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Boston Whaler 280 Dauntless (2023-)

1 x 400-hp Mercury Verado | 2 x 300-hp Mercury Verado



Brief Summary

The all-new 280 Dauntless continues Boston Whaler’s successful lineup of inshore fishing and family dayboats. This model replaces the 270 Dauntless. She’s much more than a basic upgrade of new colors and additional rod holders.

Test Results

RPM MPH Knots GPH MPG NMPG STAT. MILE NM dBa
600 2.4 4.8 0.6 9.2 8 1320 1147.8 55.5
1000 4.8 4.1 1.2 4.1 3.6 595 517.2 60.7
1500 6.5 5.7 1.7 3.8 3.3 551 478.8 64.8
2000 8.1 7 2.6 3.1 2.7 449 390.1 71.1
2500 9.1 7.9 4.4 2.1 1.8 300 260.5 74.6
3000 10.8 9.4 6.9 1.6 1.4 225 196 79.5
3500 14.7 12.8 9.3 1.6 1.4 228 197.9 82.8
4000 21.2 18.4 10.7 2 1.7 285 247.5 84.1
4500 27 23.5 12.8 2.1 1.8 304 264.1 81.3
5000 33.5 29.1 15.4 2.2 1.9 313 272 83.3
5500 38.4 33.3 19.4 2 1.7 285 248.2 85.9
6000 42.2 36.7 24.1 1.8 1.5 252 219.5 89.1
6500 47.4 41.2 38.3 1.2 1.1 178 155 84.4
Boston Whaler Dauntless

Specifications

Length Overall 27'9" / 8.46 m (on centerline)
28'8" / 8.74 m (including swim platform)
Beam 9'
2.74 m
Dry Weight 5,495 lbs.
2,492 kg
Tested Weight 7,296 lbs.
3,309.41 kg
Draft 18"
0.46 m
Deadrise/Transom 18º
Bridge Clearance 8'4" / 2.54 m
6'7" / 2 m (w/hardtop delete)
Weight Capacity 3,736 lbs.
1,694 kg
Person Capacity 12
Fuel Capacity 160 gallons
606 L
Water Capacity 18 gallons
68 L
Total Weight 7,296 lbs.
3,309.41 kg

Acceleration Times & Conditions

Time to Plane 4.3 seconds
0 to 30 12.2 seconds
Props 15x15
Load 3 persons; 100% fuel; 100% water; 50 lbs. gear
Climate 78 deg.; 68 humid.; winds: 10-15; seas <1

Engine Options

Tested Engine 1 x 400-hp Mercury Verado | 2 x 300-hp Mercury Verado

Captain's Report

Boston Whaler 280 Dauntless

Boston Whaler 280 Dauntless, new boston Whaler

The all-new Boston Whaler 280 Dauntless has a sleek and sporty look.

Mission

The 280 Dauntless was designed to be more than an inshore fishing boat that can do coastal and offshore work on good days. What sets her apart are her family features that are actual innovations providing comfort that we rarely see in this size and type of boat. She is intended to be used for all kinds of watersports, not just fishing.

This is truly a remarkable boat in many ways, including the fact that she can be powered by a high-horsepower single outboard engine or twins. She has a long list of options, which allows an owner to literally “build” anything from a basic boat to one loaded with amenities and, of course, be much more expensive in the process.

280 Dauntless plan, new Boston Whaler

Whaler engineers focused on opening up the cockpit with as much beam as possible.

Major Features

  • Convertible helm seat with electric actuation. This is among the cleverest features we’ve seen and it adds significantly to the boat’s comfort and family-friendly attributes. 
  • Optional windshield treatments — Full glass windshield with vent and windshield wiper, or half windshield made or plexiglass, which is of course less expensive.
  • Optional Deluxe leaning post with gyroscopic stabilizer. This saves the gyro installation from being below decks.  Here it’s in a serviceable position.
  • Coffin box/Console lounge area. This is a feature that is typically reserved for larger boats.
  • Large port-side swim patio with robust fittings and auto engine shut off when deployed at rest, and alarm if deployed underway.
  • Available with single or twin outboards, both of which give the boat good performance.
  • This is one of the few center consoles on the market that can have good performance with either single or twin outboards.
  • Standard fiberglass hardtop with tow point, rod holders and floodlights
  • Digital electrical circuit switching
  • 16 different power combinations

Design

Boston Whaler made its mark on the industry by being the “Unsinkable Legend.” Who can forget the image of the Whaler cut into two pieces — one of the halves carrying a passenger and an outboard mounted to the transom. They rarely talk about it, but only two other boat lines can say they do the same.

What Whaler has, which is abundantly obvious from the 280 Dauntless, is one of the best engineering departments in the business. One only needs to compare the specs of the old 270 Dauntless with the new boat to see the tremendous strides Whaler has made in improving a product. The 280 is simply much more boat than the old 270.

Comparison

It’d be a shame to compare this boat to other center consoles on the market because she brings much more versatility and luxury to the design when seen next to others in class. She has a bit less fuel capacity than competitors, but remember this boat isn’t intended to do a lot of offshore work.

With this new 280 Dauntless, the model has grown from 27’10” (8.48 m) to 28’8” (8.74 m) while keeping the beam the same at 9’ (2.74 m). Draft has gone from the 270’s 17” (43.18 cm) to the 280’s 18” (45.72 cm). Dry weight has increased from 4,800 lbs. (2,177 kg) to 5,495 lbs. (2,492 kg). 

These increases in size pale in comparison to the new features that the 280 offers. 

Performance

This is the performance data when we tested the 280 Dauntless with twin 300-hp Mercury outboards.

This is the performance data when we tested the 280 Dauntless with twin 300-hp Mercury outboards.

This is the performance data when we tested the 280 Dauntless with twin 300-hp Mercury outboards.

This is the performance data when we tested the 280 Dauntless with twin 300-hp Mercury outboards.

The 280 Dauntless is offered in single- and twin-engine packages.  Both have impressive sales requests, so we tested it both ways. First with a single 400-hp Merc and then with twin 300’s with JPO (Joystick Piloting for Outboards).  Here’s what we found…

With the single 400 turning a 15” x 15” (38.1 cm x 38.1 cm) prop and run up to 6500 rpm, our speed topped out at 47.4 mph. Best cruise was reached at 5000 rpm and 33.5 mph.  At that speed, the 15.4 gph worked out to be 2.2 mpg and a range of 313 statute miles.

In acceleration testing, she came up on plane in an average 4.3 seconds, cruised through 20 mph in 7.6 and 30 in 12.2.

With the twin 300s and 16” x 20” (40.64 cm x 50.8 cm) props, the speed topped out at 58.5 mph. Best cruise was recorded at 3500 rpm and 33.8 mph. Now the 15.8 gph fuel burn meant 2.1 mpg and 308 miles total. As for acceleration, the twins are quicker off the line with planing speed coming in at 3.4 seconds, 20 mph in 4.4 and 30 mph in 6.4. 

Both results take into account holding back a 10% reserve of the boat’s 160-gal (605.6L) total fuel capacity. 

So, the key performance differences between the two engine configurations are top speed – over 10 mph faster with the twins, and best cruise at 3500 RPM with the Twins rather than 5000 RPM with the single.

Boston Whaler 280 Dauntless running

With twin 300-hp Mercs, our speed topped out at 58.5 mph. 

Handling

This is an exciting boat to drive. She’s responsive to the helm with only a quarter turn, maybe half turn, that gets you established with a roughly five-degree bank into the turn. She doesn't feel like she's glued to the water but you can feel the stern kick around to get that turn initiated. There are four turns, lock to lock, so two is half and I’m saying that you're not even going to need that. You can use auto trim or I like to do it manually so I brought it up to speed and clicked the up-trim to 10-12 on the gauge. That brought the spray from midships to the stern quarter and into her optimum running angle. 

Boat Inspection 

Aft Deck

There’s plenty of room to move about in the aft deck and it comes with a safety factor of 23” (58.42 cm) high bulwarks. There’s a standard deluxe helm seat that includes storage drawers underneath the aft-facing side. There are armrests and dual flip bolsters to both sides.

The cleverest feature is that this one is electrically actuated to convert from forward-facing to aft-facing. Then the flip bolsters become headrests. In the aft-facing position, there’s still a double-wide cushion for the operator to sit on if there’s a desire to operate the boat. This is among the most unique applications for a helm seat that we’ve seen and it’s a prime example of Whaler’s creativity. Again… this is standard.

Boston Whaler 280 Dauntless helm seat

The helm seat easily transitions from forward-facing to aft-facing at the touch of a button.  Notice in the aft-facing position, there’s still a seat for the operator to sit on. 

280 Dauntless reat seat

With the bench seat deployed, the backrest is one of the tallest we've seen in class.  To port is a 19-gallon (71.92 L) livewell. 

280 Dauntless rear seat

The double-duty helm seat provides a comfortable place to watch the baits.

Boston Whaler 280 Dauntless aft deck

With the aft seat stowed, there’s a sizable aft casting deck. 

Helm Seat Options

On our test boat, we had an optional leaning post that included an insulated basin, a sink, beverage holders, rod holders, a grab handle and storage to the sides.  The insulated basin can be swapped out for a 30-gallon (113 L) livewell and there’s an option for a Seakeeper 1 gyro stabilizer. This is the 12v model and its relatively small size allows for on-deck mounting for added convenience should maintenance be in order. 

Whether the 280 is ordered with the standard seat or the optional leaning post, we can still add a cockpit pedestal table. When we add the 42” (106.68 cm) wide flip-up aft bench seating, the cockpit versatility increases yet again.  A 19-gallon (71.92 L) livewell next to the aft bench and an optional power pole adds to the ever-present fishing features.  With the aft bench seat stowed, a 30” x 74” (76.2 cm x 187.96 cm) casting deck is created.  Three flush-mounted rod holders are along the trailing edge. 

Boston Whaler 280 Dauntless leaning post

The leaning post includes a sink and insulated basin that can be swapped out for a livewell.  Notice the beverage holders and the separate rod holders. 

Wait… there’s more.

Underneath the aft seat, there’s storage that includes a dedicated place for the reboarding ladder. There's a bi-fold floor panel that allows access to the bilge area, which naturally includes the bilge pump, livewell pumps, four batteries and seacocks.

Boston Whaler 280 Dauntless mechanical compartment

Boston Whaler continues the thoughtful touch of adding a mechanical compartment to the stern of the 280 Dauntless. 

Swim Patio

There’s still more versatility to be had in the cockpit. On the port side, there’s a manually extended 44” x 24” (111.76 cm x 60.96 cm) swim patio. Simply release a catch, pull a pin, push the patio out and step onto it to fully extend it. Once deployed, the previously mentioned pin is reinserted to hold the patio in the down position. At the trailing edge, there’s a mount for the reboarding ladder that stores alongside under the aft seat. Boston Whaler calls this “point-of-use storage” where things are stored right near where they’re used.

280 Dauntless swim patio, new swim patio

The new side patio enhances the 280 Dauntless' utility.

Even though there’s a swim patio, the 280 Dauntless still has aft swim platforms with a reboarding ladder to starboard — so she still meets regulations that require the ability to deploy a means of reboarding from the water.  From inside it’s accessed from a 14” (35.56 cm) wide walkthrough and up an 11” (27.94 cm) step. 

280 Dauntless swim patio closed, hullside door

When closed, the swim patio integrates cleanly into the bulwarks.

280 Dauntless side patio, new Whaler 280 Dauntless

Robust, gas-assist struts keep the platform rock-solid when deployed.

Without the pin, or when the pin is removed, gas struts bring the patio partway up so that it’s easy to reach out and pull it home. An important note is that a kill switch is embedded into the patio so that when it’s extended, the engine(s) are shut down. 

Boston Whaler 280 Dauntless

6’11” (2.11m) above it all is a standard hardtop… yes standard.  It includes speakers, LED lights, integrated handholds, tow point and rod holders.  For options, there’s an E-box and a SureShade extendable awning.  It’s the PTX version that allows for storing in a zippable boot and then deploys at the touch of a button.   Above it’s reinforced for Taco Grand Slam outriggers. 

Side Decks

Because Boston Whaler designed the 280 with a 9’ (2.74m) beam, there’s still 22” (55.88 cm) in width to both side decks. At the top of the bulwarks, there’s a recessed grab rail but there’s an option for getting higher rails that will have a split in the midship area for side boarding. For that reason, we’d like to see a grab rail on the hardtop to ease the boarding and disembarking process. 

Bow Lounge

Bow features start with the massive 41” x 46” (104.14 cm x 116.84 cm) lounge ahead of the console. It includes flip armrests to the outboard sides in addition to beverage holders. 

However, the real appeal is the garage-like storage underneath. Release a latch from the front and the lounge hatch opens on gas support struts to reveal cavernous storage, including more “point of use” storage… this time for the cockpit table and pedestal that stores on the underside of the hatch.

280 Dauntless console lounge, dog on a boat

A large lounge forward of the console is unusual for a boat this size and has lots of functionality.

Boston Whaler 280 Dauntless bow storage

There’s huge storage at the bow in this garage-style compartment under the forward lounge.

As with the aft bench storage, this one also has a removable deck hatch that leads to a battery that will be for the optional Seakeeper gyro stabilizer and the 36-lb. (16.33 kg) thrust trolling motor. There’s also a large, zippered duffel bag that secures into position in this compartment for items that may be desired to transport to and from the boat.  It’s also convenient for keeping several small items that would otherwise be lost in the nether regions of this large space. All this is in addition to storage for up to 7’ (2.13 m) rods.    

Additional Bow Seats

Fully forward there are dual 46” (116.84 cm) long lounge seats, one to either side. That measurement doesn’t include the backrests that lift manually into position. There’s a rail running the length of each lounge recessed into the top of the bulwarks and below the top of the caprails. Beverage holders are integrated into those rails. The optional bow table that stores under the lounge just behind has another pedestal to lower it, add a filler cushion and convert the whole bow into a large sunpad. 

Remove all the cushions and it’s a casting deck. Again, storage is the operative word as it’s under each of the seats and in the deck. The under-seat storage is all self-draining. The in-deck storage has a diaphragm pump as well as a plug to let it drain on a trailer or lift. It also runs quite far forward so there’s plenty of room for a nice-sized Dorado. 

Boston Whaler 280 Dauntless Bow

There’s plenty of room to gather at the bow of the 280 Dauntless.

Boston Whaler 280 Dauntelsss bow storage

There’s storage under the forward seats as well as in the deck. 

Boston Whaler 280 Dauntless, new boston Whaler

Freeboard at the bow is 37” (93.98 cm), 24” (60.96 cm) at the stern. 

Ground Tackle

As if there weren’t enough thoughtful features on this 280 Dauntless, Boston Whaler went further with the ground tackle compartment. Firstly, the company eliminated the seat that goes across the bow so now we can stand right up against the raised platform that comes up 23” (58.42 cm) and easily work the equipment. The hatch is held open with a gas strut.  And where most builders give a choice of a windlass or a bow reboarding ladder… Whaler managed to install both.

Additionally, there’s an 8” (20.32 cm) cleat for taking the load off the windlass, a remote at the bow as well as a control at the helm and a bow washdown to clean the gear off as it comes aboard. Because this is all on a raised platform, there’s a good drop to the rode to remove the worries about the rode getting tangled as it piles up.

Boston Whaler 280 Dauntless

Boston Whaler managed to combine the ground tackle along with the beach reboarding ladder in the forward compartment. 

Bow Boarding. With the forward hatch closed, there’s a non-skid deck for bow-in boarding. A grab handle eases reboarding from the bow ladder. There are two more rod holders to supplement the ones around the boat. These rod holders will also hold stanchions that will support a bow sunshade. 

Inside the Console

The console is accessed from a door to the starboard side and because the entry is trapezoidal, there’s a touch more shoulder room at 20” (50.8 cm). A grab handle over the door makes for a more comfortable entry. Inside there’s an overhead clearance of 5’2” (1.58 m), which leaves 4’3” (1.3 m) of sitting headroom on the standard Porta-Potti.

The head includes a pumpout connection or the optional Vacu-Flush toilet that gets plumbed to a 6.5-gallon (24.61 L) holding tank, again with a dockside pump out.  At the aft bulkhead, there’s an access panel to ease installations at the helm panel. 

Boston Whaler 2080 Dauntless head

The head on our test boat included the optional Vacu-Flush toilet.  The battery charger is for the batteries under the forward lounge that powers the SeaKeeper. 

Helm

The standard version of the 280 Dauntless has a gel dash with a 12” (30.48 cm) Simrad display, a half windshield, a single engine control and beverage holders to the starboard side. Options include an acrylic panel, two 12” (30.48 cm) displays or a 16” (40.64 cm) MFD, full glass windshield, an electrically actuated front vent and a windshield wiper with a wash system. 

There’ll also be a twin-engine control setup and one of the two beverage holders can be swapped out for a joystick with a twin-engine installation. On top of the console, there’s a padded surface with an inductive phone charger. 

Boston Whaler 280 Dauntless helm, center console helm

Here we see the upgrade helm with dual displays and joystick piloting.

Electronic switching is offered through a C-Zone system wired into the multi-function display. There are still mechanical switches for important items such as bilge pumps, nav lights, horn… etc.  There will also be a physical volume knob with the premium sound system. 

Engine Packages

If equipping with a single engine, there’s a base 400-horsepower Mercury Verado. Twin engine operations will be two 250 or 300-hp. From 250 up you can get JPO (Joystick Piloting for Outboards) and all are available in black and white. Put all those iterations together and it makes 16 different choices.

Boston Whaler 280 Dauntless

Even with twin engines, there’s still a roomy stern for moving about and using the dual swim platforms. 

New Boston Whaler 280 Dauntless, center console

The largest single-engine available is a 400-hp Mercury Verado 

Construction  

Whalers are constructed from separate hull and deck molds. After the two are joined, the voids between the two are injected with adhesive foam that becomes solid as it cures. This creates a Unibond hull construction with no creaking or flexing. 

The difference can be felt when running through a rough seaway. The impact of hitting a wave is transferred to the entire boat and that cushions it to the point where the ride becomes more comfortable and safer. Fit and finish is taken to the next level as we would expect in a premium brand. 

Boston Whaler 280 Dauntless running, boat running in waves

Thanks to her rugged construction, the 280 Dauntless can take on waves with ease.

Optional Equipment 

  • Several engine/power packages including single and twin engine installations
  • Anchor windlass
  • Battery charging system
  • Beach boarding ladder (concealed)
  • Bow table with dedicated storage under console lounge
  • Cockpit table with dedicated storage under the aft bench seat
  • Bow Tow eye
  • Cockpit refrigerator (must select Deluxe Leaning Post with Storage or Deluxe Leaning Post with Livewell)
  • Glovebox (Not compatible with Deluxe Helm Electronics Package 16” display)
  • Foldable dive tank holders (4) Interferes with use of garage storage organizer when in use (Not compatible with Trolling Motor, Trolling Motor Pre-rig, or Gyro Stabilizer)
  • Forward casting platform (with dedicated storage) (Must select Bow Table)
  • Radial outriggers (hardtop mounted) (not compatible with Electric Cockpit sunshade, or Hardtop delete)
  • Raw-water washdown
  • Satellite radio
  • Seating: Bow cushion (filler) (requires forward casting platform)
  • Split bow rail – Includes high aft rails and deletes low profile bow rail. (High aft rails not compatible with swim
  • Patio. When selected together boat will retain low starboard aft rail and no port aft rail in patio location) (not compatible with Trolling Motor Panel or Trolling Motor with Charger)
  • Electric Cockpit Sunshade (deletes hardtop frame rod holders) (not compatible with radial outriggers, or Hardtop delete)
  • Stainless Steel anchor (must select Anchor windlass)
  • Sunshade at bow (Not compatible with Hardtop Delete)
  • Swim Patio
  • Underwater LED lights (2)
  • White rubrail
  • White rubrail with stainless steel insert
  • Black rubrail with stainless steel insert
  • Vacu-Flush toilet, holding tank, overboard discharge, and dockside pump-out – 6.5-gallon (24.61L) capacity

Price

Pricing for the 280 Dauntless has not been publicly available yet. We know that Whaler is not bashful about charging premium prices and it gets them. More Boston Whalers are sold than any other premium and less-expensive center console brand.

Observations 

The new 280 Dauntless is a worthy successor to the 270 and one that is sure to experience the same popularity and success... if not more. Virtually all center-console builders these days say their boats are “family-friendly” — which generally means they’ve put a seatback on the forward lounges. But the 280 is family-friendly in much more than name only.

The 280 has the remarkable double-purpose helm seat that when facing aft makes for a perfect place to sit and talk to friends in the transom seat, watch the kids when swimming or the baits when fishing. The transom seat has an extraordinarily high backrest — done because the casting platform was so long fore and aft. However, that high back makes the seat extra safe and far preferable to the low seat backs we see on most jump seats. The forward coffin box lounge seat is something we normally don’t see on this size boat.

In the head compartment, there is more than 4’ (1.22 m) of seated headroom, something unusual on most any 28’ (8.53 m) boat and one that family users will appreciate.

Having said all of this, it must be remembered that this is primarily an inshore boat. And, one with a cockpit depth forward of 23” (58 cm) and not more than that aft. Rails are an option on this vessel, and we would highly recommend them.

Many center-console builders load their boat up with an abundance of equipment that buyers must pay for whether they want it or not. This is justified because they “know their customer.” Since most of the boats go out loaded to the gills, they just make most amenities standard and everyone has to pay for them. This also makes boat building easier and cheaper, but the price is naturally high.

Whaler has taken a different approach: Offer a good base boat, with basic amenities, but let the consumer match the options to his/her use and purse.  Perhaps that is why Whaler is the largest selling brand in class.


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