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Author Topic:   180 Dauntless
bosco posted 06-19-2006 04:40 PM ET (US)   Profile for bosco   Send Email to bosco  
The past week or so I've been searching through the archives about the 180 Dauntless to find out a little bit about this boat. The more I think about it and my needs, the more I'm leaning towards this boat. I'm 6'5" tall and weigh in at 250lbs and really need something that will tow me on a slalom. I also like the storage the 180 offers and the roominess I'm going to need with a family coming in the not to distant future.

I'm writing in hopes of hearing Dauntless owners' opinions, likes, dislikes, and everything under the sun about this boat. Also, if you have pictures you can post that would be great too. Finally, what kind of pricing am I going to be looking at for a late model (2003- ) Dauntless? Any good deals out there that anyone knows of? I live in Atlanta but certainly don't mind driving a long way for a good deal.

K Albus posted 06-20-2006 02:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
I have a 2002 Dauntless 180 with a 135 hp Optimax motor. I have owned the boat since it was new in April 2002. It is a very versatile boat. I have used my for the following activities:

- Fishing – I have fished for walleye in Lake Erie; salmon in Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, and the St. Clair River; and flounder in Intracoastal Waterway in North Carolina. When fishing for salmon, I use two downriggers with gimble mounts in the outside rear rodholders. The boat is comfortable for 3 adult fisherman. Although I have a livewell under the reversible pilot seat, I rarely use if for holding fish. I tried it once while walleye fishing, but water kept coming over the top edge and leaking into the cockpit area. The livewell is now used primarily for dry storage. I also have a baitwell in the port transom area. I have used it a couple of time for live bait, and it works well.

- Tubing/Skiing – I have used my boat to pull my nephews around on tube on a couple of different small lakes. My nephews were 8 and 11 at the time, and the boat performed well. With regard to skiing, I have attempted to pull somebody on two skis, but that person was not successful in getting up. This was because the person was a poor skier, not because of any problem with the boat. Nobody has attempted to slalom ski behind my boat, but I think it would be a lot of work for a 250 skier to get up on one ski. A 150 hp motor would be better suited to that task. Otherwise, a large skier can use two skis to get up, and then drop one.

- Scuba Diving – My wife and I have used the boat as a scuba diving platform in Lake Huron, Lake Charlevoix, and Union Lake, all in Michigan. The boat is well-suited to this task. There is plenty of room for our scuba gear and two tanks each, as well as plenty of room for both of us to get suited up. Any more than two divers and would be getting crowded.

- Boating/Cruising – I have used the boat in all types of water for boating and cruising, including Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, the St. Clair River, Lake Erie, several inland lakes of varying sizes, Lake Murray in South Carolina, and the Intracoastal Waterway and the Cape Fear River in North Carolina. The boat will comfortably seat four to five adults when cruising, and will handle six if necessary, although it gets a little crowded with six. The hull design makes the boat good for boating in relatively shallow water. Also, the boat performs fairly well in moderately choppy conditions.

- Duck Hunting – I used the boat once as a tender boat on a layout duck hunt in Lake St. Clair. While the guys I hunted with certainly appreciated the comfort of my boat, they didn’t care much about treating my boat gently. More damages was done to my boat that one day in terms of nicks and scratches then was done in all of the other days I’ve owned put together. The boat performed well, but took a beating.

I have had a few minor problems with the boat and motor during my four years of ownership. All of these were easily/cheaply fixed, and none of them resulted in the loss of any boating time. These included the following:

- A cross-threaded spark plug hole – It was not clear whether this was my fault or the fault of my dealership. However, Mercury provided a free replacement cylinder head by overnight mail, and the dealership only charged me for the labor to replace it. This took approximately two days to repair.

- Lag screws on the center console – the center console is held to the deck/hull by approximately seven lag screws. The head of one of my lag screws has broken off. The other lag screws would often vibrate loose. I have remedied this by removing the remaining lag screws, applying some 3M 4200, and reinserting the lag screws. So far this appears to be working.

- Delamination of the fold-up stern seat – the original fold-up stern seat on my boat was made of two separate pieces of fiberglass. After a few years, they began to split apart, and there was a large, visible, and very unsightly gap along the top edge of the seat. Boston Whaler replaced the seat back free of charge, under warranty, with an updated version. The problem has not returned.

I have also had a number of small fit-and-finish type issues. These include:

- Rod holder straps on the gunwale-mounted rod holders - All of the plastic hardware on the gunwale-mounted rod holders appears to be badly sun-faded, even though my boat is stored in my garage. One day while working with the rod holder strap, it broke off near the mounting point. This may be the result of a deterioration of the material due to ultraviolet exposure, or it may simply have been because the piece is made of relatively thin plastic.

- Boston Whaler steering wheel cap/emblem – the steering wheel cap is held in place by small set screw. The set screw came loose after about a year and half, and the cap fell out while I was boating. I put the cap back in place and re-tightened the screw, and the cap remained in place for the next couple of years. Last month, however, the screw apparently came loose while I was pulling the boat down the highway, and the cap flew out. I am currently waiting for a replacement cap from dealer.

- Plastic cooler tie-down clips – my boat has the comfort package, which includes a removable cooler seat. The cooler is held in place by nylon webbing straps with plastic buckles. The buckles are very easy to break by stepping on them, and it is very difficult to find replacement buckles. The buckles are one-inch dual ladderloc buckles, which are sometimes available at West Marine. I have checked numerous other on-line sources and various hiking and camping supply stores, and while they all carry single ladderloc buckles, the dual ladderloc buckles are almost impossible to find. The web page does not list a separate part number for the buckles, and it appears that in order to get them from Boston Whaler, you would need to order the entire cooler seat mounting assembly. I was able to track down the manufacturer of the buckles, but they will only sell them in lots of 1,000. I just need one.

Overall, I have been very pleased with the boat. As you can see, it is very versatile. It is also a very dry riding boat. My biggest complaint with the boat is the lack of protection from the elements. As a center console, it offers very little protection from the wind. This is not a problem on nice, warm summer days when I do most of my boating. It is more of a problem in the spring or the fall, and when it cools down in the evening.

arkwhaler posted 06-20-2006 06:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for arkwhaler  Send Email to arkwhaler     
I have a 1999 dauntless 18 with 135 optimax, and i have been very pleased with the boat. overall, i have found her to be versatile. The boat is setup well for bass fishing/walleye fishing from the bow, but it is probably more adept at trolling. some have used downriggers (gimbel mounted in the outside rod holders) with success.

I love this boat for cruising, and it is even well setup for small children. we recently spent the day on lake ouachita (arkansas) with my children (5 and 1). fyi this is a 40,000 acre inland lake with a fair amount of chop from wakes on summer weekends. the high gunnels and seating are a big plus if you are expecting children.

as many have posted, the ride is greatly improved by addition of at least a hydrofoil. ( . .doelfin. . .se300 on mine).

i'm not sure you will be pleased pulling a 250 lb waterskier behind most post-classic whalers, as they don't seem to be maximally powered. back when i skied, we used 350 v8 i/o's to pull 250 lbs of slalom skier. the boat tends to ride bow high, and this will further complicate getting up and getting the boat on-plane. honestly, i would want 200 hp on a boat like this to waterski. perhaps others have had specific experiences skiing behind this boat, and they might be more helpful.

overall i'm very pleased, but would be hesitant if your primary focus is waterskiing.

as far as pricing, i expect you will pay over 20000 for the boat you mention. mine was 15000 last year. . .good condition, freshwater use only with top, comfort and fishing packages. I would watch and consider comparable models in size. . .nantucket, ventura 18. whalers seem popular in the great lakes region. . .so i would look for a freshwater boat there.

if comfort is a main priority, the rear seating changed in about the 2001 model year. (from storage box with removable cushions and backrests to the current folddown seat). just a thought.

lakeman posted 06-24-2006 07:32 AM ET (US)     Profile for lakeman  Send Email to lakeman     
I own a 2000 18 Dauntless with a 135 Opti,It is truly a versatile boat, I have had it 25 miles offshore, and much more inland or protected water. It is exceptionally dry for it's size and handles a 2 ft chop very well. I love the attention she get because she is a Whaler.
Now for the down side, note, this may have changed some after a certain year, I think 2003 and I'm 65 years old so my body may reflect different views of the boat. You always feel like you are standing up hill with the slop in the bottom interior up hill to the bow.
I have had some problems with the electrical connections coming loose under the console.
I have added trim tabs and also run a fin to keep the bow rise down as much as possible when throttling up to plane. I can nurse it up but fully trimmed in and she gets moderate bow rise but a full throttle will cause what I call excessive bow rise. But the fact is, the boat is Stearn heavy and runs bow high and is hard to plane, The trim tabs do help. I guess, running bow high is what makes her so dry. My big Grady or my other boats never had this minor problem they all jumped on plane with little effort.
I have some stress cracks on the gunnel, near the fish box, not too uncommon. For such an expensive boat, why would Whaler use so much plastic overboard drains and locks on compartments, I have already replaced some on the Battery cover side and the bait well side with SS ones. I also have a crack in the anchor box lid/hatch cover where the rubber locking ties too it.

All in all it is a good boat not great but just good, I would buy one again if the price was right, but It would have to be a newer model and I would water test it to see the difference. I think if I need a new boat it would be the Nantucket or a flats/bay boat like the Shearwater or Triton. Only problem with those two are they are not Whalers and after owning a Whaler, that matters, I wish Whaler would offer a true Bay boat similar to them.

bosco posted 06-25-2006 09:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for bosco  Send Email to bosco     
Thanks for the replies so far -- anyone else want to give their two cents?
Lars Simonsen posted 06-26-2006 09:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for Lars Simonsen  Send Email to Lars Simonsen     
I also have a Dauntless 18. I like it a lot. It's a compromise just like every other boat. There are days when I wish it had a deeper v, but then other days I love the shallow draft and very stable hull. I'm about 215 lbs, and I can stand on any edge of the boat, and the boat barely tilts.

I use mine mainly for fishing, but also for water sports (swimming, snorkling, skiing, tubing) etc. I do a lot of inshore and nearshore fishing, and it can handle just about any kind of water. You may not be comfortable in some conditions, but the boat can certainly take it.

Mine's a 1998, and I like the layout of the hull. It has a stern bench seat, but you can take it out (unlike the newer hulls). 90% of the time, I don't have the bench seat in.

I would make some changes to the hull if I had my way. First, I don't like the cheapo reversible pilot seat. The RPS on the classics is much nicer and more functional. I also don't like the plastic cooler cleats (cheapo). In my opinion, the console is too close to the RPS, making it difficult to stand up while operating the boat unless you have one prop your right knee on the RPS. But all of those things can be changed. Of course, I bought mine used, and got it for much less than I would have paid for a new one, so I'm probably more tolerant of these imperfections that someone who spent over $30K for a new one.

I've had mine for 4 years now, and I'm not in any rush to replace it with anything.

Dauntless18 posted 06-27-2006 06:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dauntless18    
Ditto to the above. I have a '98 with 135 Opti. Haven't invested in Doel fin or tabs, but have considered it. I am on LI Sound and the waves/wake can get big enough to make you wish for a deep-V, 30+ft offshore rig (pounding gets pretty rattling). Happy with the stability, though and have never felt "threatened" by the weather / waves. Very solid boat and engine. Sips gas - still amazes me how little.

bkloss posted 06-28-2006 04:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for bkloss  Send Email to bkloss     
I own a 2004 model and I am extremely happy with it. I use it for fishing off of San Diego, water sports and go out camping on Lake Mead with it. I have the comfort package which is great for storage and the rest of the family. Mine is powered by the 135 Optimax and I have about 270 hrs on the motor. I go out a lot of times solo and this boat is easy to launch and retrieve. It gets plenty of use and with a little work, she still looks like the day we took her home. It will take more rough water than I physically can. If you are looking for something that is a great all around boat (not just strictly fishing); this would still be my top choice...or maybe the 22'Dauntless...........


DeepSouthWhaler posted 06-28-2006 10:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for DeepSouthWhaler    
I have 1999 Dauntless with 150 Opti. I added trim tabs and it really changed the way the boat performs. The hole shot is much quicker and it keeps the bow down in chop which really reduces the pounding. The boat is very spacious and is a great platform to fish off of. Boston Whaler redesigned the hull in 2002 or 2003. The pocket was eliminated and I believe that the deadrise was increased at the transom. The hull was also lengthened and the fuel tank was moved forward. This should help with the ride characteristics. I feel that this boat is a great all-around boat for inshore cruising, fishing and water sports.
bosco posted 06-29-2006 09:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for bosco  Send Email to bosco     
Thanks again for the comments. I was down in Tampa this past week and had a chance to go by the MarineMax in Tampa, which had a 180 Dauntless. I was able to give it a good once over and it really does seem like a much bigger boat than an 18 footer. I think that the 8' beam may be the biggest reason for that but it is quite a boat.

More than anything, I think the storage it offers versus some of the other Whalers I've been look in to (Montauk mainly) is what is leaning me in its direction. Of course the price tag is a little steep at $42k on the one I saw at MarineMax. Is $40k going to be about the norm for one of these off the lot? If I could find one new or slightly used in the low to mid $30k's I would definitely have a better chance talking the wife into it :-).

Thanks everyone! If you have pics of your boats I'd love to see them.

lakeman posted 06-30-2006 07:00 AM ET (US)     Profile for lakeman  Send Email to lakeman     
The 18 Dauntless is not the most popular model(Price for it's size), but like most Whalers it will still command a good dollar in resale depending where you live or where the boat is located and of course conditon of the boat, do not believe all BW owners love and charish their Whalers. In the winter, I have found some really good deals on last year's models. Sometimes there are a number of used ones listed on the Boat Trader for a wide range of prices.

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