Boston Whaler took a new approach when they launched the 350 Realm last winter, and now that model has a bigger sibling: the 380 Realm. We found it floating at the docks during the 2018 Miami International Boat Show, and jumped aboard to shoot this First Look Video.
As we’re sure you noticed from the video, this boat is just as tricked-out with fresh new design ideas as most new Boston Whalers are. The company has developed a well-deserved reputation over the past decade for developing unique new features. Some examples: the helm seat on the 230 Outrage transitions into an aft-facing seat, and then into a bait-prep station. The aft bench seat, passenger’s seat, and dinette on their 320 Vantage merge to become one gigantic lounger. And on the 330 Outrage you’ll find a beefy cocktail table that’s integrated into the back of the leaning post. The drink cooler’s integration with the aft-facing seat on the 380 Realm is just yet more case of Whaler coming up with an heretofore unthought-of improvement to a part of a boat. And adding the see-through easy access hatch was a stroke of, dare we say it, beverage-loving genius.
Smarts in the Parts
Another thoroughly unique thing about the 380 Realm, and all Whalers as compared to their competition, is the way it’s constructed. Sure, everyone’s heard Boston Whaler’s trademark term “unsinkable.” But, how can Whaler make such a claim? It starts by molding not one, but two hulls – an inner and an outer. The two are then clamped together, and liquid polyurethane gets pumped in-between them under intense pressure. A chemical reaction then takes place, with the polyurethane heating to over 400-degrees as it solidifies into dense closed-cell foam. As it solidifies it bonds to the surfaces of both hulls, essentially melding them into one giant solid structure.
This results in a boat that feels rock-solid underfoot, will remain afloat no matter what (chop it into 100 pieces, and each individual piece will remain thoroughly buoyant), allows far less water-noise to travel through the hull, and has great insulation for compartments integrated below deck level. In fact, there’s only one real down-side to building boats with this method: cost. The 380 Realm starts at over $660,000, a mark significantly higher than most similarly-sized boats that are built with more common methods. One old saying has a lot of truth in this case: if you want to play, you’ve gotta pay.
Beyond the basic backbone of the boat, Whaler also uses exceptionally stout pieces-parts. Check out the pedestals under the bow cockpit and cabin tables, for example. They’re beefy stainless-steel, and unlike the cocktail tables on so many boats, they are stable enough to sit or stand on. Or look at the seatback supports on the second-row helm-deck seating. These are hinged (the seat can face either forward or aft, in yet another Whaler-style presto-change-o design), they’re several inches wide, and are so sturdy you won’t see any flexing even in your 300-pound cousin Bubba leans back and kicks his feet up.
Games People Play
Some people will be wondering why Whaler launched the 380 Realm in the first place. After all, they do currently offer a 380 Outrage. And while the Outrage is a center console fishing boat, they’ve outfitted and sold versions of this model to non-fishers for years.
While it’s true that center consoles work well for people who enjoy time on the water sans fishing rods, there are some weaknesses to the design. And the Realm is intended to address these directly. The cabin is a great example. Yes, the Outrage has one inside the console. But since there are walkarounds on both sides, it’s necessarily small. By moving the console to starboard and leaving a walkway only on the port side of the Realm, the boat’s cabin can be made substantially larger. Net result? Instead of a V-berth with just a few feet of headroom, the Realm has a full-blown dinette in the cabin which converts into a much larger berth. There’s also room for a larger enclosed head, plus a mini-galley with a sink, refrigerator, and microwave. While the real food prep will take place at the more substantial outdoor galley, this does provide all the necessary accouterments for weekending.
Another tweak that makes for better cruising is the full-framed hard-top, which encloses the helm-deck on three sides. It provides full protection for a half-dozen people, while on the Outrage model, only three or four could enjoy complete protection behind the center console.
The down-side, as you might guess, is a loss of fishability. No, the Realm isn’t going to be the choice of a die-hard angler. You can’t work a fish 360-degrees around the boat with that big helm-deck enclosure, and with the huge sunpads and lounges up forward, the bow cockpit is all about relaxing not fishing. That said, the 380 Realm does maintain enough fishing DNA to keep most casual anglers quite happy. It has a 15-gallon livewell in the transom, four flush gunwale-mounted rodholders, three more holders in the transom, and a pair of fishboxes integrated into the deck.
Born to Run
As we mentioned earlier the Whaler was at the docks during the show, but it was locked in tight so we couldn’t get it out for a test run. Fortunately, however, we’ve tested the 380 Outrage, which has the same foot-print in the water and almost the same displacement (it’s just 1,000 pounds more than the Outrage). Rigged with 1,050 horses (significantly less than the Realm’s 1,600 HP maximum rating) the Outrage cruised at a bit over 30 MPH and topped-out right around the 50 MPH mark. That means that with a brace of quad Mercury Verado 350s on the transom, you’ll easily be in blow-your-hat-off territory.
One other thing that must be said about the boat’s on-water performance is that you can bet it’ll grip the water in eye-opening hair-pin turns, and chop its way right through sloppy seas. When we ran the 380 Outrage it was in a bumpy open Atlantic, and the boat performed every bit as good as one could hope for. But don’t take our word for it—watch the video for yourself and you’ll see plenty of evidence. Remember, these models share the same footprint and the Realm is a bit heavier, so if anything, it should run even more smoothly.
The 380 Realm shows that as far as boat-builders go, Whaler probably knows its customers better than anyone. They could have continued making center consoles and hoping that boaters would be satisfied with them. Likely, they would have been. But instead Boston Whaler started an entirely new model line, laser-focused on how most people use their boats. That means that not only is the 380 Realm unique, Whaler’s attitude is, too.
Other Choices: Though it’s a bit larger, the Belzona 40cc takes a similarly unique stab at building a boat for entertaining, performance, and relatively casual angling. If you’re focused more on angling ability and performance is a big deal, take a look at the HydraSports Custom 38 Speciale. And if you’re willing to forget about fishing altogether, check out the Tiara Sport 38 LS.
See Boston Whaler 380 Realm listings.
|Fuel capacity||450 gal.|
|Water capacity||60 gal.|