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Boston Whaler 230 VintageHandsome dual console hardtop

By Andy Adams

The famous Boston Whaler slogan, “the unsinkable legend” has always expressed a safety promise that from their very beginning, set a Boston Whaler apart from other boats, and it’s clear to me that the designers take this heritage seriously. The Boston Whaler 230 Vantage maintains the virtues that have made Whalers such an enduring success and now the designers have skillfully captured those virtues in a handsome and somewhat more traditional dual console design.

We did our sea trials at Gordon Bay Marine on Muskoka’s Lake Joseph where cottagers have embraced their ‘Whalers as versatile cottage boats, but the 230 Vantage has capabilities far beyond just family cruising.

Bow AreaBow area with the removable picnic table in place.

This is a big comfortable boat that would suit Georgian Bay islanders, Great Lakes fishermen and of course, places like Florida with equal competence. The 230 Vantage and the Mercury Verado 350 make a well-equipped fishing platform, a family water sports boat, a dive boat and more.

Hard Top
Our test boat was equipped with the optional hardtop and this was a very nice addition in our opinion. There is standing height under the hardtop and 2 LED lights overhead for night-time convenience. The test boat had a roll-out sun shade that extends right out over the cockpit, sheltering passengers from the sun. A simple crank operates this. The hardtop frame is very strong and provides a solid handhold for passengers.

Interior features
Most people will step aboard by the swim platform and there is a starboard side step-through with a sturdy door that has a heavy latch and a magnetic holder to keep it open as well. The battery switches are located in the step-through.

Side Console Swings OpenThe entire side of the console swings open for access to the head.

Across the transom is a big folding stern seat for two and when it is folded away, the backrest doubles as a padded edge for comfortable fishing. Everywhere we looked we found substantial stainless-steel hardware and fittings. We also liked the big scuppers to drain the cockpit quickly. There is a fresh-water wash down system for salt water owners, or fishermen to hose it out.

On starboard behind the helm seat is a refreshment centre with a sink and a cutting board, handrail and a Yeti cooler under the counter. The designers also included two drink holders with drains and sturdy stainless-steel fiddles.

A real highlight of the Boston Whaler 230 Vantage design is the companion seat which is extremely “trick”! This quickly adjusts to many different positions and uses. You can fold the stern seat out, then flip the companion seat back rest to face backwards for watching water skiing, or you can turn it into an aft-facing sun lounge. Adjust to a different position and you can have a forward-facing sun lounge. In the middle position, you have regular back to back seats; it’s extremely versatile and has a large storage area inside.

On the back edge of the seat box is a mount for the removable picnic table. You can set that up to serve drinks or food with the table between the companion seat and the fold-out aft bench. The same table can relocate to the bow area where the whole family can gather around.

By the transom, a section of flooring lifts with gas strut assist to reveal the battery, tank access, fuel filter and other mechanical systems. You might use this for storage of lines and small items as well. There's an underfloor rod locker which can also hold large objects such as skis or wakeboards and PFDs.

Dashboard and Centre-Mounted CompassWith a nonreflective dashboard top and centre- mounted compass, the helm is complete and well laid out.

The starboard side console under the helm is part of a large storage area accessed from the bow, that includes chocks to hold the picnic table and brackets to hold a bucket. Use this for cleaning supplies or other loose items. This compartment also gives access to the back of the instrument panel for service.

We have often seen this style of boat where the center section of the windshield swings open, but we have rarely seen such a nice piece of hardware as the Boston Whaler has, to hold it open without rattling around.

Head compartment
An important feature for all day fun is the head compartment located under the companion side console. The whole face of the console swings open to reveal the Dometic MSD, sink, towel holders, and a light. We didn’t see a porthole or vent however, and we were surprised that there wasn't a magnetic latch to hold the door open. We found that it swings closed sometimes.

Bow
The bow is an important passenger and living area. It is deep, secure feeling and has cushions that can fill the whole space in to create a generous sun pad. The filler cushions are substantial and store under the helm. There are four drink holders, a power point and speakers for the Fusion stereo. We really liked the recessed stainless-steel hand rails.

Another great feature is that the bow has an anchor locker and a fold-down boarding ladder for beaching the boat and re-boarding. It’s nice to swim off the bow away from the engine.

Helm
The helm included a Raymarine Axiom12 inch MFD plus the Mercury Smartcraft gauges for tachometer and speed. The boat has GPS for navigation, Lenco trim tabs with LEDs, power point, USB and lighted switches. The Fusion stereo is on the helm with four JL speakers and a big subwoofer under the helm seat to pump out the tunes.
The helm seat swivels, adjusts fore and aft, has a flip up bolster and with the tilt steering and the comfortable sport wheel, the boat will accommodate almost any driver in comfort.

The Refreshment CenterThe refreshment center is a useful feature and unobtrusive on the starboard side.

You can rest your arm on the side panel by the controls for all day comfort when driving. Another thing we liked was the articulated windshield wiper and the fact that there's lots of foot room. There's also great outward vision through the curved glass windshield.

Fishing features
Padded in wales all around are very nice and provide comfort when fishing as you lean against the hull side. The Boston Whaler 230 Vantage has good freeboard, so you stand well down in the boat for a secure feeling. We noticed thoughtfully located stainless-steel hand rails in several places for passenger security.

There are four rod holders on the gunwales and four rocket launchers on the hardtop frame although the roll out shade may block two of them. There was a combination drink holder and deck hawse leading to inboard cleats to keep your lines neat.

The Companion SeatThis shows companion seat in one of its many configurations as a forward-facing sun lounge.

Performance

The 350 horse power Mercury Verado was equipped with power steering and it is a pleasure to drive. The Mercury Verado 350 has tons of power, planning the boat off in about 5 seconds even with 80 liters of fuel and three people aboard. The feel is super solid and the 230 Vantage delivers a great ride. Turn it in hard, even at top speed and the boat hangs on very well. Lenco trim tabs with LED lights assist in planning off or balancing the load in side winds and the tabs could be very useful in serious seas but overall, the boat behaves very well without any attention to the tabs.

Folding SeatIt’s hard to believe that such a comfortable seat can fold right out-of-the-way into the transom.

You can certainly use this for family tubing and other activities but it has the power and the hull design to handle rough water. It seemed pretty stable at rest as well, a good attribute for fishermen.

Overall, the Boston Whaler 230 Vantage is handsomely styled, ruggedly built and so thoughtfully designed that we feel confident it will be highly valued by its lucky owners.

 

 

 

 SPECIFICATIONS
Engine: Mercury Verado 350, 350 horse power inline 6-cylinder, 2.6 litre, supercharged, sequential multi-port electronic fuel injection, stainless-steel propeller
SPEED RPM
1,000 4.5
1,500 6.7
2,500 8.3
3,000 9.5
3,500 21.9
4,000 29.6
4,500 35.0
5,000 40.2
5,500 45.4
6,000 49.9
6,300 53.0 max

SPECIFICATIONS
Length: 23’ 2” / 7.06 m
Length O.A. (with platforms): 24’ 7 1⁄2” / 7.51 m
Beam: 8’ 6” / 2.59 m
Weight (dry, no engine): 3,900 lbs / 1,769 kg
Price starting at $149,000 Cdn

Boat and price supplied by Gordon Bay Marine, gordonbay.com, bostonwhaler.com