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Introduced for the 2016 model year as the new queen of the fleet, NauticStar’s 28XS Offshore center console deserves a closer look for offshore fans looking for a roomy and fuel-efficient ride.
By Capt. John N. Raguso

Classic Layout
NauticStar is a relatively new name in northeast fishing boat circles, with its first model year produced back in 2002 and the factory based down south in Amory, Mississippi. They currently offer 24 models of bay, dual consoles, deck boats and center consoles ranging from 18 to 28 feet.

Looking at the classic center console layout of this newbie NauticStar, one of the most notable features that is apparent is the cockpit sole’s single level deck plan from the forepeak aft to the transom bulkhead. Anyone who has spent more than just casual time in the bluewater will attest that a single level cockpit sole is best for using the boat’s 360-degree fishability when bending rods, casting to schooling fish or performing anchoring duties. It also promotes crew movements that are fluid and straightforward, with no second thoughts about impediments to trip over or catch an unwary step.

The rest of the 28 XS Offshore’s layout is equally as impressive with plenty of fishing features that are all standard issue. Starting forward, the bow area offers split raised cushioned bench seats port and starboard that are comfy lounges when sitting at dockside, but feature 30-gallon insulated fish boxes that can double as dry storage areas down under, equipped with overboard drains. A flush cockpit sole hatch set between the raised bench seating opens to reveal a large under floor storage area. The forepeak offers a flush anchor locker hatch that includes a stainless steel through-hull windlass with rode and anchor.

The aft end of this sportfisher is all business, with a leaning post setup that includes a four-rod rocket launcher, 22-gallon recirculating baitwell, battery and battery switch access, tackle storage, a bait-prep station and a sliding 65-quart Yeti cooler that tucks neatly underneath when not in use. There’s a second 22-gallon livewell positioned in the port transom bulkhead, in addition to a 60-gallon insulated fishbox. Standard cockpit bolsters and stainless steel toe rails are nice touches and will insure crew safety when bringing the big ones to boatside. A six-pack of flush-mount stainless steel rodholders combine with under gunwale rod racks to stow your outfits.

Family Friendly
Far from being a Spartan one-dimensional fishing machine, the 28XS Offshore includes numerous family friendly features that make this center console a successful switch hitter when it’s time to head for the beach. A fold down doublewide rear bench provides seating, as does a dual bench seat forward of the console, complete with arm rests. There’s also unique flip-out bow backrests, which are hinged and can be placed out of the way when not in use and double as added bolstering when tucked away. The standup head area is accessed via a portside companionway and features a china bowl toilet, holding tank, full fiberglass liner with Sea-Dek flooring, a vented window, plus a pressurized freshwater system with sink and shower head nozzle. The offshore grade electrical system is equipped with a circuit breaker panel, Deutsche electrical connectors, 1,100-gph auto bilge pump, 1,200-gph manual bilge pump and Lenco trim tabs with LED indicator panel. The leaning post helm seating features up/down bolsters for comfortable back support when underway, plus fold-down armrests. A basic marine compass is standard, but if this were my rig, I’d upgrade this important instrument to a 4-1/2-inch Ritchie SS-2000 and mount it so that it was in-line with the helmsman’s direct sight position, not centered in the middle of the console.

Impressive Performance
Even though she’s rated to carry a max of twin 300s on her transom, going with the Yamaha F250 four-stroke set-up provides plenty of giddy-up. The 28XS Offshore will hit a top speed of 56.5-mph at 6,000 rpm spinning a pair of counter-rotating Saltwater Series II 3-blade 19-inch pitch stainless steel props, with two crew aboard, minimal gear and a half-tank of fuel. Her 21-degree aft deadrise running bottom warps to 50 degrees forward, which should tame any wind-driven afternoon washboard chop you encounter over open water. But unlike many competitive deep-vee boats, this Mississippi girl has a lightning fast 3-second hole shot, courtesy of her 4.2-liter Yamaha four-strokes. Yamaha factory tests show that her 0-to-30 times are equally as impressive, completing this sprint consistently under 5 seconds. The beefy low-end torque of the big block Yamahas will plane the 28XS Offshore at only 3,000 revs, hitting 28 mph on the GPS at 13.1 gph, for a net fuel efficiency of 2.14 mpg. Bumping the fly-by-wire electric throttles up to 3,500 rpm will push her along at 33.7 mph at 17.4 gph, which translates to 1.94 mpg. Even at 4-grand, you are getting a respectable 1.73 mpg, with a cruising speed of 38 mph at 22 gph. You will cover a lot of ground fast and the engines will be loafing along, with plenty in reserve if you need to catch up to a hot bite that’s a good distance offshore. The 200-gallon fuel capacity will provide a 300-mile+ canyon range with plenty in reserve. There aren’t many 28-footers out there that can match these performance numbers.

Construction of the NauticStar 28XS Offshore is first class, with a vinyl ester resin barrier coat to prevent water osmosis into the laminate, completely wood-free, a one-piece fiberglass molded stringer system and a limited lifetime hull warranty.