Captain's Report by Capt. Steve
The 28 Express' mission is to provide a weekend retreat that also functions as a capable day cruiser. She offers a typical layout for a boat in class but some clever adaptations add a little flair to an otherwise common scenario. Because she has an 8'6" (2.59 m) beam this "pocket cruiser" is highway-friendly.
Some of what separate this express cruiser from much of the competition are…•
Versatile aft lounge.
The aft bench seat is part of the lounge that can be configured in various positions. Additionally, where you would lounge facing aft, Regal is able to accommodate doing so while the boat is underway, and still have you safely ensconced in the cockpit. •
Fixed fire fighting system.
It’s offered as an option on most boats, but Regal takes safety seriously and includes theirs as standard. •
Aft opening engine compartment.
No dragging dirty tools or parts across your clean cockpit. It's easier to work on when at the dock. •
Optional retractable arch.
Just a push of a button at the helm and down she comes. This will significantly lower your bridge clearance and make it more convenient to pull into a boathouse with a low overhead. And of course this is also a critical consideration when trailering your 28 Express.
Performance and Handling
The Regal 28 Express has a dry weight of 7585 lbs (3440 kg) and with just over half fuel, two people, and test gear onboard, we had a test weight of just over 8300 lbs (3767 kg).Our test boat was powered by a catalyzed 300-hp Volvo Penta 5.7 GiC, which reached full speed at 5050 rpm. At that speed we were running at 41.2 mph while burning just under 24 gph for a range of 112 miles. Best cruise was found at 4000 rpm where we measured speed of 30.4 mph. That translated into a fuel burn of 14 gph for a range of 140 miles. We reached planing speed in 3.8 seconds, accelerated to 20 mph in 8.6 seconds, and continued gaining speed through 30 mph in 13 seconds.
Handling was quite docile. Even when getting heavy handed, the 28 Express had a nice comfortable feel to her. There was a roughly 15-degree bow rise on acceleration, which caused no loss of visibility to the horizon, and when taking power off, she seemed to settle back into the water on a fairly level plane. When cranking and banking, she exhibited a gentle roll into the turn and came around with just a bit of a slide that had the turn feeling a bit more comfortable than if she grabbed the water and dug in-- all good characteristics of a cruising boat with a sportboat feel were present.
Boarding the 28 Express is best accomplished from the swim platform and the entire deck is appropriately treated with non-skid. A Flexiteek inlay is offered as an option ($1031). Additional boarding is from the caprails at the cockpit and then down onto convenient steps, which will accommodate those who dock at fixed piers. Shore power and water connections are to starboard, as is the recessed reboarding ladder. Cleats are mounted up high, well out of the trip zone and on stainless reinforcing panels. Fuel fill is just above the starboard cleat. The sunlounge has storage underneath and the boarding gate is to port. Since the sunlounge protrudes into the platform space just a bit, I’d like to see the addition of a grab handle along the aft end of the lounge. The gate is held in the closed position by dropping into a notch at the hinges. Entry to the cockpit is up one step from the platform.
You enter the cockpit through a portside gate, and it wasn’t lost on me that the gate is see-thru to allow for continual visibility of the swim platform when docking. The aft seating was about as close together as you would normally find in a boat in this size range, and it made for an intimate conversational atmosphere without feeling crowded.
The aft seat converts to a sunpad or chaise lounge that is intended to be used while the 28 Express is at rest. However, if you really need your aft-facing chaise fix while under way, just drop it all the way down and it blends in to the aft facing seat in the cockpit. It’s not hard to imagine being at a remote anchorage and enjoying the afternoon sun while the kids are swimming off the stern, and now you can relax while watching the end of the towline. A standard cockpit pedestal table adds a cozy cocktail-hour feel.
To port is a refreshment center with a sink, two drink holders, and a convenient grab rail. Below is a carry-on cooler. A cockpit refrigerator can be fitted instead of the cooler ($1100). Between the seats is a pedestal base for the optional cockpit table ($585). An additional option worth considering is the Power Tower ($7692) that electrically folds forward on beefy hinges.
Just ahead, and still to port is a triple wide lounger. It has a flip-up armrest, and while that’s a great feature, I’d like to see Regal go one better and utilize the flip-down armrests that I’ve seen on some of its other models. They’re just easier to deploy and stow with one hand.
Just behind the cockpit sink are three switches, one for the engine room lights, one for the hatch lift, and the last for the arch lights. Activating the hatch switch lifts the aft sunlounge, and as it is hinged from the cockpit side, you are able to access the engine room from the swim platform. This has the advantage of allowing you to work on your engine without getting the cockpit dirty.
The engine compartment is roomy enough to climb in and get up close with your maintenance. Water and holding tanks are to port, the optional hot water heater is to starboard, and a fixed fire fighting system is mounted to the forward bulkhead.
A lot of thought went into the design of the helm and its layout is centered around the optional Garmin moving map display. The panel is hand-stitched vinyl and provides minimal shade with reduced glare effect to the windshield. A single multi-function gauge lies to the right of the Garmin with a depth gauge next to that. The burlwood grained wheel is finished off nicely and mounted to a tilt base that held its position against me doing a mock bracing for a heavy sea. With my eyes focused on the water ahead I easily found the stainless grab handle with a natural motion. The helm seat is doublewide, slides fore and aft and includes a flip-up bolster. Our test boat was fitted with the optional Garmin 740 chartplotter ($1700) and VHF 100 ($383).
Steps are molded into the companionway hatch to facilitate accessing the bow through the windshield walkthrough. A grab rail is to port. The entire bow is treated with non-skid and two hatches are far off to the sides. Fully forward, our test boat was equipped with the optional windlass with foot controls (a little awkwardly placed) next to a small step. To the starboard side is a hatch allowing access to the rode under the deck. A remote spotlight is ahead next to the stainless anchor roller.
Below decks, the cabin area is quite attractive with cherry veneer and a dark mahogany stained deck. A modest galley is to starboard with a microwave, single burner stove, and sink with a Corian countertop. Below is a small refrigerator, which along with the rest of the galley seems sized right for the weekending mission of this 28 Express.
The forward area is all dinette, which does the usual conversion to a berth. Aft, in the mid cabin, is a queen sized berth, meaning that you can purchase your sheets at any store. To port is a modest wet-head that was roomy enough to move around and take a mock shower.
Pricing and Observations
Regal’s 28 Express has a retail price of $97,073 when powered with the catalyzed 260-hp Merc 5.0 L MPI engine. You can opt for a 270-hp Volvo Penta 5.0 L ($180), a 300-hp Merc 350 MAG ($2870), a 300-hp Volvo Penta 5.7 L ($2497), or the 300-hp Volvo Penta 5.7 L with the OceanX outdrive ($6430). Overall I was quite impressed with the 28 Express. She was not only a fun boat to drive, but she can accommodate your guests quite nicely. If you’re looking for a platform to get away from the crowds for the weekend, she’s equally suited to that task as well. As with any "pocket cruiser," she has a beam of 8'6" (2.59 m) which means you can cruise her down I-95. That fact gives her prodigious range and means you can do a lot of serious cruising fairly quickly. If you are trying to figure out whether or not to enter the cruising lifestyle, a pocket cruiser might be a good way to put your toe in the water.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Regal 28 Express (2012-) is 41.2 mph (66.3 kph), burning 23.90 gallons per hour (gph) or 90.46 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Regal 28 Express (2012-) is 30.4 mph (48.9 kph), and the boat gets 2.17 miles per gallon (mpg) or 0.92 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 140 miles (225.31 kilometers).
- Tested power is 1 x 300-hp Volvo Penta 5.7 GiC.
Standard and Optional Features
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|