Contents of Report
It’s remarkably easy to be impressed with the 320 Vantage. Very rarely do we see a boat, so well built that also does so much so well. Thanks to the in-house design team headed by Design Manager, Charlie Foss, she’s a premium example of how well Boston Whaler designs a boat, but more to the point, she’s also a representative example of how well the company engineers a boat. Let’s look at some examples.
Engineered for Function
Boston Whaler gets it and its design solutions can only be described as elegant.
Take a Look Under the Hatch at the Foredeck. This is a space where we’ve seen how some companies offer either a bow reboarding ladder, or an anchor locker. Some offer both, but few do as good a job of it as we see on the 320 Vantage. Whaler managed to accomplish it along with adding a windlass, a remote control, a washdown, a cleat to secure the rode and the easiest safety latching method we’ve seen. All under a large hatch that is back-gelled for good looks both inside and out.
The hull side dive door is a unique feature in class, and certainly a welcome one. But it takes more than just cutting out a square in the bulwarks, adding a set of hinges and calling it a day. Serious consideration has to go into maintaining the hull strength and integrity. More to the point though, is making it work well. We’ve seen dive doors that require strongman competitors to work the hardware and get the things to open and close. Here, a massive and beefy stainless latch has a thumb release to allow turning to release the door.
And the hinges are a work of art. They support the door along with allowing it to swing in so that the sheer width of the door clears the bulwarks. A stainless steel baseplate serves as a mounting point for a reboarding ladder that is strong enough to support a person wearing full dive gear.
But there’s one last thing that makes this door so elegant. It doesn’t swing out and into the water. It swings in so that it can also serve as a more comfortable, and certainly classier, entry to the premium level cockpit.
Now Let’s Move on to the Convertible Seats. First, how not to do it. When it comes to having something as simple as a seatback be movable, it seems like some builders liken the method to rocket science. From the complicated “lift to release” style that often takes two people to accomplish, to the “pull-pin” method that almost takes a pair of pliers to manipulate.
Boston Whaler’s method is to have a grab handle to the side of the seatback with a “trigger” inside that gets a simple squeeze. This pulls a wire through a cable connected to a release mechanism at the base of the seatback allowing it to slide through the arc of the mounting hardware. Release the trigger and the mechanism drops into catches to hold its position. It’s easy.
The standard hardtop has been given a redesign and now the supports seamlessly blend into the windshield frames. To the aft end, optional rod holders can be mounted to the sides. Above, Boston Whaler added LED courtesy lights, speakers, a two color map light, spreader lights fore and aft, an elevated tow point, an optional SureSHADE retractable awning, grab handles and two optional opening hatches that are hinged at the rear to draw air into the cockpit deck.
• Dual Consoles. As surprising as it may seem, the Vantage Series are the first dual console models in the Boston Whaler fleet. What distinguishes them from other dual console boats on the market is that the port companion seat is doublewide thanks to the offset walkthrough to the bow. This also makes the port console larger than the starboard console.
• Multi-purpose Design Layout. There's been a trend lately of marketing departments calling boats multi-purpose simply because they have a head or trolling motor. This 320 Vantage has been designed from the keel up to serve as a multi-purpose platform and as such is better suited to the task, whatever it may be.
• Option Packages Catering to the Activity. Regardless of what activity is chosen for the 320 Vantage, an options package allows it to be better accomplished. Additional fishing features can be added, entertaining features or watersports features.
• Built to Last a Lifetime. While it's easy to say that something can be "built to last a lifetime" or "destined to be a classic", the simple fact is that Boston Whaler boats have a long history of exhibiting lasting power. Just take a look at any marina and those Boston Whaler boats from the ‘70s are still around.
- Top speed for the Boston Whaler 320 Vantage (2015-) is 49.1 mph (79 kph), burning 60.25 gallons per hour (gph) or 228.05 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Boston Whaler 320 Vantage (2015-) is 36.6 mph (58.9 kph), and the boat gets 1.27 miles per gallon (mpg) or 0.54 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 315 miles (506.94 kilometers).
- Tested power is 2 x 350-hp Mercury Verado Joystick.
• Side Boarding Door. A much appreciated item both from a boarding standpoint and for use of the 320 Vantage as a dive platform.
• Convertible Cockpit Seating. We counted 11 different configurations for enjoying the seating arrangement in the cockpit.
• Overnight Accommodations. The portside console will sleep two…comfortably.
• Offset Bow Access. This allows for doublewide seating to port, both in the cockpit and in the bow.
• Bow and Stern Reboarding Ladders. Whether at the beach or on the hook, reboarding is a simple affair. And both have washdowns for cleaning off before stepping aboard.
• Fishing Cockpit. The wide open cockpit is fully configured for fishing with a stow-away transom bench seat, dual in-deck insulated fish lockers, rod holders, a livewell, toe rails, padded bolsters and a door that can even allow tuna to be hauled aboard.
• On Deck Galley. Cooking meals is also part of the many talents the 320 Vantage has to offer.
• Standard Hardtop. This hardtop has gobs of features that we mention in the “engineering section” above.
• Optional Generator. When away from shore power, this will provide the electricity for the air conditioner, cockpit grill and refrigerator.
• Floats Level if Swamped. It seems like this is taken for granted with Boston Whalers since it’s been the staple of the company’s construction methods for so long. Only a few other boat brands build their boats with this characteristic.
Boston Whaler has a unique build process where the hull and deck come together, and then get injected with expanding foam throughout. This foam fills all the void areas of the hull and provides sound deadening, strengthening, floatation, and solidifies the entire boat in a Unibond hull. Just pound a fist against the hull of any Boston Whaler and see what we mean.
The Boston Whaler 320 Vantage has a length overall of 33'6" (10.21 m), a beam of 10'4" (3.15 m), and a hull draft of 22” (56 cm). With an empty weight of 10,500 lbs. (4,763 kg) two people and test power, we had a test weight of 13,400 lbs. (6,078 kg).
With the two 350-hp Mercury joystick outboards turning 14 5/8 x 17 Rev 4 props, we reached a top speed at 6350 rpm of 49.1 mph. At that speed we were burning 60.25 gph giving us a range of 201 miles. Best cruise came in at 5000 rpm and 36.6 mph. That speed reduced the fuel burn to 28.80 gph and increased the range to 315 miles while still holding back the 10% reserve. We had a time to plane of 3.9 seconds, reached 20 mph in 5.3 seconds and 30 mph in 9.0 seconds.
Handling was exemplary. Simply stated, nothing handles like a Boston Whaler. That’s a bold statement but we can pretty much tell when driving one, even when we’re blindfolded (not that we do that sort of thing). That solid construction method affects the strength to a level that can be felt when underway. The entire boat absorbs the ride and as such, there’s no pounding when running through chop. With her wide bows and sharp entry points she carves like a catamaran through the worst that a casual day on the water has to offer. Would we take her out in a named storm? Of course not, but those afternoon winds that pop up are no longer a concern when we find ourselves well offshore as they manifest.
Turns are also more sedate, no matter how aggressive and heavy handed a test captain may get. And there’s no chance of causing ventilation of the prop. Upon acceleration there’s plenty of weight ahead of the lateral center of gravity to keep the bowrise in check and thus visibility is not compromised. When taking power off, she settles back into the water from a relatively level attitude.
Our test boat was fitted with the optional outboard joystick, which made short work of bringing the 320 Vantage into the tight confines of the marina. It's a progressive joystick, in that the farther it is pushed, the more power will be applied to the engines. For that reason, unlike other joystick systems, this one does not work best with gentle pulses of power but rather a relaxed hand using gentle controls to bring the boat into position. We found little need to move the joystick farther than just out of its neutral position.
The helm seat is mechanically adjustable for sliding and swiveling by release mechanisms to the side. It is electrically adjustable for height so easily converts from a seat into a leaning post. There is a flip-up bolster and flip-down armrests.
The panel accommodates enough open real estate for a 12” (30.5 cm), 15” (38 cm), or 19” (48.3 cm) navigation display, all offered as options by Boston Whaler. The Mercury VesselView display is to the right hand side. Toggle switches line the top of the panel. To the side are the Mercury DTS (digital throttle and shift) controls, and just behind is the optional joystick for increased maneuverability around the docks.
The bonded, tempered-glass windshield is surrounded by an extremely thick powder coated frame and includes a walkthrough windshield with air dam in the center.
In the center of the cockpit deck is a large hatch that allows access to what Boston Whaler calls its mechanical room. It provides an easy point of entry, and serviceability, for all of the boat's pumps, thru-hull fittings, seacocks, filters and generator.
With so many personalities to this boat it’s hard to know where to begin, and certainly a stem to stern walkthrough doesn’t seem to do justice to her. So instead, let’s look at her from a perspective of functionality. Starting with the most obvious, entertaining.
This is a wide-open and roomy boat. And once aboard, the possibilities for entertaining as a gracious host seem endless. Let’s start with where we’ll put all our guests.
Versatility in Seating
Seating is seemingly everywhere but in the cockpit it can also be reconfigured in so many different ways. Portside seating in the cockpit consists of three, doublewide bench seats. The two aft seats have convertible seatbacks that are easily moved thanks to well-engineered release mechanisms that create forward facing seats, aft facing seats, forward or aft facing chaise lounges, lounges that face each other, and finally large sun pads.
The forward companion seat is electrically-actuated to adjust for height in addition to having a flip-up bolster. Additionally, it can be easily rotated to face the helm seat, or face aft and join in on the multiple configurations of the two seats just behind.
There is also a pull-out bench seat along the transom that is in close enough proximity to the seats just ahead to create full wrap-around seating if so desired. Optional tables are offered and there are two positions in the cockpit where these can be mounted, either in behind or ahead of the two portside seats. The table will be interchangeable between the two positions so a single table should serve the desired purpose, if not then go ahead and order a pair.
Aside from the seats being remarkably comfortable, they also offer a lot in the way of functionality. There is storage underneath the seats. And recessed into the side bulwarks are stainless steel drink holders and multiple 12V accessory plugs.
The bow is accessed from an offset windshield walkthrough. This arrangement makes the seating to the port side slightly wider than the seating to starboard. The bow offers full wraparound seating with bolsters surrounding the entire area. The forward facing lounge seats include flip-down armrests. Storage is underneath all of the seats. A stainless steel grab handle is recessed into the side caprails. An optional pedestal table, separate from the model designed for the cockpit, is available for the bow.
The forward center cushion flips open to expose a nonskid step to the elevated foredeck. Here, a hatch opens to reveal a four step beach reboarding ladder sharing space with a through-the-stem anchor complete with windlass and remote control.
You're In My Sun!
Some people love the sun, some people hate it… either way Boston Whaler has it covered. At the aft end of the hardtop, our test boat was fitted with an optional SureSHADE retractable awning. Another awning can be fitted at the bow that runs between two poles that rest into the forward rod holders and then clips to the forward end of the hardtop.
Good times on the 320 Vantage are not limited to seating alone. Nor would we expect them to be. Over to the starboard side, our test boat was fitted out with the "Summer Kitchen" that included an optional sink, and cockpit refrigerator.
Stay the Night!
The 320 Vantage also serves as a capable overnight boat. While she certainly won't accommodate the 12 to 14 people of her capacity rating overnight, she will serve to satisfy the needs for overnighting two people. With the offset walkthrough to the bow, the port side console is large enough to accommodate a couch that easily converts into a double berth. We measured 5'3" (1.6 m) of clearance from the deck to the overhead, and 3' 8" (1.12 m) from the top of the couch to the overhead. The space includes natural light from an overhead skylight as well as an opening vent just ahead of the skylight. LED lights provide artificial light and there is even a TV mounted to the forward bulkhead.
The couch can be easily converted to a berth by adding filler panels and moving the backrest cushions down, in effect creating a twin size berth.
No family boat worth its salt would be complete without having an onboard head, and on the 320 Vantage the spacious head compartment is inside the starboard console. It is among the roomiest we've seen in class and even includes capabilities for showering. Just above the toilet is a hinged teak seat to accommodate showering in the seated position. A Corian counter wraps around the side and rear of the compartment with a rectangular sink recessed into the counter. The faucet above the sink has a pullout sprayer to serve for showering.
Being a crossover boat means that the 320 Vantage not only excels at rest and relaxation, but also as a fishing platform. Short of running in the flats, the 320 Vantage can deliver. The fishing options begin with adding rod holders to the hardtop supports, two to each side. This can be added as part of the fishing package that also includes a raw water washdown and stainless steel toe rails. An 18-gallon (68.1 L) livewell is included in the Summer Kitchen. Two large fishboxes are included to either side of the cockpit deck. If there's a desire to turn up the fishing features, a separate port side fishing prep station can be ordered that takes the place of the aft port side cockpit seat. It includes a 40-gallon livewell with a light and a convertible seat backrest. There is also an option for outriggers attached to the hardtop.
The 320 Vantage also makes a capable dive platform. A hullside dive door makes a great place to deploy divers in full gear, and a stainless steel base at the entry will accommodate a reboarding ladder that will take the weight of a person plus dive gear. A swing out grab handle is just to the inside of the entrance.
When it comes to watersports, the 320 Vantage is also well-equipped. An elevated towpoint on the standard hardtop will accommodate a tow rope for anything from skis to wakeboards to tubes. Re-boarding ladders and freshwater showers are available both bow and stern.
With a premium level boat such as this it stands to reason that the hardtop would be included as a standard package. Naturally there are options available for the hardtop, most that we've already discussed… Extendable aft shade, outriggers… But in and of itself, the hardtop is very well equipped. It starts with an elevated towpoint in the center of the backend. The features continue with two LED spreader lights, an array of blue courtesy lights, a two color map light, our test boat was fitted with two optional opening hatches, and another spreader light fully forward. Of course there's also the mounting point for the radar antenna.
With a base price in the $350,000 to $370,000 range, clearly the 320 Vantage isn't cheap. But considering the renowned longevity that Boston Whalers consistently exhibit, thanks to their near bulletproof construction, the 320 Vantage should be around a long time. Also, it has all of the amenities one could ask for in a boat in this class. We've also been long supporters of the dual console concept. It is a timeless design that encourages diversification and functionality, and this is a trait that the 320 Vantage exploits to its maximum. She is at once a remarkably functional boat and an exemplary handling boat.
Test Result Highlights
Standard and Optional Features
|Washdown: Raw Water||Optional|
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|
Boats More Than 30 Feet
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