This past week I was down in Florida, and stopped by the Marine Max in Clearwater to look at some new Whalers. My 2003 160 Dauntless is a fabulous boat (and still looks pretty much brand new) but I've been increasingly feeling the call of a bigger boat. In particular, I wanted to look at the 210 and 240 Dauntless, as well as the 210 Montauk. I thought I'd share a few impressions.
First and foremost, the build quality on these boats is astonishing. Gelcoat finishes are mirror-smooth, every piece fits perfectly, and everything is exactly as you'd expect. One really noteworthy item is the beautiful T-top on the 210 and 240 Dauntless. These are complete custom pieces of work made of non-tubular powder-coated aluminum, and they integrate perfectly into the corners of the center console. There are no toe-grabbers, nothing to get caught on, and the look is really just amazing. The main forward struts are more-or-less quarter-round in shape, but are cast (or extruded, I really don't know) with lengthwise creases/bevels that really look beautiful. They are also solid as a rock, extremely well-engineered, and quite large to cast plenty of shade in the boat. And if that's not good enough for you, the 240 Dauntless is now available with a fiberglass hardtop like the larger 270 Dauntless has (the boat I was looking at didn't have this, and I'm not sure I'd want the weight up high like that).
By contrast, the T-top on the 210 Montauk was tubular aluminum that bolted to the deck alongside the console. It was also clearly well-engineered and very well built with lovely welds, and was every bit as functional but nowhere near as stylish as those on the Dauntlesses.
Fiberglass quality in the "out-of-sight" locations was every bit as good as the exterior. Inside the hatches, the undersides of the hatches themselves, in the bilge area... all fully finished. The center consoles are also finished on the inside, with access ports (on the 210) or screwed-in access panels (on the 240) to provide full access to wiring and instrumentation. All three boats had portable heads in the console; the 210 Dauntless was a bit of a squeeze for me (6'-2" and 200 lbs) but the other boats were quite usable. The instrument panels on the new Dauntlesses are wide and roomy for any imaginable instrumentation you'd want to put there, and to my eye much more attractive than the "Darth Vader" look of the previous 200 and 230 models.
Call me out-of-the-loop (wouldn't be the first time) but I wasn't aware that Mercury was regularly shipping white-painted engines. All these Whalers were wearing white Verados with gray lower units. Very practical for the Florida sun. The horsepower limit on the 240 Dauntless has been increased to 350hp; the boat I was looking at had a 300 on it, which the dealer tells me is the usual setup for their buyers. The 210 Dauntless and the 210 Montauk were both set up with 200hp.
These were extremely impressive boats indeed. Not surprisingly, all that awesomeness comes at a price. The 210 Dauntless was $86,000 and the 240 Dauntless was about $112,000. That's a lot of money. I didn't catch the price on the 210 Montauk, but I'd assume it's considerably lower.
The last boat I looked at was the 230 Vantage. This boat was not really my style, but it was really remarkable in its own right. This is a much more complicated boat with some really well-thought-out features, like the collapsing transom seat, the lay-flat cockpit seats, and a beautiful hard top. Unlike the Montauk and Dauntless pilot seats with the lift-up-and-drop-into-a-slot backrest, these seats had a specific release lever and smoothly folded and unfolded into different configurations. I didn't get a price on this boat either, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was pushing $150,000. The sales guy told me the Vantages were their best-selling boats right now, and that he can't keep the 270 or 320 models on the floor. Seems like Florida's got money.
So, at these prices we'll be enjoying the 160 Dauntless for a few more years. It'll be interesting to see how the 240 Dauntless starts to price on the used market; there do seem to be some very nice prior-model 230 Dauntless boats out there for much more attractive prices. But if you've been thinking "I wonder how Whaler's doing with new boats these days," the answer is: outstandingly. I absolutely wish I had a spare $100 grand lying around right now.
A conversation among Whalers
3 posts • Page 1 of 1
I am not surprised to hear the Vantage models are their best sellers right now. They took in a lot of customer survey feedback in designing this new model. If I had a spare $100K laying around, that would be the next model for my family!