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Ranger 28
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2 7834 Fri February 13, 2015
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Description: Ranger 28
Keywords: Ranger 28

Junior Member

Registered: July 2000
Review Date: Tue January 25, 2000 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 0 


The Ranger 28 was built between 1975 and about 1978 by Ranger Yachts of Costa Mesa, CA, later Jensen Marine, and finally taken over by Bangor Punta just before B/P (O-Day, etc.) went belly up. This is not to be confused with a 28 footer (usually called a Ranger 8.5) built off and on since the early '80's by Ranger Boats of Kent, WA.

Most Jensen Rangers, with the exception of a Ranger 30 and the Ranger FUN 23, were designed by Gary Mull. Mull believed in fast, good performing boats with high ballast/displacement ratios, slippery underbodies, and generous sailplans. R-28's are no exception, with ballast of about 2980 lbs and design displacements of about 6000 lbs. Watch out for the specs--the specs in every ad I have seen are for the early design, showing a 4' 6" keel and a displacement of 5180 lbs. (dream on!). Early boats did have the lighter keel and were very tender. Later boats did have a 5' draft. The Ranger 28 is a sister to the 32 and 37, which are very similar in concept and appearance. Correspondence from Mull indicates that he was looking at both the IOR an MORC rules when the boats were designed, tho the 28 is not, strictly speaking, an IOR boat.

Boats were well built--thick glass, beefy mast, and good overall design. Unlike Mull's earlier designs for Ranger (29 & 33), the compression post sits directly on the keel, not on a grid, which in those boats is prone to trouble, and the deck is through-bolted to the hull and toerail. They are very fast--fewer 28 footers, unless you go to a completely stripped out racer, are faster. Take a look through a Portsmouth Yardstick at the 28 footers and see how many rate faster. On a recent sail up San Diego Bay, we were regularly passing 30 to 35 footers, including a Catalina 380. Plus, they are easy to sail shorthanded, unlike many cruiser-racers. The extreme tumblehome makes rail meat relatively useless, and the high b/d ration makes the boat fairly stiff. In 10-15 knots, the boat is a gas to sail and easily achieves hull speed on most points of sail. Boat is fairly roomy and comfortable for a 28 footer, although head room is cramped if you are over 5'10". The rudders are reputed to be somewhat small for sailing in rugged off the wind conditions, though I have not experienced any trouble with ours.

Disadvantages--interior storage is very limited due to rounded hull shape. Interior design is dated by today's standards--if it were being built today, it would have an aft cabin, cabinets above settees, cutout transom, etc., etc. Early models had a funky tho workable layout, with icebox under companionway and footwell for port settee under counter. V-berth, while reasonably roomy, required crawling through a waist-high opening. (Later models had footwell forward under vanity in head and icebox under counter on port, door to v-berth with cutout to stand in.) Water and fuel tankage are modest (or totally inadequate, depending on your point of view), in the 10-12 gal range, and the fuel tank is under the port settee. The icebox on early models (under companionway) is useful chiefly for melting ice. Bilge sump at keel is pretty small, though engine bilge is isolated from the interior, a nice touch. The boat nominally has 5 berths, but the quarterberth (under the starboard side of the cockpit) usually winds up being used as Fibber McGee's closet. Lazarette also has lots of space but it is difficult to get to through the cockpit locker.

To race competively, you need 3 or 4 crew. Boats were often raced with an 9 sail inventory--main, 160, 140, 110, 0.5 oz. spinnaker, 0.75 oz. reaching spinnaker, drifter, blooper, and spinnaker staysail. This takes up a heck of a lot of the limited stowage. Especially for cruising, plan on a new inventory of modern sails and reduce it to 3 or 4. Main is relatively small, so frequent headsail changes are the order of the day, unless you put on a roller furler. Original mains were usually cut quite small with little roach--a full-batten roached main really makes the boat go. If boat has original sails, chances are they are 20-year old racing sails, thoroughly blown out.

Hot combo for cruising is a roached, full-batten main with 2 or 3 sets of reef points and a 135 jib on the roller furler. Boat does have to be sailed--with large sail area, even with high b/d ratio, it is necessary to shorten sail above 15 knots or so, especially hard on the wind. Do it, and boat goes fast. Don't, and the boat heels and slows down. It is more work to sail than a boat with a smaller sail plan, but is a heck of a lot of fun. Running rigging led aft to cockpit also makes boat a lot easier to sail short-handed.

Engine room access is quite limited (horrible, to be more accurate). Original power was usually an Atomic 2 or 4, tho a diesel was an option, and a few boats may have had an air-cooled diesel put in. "Practical Sailor" notwithstanding (they always make some crack to the effect that by now the Atomic 4 needs to be replaced), a properly maintained engine may still be good for years. Even if it isn't, you can rebuild an Atomic 4 with an electronic ignition (which should last for years) for about 1/3 the price of diesel repower. And fitting the diesel in can be a real hassle. Ours has a Yanmar 1GM, about the smallest diesel made, and it barely fits. The engine bed was notched to clear the bell housing. And servicing it--don't ask. Check out any repower carefully--a friend of ours saw one that had been repowered with a lawnmower engine, just enough oomph to get it to the starting line and back.

Many of the boats we looked at were stone stock original. Look for a boat that has upgraded running rigging (led aft to cockpit, self-tailing winches, rope clutches, etc), roller furling, new standing rigging, new cushions (originals had vinyl covers or that ghastly plaid that boat makers must have bought by the carload), and new sails. Diesel adds to value, altho I would have bought the one we got if it had the Atomic in it. Internal halyards were an option and are desirable, especially if you race.

Other problems--look for deck leaks into core around stanchions and fittings. Bedding on toe rail may also have dried out and need replacing--a job, but doable. Several different headliners were used, and if water has gotten in, you may have to replace the headliner. Hull liner above shelves above settees may also be tired. Windows may be crazed and need replacement. Early ones apparently had lower-quality acrylic. Ours is hull #23, and windows are shot. A friend has #117--windows look great. If gelcoat has been cared for, boat may still look good--otherwise, a LP job may be in order. Deck has good, aggressive non-skid, tho there are some areas that don't have it. The 29's and 33's commonly have a problem with play in the rudder bushings, tho I have not seen this on the 3 28's I have sailed on. Early models had wood spreaders, which may need to be replaced if they haven't been cared for. Hull to keel joint may need fairing; the keel is external lead ballast.

Boat can be trailered, tho it is an oversize load (9'6" beam) and weighs close to 10,000# on trailer. Due to draft, you will need a very long ramp, cable and dolly wheel to get it off the trailer, or a crane. You also need a crane or an A-frame to raise the mast. You won't take it to the lake for an afternoon daysail! Ranger offered trailer as an option, tho few boats have them; we had to find a used one and modify it to fit boat.

Used boats go for $8,000 to $20,000, depending on condition. If it has good sails and goodies, pay the top dollar, or buy a cheaper one and plan to spend the $ to get good sails on it. And then watch the owners of those new $50,000 30-footers turn green when you eat their lunch for them!

David Dickinson

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"wooden liz'n"

Registered: February 2015
Location: BC Canada
Posts: 6
Review Date: Fri February 13, 2015 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 0 


Hi any one with a Ranger 8.5 out there ?

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