Length: 12’ 6” (3.8m)
Beam: 4’ 11” (1.5m)
Recommended engine 6hp
Max load (per/kg) 4/315
Design category: D
Country of manufacture: Finland
Website Terhi Boats
Report courtesy of Mike Thrussell - http://www.worldseafishing.com
I’ve been aware for some time that many readers are not looking to make a major investment in a boat at the outset. Quite rightly logic tells them to literally test the water and find out whether being a boat owner is for them.
The other side of the coin is that some anglers want an easily transportable boat for estuary and harbour fishing that they can take away on camping and fishing trips without the need for a 4x4 vehicle and the extra cost involved. Home storage for some people is also a major consideration, this factor alone being decisive on which boat they can choose.
During previous boat tests I noticed the little 12’ 6” Terhi 385 in a showroom and figured it was just what the first timer and camper was looking for.
What surprises you about the 385 is that even though the boat is small the company have put a lot of thought in to the boat which is reflected in it’s practicality for fishing.
First thing you notice is that the grey rubber fendering on the outside is oversize, tough and very durable. No thin little rubber strip here that gets cut and cracked the first day out.
I also liked the neat little touch of having an inset moulded in to the apex of the inner bow front designed to allow the four fingers of the hand to close inside and get a good grip on the bow for manoeuvring the boat in the water, and when pulling the boat back on to the trailer. Clever!
The bolt heads inside the bow holding the bow connector eye in place are neatly covered with tough plastic domes. Many boats don’t bother with these, but exposed bolt heads hurt like hell if you fall on one when changing seats or position.
At the stern the engine fits on a strong alloy plate that fully spreads the load across the stern and properly protects the stern from damage when fitting and removing the engine.
Turning our attention to the inside the deck angles upwards slightly towards the stern. This area features a moulded in area designed to hold an auxiliary fuel tank with raised edges to eliminate the chance of the tank sliding about.
You have a rear and middle cross seat or thwart. Sitting on these there is no sign of flex whatsoever. On the test boat the seats also sported grey upholstered cushions in grey that press stud on to the seats for security. These are very comfy, and if need be would keep you comfortable when needing to be seated for several hours.
At the bow is additional seating in the form of a triangular cushioned area, again press studded down for security. Lift the cushion and it hides a spacious dry locker area, the locker hatch opening towards port and featuring substantial hinges, plus it can be locked for security. This is ideal for rope, small anchor and maybe a small fender or two. What surprised me was that on initially lifting this, the locker held a neat red baler ready supplied with the boat. Like I said, it’s often the little things that make a difference.
The deck has small grip strips strategically placed, plus in front of the rear thwart there is also a series of raised ribs precisely positioned for the helmsman for their feet to press up against.
Casting a wider eye over the boat the gunnels are nice and high, plus you have plenty of room between the thwarts when you need to move about or for stowing small tackle boxes and bait buckets without cluttering up the leg area.
She’s made from a thermoplastic material, which is very tough, but easily repaired with a Terhi-Fix compound kit from the manufacturer. The overall finish is excellent throughout with the hull and inside colour a smart creamy white, which has a slight stippled effect all over that I think adds to the looks.
The boat is also supplied with 8’ oars as standard.
The trailer is a neat small wheeled CLH trailer, custom made just down the road in St Clears.
The day before the test the weather looked like we’d be rained off photography wise, but checking the fronts moving in from the Atlantic and the responsibility to say “on” or “off” falling on me I figured from the charts that the worst of the forecast rain would push through quicker than predicted. If so, the clearing skies would bring fast freshening winds though.
It was dry when driving to the slipway, but just after launching a belt of heavy rain went through leaving me kicking my heels for a while, then the clouds broke and the sun broke through, but the wind came with it and there was quite a bump on The Haven waters as we left the public pontoon taking the safety first option and heading east down towards the Cleddau Bridge.
12’ boats are not designed for standing up and walking about in. In these types of smaller boat you always keep your body at a low centre of gravity ideally staying seated, but when moving about you keep the balance of the boat in mind at all times and shuffle from seat to seat. The 385 is far better than most though, and is pretty stable, even when the two of us aboard switched positions at the helm.
With me at the wheel I straight away encountered an inconsiderate commercial boat that ran past me too fast kicking up a nasty wash wave, but with only the minimum of course change to just put a small angle of bow in to the wash the 385 rode it well and without causing us any concern at all.
Taking a straight course down the channel, and without forcing the engine, I figured we were clipping along at a steady 4 knots or so, and there was more if I wanted it. This was with the Yamaha 4hp 4-Stroke engine on the back. Throttle response is quick too.
The 385 will take a 6hp motor if required, which if fishing estuaries with a fair tide clip would be the option to go for. The 6hp would probably push the speed up to about 6 knots.
Taking turns to port and starboard the boat is quick to respond and decisive in the turn. Running round in a tight circle you need only back the power off slightly for the boat to make the manoeuvre with barely any lean at all.
We’d been running with the wind initially, but I turned the boat into the wind and opened up the throttle. Inevitably some spray comes up over the bow, but we weren’t getting soaked by any stretch of the imagination, and backing off the throttle a tad saw the spray reduced to a minimum, and what was coming over was induced purely by the rapidly freshening wind which was by now pushing to force 5.
Using a small wash left behind by another small pleasure craft passing by I crossed the small waves at a an angle, but the boat glides over the top showing only a slight angle of tilt and remained predictable at all times.
I felt safe in the boat with the fairly high gunnels, plus had loads of room for my legs to stretch when needed. I enjoyed my time in the 385 and felt quite at home after just a few minutes at the helm.
THINGS I’D CHANGE
I’d got soft soled boots on and my companion rubber wellies. We both found that the deck was a little slippy when we needed to swap positions from bow to helm and didn’t find that the raised ribs on the deck were enough to stop the helmsman’s feet from sliding about. I suggest simple rubber mats cut to size would cure the problem, or you could add more self adhesive grip strips.
With a length of just 12’ 6” and a beam of 4’ 1” this is not an open sea boat, but offers the lone angler or two anglers an ideal easy tow and launch platform for fishing inside protected waters such as smaller estuaries and harbours. In high summer on a flat calm evening I’d also venture a couple of hundred yards offshore for a mackerel bash.
She’s also ideal for the bass angler looking to target his fish inside estuaries using plugs and flies.
Don’t forget she’s easy to row too, or you could even fit an electric motor when working very shallow minimum tide run areas for shy bass for that ultra quiet approach.
She’s very stable for her size, responsive at the helm and can be launched in just a few inches of water. For the price I think the 385 is a great buy.