The philosophy at Bluewater Boats is as simple, clean and solid as their products: work directly with the buyer, build a quality boat and maintain a high level of customer service. It's a philosophy that has paid off for owner Paul Skilowitz. After six years in business, Skilowitz builds about 100 boats a year, with models ranging from 21 to 28 feet. The latest and largest addition to the Bluewater line is the 28-footer.
In designing the 2850, Skilowitz started with the very successful 25-footer. He stretched the hull and then tinkered with the console placement to achieve the same balance and beam-to-length ratio as the proven 25. Materials are modified poly resins, and the boat is cored throughout, except for the bottom. "I believe in a solid bottom on a high-speed boat," Skilowitz explains.
The engine platform on the 28 is a bolt-on Armstrong, so the 2850 is actually 31 feet overall. This makes for a lot of interior space, which is enhanced by the one-piece deck and liner. The inside walls lie close to the hull sides, so there is no wasted space between the liner and hull. This design also makes the boat easy to clean.
The price for all this room and convenience is a lack of toe space when you lean against the forward coaming pads to fight a fish. In the cockpit, there's sufficient covering-board overhang (above the under-gunwale rod racks) to eliminate this problem, so the lack of toe room in the bow is a debatable shortcoming.
A 46-gallon live well is located in the transom, flanked by a bait-prep station and fresh and salt water washdowns. All switches for the pumps, live wells, lights and washdowns are mounted in the transom bulkhead.
The storage compartments on the 2850 are massive. Ahead of the console is a 1,200-quart coffin box fitted with horizontal rod racks. Aft of this is an immense storage compartment flanked by a pair of multi-purpose, 200-quart boxes. Twin fishboxes flank the in-deck live well at the transom. All storage areas, including the anchor locker, are lined and gelcoated for easy cleanup. Additionally, all boxes are foam-insulated, and the entire hull belowdecks is foam-filled.
Pop-up cleats and lights on the bow are designed to stay out of the way until needed, and there are three flush-mount rod holders on each gunwale forward of the cockpit - a real boon if kite fishing is on your agenda. The console houses a cuddy with two steps down to a cabin with a full six feet of headroom. Forward of the console is a molded cooler.
That's the basic boat. The buyer provides a list of options and Bluewater will package-price the boat and customize it, within reason.
Skilowitz is the kind of boater who feels that any place worth going is worth getting to quickly, as we discovered on our test day, which saw us running out of the Florida's St. Lucie Inlet into some fairly rough seas. At 47 mph, the hull flattened out the three- to five-footers nicely. On the ones it couldn't flatten, it landed softly without shipping a drop of water. This boat provides a remarkable ride, gaining comfort and speed through the integrity of its design. Two lifting strakes on each side pop the hull out of the water and force the entry back toward the console, where it belongs. Starting a third of the way back from the bow, 16 degrees of negative chine throws the spray down, where it can't blow back into the cockpit.
The performance curve on this hull is pretty simple: 100 rpm equals one mph with the dual 250-hp Yamaha EFIs that pushed our test boat. We cruised at just over 4000 rpm for a speed of just under 45 mph in bouncy offshore conditions. Running for speed on the ICW with half a tank of fuel, we topped out at 58 mph turning 5600 rpm and burning 60 gph.
To sum up, the Bluewater 2850 is a lot of boat in 28 feet. If you gotta go when you gotta go, this is a hull to have under you.
Bluewater Sportfishing Boats, Fort Pierce, FL; (561) 464-3735;