BOAT REVIEW Boston Whaler 405 Conquest

Power Boat Reviews
Words by Craig Ritchie. Photography by Craig Ritchie and Supplied.
Build Quality
MODEL Boston Whaler 405 Conquest
DESIGNER Boston Whaler
BUILDER Boston Whaler
LOA 12.6M
BEAM 4.11M
ENGINE 3 x 600hp Mercury V12; 4 x 400hp Mercury V10; 4 x Verado 300 Mercury V8
  • Heaps of power on tap
  • Legendary build quality, tough and supremely capable
  • Near-perfect balance between sportfisher and family cruiser
  • Self-docking feature is highly impressive – when offered in 2025, it will make a great boat even better

Boston Whaler enjoys a global reputation for building solid, high-quality boats that seem to do everything well. With new driver assist technology slated for introduction in 2025, they’ll soon be able to even dock themselves – a capability new boaters and old salts alike can’t wait to enjoy.

People can’t help but associate ideas with names. When we hear names like Rolls Royce, Dom Perignon or Chanel, for example, mental images promptly form in our minds reflecting the high end qualities each marque provides. It’s no different in boating, where storied nameplates can similarly evoke powerful images in our heads, and that’s particularly true in the case of Boston Whaler.


If you’re a boatie, the image that most likely jumps to your mind as you read those words was something along the lines of “the unsinkable legend.” And that’s spot-on since Boston Whaler has long advertised the flotation qualities of its durable hulls as the ultimate safety feature. Generations of boaties know those magazine advertisements and TV commercials where Boston Whaler employees saw one of their boats in half with a chainsaw, then proceed to drive the severed pieces around without a care in the world. The point of the ads was crystal clear – even if your boat gets chopped to bits, the pieces still float and you’re going to remain safe. It’s a message that resonated with tens of thousands of boat buyers all around the world, and still does today.

Founded in 1958 by American engineer Dick Fisher, Boston Whaler put equal emphasis on ensuring its boats were versatile, comfortable, and loaded with every modern convenience. The company quickly built a global reputation for quality that lives on in its remarkable 405 Conquest.
Equal parts comfortable family cruiser and serious offshore fishing boat, the 405 is the largest member of Boston Whaler’s Conquest line of walkaround-style offshore powerboats. And what a capable boat it is, with its spacious cockpit, inviting saloon and comfortable overnight accommodations for six with a spacious mid-cabin berth, a private cabin in the bow, a roomy head with a shower, and a dining area that can sleep a couple of kids in a pinch.

There’s a huge foredeck sunpad for soaking up the rays, and more than enough power at the stern to push the 11,000-kilogram vessel to plane in under five seconds and to 28 knots in a hair over 12. Pin the throttle and you’ll be soon approaching a top speed of 43 knots, and that’s with its standard power of quad Mercury 300 Verados. Order the 405 Conquest with four Mercury 400 horsepower V10s on the back, or triple 600s, and you’ll get where you’re going even quicker.

Step aboard and the 405’s roomy cockpit certainly makes a strong first impression. Recessed, stainless steel rod holders line each gunnel and stretch across the stern, flanking a centrally mounted outdoor galley with a drawer-style refrigerator, an electric grill with a hinged cover, a sink and four recessed beverage holders. Drawer storage accommodates all manner of dishes and utensils, making that transom space a surprisingly capable galley.
For the die-hard anglers in the crowd, the outdoor kitchen can be omitted entirely, and replaced with an aquarium-style aerated live well to augment the 72-litre well already located in the aft portside corner.

Regardless of how you order the boat, a large hatch centred in the cockpit floor opens to reveal access to mechanical equipment, along with dedicated storage for a pair of removable wooden tables. One thing you won’t find down there, however, is a generator. Rather, our 405 had Brunswick’s Fathom e-Power system installed, replacing the traditional genset with a battery system potent enough to run the air conditioner all night long without any noise, without any fumes, and without ever having to get up at 4:00am to refill the fuel tank. Bravo!

Twin aft-facing cockpit lounge seats provide the ideal spot to enjoy all the views over lunch al fresco, while an overhead powered sunshade protects occupants from the mid-day heat. The seat along the boat’s port side can be flipped to forward-facing orientation to create a roomy pilothouse dinette. To starboard, a large galley offers plenty of countertop space with a drawer-style refrigerator and a single-burner stove.
Overhead, an electric sunroof opens to flood the pilothouse with fresh air, while a large console to port hides a fold-out joystick matching the one at the starboard-side helm station, allowing drivers to bring the boat to the dock from either side with equal ease. And yes, you read that right – joystick piloting comes standard on the Boston Whaler 405 Conquest, regardless of which power option one selects.

And that’s where things get particularly interesting. For those who might still feel intimidated at the helm of this boat even with its fingertip joystick piloting control, Boston Whaler’s parent company – Brunswick Corp – intends to offer the 405 Conquest as one of several 2025 models with its own fully automatic docking assistance control. Engaging a docking assistance app on the helm mounted Simrad touchscreen MFD presents an overhead view of the marina, allowing the operator to simply tap the slip they wish to dock in, then hit the GO button and stand back while the boat navigates through the slips and all the way to the selected dock without any need for human guidance or input of any kind.
Make no mistake – this is a very big deal indeed.

The Boat That Docks Itself
In consumer surveys taken all around the world, prospective boaters consistently give the same answer when asked why they haven’t taken the plunge and actually bought a boat. It isn’t money, and it isn’t time. Rather, the number-one reason people give when asked why that haven’t yet become boaters is that they’re uncomfortable with the idea of having to bring their vessel back to the dock.

In countries all around the world, fear of losing control to an unexpected gust of wind, or perhaps an unseen wake from a passing vessel, simply makes people nervous. It’s a particularly strong fear among people who grew up without a boat in the family, and for whom the entire idea of boating is new and unfamiliar. No one wants to become that guy in some YouTube video.
Assisted docking systems that can bring the boat those final few metres into the berth address those fears, and will be key to growing participation in boating in the years ahead. That’s exactly why companies like Brunswick are racing to bring such systems to market.
Brunswick was one of the first marine industry companies to work on developing an assisted docking system, partnering with Raymarine back in 2019 to integrate a version of their DockSense technology into Mercury’s joystick piloting platform.

Brandon Ferriman hands off the helm.

Of course, a lot has changed in the world since 2019, including Brunswick’s acquisition of electronics giant Navico in 2021 and considerable new R&D since aimed at developing its own autonomous docking platform. By August 2023, the company was ready to unveil its latest robo-docking prototype to a handful of boating media – me included – so I hopped on a jet and made my way to New York City for a first-hand look.
You don’t need to skip to the end of the story, because I’ll tell you right now – yes it really works, and yes it works really well.
The as-yet unnamed system uses a pair of differential GNSS GPS receivers and a series of onboard stereoscopic cameras to determine the vessel’s exact position, and it’s exact proximity to other objects like docks, piers, sea walls and other boats, both docked and underway. But beyond simple object recognition, it also has the ability to incorporate machine learning algorithms and make decisions related to course and speed in order to bring the vessel to a pre-selected slip.

The combination of situational awareness and navigational decision making allows the system to neatly manoeuvre around obstacles and bring the vessel to the dock, says Brandon Ferriman, programme director for Brunswick’s Autonomy and ADAS programmes. “Differential GPS is extremely accurate, but once we’re close to the dock the stereoscopic cameras become invaluable,” he says. “We use stereo cameras because they can perceive depth, just like having two eyes. They’re able to see we’re coming up to an object and track it as the boat approaches. We’re simultaneously getting the input from the GPS sensors of where we are on the map. Coordinating all of this is a very advanced, high-performance computer to analyse that data.”

Stereoscopic cameras.

Onboard our own Boston Whaler 405 Conquest outfitted with the system, Ferriman demonstrated its simple operation on a large Simrad display mounted on the passenger console. The boat, and the surrounding docks lining the Hudson River were clearly displayed from an overhead map vantage point, along with multiple camera inputs along the perimeter of the screen looking ahead, behind, and to each side of the boat.
Selecting a random point in the Hudson River’s open waters, Ferriman then tapped the onscreen GO button, crossed his arms across his chest and turned away from the helm to make it perfectly clear that it was the boat doing the driving. The three Mercury 600s on the transom hummed to life, and the big Whaler obediently crabbed sideways off the pier, executed a very tight 90-degree turn stern-first, and backed slowly toward the open water through a very confined channel that was packed with superyachts.

Media riff-raff onboard.

“This might be one of the tightest slips [berths] in the whole place right now, with all the large yachts in town,” he observed. But as the onscreen cameras showed, and my own repeated glances out the pilothouse windows confirmed, the Whaler chugged along on its prescribed route, making immediate corrections for occasional wind gusts while keeping well clear of the sterns and bows poking at it from each side of the channel.
Before we knew it, we had completed our journey from the slip to the open water, all without any human intervention whatsoever.

Built For Real Life
After taking a few moments to discuss technical milestones in the system’s development as we drifted along in the current, Ferriman asked if I was ready to see the boat return to the slip. Another quick tap on the screen had the boat gliding back toward its congested parking space, Ferriman again standing back from the helm, his hands tucked into his pockets rather than holding the wheel. But where our outbound trip was quiet and uneventful, our return would provide some real-life drama as I spied the wake from a passing Staten Island ferry slowly rolling toward us.

The ferry’s wake arrived right at the worst possible time, with our 405 Conquest midway through that incredibly tight 90-degree turn. Upon contact with the hull, the three big Mercs simply huffed matter-of-factly to counter its push, promptly correcting course and keeping the boat right on track. As I watched, the wake struck the pier and bounced back to shove the boat a second time. Again, the Mercs calmly hummed in defiance, the Conquest briefly shrugged, then continued on its way, easing up parallel to our parking spot and holding about a metre short of the dock.
I thought that was quite impressive, but Ferriman just smiled. Giving the display a final tap to confirm the ‘Go to dock’ prompt I hadn’t noticed pop up on its 45cm screen, we watched as the software crabbed the boat close enough to the dock I probably could have spanned the remaining gap with my iPhone. Lines secured, engines off, all without a human hand ever touching the wheel.
All in all, the demonstration was shockingly impressive.

Whaler approaching dock.

Even so, Ferriman emphasised that the system remains an early prototype, with further work to be done. “Our timeline is to bring this to market in 2025,” he says. “This prototype is pretty close in terms of development, so what we have to do now is fine tune it and validate it all through real world use. I came from the automotive industry, and led a project with a car company requiring validation over one million kilometres. So we had about 30 cars running seven days a week, going through all environments and geographic locations. We want to replicate something along those lines in the marine world for two primary reasons. First, Brunswick is putting its name on it, so it has to work as it should. Secondly, we’re asking the boat driver to give up some control, so it is imperative we’re putting a safe and reliable product out there. Of course, the owner can reclaim control at any time by just turning the wheel or moving the joystick, but that shouldn’t be required.”
So what further tweaks remain? The software is inherently cautious, perhaps to the point some experienced boaties could find it a bit on the tentative side. While that’s unlikely to be a worry for the less experienced boat buyers the system was made for, old salts might wish it were a little more confident and quicker in use.

Otherwise, there’s not much to fault. When this feature becomes available in 2025, it’s going to make a really great boat all that much better – and elevate the unsinkable legend to an all-new level of celebrity.
Boston Whaler’s 405 Conquest is a remarkable boat – a near perfect balance between serious offshore fishing machine and comfy family cruiser. Adding Brunswick’s brilliant docking assist capability will simply raise the bar and further distance the 405 Conquest from its competitors.