385 Explorer: The perfect starting rig
  |  First Published: June 2007

The Quintrex Explorer has been the number one selling boat at Bill’s Marine in Cairns for many years and it remains as popular today as it was when first released. When the principal of Bill’s Marine, Neil Heinemann, has a 385 Explorer as his boat of choice you know it’s a good rig.

What makes the Explorer stand out from the flotilla is the Eclipse hull, which combines the best attributes of a punt, with a V-nose, to improve handling compared to a traditional square-nosed punt. Having the side sheets wrap around to the nose and the bottom sheets come up to meet the side sheets creates a reverse chine that turns the water down and minimises spray. During the test run on Trinity Inlet I put the Explorer into a hard turn across strong wind and chop and braced myself for a dousing, and I couldn’t believe it when I came out dry. Neil, who spends a lot of time luring in his own Explorer, just gave a knowing chuckle when I told him I was expecting to get drenched.

I put the Explorer through its paces, with the long-shaft 20hp Yamaha four-stroke just perfect for the 385. It got the Explorer on the plane with ease and had plenty of grunt in reserve. Even at full tilt you could put the motor onto full lock, and the boat hung on like a toddler to its mother’s leg. There was no sign of letting go or cavitating. At 3/4 throttle, the Yamaha maintained its revs right through a full 360-degree turn, which was very impressive as nearly all outboards drop revs on a full loop.

The 20hp Yamaha got the Explorer on the plane at 13km/h (8mph, 7kt), cruised beautifully at 30km/h (19mph, 16kt) and topped out doing 38km/h (24mph, 21kt). The Yamaha was exceptionally quiet through the full rev range, and I commented to Neil as we motored through the 6kt zone, how pleasant it was to be able to talk at normal conversation level.

The other big plus with the Eclipse hull is the stability, both at rest and on the run. Neil and I stood on one side with our knees against the gunwale and the Quintrex just sat there. Try that in most 3.85m boats and see where you end up!

All Explorers come with Level Flotation, which means if the boat fills with water it will remain level and in an upright position in calm conditions. That gives peace of mind when on the water. The flotation required to achieve this is found under the extra wide and deep thwart seats with the rear seat carrying right to the floor to house the extra flotation needed to support the motor.

The 385 Explorer is certainly solidly built, while at 101kg for the bare boat it is still light enough for a car topper, with transom handles and two nose handles making lifting easier. For extra strength, the top of each side rib is welded to the gunwale and the solid corner bracing also allows through gunwale rod holders to be fitted. The extra wide thwart seats are welded the full length of the side ribs for more rigidity and the transom reinforcement and bracing is excellent.

The glove box on the rear side of the front seat has twin fold-out drink holders and there is a large storage area under the nose for life jackets or ground tackle. The anchor rope can be tied off using one of the nose handles. There are low profile grab rails on each side for hanging on in the rough stuff and good old paddle power is accommodated with welded rowlock blocks.

The Quintrex 385 Explorer, with BMT under $9,000, is the perfect starting rig, as the owner can easily trick it up as time and money comes on board. A mid-section floor can be added or the front seat can be used to create a small or large casting platform at the front. The section between the transom and the rear thwart seat can also be filled in to create storage underneath and a rear casting platform on top.

The excellent stability and ride of the 385 Explorer and the superb 20hp Yamaha four-stroke make a perfect combination that will see you through years of fishing development without the need to upsize the boat and motor.

For further information contact Bill’s Marine in Cairns on (07) 4051 6733.


Length overall: 3.85m

Length bow to transom: 3.83m

Beam: 1.86m

Depth: 0.72m

Boat length on trailer (motor down): 5m

Boat height on trailer: 1.4m

Bottom: 1.6mm

Sides: 1.6mm

Transom shaft length: SS/LS

Weight (boat only): 101kg

Max horsepower: 25hp

Max transom weight: 73kg

Max people: 4

The long-shaft 20hp Yamaha four-stroke really got the Explorer up on its tail.

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