Boston Whaler 280 Dauntless

Boston Whaler 280 Dauntless

Versatility at its best!

By Mike Burns

When Boston Whaler was founded back in 1958, they first introduced the brand at the New York Boat Show.  It only seemed fitting that New York City is where the now parent company, Brunswick Corp., revealed their latest addition to the fleet, the 280 Dauntless.  The popular Dauntless was launched almost 30 years ago, and are well renowned for their solid performance, good seakeeping capability’s, a smooth ride, and of course their ‘unsinkability’. 

Recently redesigned with the sister models, the 250 Dauntless, the 280 is the flagship of the Dauntless fleet.  It features improved bow flare and increased freeboard, which offers an exceptionally smooth and dry ride.  

Boston Whaler 280 Dauntless
Optional windlass and beach boarding ladder lets you drop anchor wherever you find yourself on the journey.

The new 280 Dauntless is just shy of a foot longer than its predecessor, the 270, and it maintains the same beam of 9’.  The new 280 though, has much more to offer.  Back aft, the transom area offers a sizable boarding area that flank the engine(s), and allow for easy boarding from the dock, or from the water via the folding swim ladder to starboard.  A convenient passage way to starboard allows for easy access to the cockpit, where you’ll find a casting platform that easily converts to a twin bench seat, which is also adjacent to a 19 gallon live-well.  You’ll also find convenient freshwater and saltwater wash-downs within easy reach.

Lifting the bench seat reveals a good-sized storage area, but what is even more impressive is that the bottom of the storage compartment folds up and out of the way to allow for easy access to batteries, bilge pumps and other mechanical systems. 

Off to port, our test model was fitted with the optional, and highly functional, ‘patio’.  With the release of two latches and a safety pin, and section of the hull side can be deployed, creating a flat deck (hence ‘patio’) for ease of boarding when alongside.  Alternatively, you can attach a swim ladder to the aft side for an additional, and convenient place to enter and exit the water.

Boston Whaler
A stainless steel steering wheel fitted with a steering knob allows for easy one handed control.

At the helm, the 280 Dauntless has four seat configurations available.  The standard helm seat is innovative and versatile in the way that the bench seat itself can flip to a forward or aft facing configuration, at the flip of a button.  Our test boat was fitted with the deluxe leaning post, which allows for enough room for the optional Seakeeper 1 gyro-stabilizer.  The dual helm seat is fixed, and just aft of the bench itself, you’ll find a sink, a pair of rod holders, storage compartments, and recessed cup holders.  This configuration can also be equipped with a large second live-well, in place of the sink, storage options, and the gyro.  All helm seat configurations feature flip-up bolster and arm rests, which allows for comfortable operation when underway, no matter what the conditions. 

Boston Whaler
The functional wet bar is just one of several versatile features of the 280 Dauntless.

The helm is laid out in a simple, yet functional manner.  The stainless steel wheel features a turning knob, and the Mercury controls, including the Joystick, are within easy reach.  Ahead of the wheel, our test boat was fitted with the options Simrad 16” display, which is part of the Deluxe Electronics Package.  In addition to standard navigation functions, onboard systems such as lighting, pumps, and the engine systems can be also monitored.  For redundancy, a set of rocker switches also line the helm for your more commonly used features.  

Boston Whaler
Mercury’s JPO (Joystick Piloting for Outboards) makes close quarter maneuvering a breeze!

On top of the helm, you’ll find a built in cell phone ‘flat charger’, along with USB ports, and a navigational compass.  Not that a standard compass gets widely used anymore, but I do have concerns of creating a ‘resting place’ for items such as cell phones, etc. in close proximity of the built in compass, which can be easily thrown off by magnetic interference. 

For the enclosure of the T-Top, Boston Whaler offers multiple windshield options.  Our test boat was fitted with the full glass enclosure, with wiper, washer, and a power vent overhead.  The base model is fitted with the more standard ‘half-glass’ configuration, which allows for a bit more exposure to the elements, either good or bad. 

Boston Whaler
A full-glass enclosure offers ample protection from the elements. Other enclosure options are also available.

The underside of the fiberglass hardtop can be colour configured to the hull sides. The optional retractable PTX Sureshade is a great feature, which allows for additional protection from the elements, at the push of a button.  If you don’t opt for the Sureshade, four rod holders would be mounted to the trailing edge of the T-Top.

Off to starboard, a large hatch allows for a head compartment below the helm.  The base boat is fitted with a standard manual head, and the upgraded version features a VacuFlush system.  Also in this compartment, you’ll find the remote battery switches, breakers, ignition switches, and a fold down access to the back of the dash.

Boston Whaler
Spacious forward lounge conceals a large storage compartment, designed to provide easier access to dive tanks, buckets and fishing rods.

Forward of the console, you’ll find a comfortable and spacious twin lounge, with flip up arm rests.  The base of this lounge flips up to reveal an enormous lockable storage compartment, which is long enough to store seven foot fishing rods, and other large items.  Below the hatch itself, is a convenient storage space for the forward table.  The table itself can be used in a traditional manner, or you can lower it to become a casting deck, and when you add a filler cushion, voila! – you now have a cozy sunpad!

Moving forward, our test boat featured low-profile grab rails that lie flush with the gunnel, or you can also opt for a more traditional high bow rail.  Off to port and starboard, a set of forward bench seats feature convenience flip up back rests, and you’ll find an additional insulated storage compartment, which can do double duty as a cooler.  In the deck of the bow area, a large hatch reveals an enormous insulated fish box, complete with pumpout.  

At the bow, the anchor locker is fitted with the optional windlass and forward boarding ladder.  This area also features two bases for poles for the sunshade, which clips to the hardtop and offer great protection from the sun.

Boston Whaler
Twin Mercury CLX V8 Dual Verado w/JPO will push the 280 Dauntless along at a comfortable 38.8 mph at 4000 rpm

The 280 Dauntless is available with Mercury engines in a single (350 HP) or twin engine (up to twin 350 HP) configuration, the latter of which our test boat was fitted with.  With the twin engine configuration, operators get the benefit of the Joystick (JPO – Joystick Piloting for Outboards), and no matter what engine package you choose, you have the colour choice of either white or black.

On an exceedingly hot summer day, we headed out to the Hudson River to put the 280 Dauntless through its paces – and more selfishly to cool off a bit and take in some of the wonderful sights of lower Manhattan!  Unfortunately, wake from the busy ferry traffic, and a stiff breeze didn’t make for ideal test conditions, particularly for top end speeds.  It did however give us the opportunity to check out its performance in a chop, and not-surprisingly, it was impressive.  As expected, the ride was smooth and soft, even in a stiff chop, and the gyro, in conjunction with an exceptional hull designed, offer a stable and dry ride.  In the corners, the 280 Dauntless felt secure and the helm was very responsive with little effort or movement of the helm required to make the boat handle quite nimbly. 

Heading down for a peak of the Statue of Liberty, we settled into a comfortable cruise of 33 mph at 3500 RPM.  At WOT, we were just breaking the 50 mph mark, however, conditions such as a chop, and a stiff running tide, did not allow for an optimum run.  According to the manufacturer, they have been able to clock 58.5 mph at 6000 RPM.  As we headed back to the Brunswick event dock at the Chelsea Piers, the Joystick control was impressively smooth, and of course, the handling ability around the dock was impressive.

Boston Whaler has once again shown why they are at the top of their class when it comes to producing a full line of versatile, and exceptionally well built models.  Whether it is inshore or offshore fishing, or a fun filled day of watersports, or just some relaxing cruising, the 280 Dauntless pretty well does it all.   

Boston Whaler 280 Dauntless Specifications

LOA: 28’ 8” / 8.74 m
Beam: 9’0” / 2.74 m
Draft: 18” / 0.46 m
Dry Weight (no engine): 5,495 lbs. / 2,492 kg
Weight (engine, fuel, water): 7,410 lbs. / 3,361 kg
Max. Weight Capacity: 3,736 lbs. / 1,694 kg
Person Capacity: 12
Maximum HP: 600 hp
Minimum HP: 350 hp
Deadrise at Transom: 18 degrees
Fuel Capacity: 160 gal. / 606 L
Water Capacity: 18 gal. / 68 L 

Performance (Manufacturer Provided)

RPM     MPH     GPH     MPG     RANGE
600      3.3       1.5      2.28     328
1000    5.6       2.7      2.09     302
1500    7.9       4.5      1.76     254
2000    9.6       7.2      1.33     192
2500    13.3     9.7      1.38     198
2750    16.4     11.2    1.47     211
3000    25.6     12.2    2.10     303
3250    29.8     14.0    2.14     308
3500    33.0     15.9    2.08     300
4000    38.8     20.7    1.88     270
4500    43.9     25.8    1.70     245
5000    49.0     32.2    1.52     219
5500    54.0     40.2    1.34     194
6000    58.5     47.2    1.24     178

For more information: