The Cape Dory 28 is a rugged little cruiser often quoted as having a feel of a larger boat. She combines traditional looks, quality construction and well-mannered sailing characteristics into a package that is offshore capable. As testimony to her seaworthiness, we’ve seen at least one circumnavigation – in 2009 Fred Bickum completed his three year voyage singlehanded in his 1978 Cape Dory, FêNIX.
At her launch in 1974 the Cape Dory 28 marked the beginning of a fruitful twelve year partnership between Cape Dory Yachts and well respected designer Carl Alberg. Between 1974 and 1987, Cape Dory built 388 in their yard in East Taunton, New England, helping the company forge a grand reputation for producing sailboats that are well constructed with excellent sailing characteristics.
Taking a closer look at her hull shape a trained eye can see much of the classic Alberg form. A Swede himself, he was heavily influenced by the sleek Scandinavian folkboats of the early 20th century, and in that regard the 28’s hull is narrow, making for less accomodation volume belowdecks, but the long overhangs seen in earlier Alberg designs are only hinted at, instead they have been toned down in favour of a longer waterline and gaining back some space. The sheerline is graceful with traditionally low freeboard. Beneath the waterline is a full keel with a forefoot cutaway and ending in a keel-hung rudder which completes her classical profile.
Hulls are of solid fiberglass in polyester resin while decks are balsa or plywood cored fiberglass. The build quality is excellent throughout and the quality of her fittings are good. Bronze is used for the through hull fittings and the eight opening ports, though early boats before 1978 had lower quality plastic ports.
Under sail, they are sea kindly, stiff and capable in heavy seas, yet surprisingly quick in light winds. Nine thousand pounds of displacement, a modified full keel and a well-distributed sail plan results in a well balanced boat that tracks easily, is nimble through the tacks yet has enough momentum to push through choppy water.
In summary, if you’re looking for a small cruiser with classic looks and proven offshore potential, but don’t mind foregoing the interior room seen in more modern 28-footers, the Cape Dory 28 may be a good choice.
» Cape Dory Owners Association’s Cape Dory 28 page. Info, brochures and photos.
» Cruising World Magazine’s review of the Cape Dory 28 by Lauren Anthone, 2007.
» Jack Horner’s review of the Cape Dory 28, BoatUS