Hi, I’m looking for a 24-29’ focused on family cruising and the early 70s' Commander 28' have caught my eye. I am looking for some advice on this boat as there are some other options from Bertram, Luhrs and Tollycraft for example.

This would be a boat I use primarily in fall, winter, spring for cruises when the weather here in Virginia is too cool for my bow rider. It needs to be OK being wetslipped in fresh water for the midatlantic winters (Marina has bubblers to prevent solid ice which is rare anyway in the Potomac). There are many days nice enough to boat here in NOV, DEC, MAR, APR but cold for the bowrider.

Given this, my preference is for an enclosed cockpit with a table that drops to a third birth plus a v birth and separate head. Comfort for the wife and daughter is important. We need the ability to sleep on the boat for 1-2 nights maximum for “camping”.

This is my short list of priorities:

  • Fully enclosed cabin since I will primarily use in cool weather
  • 25+ knots WOT
  • Efficient cruise speed
  • Standing helm/cockpit
  • OK to wet slip
  • Possible 3rd birth (typically in cockpit)
  • Quality construction with no common rot problems
  • Enclosed Head (preferably with holding tank)
  • No sterndrive I/O due to wet winter storage

What do you all think about the 28' Commanders to fit this need?



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Paul, I agree that 30 Tollycraft if owned by anyone familiar with the Doctor Who series would name it "Tardes". ;)


The Chris Craft Catalina 28,29 and 31's of the 70's and early 80' s were nice boats

A couple of others that came up on my search...

a 32ft 1994 Carver Convertible Sedan in Vermillion, Ohio for $24,900

a 32ft 1984 Carver Convertible Sedan in Muskegon,  Michigan for $19,900

a 32ft 1985 Trojan F-32 Sedan in Harrison Township Michigan (453 original hours) for $25,000 ask

All Freshwater since new...

At some point cored hulls made their way into the mix and to me that would be a deal breaker. 

Hatteras was actually the earliest adopter of balsa coring.  When aviation moved to metal, Baltec needed a new market, and Hatteras was their entry into boating.  Hatteras understood the limitations and made sure there was (almost) no way for water to make it into the coring.  Hatteras moved from cored superstructures to cored hulls above the waterline, in 1981.  Other manufacturers followed quickly, but without the discipline and commitment to keeping water out of the coring. 

Nothing wrong with balsa coring, as long as you check it very well before purchase, and commit to pulling every fastener and fitting, to renew sealant and check the core is still sealed.  Balsa cored fiberglass is very strong, quiet, light, but intolerant of neglect or poor workmanship. 

Mid-tier boats with balsa coring are something to be very cautious about.  Even if they were well built, which many were not, sealant does not last forever, has to be replaced eventually or you will get moisture in coring.

My first experience with this was a cabin top on my San Juan 21, squish squish,  a change in COG and barefoot feel when tending to mast chores.  A lesson a friend described as, "Teach me quick, and learn me Long. "

Balsa and I will only have relationships with model planes.   

Years ago Dick Morland shared a clip of a new 50+ high tech delaminating cruiser,  no balsa involved. I'll take all glass,  steel or aluminum thank you and as with early statements about Bayliners, I will maintain my course. (I usually only have 8 PFDs aboard for victims).

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