The wind howled straight out of the east at 25 knots with gusts to 35. Honestly, no boat this size had any business heading offshore in the 6-foot seas rolling through Fort Lauderdale's inlet. Except ours, that is. Proceeding at a prudent speed (just short of launching), we negotiated our way out the inlet and turned north to run in the beam seas. Everything ran fine until a rogue 10-footer slapped the hull side and caught the wind, dousing everyone in the cockpit. Time to turn back and head for the Intracoastal Waterway.
While this adventure might seem foolhardy, it actually proves a point. Part of the job of a boating writer is to find out if a particular vessel qualifies as forgiving or vengeful. This short trip into horrific (relatively speaking) conditions showed that the Mako 284 Express - driven carefully - can handle such conditions perfectly safely. That makes for comforting knowledge if you happen to get caught in such conditions unexpectedly. Heading down-sea on the way back, the Mako 284 Express neither swerved nor dug in when it reached the back of the next wave.
I found the ergonomics of the helm amazingly comfortable for a starboard-side control station on a small boat. The seat swivels and has heavy padding and an adjustable thigh-support beam that folds up to form a leaning post. The electronic throttles don't interfere with your access to the trim tabs, and it's nice to have automatic synchronization of your engines. (Listening to the thrumming of out-of-synch engines is another pet peeve.)
In sheltered water, the Mercury 250 hp Verados blasted the 284 onto plane in just about three seconds - virtually instantaneous. I'm told Mercury plans to try a pair of its new 300s on this boat - something I would consider gilding the lily. Top speed at 6,000 rpm tipped the GPS at 48.1 mph using 56.5 gph. Optimum cruise turned out to be 26.3 mph at 4,000 rpm where the Verados used 19.4 gph for a range of 1.36 mpg. In a cruising-speed turn, the rear end slides just enough to keep everyone safe and comfortably on board.
You'll find room for three removable tackle boxes under the helm seat, as well as lure drawers under the aft end of the straight guest settee to port. The livewell behind the helm seat features a gasket; subsequent models will allow you to pressurize the well to protect your valuable liveys.
A molded step on each side of the cockpit and substantial, well-placed handholds let you walk to the bow easily with rod in hand. And speaking of rods, Mako offers storage for three under and two in each gunwale, as well as three on each hardtop leg and three more overhead under the top.
You can lift out the large fish box in the transom for access beneath. However, a hatch in the cockpit sole gets you to the livewell and washdown pumps. A dry box under the deck can house a cast net, downriggers, dredges and the like.
At a 6 mph trolling speed, the boat leaves as clean a wake as you could want.
Design and Construction
Foldaway wooden steps afford ingress down into the rather elegant cabin of the 284 Express. Once below, fold the steps away for unfettered access to the mid-ship berth with plenty of room for two average- size adults. In fact, I'd rather sleep there than in the forward V-berth with the dinette-table insert.
I am particularly surprised at the quality and richness of the countertops and joiner work below. It looks good. It feels good. The portside galley has a refrigerator, polished stainless-steel sink, microwave and lots of storage. Opposite, the stand-up head with shower boasts a fixed porcelain toilet.
You'll discover that Mako overbuilds its boats. Yes, it makes them heavy compared to its competitors. But at the same time, it makes them indestructible and provides them with a good, smooth ride.
Our vessel, hull number one, had no swim ladder - no means to get out of the water if you fell overboard. Mako's Curt Jarson promised that all future hulls would have such a ladder deployable from the water.
Mako builds its own molded-fiberglass hardtops that include twin overhead electronics boxes, fore and aft floodlights, outriggers and even the rod holders mentioned earlier. The overall construction consists of bi- and triaxial fiberglass, woven roving, Airex core materials, high-quality resins and liberal amounts of injected closed-cell foam. Yes, it's a beast - and a beauty at the same time.
LOA......30 ft. 8 in.
BEAM......9 ft. 10 in.
HULL DRAFT......1 ft. 11 in.
WEIGHT......7,000 lb. (dry)
MAX HP......T300 hp OB
MSRP......$169,312 (w/ T250 hp four-stroke OB)
Mako Marine International / Springfield, Missouri / 417-873-4555 / www.mako-boats.com