We’ve long stated that offshore fishing boats make great cruising boats, and with the Boston Whaler 315 Conquest, that certainly rings true. She’s got the bones to handle long trips offshore to the Canyons with the overnight accommodations to support the trip, much like her near-sister, the 315 Conquest. Only with this model, there’s a fundamental difference… her helm deck is fully enclosed. Now she’ll not only keep her occupants drier, but in temperature-controlled comfort, making the Pilothouse version a true 4-season vessel capable of serious work or relaxation nearly anywhere, anytime of the year.
- Forward berth cushions with backrest
- Lockable sliding acrylic cabin door
- Hinged wood dinette table with gas-assisted base
- Cockpit starboard side prep center with sink and storage
- 3 transom mounted stainless steel rod holders
- 12-V/120-V refrigerator and microwave in galley
- Skylight over galley
- Insulated livewell with light, raw water fill and blue interior
- Convertible port seat/lounge with cooler storage
- Foldaway stern bench seat
|Length Overall||31' 3'' / 9.53 m|
3.18 m (max)
Currently no test numbers
2 x 250-hp Mercury Verado CXL L6 DTS 4-stroke
2 x 250-hp Mercury Verado CXL L6 DTS 4-stroke
2 x 300-hp Mercury Verado CXL L6 DTS
2 x 300-hp Mercury Verado CXL L6 DTS 4-stroke
2 x 300-hp Mercury Verado CXL L6 DTS white
2 x 300 Mercury Verado CXL L6 DTS 4-stroke white
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Contents of Report
Boston Whaler’s 315 Conquest now comes in two versions… the “Open” and the Pilothouse version. We’ve previously tested and reviewed the first version and have given an in-depth report. Now, we take a look at the Pilothouse version. With few exceptions, there are two fundamental differences between the two. The aft bulkhead enclosing the helm deck, and side windows that now go all the way up to the hardtop, rather than slope downward as they move aft.
Now, thanks to this slight design change, this versatile boat, that can handle long offshore trips as easily as weekend excursions, becomes a true 4-season boat offering climate-controlled operations that boaters, especially in the Northern Latitudes, will appreciate so much more.
Since these boats are so closely related, even drilling as far down as the empty weight, we’ll start with a look at the features that separate the Pilothouse version, and then continue on with our review of the Open version, as we were actually “hands on” with that model.
The Enclosed Pilothouse
This is the feature that separates the 315 Conquest Pilothouse from the 315 Conquest. This Pilothouse and hardtop system includes the following…
Items that the helm deck still maintains in both versions…
Now we continue with our look at the original 315 Conquest.
Some of the key unusual features of the 315 Conquest include:
Our test 315 Conquest featured an optional "summer kitchen" ($6,173) that really brings the cruising capabilities of this boat to light. If using the 315 Conquest more towards a dedicated fishing mission, then leave the standard rigging station instead.
291 Gallon (1102 L) Fuel Capacity.
This is one of the highest fuel capacities in class and therefore gives the 315 Conquest more endurance than others. At best cruise speed she can keep running for over 9 hours.
Clever Passenger Seating.
On the port side of the helm deck there are booth-style seats facing forward and aft. A filler cushion turns the seats into a lounger, as seen on most express boats, and a clever fold-out table recessed into the bulkhead makes this seating area into an impromptu snack area or, in my case, a workstation.
Optional Cockpit Bulwark Fold-way Bench Seats.
This is something rarely seen on any size boat and is one of the most practical ways to convert a fishing cockpit into a cruising cockpit or a comfortable entertaining space. The 315 Conquest has optional port and starboard fold-away bench seats (1,573) that can be nestled into the bulwarks which turns the cockpit into a terrific entertaining area. Alternatively, smaller trolling seats can be ordered ($952). Both options eliminate the under gunwale rod racks.
Fully Foam-cored Hull and Deck Bond.
Boston Whaler mates the hull and deck with an expandable foam that bonds the two components together not just at the hull-deck joint around the perimeter of the vessel, but all over its deck surface. It's an unusual process, and one that you can see live in our Boston Whaler factory tour video. (See construction video.)
The USCG only requires boats 20' and under to float level. Those over 20' don't have to float at all if swamped. The 315 Conquest not only floats if swamped, but Boston Whaler assures us that she'll float level as well. The company even posts a swamped capacity of 2,100 lbs. (953 kg).
28" (71.1 cm) Cockpit Depth.
ABYC standards call for 24" (60.9 cm) of protection above a weather deck. Boston Whaler takes it a little further and adds 4" (10 cm) more of security.
Performance and Handling
The Boston Whaler 315 Conquest has a length overall of 31'3" (9.5 m), a beam of 10'8" (3.3 m), and a draft of 20” (.5 m). She has a deep-V hull with 20-degrees of deadrise at the transom. With a hull weight of 8,800 lbs. (3,392 kg), three quarters fuel, two people, and optional twin 300-hp Mercury Verados onboard we had a test weight of 11,426 lbs. (5,183 kg).
Those twin Verados brought us to a top speed at 6100 rpm and 47.5 mph. At that speed we were burning 60 gph for a range of 207 miles. Best cruise came in at 4500 rpm and 33.2 mph. At that speed I measured the fuel burn to be 24.55 gph, which translates to a range of 354 statute miles. We had a quick time to plane of only 4.2 seconds, reached 20 mph in 5.6 seconds and accelerated 30 mph in 9.5 seconds.
While we didn't have any chop to speak of offshore there were several swells from offshore winds that gave us some indication of how the 315 Conquest performs in a seaway. She has excellent wave penetration while throwing spray well off to the sides and down low, providing a nice dry ride.
With enough speed I was able to launch off some of the swells and noticed that the 315 Conquest maintains a level attitude throughout her reentry. There's a 13-degree bow rise upon acceleration, which brings the bow up to just below the horizon. Once at cruise she settles into a 5-degree bow-high attitude and she has a maximum bank angle of 10-degrees in a full power turn.
When taking power off she settles back into the water slightly stern first with the bow following shortly after, again producing no loss of visibility to the horizon. All in all, these are the makings of an excellent sea boat that was a joy to operate.
At the working end of the bow, Boston Whaler went with 25" (63.5 cm) rails that will provide security when working the ground tackle. There is a standard stainless steel anchor roller and windlass mounted atop the foredeck. Swapping out the rope rode for 150’ (45.7 m) of all-chain rode comes with a $775 upcharge. The 315 Conquest is outfitted with 10” (25.4 cm) cleats, and Boston Whaler provides midship cleats as well. There's a hatch to the starboard side of the windlass for managing tangles and this compartment also houses the windlass remote.
There's a non-skid area on top of the trunk cabin that will accommodate a large sun pad that folds in half for easy storage.
Visibility and Protection -- The Coup de Grâce
To me, a lot of the appeal of the 315 Conquest has to do with the amount of glass surrounding the helm deck. I'm just not a big fan of isinglass. The windshield is in two pieces and both are huge, giving great sightlines. What's more, the mullions are quite narrow which gives more of an uninterrupted field of vision. Pantograph wipers to port and starboard are standard and have integral washers.
At the top of the tempered glass is an electric vent that did a remarkable job of forcing air into what would otherwise have been a greenhouse heated helm deck. While our test boat was fitted with sloping side windows that were reminiscent of a Downeast design, optional side windows that go all the way to the hardtop are offered ($2,694) as well as helm deck air conditioning ($5078) that must include the cabin air conditioning option for both models ($5,490), the 315 Conquest and 315 Conquest Pilothouse.
The side decks were ample at 14" (35.6 cm) and the combination of the high stainless rails, grab handles running along the length of the hardtop, and ladder-type hardtop supports made a very comfortable transition. A channel is molded into the side deck that directs normal spray and splash coming over the bow back overboard before reaching the cockpit. Of course if the volume of water overwhelms these side deck channels, then sizable deck drains will evacuate any remaining water overboard in short order.
The cockpit measures 59 sq. ft. (5.48 sq. m) and is comfortable for either fishing or relaxing. Our test boat was fitted with an optional shade ($4,976) that extended manually from the aft end of the hardtop. This is only available on the 315 Conquest, not the Conquest Pilothouse.
There are two large in-deck fishboxes to port and starboard and both are macerated. Cruising-only folks will use these boxes for storage. In the center of the deck is a large hatch leading to a spacious mechanical compartment. Inside this compartment are the macerator pumps, bilge pumps, fuel manifolds, engine start and house batteries, and the optional 7 kW generator ($14,984).
The entertainment capabilities really come into play with the standard fold-away stern bench, but most boats in class offer this feature. What virtually no builder (I can think of only one other in a far larger boat) offers in any size boat is optional fold-away seats in the cockpit bulwarks to port and starboard ($1,573). By eliminating the rod holders and putting in these fold-away seats the cockpit is transformed into an incredible entertaining venue. With three sides of the cockpit accommodating seating, it really creates an intimate gathering area.
I have heard men say, "just sit on the coaming when having a party." But they miss the point -- the coaming is 28" (70.6 cm) off the deck! This is not a comfortable height for most women, particularly those wearing dresses. Women will love this option and it adds so much utility to the boat that I would not buy a 315 Conquest without them.
This option ($6,173) replaces the portside rigging station with a pull-out cockpit grill and cutting board on top of the storage drawers. To starboard is a sink recessed into a Corian countertop, and a cockpit refrigerator is under the sink. It's a handy place to be preparing a meal on deck, and for that matter cooking up your fresh catch. There is a hinged cutting board on top of the grill.
I would go for this option. Like the optional fold-away seats, this clever option greatly improves the utility of the boat, turning a 31-footer into nearly a full-blown cabin cruiser.
Boston Whaler really went all out on the helm seat for the 315 Conquest. It's on an elevated pedestal mount, swivels and slides, has cast flip-up armrests, and flip-up bolster. The back is vented so even on a hot day one won't get sweaty just from sitting.
The most comfortable part about the helm layout had to be the mounting position of the stainless wheel. I had it tilted nearly horizontal which allowed for a full range of motion throughout the five-turn swing from lock to lock. Mercury’s digital throttle and shift system (DTS) offered a wide range of options including sync, single lever and troll modes.
As our test boat was fitted with the optional generator ($14,984), it was also fitted with the optional 8,000 BTU ($5,078 + $6,590 for cabin air) reverse-cycle air conditioner which kept me warm going out to the test grounds and cool coming back in. Dual vents are located on the starboard bulkhead. Twin 12" (3.5 cm) hybrid-touch navigation displays ($10,928 + $5,167) are on the upper panel and the optional autopilot ($7,463) was just ahead of the wheel. Mercury's SmartCraft display was to the left. A pair of 15” (38,cm) displays is also offered ($17,612 + $15,685)
(Added points: those hybrid touch displays were easy to use. I've always been more comfortable pushing buttons than touching a delicate spot on a screen, particularly on a boat that is bouncing through waves. These units gave me the ability to do both.)
Port Companion Seats
To the portside are booth-style seats -- a double wide facing forward, single wide facing aft. Below the forward facing seat are the ship's batteries and main circuit breakers. A filler cushion will turn these two seats into a full-length lounger, much as on a basic express cruiser. This seating arrangement, however, one-ups the express cruisers with the addition of a concealed table that retracts from the port side bulwarks. This is a clever feature, ingenious in its simplicity as it turns the two seats into an impromptu snack area, or in my case a workstation.
This table pulls out from the bulwarks and is a stroke of genius that I suspect we'll see repeated from other builders in the future.
Down below are comfortable accommodations for one couple, and easily expandable for two couples or a small family. It begins with the mid berth. Measuring 4'8" (1.42 m) by 5'3" (1.6 m), the mid berth is tucked under the helm deck behind a floating tread staircase that eliminates any feelings of claustrophobia. An optional cabin comfort package ($3,201) is offered which includes a fitted sheet and comforter, privacy curtain, and regular size pillowcases. There is a variable geometry overhead to the mid berth which starts at 2’ (.6 m) at its lowest position, rising to 2'9" (.8 m) over the pillows and 4'1" (1.2 m) at the entryway.
Moving out into the cabin area and to port is a modest galley with the usual accommodations of sink, one-burner stovetop, standard microwave and dual voltage refrigerator. The countertop is Corian which provides a nice contrast to the wood-grained cabinetry.
Forward is a U-shaped dinette with storage under the seats, all surrounding a pedestal table. The table has a foldout leaf and in the closed position the leaf support doubles as a handhold. The cleverness of this dinette area is in its ability to easily transition to a berth. Simply flip a lever under the curved stainless rail and press the table down. Flip open the leaf and slide the cushions to the center thereby completing the conversion… easy peasy.
The MSRP price of the 315 Conquest is $247,838 powered by twin 250-hp Mercury Verado engines. Fully loading her up with options will bring the price to just over $350,400. Upgrading the engine package will add another $23K to $34K.
315 Conquest Pilothouse
As for our 315 Conquest Pilothouse, she starts out at $263,418 (we’ll do the math, that’s an additional $15,580 over the Conquest.). Well-equipped, she’ll top out at $355,152. The engine upgrades are the same price with both versions.
Overall, I was very pleased with the job Boston Whaler did on the 315 Conquests. They’re remarkably functional both above and below decks and a joy to operate.
In our opinion, this is a wonderfully versatile boat that can be used as a retirement cruising boat for a couple, a distance cruising boat or a young family, or an economical blue water fishing boat for hard-core anglers. Because she is a hardtop express cruiser with an ample beam she should be both comfortable and safe offshore when things get snotty.