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Author Topic:   Boston Whaler Brand Perception
msc posted 04-02-2004 09:42 AM ET (US)   Profile for msc   Send Email to msc  
Given that:

--one person answered my post regarding the purchase of a new Outrage 320;

--Whaler has leftover Outrage 290 and Conquest 295 models for sale (2003);

--the majority of posts and inquiries on this forum deal with sub 25-foot boats;

Do you feel that the public perception of the Boston Whaler brand is that of a manufacturer of smaller outboard boats? When one considers a 25-foot or larger boat does interest in the Boston Whaler brand fade?

Captain Billy posted 04-02-2004 10:23 AM ET (US)     Profile for Captain Billy  Send Email to Captain Billy     
I do not think interest fades, but perception....

We were in the market for a 25 - 30 offshore fishing boat that would double as a family cruiser. I have to admit that first I was looking at the Mako's and Grady's. I knew that Whaler was a better boat, and they made a boat the size I was looking for.

But I was calling the Grady and Mako owners. I did not think I could afford the big Whaler. I had been to the local dealer, seen the big Outrage and the price tag. (yes, Massoutrage if I could have made the payments I would have one on the way also!)

When I saw the 27WA for sale on Boattrader.com I knew I had found our next boat. Drove across 5 states to pick her up.

My perception was Whaler on the small boats, but I had to settle for something else on a big one.

Sure am glad I was wrong on that one!

Billy

Florida15 posted 04-02-2004 12:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for Florida15  Send Email to Florida15     
I think one of the problems with Whaler's big boats is they are so darned expensive. The majority of people can't afford them. The new Outrage 320 is what , around $175,000 ?
There are a lot of 32' boats out there that you can get for a lot less. Sometimes price has to take precedence over quality.
TG_190 posted 04-02-2004 05:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for TG_190  Send Email to TG_190     
I'll share my perception...even though it may not be based on first hand experience as I'd like it to be.

BW originally became famous for the smaller boats. As time went on, the product line and design philosophy has changed many times, with "the unsinkable legend" being constant. Fit and finish is top notch on all of the boats they make.

BW have also had a reputation for being long lasting, durable craft with good seakeeping abilities, but they have not really been known or designed for good head-sea performance, which is key in offshore (i.e. Larger) boats.
Larger boats not designed for going offshore don't make sense to me unless you need to carry lots of stuff or people.
As can be seen in the evolution of the Outrage lines, the entries have gotten sharper and the deadrises steeper...but still not as steep as contenders, regulators, SeaVees etc. Its a tradeoff BW has been reluctant to make. From a fisherman's perspective, getting back safely but bruising your kidneys and compressing your spine in the process should not be the expected consequence of taking your large, expensive "offhshore" boat offshore. Bring me back safely, fast, and without having the crap kicked out of me is the desire of the offshore fisherman.

I think the perception is that on the smaller models the tradeoffs of stability and head sea performance are accepted as "good" by the vast majority of people. Among offshore enthusiasts, a lot of people rank the head-sea performance as key, contributing to the impression the BWs are not the best for long offshore trips. The newest outrages are an attempt BW is making to address that shortcoming of the older designs without sacrificing the other nice BW characteristics too much.
Yes, the prices are high....nothing really new here, just the magnitude of the numbers is more shocking.

The ubiquity of the smaller whalers is also key. Smaller whalers cost less, and are more accessible to the average consumer. Bigger whalers (i.e. Defiance, 290 Outrage, 270, 320 Outrage, etc.) are a relatively rare sighting for me in the NE, but the smaller ones are all over the place. This contributes to the perception that they are not as highly regarded as others (i.e. Regulator 26...very common). BW does not have a strong name in the offshore market. Not saying they are not good (especially the newsest ones which seem well thought out for offshore use), but that is my impression. When you couple that with the high price tag,and the proven performance of others (i.e. Regulator 26' is common in the offshore canyons of NJ/NY), BW unsinkability is not the winning argument for this competitive segment.

From a corporate perspective, BW's efforts at making larger offshore craft have not been too successful in the past.
Expensive, offshore boats, with mediocre head-sea performance...that WAS my perception. I can't really speak to the newer ones based on experience. They look much better for offshore IMO than previous models.

These were my perceptions which I think are close to the popular perceptions the thread asks about.


TG_190

LHG posted 04-02-2004 06:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for LHG    
During the early 90's under gross mismanagement by Reebock and Meridian, Whaler missed the opportunity to expand into the longer, beamier, CC market, instead wasting all their time and money concentrating on stupid ideas like the Rage and other unnecessary short lived, anti-Dougherty designs like the 16SL, 13 Dauntless and 15 Dauntless, and re-designing the hugely popular Classic Revenges and Outrages. They never learned the lesson of "if not broken, don't fix it" on many of the models. The 25 Outrage and 25 WT WD Revenges stand out as boats which never should have been discontinued, and the on 27 hull they should have offered a simple and true center console OUTRAGE, with Tee top or Mills Flying top options, in both notched and WD versions. Instead we got the cumbersome and awkward 27 Offshore. Don't forget that a recreational 27 wide beam Outrage/Guardian would only weigh 4500#, a big boat for that little weight. Compare that to the 270 Outrage weight, basically a narrow beam 25' boat. I still don't think it's too late to bring out a recreational designed version of the 27 Guardian WD. Remember the fabulous looking 27 Whaler in the Bruce Willis movie? Come on, BW, add another Legend boat to the series!
Ed Stone posted 04-02-2004 09:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for Ed Stone  Send Email to Ed Stone     
It looks as though the Outrage hulls have become
more aggressive in the hull design and that is
why they don't share molds with the conquest lineup.
They have not totally committed the Outrages towards
fishing because they would lose valuble family consumers.

I like lhg's idea,add two maybe three legends to the
lineup.They could save money on hulls by sharing the
molds with some smaller conquest models.

At that point they could eliminate the 21 Outrage
and build two maybe three Outrages (23,27,32) that
could rival all the offshore competition.

When you compare other top of the line boats with
Whalers I don't see there prices out of line,
At the Miami boat show we looked at a Regulator
24 FS with twins and the salesman quoted a price
of over 90k.The 23 Contender with twins list for
over 63k with no T-top and zero options.
2700 Triton 104,824,23 Seacraft w/single 58,545.

jimh posted 04-02-2004 10:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The perception of the general public, perhaps even the general boating public as well, is that Boston Whaler makes 13-foot boats. In terms of unit volume, the sales of Boston Whaler boats confirm that.

If you were to sit on LHG's fine WHALE LURE (Outrage 25) while it was moored at a dock, the most frequently heard comment from a passing boater is,

"Gee, that's a Boston Whaler? I didn't know they made them that big."

Before becoming immersed into this Whaler world, I considered myself an rather well-read boater. I could spot boats with the best of them. I was really completely unaware of Boston Whaler boats larger than a Montauk 17.

Moe posted 04-02-2004 10:50 PM ET (US)     Profile for Moe  Send Email to Moe     
Larry, look at this picture and tell me why the 270 is a 25' boat and the 27 Guardian isn't.

http://www.engr.udayton.edu/staff/lriggins/Whaler/270vsGD27.jpg

There's no more loss to the Euro transom on the 270 than there is to the transom area on the 27 Guardian. I could make the case they're both 25' long boats with WhalerDrive.

--
Moe

James posted 04-02-2004 11:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for James  Send Email to James     
My general impression, based on observation over the last 30 years here in NJ/NY, is that we tend to see more Whaler center consoles in the 17/22 foot range, Grady White walkarounds in the 20/25 foot range, and the "specialty brands" such as Regulator, Contender and Seacraft, in the 25+ range.

The Whaler center consoles have a superb and enviable reputation for safety, quality and seaworthiness. Many old salts will say that a Whaler may not be your first boat, but by the second or third time you buy, you will be looking for a Whaler. However, they are not seen as glamorous or typical family boats. Whalers here tend to be somewhat stark in aesthetics and amenities (not everyone fancies sitting on a cooler), generally lack significant fishing options, built-in lockable storage, or fancy living room-type related options. The all-purpose safe nature of a Whaler is fancied or appreciated by some, but not all. My guess is that as the boats get larger, the safety part is foolishly taken for granted and those "amenities" seem to matter for much more at the dock. I know quite a few people who continue to be shocked when they hear the unfortunate but ritualistic annual report of a modern cruiser sinking.

The "Boss" has developed quite a liking for cruising in my 170 now that she does not get seasick so easily (totally unforeseen and completely due to the Relief Band). She recently told me that we should really move up in size next year to a 21/22 ft. size, which pleasantly surprised the hell out of me. Apparently, she does not really fancy seating on that cooler and hanging on to the cooler handles either. In assessing our specific "needs", we realize that as we get older, we do not want to keep carrying all the "boating and fishing stuff" to/from the marina everytime that we go out. The only Whaler coastal water design of interest in the 21/22 ft. range is the 210, and lockable storage area is not at a surplus. Maybe, BW will come out with a Legend-type 21/22 foot cuddy, by next year.

James.

LHG posted 04-03-2004 02:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for LHG    
Moe - I really don't want to get into another Classic/Post Classic battle, so will not post here the actual dimensions I tape measured when my 25 Outrage (24-8 overall) was rafted along side a new 270 Outrage. The 270 has a molded in transom backet, with actual boat bottom "V" cut back aproximately 2'-4". You have to see this with the boat on a trailer. My boat, of course, has a 2'-2" setback Armstrong bracket, which means hull bottom is also cut back 2'-2". Side by side the two hulls are the IDENTICAL length, engines to bow. Mine, and other WD 25's are called and sold as "25's"., which they really are. The "270" is also a bracketed "25", but selling it as a "27" brings a higher price. The 320 we have been discussing elsewhere is really a bracketed 30.

I also measured the "usable" interior dimensions on the classic 25 and the new 270. In every dimension, including interior beam, the full transom 25 Outrage has more interior usable square footage. I specifically do not like the huge consoles on these boats, doubling as a "Port-O-Let" unit for the ladies, since they get absolutely minimal bathroom use and take up too much usable floor space better utilized for fishing, etc. A Porta Potti under a convertible top style Mills Forward shelter gives same privacy, and is much easier to service and clean.

I agree on the 27 Guardian pictured, that the particular notched transom splashwell design is highly inefficient. Any 27 I would own would have the full transom, Armstrong bracket configuration. In todays current boat lingo, that would make it a "290" Guardian.

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