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Author Topic:   2002 180 Dauntless Ten Seasons
SteveGMP posted 08-01-2011 08:25 PM ET (US)   Profile for SteveGMP   Send Email to SteveGMP  
It has been almost ten seasons since I purchased my 2002 180 Dauntless. This is a brief summary and review of what I have experienced during my ownership.

I bought the boat in New Hampshire at a dealership located on Squam Lake. I found the service to be just fair; they seemed a bit to laid back. I don't think they were completely honest about the boat being ready for delivery during our negotiations including a Smart Craft upgrade that needed to be completed. Boston Whaler made up for this with very good factory acknowledgment of my purchase including a questionare regarding the dealership. I gave the dealership a good review.

When I got the boat home I found a poorly organized set of Smart Craft wires,some snapped of fasteners at a couple of locations, and a cushion with snaps that did not align properly. Not the end of the world, I usually work on my boats anyway and I wasn't going back.

I added a twenty four volt trolling motor on the bow. The batteries got located at the stern, starboard side, adjacent to the cranking battery. I modified the front rail by adding small 1-inch stainless steel flanges that allow me to quickly remove a short railing section when needed. I did have to cover the bow light when I bolted down an aluminum plate for the trolling motor but made up for this with a nice removable bracket. I found the wood locations to be accurate and that they can except even a fine thread; lots of 5200 sealant for the bow plate and battery boxes. I added the bow electrical plate, plastic, that locates a power port and the plug for the trolling motor. When I drilled out the bow section to gain access to the wire way I found water. I think this was left from when the boat was built. Running the wires was not bad although it did require the entire family and a metal snake. The trolling motor bracket has worked well including and accidental deployment while on plane that damaged the trolling motor; it's plenty strong.

I had a failure of both my anchor locker cover and stern seat back section. I had a dealership; Cambridge, Massachusetts help with the repair and I would give them poor marks. They would not purchase the new parts without seeing the boat, even after I offered a credit card number just in case they could not be replaced under warranty. They actually promised to do so and then did not have them when I dropped off the boat. This cost me fishing time. Also, they did not take the time to line up the anchor locker cover that caused a scratch the first time I opened and closed the lid. Even worse, I put a ding in my skeg going over a berm in their new parking lot. I fixed the ding with an orbital sander; 80 grit, looks like new.

Please remember that these are condensed experiences of ten seasons; I am not intending this to be a negative appraisal. I really, really, like this boat.

I added a Raymarine A65 at the helm. It was expensive. I would not do this again. Instead I would install a decent sonar at the bow, it is close enough to see from the helm, and a removable GPS at the helm that could get more usage in my car. The bimini top brackets are conveniently located immediately in between the front and rear railings, midship. It is a sharp pointy piece of stainless steel. It got me in the ribs one to many times when landing a fish and they are gone, gone, forever.

I bought Mills covers and they are a great product.

Blisters--I got very subtle indications that I was getting blisters. After some heated debate I had the boat lightly sanded, epoxy coated and bottom painted; about fifteen hundred dollars. No more worries about leaving my expensive boat in the water overnight, I do have bottom paint. It has worked well. My cushions after spending a lot of time in the elements are still excellent, very good quality. The O-ring at the top of my hydraulic steering reservoir failed. It took a while to figure out what was happening but turned out to be and easy fix. The boat gets mildew. The mildew is a real maintenance pain. Some of my caulking has grown mildew and it will not come out.

I hit a water sky at speed. I bought a color matched repair kit and I could not find the repair a year later.

I am on my second set of hubs and trailer bearings.

My switches have degraded from the sun. Not terrible, lights on and off, I don't think I have ever used the horn button. The doors to the helm will sometimes open if you really smack a good wave. They are very sharp at the corners and it is usually not a good time to be looking down and closing the doors. My scuppers, inboard, have cracked and been replaced two times. Next time I will just fill the cracks with 5200. I had to replace the straps that hold down the cooler seat. It is to be expected and I am impressed by how something so simple can work so well.

Second cranking battery in ten seasons! It may be time for a third battery. I can't remember seeing water being moved by my bilge pump. My boat is slow, slow and steady. I get about 36 knots. It's kinda a big stern heavy tank. It always has gotten us home. I personally would get in the Dauntless before a Montauk if things got rough. I also think the Dauntless at least equals the Montauk in looks.

My Mercury OptiMax 135 was on the losing end of a class action law suit. It has three hundred hours. I got a year extra warranty because of the law suite. I replace the impeller every year.I used to change the plugs every season. Now I go with the recommended one hundred hours.

My alternator stopped working and required replacement. It was about $600 repair. I had a really bad water intrusion in my gasoline. I got a water alarm twice. I sampled and emptied a water filter. I had to have the entire gas tank emptied. The engine never skipped a beat. It always starts. It always runs the same. My decals peeled off; how can Mercury not have good decals after so many years of selling them?

My intake cowl welds broke free, plastic inside the engine cover, and I had to have a friend tack them again, not to bad. I run and aluminum prop. It looks factory new, knock on wood. My lower end oil gets changed twice a year.

The 180 Dauntless hull design is gone. A much different design is now being used. I wouldn't buy one. To me Boston Whalers are the boat with the different and well thought out hull shape. I also don't see to many 180's for sale in the Northeast. I am very confident that this boat is destined to be added to the classic forum. It's just a matter of time.

masbama posted 08-03-2011 09:21 AM ET (US)     Profile for masbama  Send Email to masbama     
Interesting. I have a 1999 18 Dauntless that I have owned for four years. Do you have the notched transom?
SteveGMP posted 08-03-2011 03:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for SteveGMP  Send Email to SteveGMP     
No notched transom. My rear seat is not removable as well. I think my boat has the last set of revisions before the big change in hull design. Great boat.
Graumann posted 08-03-2011 10:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for Graumann  Send Email to Graumann     
Nice report on your Whaler.
I would like to know more about the 1" flanges you use on the cutout to the front rail. I have a 190 Montauk and it is necessary to cut the rail in order to mount a trolling motor. Thanks!
SteveGMP posted 08-04-2011 09:18 AM ET (US)     Profile for SteveGMP  Send Email to SteveGMP     
The flanges are stainless steel vacuum style; KF32, they are blank flanges. I welded a short section of tubing on the mating side of the flange to mimic a sealing ring. I have seen some really nice work done by others on this site. I think if you do a search you can find additional ideas as well. If you need more information send me and e-mail.
masbama posted 08-06-2011 01:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for masbama  Send Email to masbama     
I have had my Dauntless for four years now. I bought it with 189 hours on the meter and it now has 298. Not used too much. Last year the oil spill shut down a lot of boating. It has a 1998 Evinrude Ocean Pro 150hp 2 stroke on a hydrolic jack plate. I moved up from a 1977 Montauk.

This is a lot of boat for 18 feet. It is heavy and seems built like a tank. Still looks great.

wingman posted 08-14-2011 10:00 AM ET (US)     Profile for wingman    
Steve, great summary, enjoyed reading it. Any pics you can post?
masbama posted 08-14-2011 10:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for masbama  Send Email to masbama     
My Dauntless has been a great boat but it is not without flaws. To put fuel in it is a problem; it coughs up the fuel and the tank is shaped almost like a triangle with the sensor at the narrow end so you really don't know how much gas you have. I would think the Whaler folks would have modified this before they put it out in the market. It can be a bit stern heavy; I cannot get it dialed in to ride smooth in following seas. Looks good though.
jimh posted 08-15-2011 08:50 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Many thanks to Steve for the carefully crafted review of the 180 DAUNTLESS.
dnh posted 08-22-2011 01:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for dnh  Send Email to dnh     
My father has a 1999 Dauntless 18.

It likewise has a problem taking fuel. It constantly spits it back out. The thank does not have a vent like my 1995 Outrage 21.

The Dauntless 18 is indeed stern heavy. We finally added trim tabs this past winter.

The boat has a great deal of seating. The cushions all went bad and had to be replaced from the SC sun, except the stern cushion, which blew away when my Dad was trailering the boat, twice (yes he should have learned to remove it).

Eventually, we had a local shop make a cushion with a slide in track that cannot blow away, it has not.

I like the boat but it rides a bit rough due to the bathtub like shape.

TBOCNJ posted 08-29-2011 04:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for TBOCNJ  Send Email to TBOCNJ     
I also have a 2002 Dauntless 180 with the 135 Opti. It's my second season with the boat which I bought from the original owner. I've been very satisfied with the fit and ride for the way our family uses it - fishing, cruising, tubing. I've had zero problems with the motor which had only 140 hours on it when I bought it. I have some of the same issues with mold in the caulking which can't be removed and the anchor locker and rear fold down seat had a seperation problem that was cured with marinetek. The cushions are in decent shape for a boat it's age and I also added a second battery for peace of mind.

A great little boat.

Matty_Cardin posted 07-11-2012 11:33 AM ET (US)     Profile for Matty_Cardin    
HI SteveGMP, I just recently purchases a 2001 18' Dauntless and love the boat. I was thrilled to find a local guy give such a detailed review of the boat.

I have two questions - Frist, Who did you use to have the hull re-conditioned. I have some oxidation and fading on the hull/center console and I'm looking for referalls to have the work done.

Second, Are the Mills covers worth the price? I keep the boat in a slip and get paranoid of the hull exposed the elemebts.

Any and all information is very helpful. Hope your still enjoying your whaler!

Feel free to contact me directly 603-765-2968


Matty Cardin

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