By Jack Hornor
Revised by BoatUS editors in October 2012
If you're looking for a small cruising boat with character, quality and economical performance you should take a look at the Camano 28/31.
Designed by Vancouver naval architect Bob Warman, the style of the Camano 28, with its high nearly plumb bow, radiused transom and prominent deck saloon is certainly influenced by Pacific Northwest workboats. Not so apparent are some of the innovative design features Warman incorporated. Below the waterline there is a broad, deep keel and double chine forward that, without going into a bunch of techno-talk, improve the efficiency and operational characteristics of the design.
The Camano 28 was built on a limited production basis (about 12 boats a year) by the company Warman founded in 1989 until the company was sold in 1997. The new owners moved to a larger facility in Delta, British Columbia and increased production capacity until there are now more then 250 of these models built. Although the manufacturer still specifies the length on deck as 28 feet, the model is now marketed as the Camano 31. This reflects the overall length of the vessel which includes the swim platform and stainless anchor davit at the bow. The beam of 10 feet, 6 inches, draft of 3 feet, 3 inches and displacement of 10,000 lbs. are all rather substantial for a 28-footer.
With no exterior wood trim and black vinyl rails at the deck edge and rub strake, Camano gives the appearance of being a stoutly built little workboat and although she is not a workboat, I would have to agree that she is stoutly built.
Photo by Don Martin
To help prevent water absorption and osmotic blistering, the outer layer of the fiberglass hull laminate consists of fiberglass matte and polyester resin. The vessel's bottom is a solid fiberglass and resin lay-up while the sides are reinforced with 3/8-inch Divinycell a closed-cell structural foam material. The bottom is reinforced in the area of the keel with carbon fiber. The bottom is supported by an all-fiberglass composite structural grid which is separately molded and then secured in place with structural putty. Structural bulkheads are a combination of foam cored fiberglass composites and plywood and are attached to the hull using foam fillets to prevent hard spots and cracks at attachment points. The decks are constructed of fiberglass composite with 1/2-inch balsa core. The deck and hull are joined in a shoebox fashion, fastened with screws and fiberglass throughout its length and protected on the outside by a hefty vinyl molding.
I have had a close look at several of these boats, including one which Hurricane Isabel dealt her best blow, and have found the quality to be well above average. However, on a boat of this quality I would like to see marine grade-metal rather than the plastic through-hull fittings above the waterline. The boats I have inspected have all had at least one broken fitting regardless of age.
The cockpit of the Camano is small - only a little over 30 square feet of useable space, but it's sufficient and offers three convenient boarding points - a center transom door from the swim platform and molded fiberglass steps along each side. There is a large center hatch with lots of storage room.
Outdoor entertaining and relaxation aboard the Camano is done on the flybridge which is as large and comfortable as you are likely to find on any small boat. There is a center helm seat flanked by two pedestal seats forward on the bridge and more than 50 square feet of open space aft. The area easily accommodates six adults for cocktails.
Like the cockpit, the foredeck is small but suitable for handling dock lines and ground tackle. The side decks are narrow although sturdy hand rails are&provided along the side of the fly bridge.
Although only 28 feet on deck, the Camano has the interior of a larger boat. The designer and builders, to their credit, have arranged the interior with a cruising couple in mind. The main saloon, which features 360 degrees of visibility, has a dinette which converts to a double berth to port aft with chairs and a lower helm to starboard. The galley is down several steps to port with a head and shower opposite and there is a large comfortable V-berth forward.
I have long held that boatbuilders should be required to service and maintain the boats they design before they are ever allowed to build them. The builder of the Camano may not have serviced this boat but has some experience with service and the accessibility of machinery and systems; it brings a smile to the face of this aging surveyor.
Power is provided by a 210 hp Volvo diesel which will push the Camano to a top speed of a little over 15 knots and cruise at seven knots for nearly 800 miles at about eight and a half nautical miles per-gallon of fuel. A very large rudder and bow thruster aid handling in tight quarters.
Naval architect Jack Hornor was the principal surveyor and designer for Marine Survey & Design, Co., based in Annapolis, MD. He was on the boards of the American Boat and Yacht Council, the National Association of Marine Surveyors, and the Society of Boat and Yacht Designers. He and his wife sailed their Catalina 42, Legacy, based on Maryland's Eastern Shore.