarly on the used market. Even the much maligned Century, a price boat if ever there was one, was more intelligently designed than this. I had expected a lot better from this much heralded name. Contrary to its model name, I wasn't outraged by the pedestrianism of this boat, just slightly bemused at how many boat builders think they can migrate between established market niches with ease and still be successful.

Amongst the discriminating, it doesn't work that way.

Posted March 3, 2002

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