Smooth operator

With outstanding features that are ideal for adventures up and down the Australian coast, Kevin Green is ready to go places aboard the Ocean Alexander 28 Explorer, and living well while he’s at it is what it’s all about.

01 December 2022


The explorer class is gaining in popularity, and a subset of this is the explorer-style yacht. Ocean Alexander’s 28E may be the latter, rather than an ultra-long-range steel-hulled vessel, but it has retained its ocean capabilities.

This makes it ideal for Australia’s vast coastline and, with a range of nearly 2,000 nautical miles, dual systems in key areas and a half-tunnel underside that reduces draft, it’s a major reason why Australian dealer Todd Holzapfel at Alexander Marine Australia brought hull #1 to premiere at the 2022 Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show.

“We use the explorer name to describe the huge amount of outdoor space and the boat’s capability for hosting lots of adventure gear on board,” says Holzapfel.

Sitting in the 28E’s saloon at The Boat Works on the Gold Coast, another striking explorer feature is the rugged look and the maximisation of both enclosed and outdoor spaces – there are only side decks on starboard, and the plumb bow and towering hull make the most of the internal volume, creating an all-weather vessel. This results in a pugnacious profile, further enhanced by the bulbous bow.


The 28E is the entry-level model in a range that currently runs from 90 to 150 feet (27.7 to 45.7 metres). Having boarded several Ocean Alexanders in the last few years, what has always impressed me is the level of detailing. At the same time, the sleek exteriors have benefited from the design pen of the prolific Evan K Marshall.

Reflecting his design brief of creating family-friendly yachts, the 28E has a large and versatile aft deck with a fold-down topside on starboard and a hydraulic platform with davit (1,134-kilogram lifting power).

More outdoor space is on the bow and above on the vast flybridge, or Skylounge. Along with tall windows in the hull and superstructure, it creates an airy yet enclosed vessel that is ideal for various climates, including the Australian east coast.

The Dometic aircon is rated for Extreme Tropical Climates should you be lured toward the Top End. In terms of hull shape, the 28E is angular, so very modern (and fashionable), yet reasonably streamlined thanks to its swept-back upper deck. The modern theme continues in the saloon with its light oak Novus Mist finish, cream walls and contemporary furnishings custom-designed by the Italian Poltrona Frau company.

There is ample space to have generous crew quarters and guest cabins, which is ideal for owners with chartering in mind. Crew can access the galley via a small side deck from their aft quarters so as not to disturb the diners inside the saloon.

The aft deck guest area flows into the main saloon, which has tall bulkheads with large windows to maximise light while also creating shade; important in the Aussie climate. Forward is the dining area with ten comfy leather chairs surrounding a solid hardwood table, stylishly inlaid. On port, the commercial standard U-shaped galley offers brushed stainless JennAir appliances, such as a tall double-doored fridge, freezer units and microwave with an electric hob oven and Whirlpool garbage disposal.

Cupboard space and the marble work surfaces are adequate for two cooks, but I’d to put a portlight in the door to the side deck. Storage is one of the many highlights of this eminently practical 90-footer.

The Skylounge, which is as large as the main saloon, is a grand area for relaxation. The views are spectacular, especially when you look aft to the sundeck with its spa pool surrounded by sunbeds; sturdy sun awning supplied. The open space encourages riotous sundowner parties, all easily catered for by the wet bar and barbecue.

Two tables can hold the nibbles, along with some bench seating for those not dancing. A reduced enclosed option is also available. As Holzapfel explains, “Most of our Australian clients would prefer this larger enclosed area to avoid the bugs and enjoy the air-conditioned lifestyle.”

Three elevated Aras chairs welcome me to the helm. The array includes triple 27-inch Hatteland touchscreens running Garmin charting and autopilot. Side-Power thrusters fore and aft offer additional handling control. The other key big boat feature is a pair of Side-Power Vector Fin stabilisers.

For the general systems, Octoplex digital bus controls allow menu-driven control and easy error-checking. The most impressive feature of the 28E, however, is the full-beam main deck master suite accessed via an internal staircase that also leads below to the four guest cabins.

There are outstanding, panoramic views from the curved front window and side ones, plus more glass in the bathroom, making this a best-in-class cabin.

A king-size bed, walk-in closet and swivel ottoman chair plus spacious vanity area complete this magical resting place. The ensuite is equally impressive with twin sinks and generous shower and head cubicles, and it has a heated stone floor. Below are four decent double guest cabins plus a utility room that could be a fifth.

My pick would be the VIP in the bow with its offset island bed and huge volume gained from the tall, plumb bow. Crew quarters are entered via the aft deck, where there are two cabins with the captain’s quarter fitted with iPad system monitoring.

Detailing throughout really impresses – the drawers are shut in a groove lock so they can’t slide open in a heavy sea, and there are high-quality Italian hinges and other fixings. At the transom, there’s access to other systems and storage, and the engine room can also be accessed from the crew quarters.

Standing room and wide separation between the shaft drive MAN engines allow easy movement around this well-organised space.

On the bow there are two large vertical windlasses, while mooring is made easier with hydraulic capstans in each stern quarter. Easing off the dock, skipper James uses the fore and aft thrusters to move us out to the Coomera River. Taking the helm, I sink down into the leather bucket seat as the 28E surges over the light southerly swell.

Increasing the revs brings only a faint purr from the MANs, and my colleague notes a quiet sound level of only 67 dBa – about the same as normal conversation. Turning the wheel brings the 28E around easily and without heel thanks to the extended Side-Power stabiliser fins. By this time, we’re cruising at about 10 knots, which would give a range of about 1,000 miles.

From here to Cairns with plenty of diesel to spare was my thinking as I contemplated the possibilities for this luxury yacht and all its toys. Pushing the throttles fully down brought 20 knots before we settled on a more economical 16 knots, optimising the engine load to 80 percent.

The 28E proves yet another accomplished and highly refined vessel from Ocean Alexander – one that is ideal for remote coastal exploration and beyond.

Top End, here we come!



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