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September 21, 2007

Mako 284 Center Console

The brawny Mako 284 center console brings a company with an angling tradition closer to its roots.

Brand loyalty is critical to boat-building success and through the mid-1990s, Mako boat owners were among the most loyal in the industry. Makos were no-nonsense, rugged performers and established credibility through generations. But as other manufacturers started copying the formula, Mako's dominance of the market began to slip. As of late, Mako has made a dedicated effort to return to its roots, including an investment in a new factory in Forest City, North Carolina.

North Carolina's Lake Lure was the backdrop for the 284 trial, and its normally tranquil water was rolling a bit with confused boat wakes, which provided a good indication of the boat's handling characteristics. The 284 is big and beamy with an aggressive 52-degree bow entry, 21-degree transom deadrise and 101-inch chine width. It punched through the wakes without hesitation and remained stable at rest. Spray was non-existent under the test conditions, but with these dimensions I would expect a relatively dry ride in the ocean. At 4,250 pounds dry weight, the 284 feels solid and durable, just like the original Makos. The variable hull design provides responsive maneuverability for a boat of this size.

SPECIFICATIONS
Length 28' 4"
Weight 4,250 lbs.
Deadrise 21 ¿
Fuel 235 gals.
Water 14 gals.
Max HP 600
Base Price $85,613
With twin 250-hp Mercury Verado four-stroke outboards

Our test boat was powered by a pair of 250-hp Mercury Verado four-stroke engines, which provided plenty of raw power. We were able to pop on plane quickly and reached a top-end speed of 52.2 mph at 6,400 rpm with four people onboard. At a cruising speed of 36.8 mph (4,500 rpm), the 284 has a 326.4-nautical-mile range with a safety reserve, thanks to its miserly 20.8-gph fuel burn. The power-steering pump on this particular boat was mounted in the console, which made things a bit noisy, but Mako has since moved that pump to a transom compartment and Mercury has added a dampening hose to reduce the noise level further. Even so, the sound reading at the helm was only 94 dB-A at full throttle.

The 284's massive center console sports an aluminum T-top with canvas and five rod holders. Spreader lights are mounted topside. At the helm, there's full instrumentation for the selected engine package, twin binnacle controls and a clear-molded windscreen. A comfortable leaning-post seat with a backrest is standard, and all seats, including the forward console cooler seat or the optional stern bench and bow cushions, are marine-grade vinyl. The helm's mounting surface allows electronics placement to be where it needs to be - visible and accessible.

With plenty of storage, the 284 was designed to fish.

All the necessary amenities are available inside the enclosed head, including a fresh water sink with a combination pull-out faucet and shower, a hanging locker, a molded headliner and stand-up lockable rod storage. And with six feet, five inches of headroom, I was able to stand in the compartment comfortably.

In keeping with Mako's lineage, the 284 was designed with serious offshore angling in mind. The bait-prep station behind the leaning post has a molded sink, removable cutting board and storage - two drawers and six tackle trays, plus a dedicated tilt-out bin for trash. The 50-gallon, rounded bait well comes with a clear acrylic lid to check on the bait easily. Four vertical rod holders are also standard. Large insulated fish boxes drained with macerators in the aft sole can house the day's catch with room to spare. The cockpit also features horizontal rod storage under the gunwales on both sides, flush-mounted rod holders in the covering boards and a transom walk-through door to port. The integrated engine bracket allows easy access to the outboards or provides a leverage point to muscle a stubborn fish around the props.

The leaning post sports a four-rod rocket launcher.

The list of standard features in the mechanical department is lengthy, including a 14-gallon fresh water system, twin bilge pumps with automatic float switches, battery switches, fuel-water separators and hydraulic trim tabs. All switches are waterproof, with breakers, and the hardware is equally salt water-friendly. The bow rail is welded aluminum and all cleats are heavy-duty stainless steel.

Besides the transom bench seat and bow cushions, the 284 is available with several handy options. Notable add-ons include a fiberglass hardtop instead of the canvas, a battery charger, molded bow pulpit with anchor roller, boarding ladder, stereo system and T-top outriggers.

Time will tell whether Mako is able to recapture its former die-hard brand loyalty, but with the launch of the 284 Center Console, the company is off to a great start. Mako Marine; (888) 434-7487; www.mako-boats.com.