In 1945, the boating industry was very different than it is today. Boats were mostly wood, and joinery and finishwork in and on them was a badge of honor (or a ‘beware’ sign) for the builder. There were many fewer boats to choose from, and the savvy yachting enthusiast took in the totality of the craft when considering whether or not to invest. Most of the vessel owners were men who’d lived through the depression era, who had fought in WWI and/or WWII, and they were not likely to pour they’re hard-earned dollars into a yacht that wasn’t built right.
It was in that year (1945) that the Ellis Boat Company was founded by Ralph Ellis and Raymond Bunker, the product of a discussion over a pool game at Jim’s Place, a favorite spot in Southwest Harbor, ME. The modernized shop remains in Southwest Harbor today, and Don Ellis, the son of Ralph Ellis, oversees the production of the quality boats his father and Ray Bunker built all those years ago.
Pride of boat building is a big part of the Ellis tradition. They are said to have built the first “Lobster Boats” (named them, in fact) and to have been the originators of several often-copied hallmarks in the manufacturing and finishing process. When stepping board an Ellis it doesn’t take one long to find themselves stepping back to a time when boat building was a reflection of the craftsmen who did the woodwork and fitting. An Ellis boat is made one-at-a-time, with attention to each detail, a masterpiece that the owner can fall in love with quickly and rely on for his or her safety and comfort for a very long time.
The semi-custom Ellis 28 Flybridge Cruiser is one of eight fiberglass models built at Ellis and one of 5 28’ hulls available, including the Extended Top Cruiser 28, the 28’ Picnic Boat, the classic 28’ Lobster Yacht and the 28’ Express Cruiser. The boat incorporates/can incorporate some of the company’s patented innovations, including the Evolution Marine Shaft System and the Ellis Sidekick combination bow thruster and get home engine. But the signature Ellis woodwork, seen throughout the boat, and the timeless Lobster Boat lines are what distinguish it.
Ellis also makes it a priority to produce yachts with superior soundproofing, and the craft are known to be a boat that is quiet and smooth. This is achieved through several engineering processes, during the build (Ellis uses a suspended floor/deck, unlike any other I’ve seen) and the use of a 5-blade propeller. The result is an operating volume of around 75db, which is ten times (!) quieter than 85db, and a comfortable volume at which to have relaxed conversation. It’s notable that many boats “boast” an engine volume of 90db, fifteen times louder than the Ellis.
Boarding the Ellis 28 Flybridge Cruiser is accomplished via the (8 foot long, almost 9′ wide) cockpit. Enter through the centerline hinged door and you find the helm to starboard and galley to port, surrounded by the wood for which Ellis is famous. Headroom is 6”1’ in the helm compartment (the ‘cabin’) but take a step down into the next compartment (the ‘shelter’) and you’ll enjoy 6’6” headroom and space to relax in two settees on both sides of the boat. The clever settees have a seat-back that lifts easily to provide a berth, and they serve as comfortable dining seating. They face the double drop leaf table on the centerline, which serv
es as the main dining or cocktail venue. The settees comprise the sleeping quarters, and it’s a roomy and innovative arrangement. It’s notable that dining, lounging and sleeping are done here in this mid-ships location. Another few steps forward into the head and you’ll find a marine toilet, sink, hanging locker and several additional storage lockers, as well as access to the rope/chain locker for the anchor.
|Length overall||28′ 4″|
|Maximum beam||9′ 4″|
|Draft (keel)||3′ 0″|
|Headroom (cabin)||6′ 1″|
|Headroom (shelter)||6′ 2″ – 6′ 6″|
|Diesel fuel||2 x 50-gallon|
|Potable water||2 x 35-gallon|
|Waste water||1 x 25-gallon|
|Standard engine||315-hp Yanmar|
As the yacht’s name implies, it features a flybridge, a rare offering for vessels in this size class. Accessed via ladder from the rear of the house at the cockpit, the amazingly roomy flybridge gives passengers a sunny place to sit and the skipper a second control station. If there’s too much sun, an optional bimini-style cover is available for both the flybridge and the cockpit. This additional outdoor venue (which adds 50% to the square footage of usable space on the boat), for sunning or entertaining or both, in a yacht this size, is a real luxury.
Ellis has stayed with the classic Downeast hull design that has served them and generations of sea goers well throughout Maine’s rich nautical history. The boat features a fine entry per its high-bow hull, with a deep keel (3.0’ draft) that protects the prop, shaft and rudder, and a flat section of the hull aft. The classic Downeast hull has provided safety and comfort to Maine’s fishermen for more than a century and remains a safe, smooth cruising, stable, dependable semi-displacement hull for today’s yachtsmen.
For some years now Ellis has chosen Sweden’s Yanmar diesel engines to power their boats. The four-stroke, water-cooled, turbo-charged Yanmar 315hp diesel is fitted into the 28’s engine room as if it were made for it. Access to all routine maintenance areas is excellent, and the oil-lubricated Evolution Marine Shaft System (EMSS) provides long-term reliability and sound dampening.
Today, the Ellis 28 Flybridge Cruiser is a modern take on the classic Lobster yacht. For all of its up-to-date amenities and latest spec machinery (and the comfort and safety that provides), you’ll enjoy the rare pleasure of cruising aboard a yacht that is truly a piece of Maine history. And there’s no substitute for having the Ellis hull between you and the water.Photos courtesy of mftr. website: www.ellisboat.com