The 28 Express Fisherman from Henriques Yachts may have the dimensions of a mid-size boat, but step aboard and you'll know you're dealing with a full-blown offshore sportfisherman. If fishing features and comfort were sacrificed to length, we were unable to identify it.
Lou Greco of Somers Point, New Jersey, supplied our test boat, the Louie Louie. Greco is testament to the level of owner satisfaction at Henriques. Semi-custom production encourages buyer involvement as each boat comes together. And when the builders know you by name, the finished product reflects that relationship.
"They are top notch when it comes to service," Greco says of Henriques. "There is no question they won't answer for you."
The Louie Louie carries a pair of 200-hp Yanmar 4LHA-DTP engines. The standard 220 gallons of fuel offers a 400-mile range at a cruising speed of 26 knots, burning 12 to 13 gph, according to the manufacturer's figures. This allows Greco to make the 68- to 120-mile runs needed to reach the tuna grounds, with fuel to spare.
While we didn't go that far on our test day, we did do some ocean running. Cruising out of Great Egg Inlet and into the open Atlantic, the 28 ran bow proud. The big Bennett tabs responded quickly and accurately, although they're seldom needed. Exhaust on the 28 is configured through the tab recesses, noticeably minimizing smoke and odor when underway.
The top rail of the wraparound windshield sat well above the field of view for this six-footer. The instrument panel, which eliminates the need for an overhead box, is black to reduce glare. It's roomy enough for a couple of ten-inch screens, and is replaceable should you choose to swap electronic systems. To port, a bench seat covers dry storage. The starboard bench top raises to reveal rod storage beneath. Behind the helm is a bait-prep sink, and to port is a generous 40-plus-gallon, built-in cooler, within arm's reach of both the cockpit and the helm.
"One of the reasons we bought this boat is that we didn't have to bring any coolers aboard," points out Greco. "We've had it with coolers sliding around, and this solves the problem."
The standard tower is roomy, comfortable, and very easy to climb, from either side of the 'pit. It's a great vantage point, yet close enough to the main deck so the skipper is not isolated.
The hull gets up and out of the hole quickly and smoothly. Backing is precise, and the boat will spin 360 degrees in its own length with the throttles reversed. The modified hull is Henriques's proven design, with a semi-keel for accurate tracking and control. The aggressive entry slices the seas and stays well placed in the waves. A step chine runs the length of the bottom, deflecting spray and softening reentry for an exceptionally smooth, dry ride.
Cruising at 3100 rpm, the 28 makes 32.4 knots while burning 6.7 gph. At WOT it scratches 40 knots while burning ten gph.
Hull construction is all hand-laid fiberglass, while the full-length stringers are solid wood encapsulated in eight layers of glass. Henriques has stayed with a construction and materials program that works, and you can feel it through your feet when underway.
Fishing space is exceptional. Seventy square feet of cockpit is a lot on a 28-footer. The center of the transom holds an insulated 42-gallon fishbox that's also plumbed as a live well. Centerline in the cockpit sole is a 60-gallon insulated fishbox. This main box features a lift-out insert that allows access to the bilge, which holds the Racor fuel filters, sea strainers and shaft logs, and makes them easy to service.
Three flush-mount rod holders in the covering boards on either side, plus nine holders on the tower, are more than adequate for keeping the right rigs ready. In the starboard transom corner is a generous tuna door that opens just above water level. To port at the rear of the cockpit is a four-drawer recessed tackle-storage unit that keeps essentials close to hand. To starboard is a hatch that provides access to the bench-seat rod storage. It's also a handy place to keep gaffs safe and out of the way.
The engine room sits beneath the helm deck. It's roomy down there, with either the Yanmars or optional Volvos. Wiring stays dry in ventilated chases overhead, and access to pumps, holding tank, water heater and all sides of the blocks is friendly, even to a big guy. The forward cabin comes standard with refrigerator and microwave. The settee converts to a generous vee-berth. The curved outer wall of the full head enclosure frees up a lot of space in the cabin, without cramping the head enclosure. The inside of the cabin is one-piece molded glass. Pull out the carpet and you can scrub it down and hose it out, as water drains into the bilge.
Henriques builds 28 boats a year, with production scheduling currently at five months. And after cruising with satisfied owner Greco, it's clear that the 28 is well worth the wait.
Henriques Yachts, Inc., Bayville, NJ; (732) 269-1180. (Henriques Yachts are distributed exclusively through Integrity Marine, Margate, NJ; (800) 435-2337; (609) 487-9700;