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September 21, 2007

Whitewater 28

Many knowledgeable fishermen in South Florida consider Whitewater to be one of the best-kept secrets in the offshore fishing world. Whitewater is a relatively small company that sells direct from its Miami factory, but its boats have become a favorite among serious offshore fishermen, including many Key West guides and competitive tournament anglers.

Whitewater's 28 is the most popular of the company's three models, the other two being 25- and 32-footers. Each boat is made to order, so buyers have a great deal of customization available to them. It's safe to say that beyond basic design and layout considerations, no two Whitewaters go out the door exactly alike.

The 28 comes in an open configuration or as a cuddy cabin, and can be built with a conventional notched transom or with a full transom/B-Bracket. If you prefer inboard power (gas or diesel), Whitewater owner Norman Collins will build you an inboard, with either a straight shaft or a jackshaft and I/O setup. You can practically design the boat you want from scratch.

Fast and Fuel-Efficient

Whitewater 28 SpecificationsOur test boat featured the notched transom with an optional engine shroud, a design preferred by many fishermen because it makes fishing around the stern a breeze. The twin 225-hp Mercury OptiMax outboards provided plenty of power, pushing us along at 33.4 knots at 4000 rpm, while burning only 18 gallons of fuel per hour, according to the FloScan TwinScan meters. At full throttle (5400 rpm) the boat hit 46 knots. The bracket version will run somewhat faster, as it allows the engines to be mounted higher.

Bracket or no bracket, the 28 is an outstanding rough-water performer. The deep-vee hull has 24 degrees of deadrise at the transom and provides a smooth, dry ride, even in a truly nasty chop. The sub-deck fuel tanks outboard of the stringers keep the boat from rocking too much while drifting in a beam sea. The boat comes standard with a 150-gallon fuel capacity, but a 250-gallon option is available.

The 28 has a level deck from bow to stern, with numerous storage hatches. An in-deck live well aft of the console holds a standard 50 gallons, but Norman will customize the well for you if you need more capacity. For example, our test boat had a custom well that extended all the way to the hull and had holes drilled through the bottom for natural water flow. It was supplied by dual 1100 gph Rule pumps and looked like it held about 90 gallons. A custom four-inch drain extended through the transom.

The Whitewater 28 has a level deck from bow to stern, with numerous storage hatches.Moving to the bow, our test boat sported the optional insulated "coffin box," an above-deck fishbox that drains overboard. Another massive storage area beneath the coffin is perfect for holding loose gear, and is accessed by tilting the coffin to one side on its piano hinge. The bow features low-profile, stainless-steel handrails, and the entire boat was surrounded by optional coaming pads.

Another huge, in-deck box just forward of the console can be insulated to serve as a fishbox (many people use it as a brine box), or it can be plumbed as an 85-gallon live well, if you're really serious about live-baiting. This particular boat even had custom fly-rod tubes and racks mounted in the bow to accommodate four fly rods.

The forward console seat raises on gas-assisted rams to reveal a huge storage area. You can put either a porta-potty or a full marine head in here, or leave it open for storage. The batteries and optional 25-gallon fresh water tank live here too, and access to wiring and electronics is excellent.

The helm features a very large area for flush-mounting electronics. The test boat held a ten-inch KODEN videosounder, a SI-TEX chart plotter, and a seven-inch KODEN radar. The Birdsall T-top with electronics box held a differential GPS, loran, VHF radio and cell phone.

Whitewaters have a reputation for rugged construction that will hold up under years of tough use, and their fit and finish is exemplary. You can truly design a one-of-a-kind boat to fit your individual needs, if you don't mind waiting a little while to get just the boat you want. Lots of serious offshore fishermen in South Florida have already decided that it's worth the wait.

Whitewater Boat Corp., Miami, FL; (305) 756-9191.