So time to jump back on track with our articles and close out end 2013, and beginning 2014. As well we need to start wrapping up our boat show series articles. First and foremost I'd like to say to Gene Willen, your humor and hospitality was greatly missed at the boat show this year. I am glad to hear that you are feeling better and hopefully we will see you later this week at the Lake Havasu Boat Show!
Now onto the Nitty Gritty. Howard Custom Boats brought out a 28 SDS (Sport Deck Series), and a 28 Sport Deck this year to the Los Angeles Boat show. I'm going to write them up and post the pics in what will most likely be a two possibly three part article. Ultimately though the boats were of the same Caliber that they brought in 2013. That is to say they are the among finest boats money can buy, but nothing really changed from this year to last and both boats were sold immediately after being shown at the show.
I'm going to change things up a bit. I'm going to write the two boats up, but keep it kind of short and to the point, while referencing last years write up for an in depth look at them. I'd like to put up a performance review of the Sport Deck to accompany this article which will put you on the water in the boat, and then circle back to the latest Howard News of their new 288 that is just coming out of the mold right now!
To read an extremely in depth write up of the History of the SDS / Sport Deck & SCS as well as rigging qualities of the Sport Deck please look at last years write up up as it was rigged identically
So lets take a look at this years boats starting with the 28 Sport Deck. The boat was a nice color combo of Orange and Royal Blue (almost purple), and sported a Full Cap (that was absolutely Flawless)!
Check out the front of this boat Fully Capped. Really aggressive looking and clean.
Now we step in and look at the front lounges. These are the same seats that I raved about in last years review!
I still feel the stitching coming together to create an almost three dimensional pattern that is comfortable and offers "grip" on the base cushion is something other manufacturers should be paying attention too. I haven't found anything before or after that I like better then this seat for what would normally be a large flat panel of vinyl in a lot of other boats.
The Sport Deck features closing doors on the bow that will reduce the wind tunnel / buffeting effect exponentially. (Trust me it works)
Moving back to the Helm and rigging under the dash. One of the best compliments a boat manufacturer can receive is from another Top Tier manufacturer. "Those guys are building them every bit as nice as us" - Tony C of Dave's Custom Boats at the 2014 LA Boat Show.
This boat has plenty of Cooler Storage. You can order single or dual slide out coolers out of the helms. Plus there is Integrated cooler(s) under the back seat, and side lounge. As well you can order the "Bar" option in the gunnel behind the cup holders which will hold predetermined bottles and mixers / glasses etc if you like mixed drinks!
(Slide out Helm Cooler)
Rear Cooler under back seat
Cooler Under Side Lounge
The gunnel (minus the infamous bar option)
So as we make our way to the transom I will point out one obvious advantage that the original "Sport Deck" has over the SDS. You can pull one of the stairs to get to the batteries without lifting the engine hatch. With the SDS you have to raise the hatch first. It's a minor detail, but I noticed it.
Taking a look at the Transom of the boat
Billet Vents with integrated Grab Handle
Large Sunpad even with a walk off on the starboard side.
A pretty strong customer testimonial from a fellow RDP'er that purchased the Sport Deck in the 2013 show, I pulled this from the last comment of last years article!
"I bought the Sport Deck in the article. When it was in the LA Boat Show I hadnt yet driven it. I got it out to Havasu about a week after the show and got it in the water. It drives and handles flawlessly. It is the smoothest, best handling boat I have ever owned. Gene and Mike were just a pleasure to deal with. Incredibly helpful and professional. I honestly couldnt complain about one thing about the boat. The attention to detail and workmanship is exactly what I expect from a Howard. Great write up and thanks to RDP for helping me sell my old boat also!"
So now we get to my personal opinions. I really don't think anybody builds a better boat then Howard. That's a pretty bold statement coming out of my keyboard because it invariably pisses off all the other manufacturers, but it's the truth. Their glass and gel work is flawless, Their rigging is on par with the best in the industry, their interiors scream class, and the boats flat perform (which I will get into in our performance test of a Sport Deck following this article). To add the cherry onto the top of the ice cream, while they certainly aren't "cheap" they aren't charging outrageous money for them. Now don't get me wrong, for a bad ass Howard with a 600 you are gonna be in the boat 165K fully loaded, but that's a big upgrade from base price.
Here are some prices to give you an idea of where you will be starting your conversations with Gene when you place your order.
28 Sport Deck -
502 Engine Pkg / 430HP - 120,000
520HP Engine Package - 126,000
Merc Racing 600HP - 165,000
(option on this boat) Fully Capped - + 20,000
Max Beam 102"
Approximate Weight 4800 lbs
Standard Fuel Capacity 80 gal
Bottom Configuration Modified Tunnel
100% Hand laminated fiberglass construction w/Baltek end grain balsa and Diab divincyll foam reinforcement
Bi and Tri-Directional Knytex knitted glass fabric
Pure vinyl-ester resin
7 color custom gel coat
All stainless steel hardware and fasteners
Heavy duty marine battery w/battery box
Illuminated rocker switches
Anodized fuel fills, ski tow, gauge bezels, garb-handles w/vents
Bilge pumps (3)
International navigation lights
12 volt receptacle
Dino steering wheel
Full Livorsi or Auto Meter instrumentation (tach, speedometer, volt meter, fuel gauge, water temperature, oil pressure, trim gauge)
Livorsi dual lever hand controls
Bravo I stainless steel propeller
6 stainless steel pull-up deck cleats
Dual electric engine hatch lift
Built-in storage compartments
Color coordinated marine grade vinyl interiors w/40 oz. marine grade snap-in carpet
vinyl rub rail
8.2 liter Mercruiser Magnum motor.
For more information on the Howard Sport Deck please visit www.howardboats.com or call Gene Willen at 661-257-9275