Luhrs 380: A genuine canyon-runner that's a genuine bargain.

WAIT A MINUTE! Aren't sportfishing boats supposed to be expensive? Diesels are expensive. Heavy-duty hardware and tuna towers are expensive, so is the labor for tooling baitprep stations, helm consoles and other built-ins.

But the Luhrs Tournament 380 isn't expensive. Listing for just under $260K, it costs tens of thousands of dollars less than many big names on the fishing scene.

Does this mean the Luhrs is any less of a player? Not at all. Especially when you consider the 380 is not a cruiser/fisherman or a sedan with a little extra cockpit space to squeeze in a fighting chair. What we have here is a bona fide sportfisherman designed, built and detailed for serious offshore work.

How does Luhrs do it for that price? The same way its sister companies, Silverton and Mainship, do it with cruising boats – straightforward design, streamlined construction and a short option list that means boats come off the production line virtually on way. In the case of this 38, that way is very serious about fishing. And even if the name doesn't have the same cachet of the big-time battlewagons, the details are just as die-hard.

 

SPACE SHIP – Sprawling deckhouse salon turns open space into comfortable offshore digs. Check out the forward stateroom with lots of teak and oak. Cockpit controls are optional, but aluminum railing is standard.

 

Consider hull design. The Luhrs 380 has a modified-V hull with 18 degrees of transom deadrise. That’s a good number for offshore work. Forward, the sharp entry and substantial flare keep spray where it belongs. Plus, the flare provides plenty of buoyancy so you don't stuff the bow in a green one or lose control in a following sea. That's good, too, since the rougher it gets, the more actively many ocean gamefish feed.

 

WHITE ON BLUE – Topping out at 31.2 mph J&T DDC 6-71TAs. Tournament-style helm has effortless Hynautic hydraulic controls and a horizontal wheel, making long runs less wearisome.  

The wide beam, nearly 15’, gives the boat a very stable feel. The girth also allows for a big cockpit, about 100 sq. ft. This means that even with a fixed fighting chair bolted to the nonslip fiberglass sole, there's plenty of elbow room for fishermen to work the deck.

Belowdecks, the bilge is gel-coated and limber holes are positioned to keep the area clean and dry. A centerline hatch lifts out to expose the Rule bilge pump, Bennett trim tab reservoir and Teleflex SeaStar steering ram. The livewell is built into a starboard well that doubles as an extra fishbox or stowage compartment. The main fishwell (4’l x 1’w x 1’d) is to port. Lift out this well and you have access to the Marelon seacock for the saltwater washdown pump. All hatches have stainless-steel handles that would be easy to grasp even when you’re wearing bulky cotton fishing gloves, a plus when the action is hot and heavy. Hatch gutters are deep for quick drainage and fitted with rubber inserts to reduce rattling.

A pair of molded fiberglass consoles flank the salon door. The starboard console contains a bait-rigging station, cooler and tackle drawers. There's more stowage in the port console where you’ll find the ladder to the flying bridge.

Using the console for flying bridge access is a good idea because by eliminating a full-length ladder it saves deck space. Plus, you can lean against the teak rungs and use the console as a jump seat to watch baits. However, it also can make descending from the bridge a little tricky, since the ladder hugs the bulkhead and is virtually straight up and down. I like coming off the bridge facing aft, and it’s difficult when the angle is so severe.

COMMAND PERFORMANCE

A tournament skipper’s office is the flying bridge. And the 380’s is business-like with several unusual features. In addition to Feria gauges and Teleflex SeaStar steering with an anodized-aluminum wheel, the 380 comes standard with Hynautic hydraulic controls. You may not care for the vertical setup of the clutches and throttles, but you won’t complain about the effortless operation. They are smooooth.

Another slick idea at the helm is the electronic box that pops open electrically. You also can install electronics in the overhead box since a half-tower is standard. But I prefer having the electronics within reach and at a glance from the helm seat.  It gets tiring standing up a couple dozen times a day to work the video sounder or switch channels on the VHF.

Typically, a center helm station means a bench seat either port or starboard. But the 380 goes a step further by wrapping this bench in a U-shape with plenty of stowage below for fishing rods and bulky items. You also can stow six rods in the holders on the aft rail. If you're a kite fisherman, note this rail bulges aft, which allows more room to work the rods.

AN ALLURING INTERIOR

The 380 may be geared for the tournament angler, but the air conditioned interior is anything but hard-core, with a blend of varnished teak joiner-work and contemporary fabrics in pastel colors. The salon holds a convertible lounge, a settee and a teak coffee table. Teak cabinetry houses an entertainment center forward and Dometic ice-cube maker, Panasonic color TV and Combi-Sound stereo. The electrical panel is here, too, but hidden behind a black, plex door.

The U-shaped galley is to port and is a combination of teak joinerwork and Corian countertops. There’s ample stowage and a row of upper cabinets is trimmed with teak fids. A Gemini microwave, Kenyon electric cooktop, Sub-Zero refrigerator/freezer and Black & Decker coffee-maker are standard. So is an abundance of teak grabrails at the salon door, on the fiberglass headliner and another pair going below.

 Wide bow flare is apparent in the master stateroom with its island berth. But it’s the joinerwork that’s most impressive. In addition to varnished teak trim, teak-faced drawers and two cedar-lined hanging lockers, the hullsides are paved with golden oak. A warm, traditional touch.

The guest stateroom is typical of a 38’ fishboat: upper and lower berths and a cedar-lined hanging locker. The head, however, isn’t so typical. It’s opposite the stateroom and it’s big – and looks even bigger, thanks to white fiberglass and Corian surfaces. There’s a stall shower with fiberglass seat.

Our test boat, supplied by Hampton Boat Sales, Ltd. Of East Quogue, New York, was powered by a pair of J&T DDC 6-71TAs, which topped out at 31.2 mph. rated at 412-hp, these engines have a side-mounted heat exchanger and aftercooling instead of intercooling which shortens the length by three-inches and saves 250 pounds over the 465-hp TI version.

For daily checks, the engine room is easily reached through large hatches in the carpeted salon sole. The 8kw Onan genset sits at the forward bulkhead along with a Flojet water pump and reservoir for the Hynautic controls. The flow to the a/c pump is protected by a raw-water strainer and all seacocks are made of corrosion-resistant Marelon. Dahl filters are on the aft bulkhead.

The step leading into the salon from the cockpit lifts for access to the stuffing boxes, batteries and Guest battery switches. Wiring is neat, with most running in protected raceways.

DESIGNED TO FISH

The 380 is the largest boat in Luhrs’ Tournament Series. While it has similar lines to the 320 and 350 models, this boat was designed from scratch, it is not a stretched creation. And though a computer aided in the design, the construction shows practical engineering.

The hull, for instance, is solid glass below the waterline, while the hullsides and decks are cored with Baltek’s AL-600 pre-impregnated balsa. Stringers are marine plywood encapsulated in fiberglass and then glassed to the hull. For its size, the 380 is a heavy boat and you can feel the weight underway because the ride is solid. This also provides good handling in the conditions you are likely to encounter offshore. In tight corners, such as around crowded decks, the 380’s heft is noticeable and the boat is obedient, making you look good.

Luhrs subscribes to a batch production schedule, which means each model is built on separate runs. Once a run is completed, the company starts the next model. The advantage is that variable costs and overhead are held in check. Materials are apportioned as needed and quality control is high because of a small work force.

The other benefit is price. A Luhrs 380 with 412-hp diesels bases at $259,900, which is a lightweight price for an offshore warrior. If you want the 465-hp TI version of the 6-71s, add another $14K. base price with 300-hp Crusader 454s is $194K. what are you giving up? Not much, since the boat comes with a long list of standards including the half-tower, a/c, generator, entertainment center, Halon and a cockpit full of fishing features. Sure, the headliner is fiberglass not vinyl, seacocks are Marelon not bronze, and what few options there are include cockpit controls and the engine choices. If you want any other options like a bait freezer or outriggers, you work through the dealer. That’s easy.

This cost-efficient canyon commuter competes with many well-respected fishboats. Comparably equipped (though note the very different power), it goes up against the likes of the Henriques 38SF (base price of $245K with 364-hp 3208TA Caterpillars; $260K with 450-hp Volvo-Carey TAMD71s, plus $11K for the hardtop option), and the 37 Pacemaker SF (base around $264K with 385-hp DDC Merc 6V-53TIs). At the high end, there’s the Ocean Yachts 38 Super Sport (starting at $303K with 6V-53TIs), and the 38 Egg Harbor Golden Egg (base around $298K with 364-hp 3208TA Caterpillars).

The 380 may be a low-cost entry in tournament circles, but with its high-powered arsenal, the fish will swear you paid a whole lot more.