- You expect a Boston Whaler to work well, feel robust and drive obediently – and the new 270 Dauntless does exactly that.
- For those who favour substance over bravado, this is an indisputably capable, versatile and reliable family companion.
- When you get underway it offers precisely the combination of pace and composure you would expect.
Boston Whaler 270 Dauntless
Alex Smith investigates the flagship of Boston Whaler’s Dauntless line.
As the flag-bearer for Boston Whaler in its best ‘do-it-all’ leisure guise, the Dauntless line is required to perform one of the most difficult jobs in the entire fleet. It needs to combine the marque’s traditional tough-guy fishing qualities with the versatile assets of a recreational family cruiser. It needs to offer the space and performance of a water sports platform, alongside the kind of seakeeping that will cope with lively sea states for prolonged periods. And it needs to achieve all of that alongside the same class-leading build quality and user-friendly driving dynamics that have won the brand such a loyal following. As the new flagship of the Dauntless line, the 270 has to satisfy some very big expectations.
Elements of Cleverness
In tandem with the rest of the Dauntless range, Boston Whaler’s starting point in their quest for family versatility is a beamy, open platform with a high-capacity walk-around configuration. At the heart of that layout, orbited by broad decks on all sides, the central two-man helm station is a very substantial piece of equipment. Its wide, thickset helm seats come with dual flip-up bolsters, plus space underneath for a large cool box, which is lashed securely to the deck. There’s also a shelf along the back of the seat unit for extra rod holders, plus a useful grab rail for those who like to stand in the cockpit when hurrying through a lumpy sea.
Up at the helm, you get the reassuring knowledge that there’s a pump-out toilet nestling inside the console – and you also get a remarkably flat and expansive dash, with plenty of room for a 12″ chartplotter. Further forward, the console-front storage bay is deep, drained and vented, with a pair of big rams to assist in the lifting of that long, cushioned lid. It is easily large enough for the stowage of lines, fenders, table fittings and rods, alongside all the baggage required for a day out – and it even comes with a pair of flip-up armrests so two people can lounge side by side.
Ahead of the console, the beamy, squared-off bow helps get the best from the available space courtesy of some usefully angular furniture. When you perch on one of the seats in this geometrically arranged section, the elevated guard rails fall pretty much at shoulder height, making the entire area feel remarkably secure as well as spacious. And to improve matters further, the aft sections of the lateral seats can also be raised to create forward-facing sunloungers, with just enough length for two people to recline. In tandem with the console-front sun pad, that means space ahead of the helm for no fewer than four people to stretch out and put their feet up while facing the bow – an achievement very few boats at this length can match.
Practicalities are well catered for too, with a step-through forepeak broken into two progressive tiers. On the lower level, there’s a large ram-assisted storage space with rubber lining and drain hole; and up top, you get a dedicated anchor locker that can be upgraded (for around £2,600) with a windlass and ‘through-hull’ anchor. When you remove the cushions, the robust, non-skid, clutter-free lids used on all these seating sections create a handy forward casting platform; and when you take advantage of the optional table and rig the area as a five-man dining space, the vertical brace for the table stanchion keeps the deck clear and enables everyone to sit down without clattering their shins.
Back aft, despite a similar degree of aesthetic simplicity, things are just as versatile. In place of a fixed transom bench, the 270 uses a three-man unit that can be folded into its own housing, creating an additional casting platform that runs almost the full beam of the boat. The bench is offset to port in order to maintain a proper transom walkway to starboard, but there’s still plenty of storage inside the base – and, like every other hatch on the boat, the bench lids can be manipulated smoothly and efficiently, without having to remove any of the cushions. That might sound like a small detail but it’s a difficult thing to achieve from a design perspective, and in terms of long-term ownership it is likely to prove a very popular asset.
The 270 is equipped with Boston Whaler’s ‘Accutrack’ hull system, which has been seen in various forms for a great many years. It incorporates an 18-degree deadrise allied to long, pronounced spray rails for improved efficiency and grip. It also features a moderately acute point of entry below exaggerated flares for a softer ride and improved dryness. In short, it looks very much like a rapid sea fishing hull, and when you get underway it offers precisely the combination of pace and composure you would expect.
It tracks straight, even at low speeds, which is very useful for keen fishermen; it corners with generous heel, good grip and plenty of pace and precision; and it’s remarkably easy to tweak the tabs and leg in order to orchestrate a flat and comfy transit in all but the most absurd conditions. At around five seconds, the time to plane is perfectly serviceable for a heavyweight boat like this, and with the extra waterline length, there’s no doubt that the 270 is an altogether better and more versatile driving machine than the smaller and considerably less composed Boston Whaler 240 Dauntless.
However, a purchase price of around £100,000 for the test boat and a transom graced with Mercury’s supercharged Verado 350 mean that this flagship craft is no great friend to economy. In fact, with a notable drop-off in efficiency above 5000rpm, the 44-knot top end is a place very few family owners would be keen to go. Around 35 knots is a much more cheerful and sustainable pace, and while a boat of this scale, this build and this handling composure feels remarkably sedate at speeds of that order, the range figures make a compelling case. With a pro-spec 575-litre fuel capacity, a mid-range cruise of between 20 and 30 knots will bring you a cruising range in excess of 330nm – and that’s with a 10% safety margin still sitting in the tank.
Of course, given that this boat can be specced with the smaller 300hp unit or with twin outboards of up to 450hp, you could certainly play with the engine options in a bid to tweak the performance, the costs and the fuel curve – but the gains are by no means clear-cut. For instance, if you popped a pair of 225s on the transom, you would see a top end of around 47 knots, plus extra grip and the additional security of a second engine; but with a higher purchase price, inflated running costs and a significantly reduced cruising range on a boat where all three features are likely to be central to the decision-making process, it’s a tough one to justify. And given that (according to Boston Whaler’s own figures) the 300hp option would sacrifice around 6 knots in outright pace and as much as 40% in pickup, without substantially improving economy or range, the single 300 is arguably no better for a big, soft-riding boat that weighs in at more than 2 metric tonnes. However you cut it, the Verado 350 looks like the most rewarding compromise available.
You expect a Boston Whaler to work well, feel robust and drive obediently – and the new 270 Dauntless does exactly that. It’s quite heavy, of course, and quite expensive too – and like the 270 Vantage we tested three years ago, its combination of a broad-beaked bow shape and meek cream colours is unlikely to set the world alight. But while the style and fit-out of this walk-around platform appear modest, the 270’s fusion of hard-working design and heavyweight construction put it firmly at the upper end of the market. For those who favour substance over bravado, this is an indisputably capable, versatile and reliable family companion.
- RPM Speed (kn) Fuel flow (Lph) Range (nm)
- 1000 4.6 4.5 529.0
- 1500 6.6 6.8 502.3
- 2000 7.9 11.0 393.2
- 2500 10.2 16.7 316.1
- 3000 (plane) 12.9 21.2 314.9
- 3500 18.4 28.8 330.6
- 4000 (cruise) 25.5 39.0 338.4
- 4500 31.4 52.2 329.3
- 5000 34.9 66.6 271.2
- 5500 39.3 87.1 233.5
- 6000 42.8 114.7 193.1
- 6400 (WOT) 44.3 115.5 198.5
- Heavyweight build
- Generous storage
- Versatile seating
- Big cruising range
- Good to drive
- Expensive to buy and run
- Uninteresting to look at
- Length overall: 8.33m
- Beam overall: 2.74m
- Dry weight: 2177kg
- Deadrise: 18 degrees
- Fuel capacity: 575 litres
- Water capacity: 68 litres
- People capacity: 12
- Max. power: 450hp
- Engine: Mercury Verado 350
- Base price (Verado 300): From £91,330
Dorset Yacht Company