Boston Whaler has become synonymous with offshore fishing boats that are made to take a beating from Mother Nature. But now, the company has taken those foul-weather handling capabilities and created a cruising weekender that looks at fishing as sort of an afterthought. It’s the 350 Realm, and she is the first of a new series of offshore boats for Boston Whaler. On our test day, it was blowing and rough out, which was perfect to see how she handles, but for getting decent performance numbers… not so much.
- Integral swim platform with recessed telescoping dive ladder and grab rail
- Cockpit blue and white LED courtesy lighting
- Pressurized 15 gal. livewell in aft port corner with clear lid and blue interior with red
- Fusion MS-BB300 stereo
- Bow lounge with backrest, fold-down armrests, and 3 integrated drink holders
- Bow wrap-around seating with 4 drink holders, a full height forward bolster, and removable cushions
- Deluxe swivel 2-person helm seat with armrests, adjustable electric slide, and 180-degree rotation
- Insulated 230 quart built-in cooler/storage under second row seating
- 28” flat screen HDTV in cabin
|Length Overall||35’ 6'' / 10.82 m|
8,559 kg w/ engines
3.02 m (max)
Currently no test numbers
3 x 300-hp 300L6 DTS Mercury Verado FourStroke
8 triple Mercury Verado engine options from 300-hp to 350-hp
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Contents of Report
One of the truly innovative aspects of the Boston Whaler 350 Realm is her ability to transform from one task to another, with seamless effort. What starts out as an open cockpit easily becomes an al fresco dining area. Two-tier forward facing seating suddenly becomes booth seating in either an open or protected environment. A gathering area transforms into a sunning area.
Coupled with this chameleon-like capability to blend into her surroundings, is the sheer amount of storage available in this boat that truly allows her to become an extended cruiser with the offshore capability that the brand is so well known for. For those that have ever dreamed of cruising in a battlewagon-type fishing convertible because they’re so safe offshore, well now there’s a much more cost-effective alternative.
She’s available in no less than 11 different hull colors and five different graphic colors to truly dial in the boat to her owner’s desires.
The cockpit is the first of our gathering areas and presents itself as a 32 sq. ft. (2.97 sq. m) open canvas, ready to be converted into whatever it is that we want to do. Boarding steps to the sides allow us entry and egress but we can also board from the aft swim platform door, or the portside, inward opening dive door.
At the transom there’s a flip-out bench seat that, in true Boston Whaler fashion, is among the easiest to deploy that we’ve seen. To the forward side of the cockpit, there’s a seat, a bit too high to comfortably make use of the removable pedestal tables, but it is exceedingly well positioned for a great view of the wake shrinking in the distance. A flip-down footrest adds to the comfort level while sitting. Underneath is a 230-quart (217 L) refrigerated cooler, accessible from a glass hatch or by lifting the entire seat cushion and hatch below.
Between these two seats is space for a pair of teak pedestal tables ($4,719) that can turn the area into a more functional gathering space as well as an al fresco dining area. These tables store just under the hatch in the deck, and the pedestals will go right along with them.
In the deck is a pair of insulated boxes that can be used as fishboxes, or just storage. If fishing, we can keep ice here for weeks with the optional freezer plates ($11,945) for the port box. The decking on our test boat was non-skid fiberglass, but Boston Whaler offers teak as an option ($23,245).
If there’s a desire to expand on the fishing experience, then choose a set of 12V DC receptacles ($918) at the transom for downriggers.
Of course, it wouldn’t be the same experience without the upgraded Premium audio system ($1,303) that adds a sound bar, additional speakers, and remote controls in multiple locations. An optional sunshade ($9,204) can be extended from the aft end of the hardtop.
Calling this the main deck may be a bit of a misnomer since it’s still on the same level as the cockpit. In fact, all of this deck is on the same level, all the way up to the bow. But here, we go from the open-air cockpit, to an area that is now under the protection of the hardtop, and the removable side curtains ($9,701).
The aft facing seat from the cockpit has a reversible seatback allowing it to convert to a forward facing seat just behind the helm seat. Both are doublewide and include flip-down armrests. Now we can have four people, sitting comfortably under the protection of the hardtop, and enjoying the scenery as we travel to our distant destination.
Of course, Boston Whaler wouldn’t be content with just having one seat being reversible. So, in true innovative fashion, the helm seat pivots around to also join the cockpit seating. By simply relocating one of the cockpit pedestal tables to this location, we create booth seating on both sides of a table.
The galley on the 350 Realm is up on this deck and to starboard of the newly created booth seating. It’s a basic setup with a sink, storage fore and aft (including insulated storage), and an electric grill. It isn’t an elaborate galley by anyone’s standards, but Boston Whaler’s extensive use of Voice of the Customer resources has shown that the percentage of customers who actually cook dinners onboard is marginal, at best. More often than not, grilling is the choice of waterborne chefs and that mission is accommodated quite well here.
The electric grill (-$288 if grill is deleted) is under a hatch, accessible from the cockpit deck. The hatch rises after releasing a lift-and-lock latch, and then rotates out of the way to expose the grill. In this manner, the hatch does not get stored, but instead transitions into a food prep area.
As we make our way to the bow, we measured the side deck width at 21“ (53.3 cm) with the padded bolster height starting at 35“ (89 cm) and topping out at 38“ (96.52 cm). Even with these high bulwarks, rails are offered as an option ($431 full, $1,385 split).
Ahead of the console is a three-across lounge with flip-down armrests with integrated beverage holders. Here’s a good time to note that these are “flip-down” armrests and not flip-up. The latter requiring a support bracket that needs to be released from underneath before they can be stowed. The flip-down type has no such restriction and just raises and lowers as desired. A much-preferred setup that some builders just don’t seem to grasp.
Forward is an aft-facing bench seat that takes advantage of Boston Whaler cleverly extending the bulwarks outward to provide more available space. Storage is underneath the seat. A high/low pedestal table on an eclectically actuated lift is just behind, allowing for yet another gathering area at a dining or cocktail table. This table is solid wood with an inlay compass rose.
With the table lowered and a filler cushion placed on top, we create a sun pad extending from the console all the way to the bow. Of course we don’t always need sun, but the lounging area still is an attractive location. In those instances, sun protection can be added to this area with the addition of an optional black mesh shade ($1,963) supported from stanchions.
The cabin is accessed from a sliding door just adjacent to the helm. It’s not quite on the centerline but pretty close to it. Inside is a comfortable seating area and a head. There are no accommodations for a table in this cabin, nor should there be. After all, there are two dining areas up on the main deck. This cabin area is much better left to seating and conversation. It’s a great place to relax before turning in and/or plan out the next day’s adventures.
The seating easily converts to a berth by extending a support from under the left seats, which as it rotates, pulls the seats out towards the center. The right seat then slides against the left. Then the seat backs get lowered flat to complete the conversion. No electrical motors or switches to fail, and nothing coming out of storage to complete the conversion.
The cabin gets plenty of natural light from the nearly full width overhead skylight. Additionally, there’s an opening portlight that adds natural ventilation to the equation. Over the seating area, on the forward bulkhead, is a 28” (71.12 cm) flatscreen TV. Storage solutions abound so there’s no shortage of space to pack gear into. To the front side of one of the closets, there’s a charging mount for an iPad mini that gets used for, not only controlling all of the vessels systems (lights, climate control, etc…), but it also serves as a mirror to the helm displays. In this manner, we can monitor our position on the anchor while in bed.
The head is just to the right of the stairs leading into the cabin. It’s a modest arrangement but it’s not like we’re going to be conducting races here. Therefore, this wet-head is a practical solution for a boat of this size. It includes a sink recessed into a solid surface counter, an opening portlight for natural light and ventilation, and a flip-down teak seat over the toilet so we can sit while showering. A separate hand held shower wand hangs on the bulkhead. A full-length mirror is on the back of the door.
The helm is well laid out and configured in the glass dash concept with no visible gauges. Dual 15” (38 cm) displays will do the heavy lifting and offer multiple options for what will be displayed on each screen. A single display can be chosen ($15,085) but it’s the rare Boston Whaler owner that won’t add the slave display ($8,451) to the other side of the panel.
Of course, Boston Whaler also factory installs plenty of other options to bring this panel up to the professional level the boat deserves. Choose the AIS transceiver ($2,427) to see and be seen better. The Raymarine Evolution Autopilot ($8,949) will make those long runs more palatable. We said that this boat wasn’t about fishing, but no boat is exempt from the possibility, so a Chirp Sonar ($3,903) will be a welcome addition if we intend to wet a line. Radar and satellite weather ($10,743) will allow for all weather operations, short of a named storm perhaps. And if money is no object, then consider the Thermal Night Vision option ($9,082 for fixed, $17,466 with tilt and zoom) for getting into the dark harbor more safely.
A wrapped, stainless steel wheel is mounted to a tilt base and Boston Whaler thoughtfully added the stainless steering knob. To the far right of the wheel is the remote control for the spotlight ($819). It’s also not lost on us that there are heat and AC vents to the right of the panel with air being driven by the 18,000 BTU reverse cycle air conditioning system.
Further to the right are the Mercury DTS (Digital Throttle and Shift) controls and the Outboard Joystick. We’d add the Active Engine Trim ($803) to the controls to further take the burden off the driver and allow more focus on the handling of the boat itself.
Fully forward, the ground tackle is concealed under a hatch on the foredeck. It opens with a lift-and-lock latch and is held open with a gas strut. Inside, our test boat was fitted with the windlass ($1,346) that included 300’ (91.44 m) of chain. Be sure to choose the polished stainless steel anchor ($545) that mounts through the stem.
We’re happy that Boston Whaler decided on maintaining a long-standing practice of keeping all the mechanical components in a single location under a hatch in the cockpit deck. This mechanical room is the first place to go when it’s time to diagnose any problems, and certainly to fix them. Taking center stage is the 7.5 kW low CO gas generator. There is also easy access to the steering pumps, bilge pumps, macerator pumps, fixed firefighting system, and the tankage.
As we made our way out of Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades, we got a good feel for how well the 350 Realm handles at low speeds and we had excellent control authority. We immediately came to appreciate the tilt wheel and steering knob.
Once offshore it quickly became apparent that it was too rough to get any meaningful performance numbers, but it was perfect for demonstrating how well the Boston Whaler offshore DNA gets transferred to this new cruising boat. And it was impressive.
That said, Boston Whaler has done its own testing on this boat and reports that with the triple 350 Mercury Verados turning at 6400 rpm, they got a top speed of 52.7 mph. Best cruise came in at 4000 rpm and 29.5 mph. At that speed, they recorded a 32.9 gph fuel burn and a range of 311 miles. Ease up to 4500 rpm and 36.1 mph and she only loses 1 mile of range. That’s pretty impressive and speaks volumes of the architecture of this performance hull.
The Boston Whaler 350 Realm comes standard with triple 300 L6 Mercury Verados in factory black. Opt up to the 350-hp and that will tack on another $14,433 to the bottom line. The top tier option is the triple 350s with joystick piloting ($43,115) that we had on our test boat. It not only adds the ability to dock with the joystick, but also brings such features as autopilot, Skyhook (holds position and heading), Drifthook (unlocks position but holds heading) and Bowhook (unlocks the heading but holds position) to the table.
Customizing any of these engine choices with a white paint job will add anywhere from $6,050 to $6,500 as the models go up in horsepower. And of course don’t go without the optional engine flushing system ($2,236) that makes short work of the required after-trip maintenance.
In the 2’ to 3’ (0.61 m to 0.91 m) swells on our test day, the 350 Realm performed just like a typical Boston Whaler in that there was no pounding and she just skipped across from one wave to the next. When the hull would come out of the water, we’d brace for an impact that wouldn’t come… just a clean re-entry and steady cruise. It just seemed as if the more we pounded on the 350 Realm, the better she took it and kept coming back for more.
Pricing and Observations
The Boston Whaler 350 Realm comes with a base price of $494,842, nicely equipped. Fully loaded she can tip the scales at $761,000.
Some options we didn’t cover in this report, but are worth considering, are the full canvas mooring cover ($3,325) that runs from the hardtop to the full fore and aft decks. The rich and famous tend to use larger Boston Whalers as tenders, and that being the case, the stainless bow tow eye ($2,067) will be a necessity. We’d add the commissioning kit ($6,090) that includes an air horn, five AGM batteries, a boat hook, eight dock lines, four fenders, two fire extinguishers, a first aid kit, a flare kit, ten type 1 offshore life vests with custom storage bags, three spare fuel filters, a throw cushion, a tool kit, and a set of water/holding tank supplies. We’d love to encourage the water delivery at the plant ($9,110). It’s a great location and Boston Whaler would be happy to setup a tour of the boat’s birthplace before taking it out into the world.
All in all, this is definitely a boat that begs to be in foul weather, but her primary role will be entertaining and traveling in nice days to distant locales while keeping her occupants safe from any pop-up foul weather. But at the end of the day, what it really boils down to is the journey, and not so much the destination. The simple fact remains, if you make the trip in the 350 Realm, you’ll definitely be arriving in style. If this is the first of what’s to come in the latest model line, we can’t wait to see what’s next. Certainly Mother Nature’s reaction will be… “bring it!”