Recently, we tested the Axopar 28 Cabin in 5’ to 7’ (1.52 to 2.13 m) seas in one of the roughest conditions we have ever tested a boat in, much less a one this size with an open bow. The Axopar line of open day and cabin boats are built in Finland, a country known for building rugged sailboats and powerboats. Axopar has combined the pilothouse and open commuter/patrol boat concept popular in Northern Europe with the hull shape and styling that we have seen coming out of Southern Europe. These blunt-bow, slab-sided, open-transom, mostly day boats are being built all over Europe now. They range from the super-luxury Pardo brand (which we have tested), to the Axopar brand with models which are far more economical to buy. The Axopar brand is now available in the U.S.
- 5 person seating capacity
- Cabin offers occasional sleeping possibilities for one or two
- Webasto manual sliding canvas roof
- Walkaround side access and aft-deck
|Length Overall||30' / 9.18 m|
Acceleration Times & Conditions
|Time to Plane||4.4 sec.|
|0 to 30||8.7 sec.|
|Load||3 persons, 4/5 fuel, no water, 50 lbs. of gear|
|Climate||68 deg., 60 humid; wind: 5-10 mph; seas: 0|
2 x 200-hp Mercury
1 x Mercury Verado 250-hp
1 x Mercury Verado 350-hp
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Contents of Report
- Distinguishing Features
- Major Features
- Boat Inspection
- Ground Tackle
- Equipment Discussion
- Optional Equipment
- Engine Options
- Other Options
Gunkholing is an old term that references exploring along the coast into small out-of-the way places. The Axopar 28 Cabin would be a perfect vessel to accomplish this: shallow enough draft, necessities for overnighting, offshore capability for runs in open water with surprising performance, but with protection from the elements. If trips along the coast lead to a busy marina, the Axopar 28 Cabin will attract attention. Think of it as Euro-style meets practical Finnish utility.
• Plumb extended bow
• Enclosed cabin center console
• Pleated fabric retractable sunroof
• Outboard powered
• Enclosed cabin center console
• 2-step hull design
The design priority of the Axopar 28 Cabin was the 2-step V-hull design with plumb bow. As with any center console, the ability to comfortably walk around the exterior of the console is a requirement. This limits the interior volume for the cabin and its contents, so the design engineers had to be creative with amenities – and they were. The solution, in many cases, was to design things that could be converted from one use to another – such as converting the cabin seating to a double berth. Many builders employ this dual purpose approach but not many push the limits like Axopar – an example is locating galley items like a refrigerator and sink in non-traditional places (under the helm seats). Performance aside, these design decisions resulted in a functional boat to weekend or overnight on.
Axopar is headquartered in Finland, but has an office with full-time employees overseeing construction at their facility in Poland where the boats are built. Some 750 boats of all sizes roll out of this plant each year and are distributed to the 67 dealer network worldwide.
Axopar burst into the market in 2014 and the 28 was their first model. The onsite engineers have helped implement many tooling upgrades to the 2018 and later models, including making subtle changes to the Axopar 28 Cabin’s length (+130 mm), width (+50 mm), hull sides (+80 mm), softening the spray rails and rounding the keel shape. In addition, they beefed up the stringer system and now use the same stringers as the 37-footers.
They’ve also improved the shape and water deflection on the bow thruster flanges, added some non-skid on deck hatches and increased the size of the service hatch on the foredeck. The wrap-around windscreen glass has been upgraded to 6 mm safety glass and tinted a light green. There have been a host of other quality improvements over previous models which shows an engaged builder looking for perfection.
The boats are built with GRP material with Vinylester resin skin to prevent blistering. Captain Steve has inspected the fit-and-finish on our test boat and found it to be excellent.
As we said, this is an interesting boat for several reasons, most noticeably because of her looks. Let’s face it, she’s an unusual design, but that translates into several features that make this boat a standout in her class, both at the dock and out on the water. She’s chock full of clever compromises between space and added features. But to us, the most significant factor is that this boat has an enclosed cabin, so let’s start here.
The cabin is the first place where we get a glimpse of the upscale fit-and-finish on this boat. Teak is combined with carpeted decking, highlighting the premium attention to detail. Headroom is 6’3” (1.91 m) and windows are all around, including a large single piece aft window.
The overhead includes LED lighting mounted to suede panels and a massive manually opening sunroof.
Inside, the grayscale color tones are part of the Brabus package upgrade, and it looks great. Starting aft, there are dual seats that combined measure 5’2” (1.58 m) wide.
Grab handles are at the overhead. Ahead, there’s a comfortable rail footrest and a side mount pedestal base that will accommodate a table. Storage pockets are behind the front seats.
Latches to the side of the front seat allow them to tilt forward exposing a sink to starboard, and an electrically chilled cooler to port that is self-draining overboard. As we said, a clever balance between space and amenities.
These forward seats continue the upscale design and upholstery and include flip-down armrests and flip-up bolsters – they can also swivel 360-degrees.
At the helm panel, there’s a 12” (30.48 cm) Garmin display and a 7” (17.78 cm) Mercury SmartCraft display. All the electrical switches are spread out just below and all are lit when activated. The Mercury digital throttle and shift (DTS) engine controls is to the right of the wheel. The steering wheel is mounted to a tilt base and wrapped in the same suede upholstery as the rest of the cabin area, even including a branded suede center insert.
The windshield wraps around and back to the doors to both sides. There are two mullions to the sides that do not hamper visibility. More importantly, the curved sections produce zero distortion. We see nothing but clear visibility.
A convenient grab rail is just under the overhang of the roof. A cushion and a padded bolster over the storage box translate into aft-facing seating. Underneath the snap-on cushions is storage.
Under the deck is still more storage measuring 4’2” by 2’3” (1.27 m x .69 m). It’s big enough for skis and boards as the forward section continues under the deck for a length of 6’4” (1.93 m). The hatch includes a gas support strut and is finished on both sides.
Thirty-two inch (81.28 cm) wide sliding doors to both sides provide access from the cabin to the sidedecks.
Moving forward there are grab handles to the cabin side and a rail along the cabin rooftop. The sidedecks measure in at 14” (35.56 cm), the bulwarks come up 24” (60.96 cm), and the rails top out at 29” (73.66 cm).
The bow settee’s Silverstone upholstery is part of the premium upgrade package. A table adds to the area’s functionality and dual grab handles are to the starboard side of the table. With the bench only to one side, we have access to the foredeck while maintaining fixed seating – again, a clever balance of functionality and amenities.
Nine inch (22.86 cm) padded bolsters serve as backrests and wrap all the way around the bow.
Naturally, there’s storage under the seats that includes dedicated storage for the table and pedestals.
Inside is a Side-Power windlass. The polished stainless 16.53 lb. (7.5 kg) plow anchor rides in a recessed stainless-steel roller that extends beyond the stem and allows the hatch to be closed when deployed. Controls for the windlass are right alongside the hatch and to starboard. Two 8” (20.32 cm) cleats are to the sides and under the elevated rails.
Inside the head compartment is accessed via two 14” (35.56 cm) steps. The compartment includes 4’2” (1.27 m) of overhead clearance and 2’11” (.89 m) of sitting headroom and there’s a vent at the top. There are mirrors on the aft bulkhead and storage over to port.
There are circuit breakers, along with the activation switch for the fresh water pump, protected by a plexi panel. To starboard there’s a solid surface counter with a sink recessed into it with contemporary fixtures. Plumbing access is underneath. Our test boat’s porcelain toilet includes an electric flush. Wood is all veneer with faux teak decking.
The Axopar 28 Cabin has a LOA of 30’ (9.18 m), a beam of 9’8” (2.95 m), and a draft of 2’8” (.80 m). With an empty weight of 4,277 lbs. (1,940 kg), 90% fuel, and three people and test power onboard, we had an estimated test weight of 5,698 lbs. (2,585 kg).
With the twin 200-hp Mercury engines turning 13.6 x 21 Enertia props and run up to 5700 rpm, our speed topped out at just under 56 mph. Best cruise came in at 3500 rpm and 31 mph. It was at that speed that the 13.7 gph fuel burn translated into 2.3 mpg and a range of 138 miles, all while still holding back a 10% reserve of the boats 68-gallon (257 L) total fuel capacity.
We got on plane in 4.4 seconds with a 7-degree bow rise aided by her twin stepped hull. We continued accelerating to 20 mph in 6 seconds, and 30 came and went in 8.7 seconds.
Time to plane: 4.4 seconds
Zero to 20 mph: 6 seconds
Zero to 30 mph: 8.7 seconds
Her plumb bow really extends the keel further forward so there’s very little slide in the turn. She comes around smartly, offering zero prop ventilation, and maintains her grip for a good acceleration as she straightens out. And it didn’t take long to figure that adding power in the turn tightens it up nicely with no loss of traction.
During normal running, her plumb bow is mostly out of the water. However, when running through seas, it’s a vastly different story. Then the bow should be fully engaged in making clean slices through the waves. We needed to see for ourselves, so offshore we went.
As soon as we got into some heavier conditions, roughly 4 to 6 footers (1.22 m to 1.83 m). We knew this was something different. She really showed good characteristics in heavy seas. If we pushed, we could get her to pound but it didn’t take long to find that sweet spot in each direction where she was most comfortable.
In following seas, we let her rip. The sharp entry cuts right through with no hint of stuffing the bow. Even when the boat gets buried in the trough she makes her way through.
In head seas, she’ll explode right through the waves or possibly catch air between the waves. At the right speed, she’ll just skip along and remain fairly flat, letting the bow do its work.
With beam seas, she’s also comfortable and easily accepts more power.
Standard equipment includes
• Mercury 225-hp
• Toilet package
• Bow thruster
• LED lighting
• Shorepower 120V with 20ah charger (US)
• Side rails
• Trim tabs
• Freshwater system 12 gallon (45 L) tank
• Shower on aft deck
• Table in cabin, teak
• Table on bow, Esthec
• Targa arch with roof rails
• Garmin VHF
• Garmin Sonar module
• Fusion entertainment system
• Garmin chartplotter
• Sunbrella Harbor cover for foredeck
Base price: $132,322
The boat is available in several premium paint, decking, and upholstery packages, Silvertex, Version R, and Brabus. East Coast Yacht Sales, the Axopar dealers from Maine to Maryland told us that most people are ordering the boats with bigger single engines, cabin heaters, and the aft cabin, while Florida boats tend to be ordered with the two-engine option and A/C. For import reasons, dealers are adding some options, like trailers and A/C stateside.
• Mercury Verado 300-HP upgrade ($4,950)
• Mercury Verado 350-HP upgrade ($10,555)
• Twin 200-HP Merc upgrade ($17,525)
Custom engine options are available upon request.
• Webasto cabin heater ($3,770)
• Rod holders for Targa arch ($1,326)
• Electrical Webasto sunroof system ($2,444)
• Waterski tow arch ($689)
• Walnut wood floor in cabin ($702)
• Refrigerator in aft port storage ($1,027)
• Anti-fouling paint ($1,742)
• A/C with inverter ($9,200)
• Aft deck bench with stowage ($1,976)
• Wet bar aft ($2,704)
• Cooktop for wet bar ($572)
• DayCruiser aft cabin ($5,326)
This boat was really a lesson in not judging a book by its cover. Our first take was that she’s certainly an unusual design. But once we stepped aboard, we were impressed with her fit-and-finish. As we started to explore, we were impressed by the balance between available space and functionality. Once we got her out on the water, her handling had us hooked. This boat has a lot to offer and is sure to attract many more in the same way.