- If you require a boat that you can use right through the winter and cruise comfortably in through thick and thin, then look no further.
- The ride the hull gives is very forgiving, and she can really be chucked around, especially with the fully supportive seat and grippy footplate.
- Obviously, to make full use of this cruising capability you need some creature comforts, and the Explorer provides these in some measure.
- The Explorer 28 is a proper boat rather than a caravan that floats.
A Boat for All Seasons
Simon Everett gets behind the helm of this Finnish all-weather cruiser that was awarded Motor Boat of the Year in 2013 under its previous guise as the Minor Offshore 28.
After nearly 50 years of building boats in the Gulf of Bothnia, the family firm founded by Edy Sarin in 1967 changed its name from Minor Boats to Sarins Boats and the established brand of Minor was changed to the new moniker of Sargo. This move took a strong business decision but was deemed to better represent the no-nonsense Explorer range of cruising boats that they build and to overcome the sales resistance they found to the word ‘Minor’ in developing markets. The name Sargo is a play on words, using the first letters of the family name and ‘go’, as in to explore or freedom. The combination forms a happy coincidence with the Latin name for a tough bream that inhabits the surf zone, coincidentally the same name as the US Navy submarine class that effected retribution on the Japanese fleet immediately following the attack on Pearl Harbour.
Despite the change in name, nothing else about the main structure of the boats has altered, and neither has the company’s philosophy of producing boats of uncompromising quality. From the moment you step aboard the Explorer 28 you can tell she is put together with an eye to elegant sophistication on top of an overall solid construction. Sargo utilise a massively strong hull, giving a high margin of safety. Designed and built to take on rough and inhospitable seas, often mixed with ice and plenty of rocks, the odd brush with nature is expected in her home waters, so she is built to withstand these rigours.
The Volvo D6 rated at 370hp is the strongest power plant available. The result is a boat with a low centre of gravity and massive freeboard, especially forward when on the plane. Coupled with the deep-V hull, the boat rides like a thoroughbred horse over hurdles and can gallop her way to a top speed of 36.6 knots, at which point she is still only using 78 litres of fuel per hour, or 2 litres per mile. This may seem more than some other boats, but given her immense build and therefore dry weight of 4.2 tonnes atop a deep-V hull, it isn’t too shabby at all, and at a steady cruising speed of 22 knots, the fuel consumption of 35 litres/hour is a very acceptable 1.6L/nm and gives a realistic cruising range of 185 miles with two hours in reserve.
Obviously, to make full use of this cruising capability you need some creature comforts, and the Explorer provides these in some measure. The first notable feature is the fully enclosed island wheelhouse. The Finns have for some time recognised the benefits of sliding cabin doors for ease of movement around the boat, especially if handling solo. Add in the huge sliding sunroof and there is a real sense of the outdoors. With these closed, the inclement weather is a world away through the extensive glazing, which is why these boats are seen as having year-round capability, especially with the diesel-fired heating and proper demisting system for the acres of glass.
On the Explorer, the extensive use of wood for the fit-out is no surprise given that Edy Sarin began his career when joinery skills were as important as laminating ones. The wood adds to the warm, friendly atmosphere that pervades throughout. The upholstery on the test boat was a dark-grey alcantara, but other colour options are available. It goes well with the dark-grey, glare-free dash area, which is in harmony with the reverse raked screen and the fully equipped, commanding helm in which all the main controls are adjusted with the wheel on a rotating pod. The flush-mounted Garmin system display ahead of the wheel can display the engine information in view, along with communications and other gauges, and the stereo mounted overhead in the wooden deckhead coaming.
Within the wheelhouse there is seating for six or seven around the solid wood table, with its folding leaf and glassware recesses. The table is mounted on an offset leg to allow it to swivel well out of the way, but still be usable from one side of the U-shaped settee. A small galley to the port side of the companionway allows a brew to be made on a calm passage. For overnight, the bright main cabin provides a raised double berth, separate heads compartment and compact clothes locker. A second double cabin aft, below the wheelhouse, is accessed down a companionway revealed by lifting the gas ram-assisted side cushions. The headroom is restricted but there is a full-size double berth and some stowage. It is an ideal occasional cabin for children or guests to share the cruising experience.
From the boot topping down, the hull lines remind me very much of the Fairey Huntress, with a constant vee and parallel strakes. The ride the hull gives is very forgiving, and she can really be chucked around, especially with the fully supportive seat and grippy footplate. The Volvo power supply is accompanied by the automatic leg and trim tab adjustment. It is quite amazing how the system reacts to bring the boat to optimum trim angle and dial out any wind list. It does take a moment for the effect to be noticed, but it is more accurate and every bit as fast as doing the job manually. Gone are the finger-fumbling trim adjustments – you really can just let the system set the running angle reliably and concentrate on the water ahead.
On deck, the integral safety aspects of the Explorer start with the stepless all-round deck, protected by high bulwarks and topped with substantial stainless steel guard rails that are powder coated with a matt-black finish, which has proved its resilience over several years of service. The deck hardware is coated to match and well placed for practical boat handling with no corners cut, such as two cleats on each quarter and an open pulpit forward for boarding over the bow in typical Scandinavian style.
Bench seats forward of the coachroof and under the wheelhouse overhang together, with quarter benches completing the uncluttered deck arrangements, although a picnic table can be shipped in the expansive cockpit, and access through the midships transom gate to the large swimming platform also acts as a deck drain for the totally free-draining deck. In an illustrious example of practical design, there is simply nowhere for water to collect on deck and no steps to negotiate either. This facet alone elevates the Explorer ahead of the opposition where a step to the foredeck has to be negotiated.
The Explorer 28 is a proper boat rather than a caravan that floats. She trades some accommodation for an exemplary ride and handling of the old school for those who intend to use the boat to her capabilities and in all weathers. If you want a summer picnic with every conceivable extra, then you are probably better looking elsewhere. But if you require a boat that you can use right through the winter and cruise in comfortably through thick and thin, then look no further.
- Length: 8.80m
- Beam: 2.98m
- Displacement: 4200kg
- Draught: 1.05m
- Air draught: 2.75m
- Fuel: 375 litres
- Water: 100 litres
- Sceptic tank: 40 litres
- Max. passengers: 8
- Berths: 4
- CE category: B Offshore
- Deadrise: 19 degrees
- Power options: D4 260hp – D6 370hp or 2 x D3 220hp
RPM Speed (knots) Fuel (L/hr)
600 3.5 1.0
1000 5.8 4.0
1500 8.2 12.9
2000 13.4 25.0
2200 plane 17.6 28.5
2500 22.5 34.8
3000 30.0 55.1
3490 36.6 78.2
As tested: £199,497
Marco Marine Limited
Hamble Point Marina
Hamble SO31 4JD
Telephone: 02380 453245
- Uncompromising construction
- All-weather comfort
- Safe all-round deck
- Slightly cramped cabins
- Minimal clothing storage