Steber 3800 Sportsfisher Review

Built for serious fishing, the Steber 3800 also offers the luxuries of a cruiser.

I hadn’t been for a run in a Steber bigger than 22ft for a decade. The last time was aboard their old 41-footer (12.5m), and that was a good, stable, fisher-cruiser and live-aboard boat. So it was a surprise when I recently jumped aboard one of the newer style hulls that this iconic family boat-builder has developed. 


It was their 3800 Sportsfisher (as the name suggests, based on a 38ft hull), and I reckon that it had a lot more space than the old 41-footer. This particular one was customised for the Australian boating industry company BLA (Bob Littler Agencies) under strict instructions from Scott Littler. It was laid out specifically for fishing and the end product is a very comfortable, economical and effective fishing platform.

This new hull shape offers distinct benefits over the older style Steber and many other current hulls on the market. The more streamlined hull offers far more efficient and much easier planing. A finer entry delivers a soft ride, while a combination of hull design, planing strakes and double chine keep this boat amazingly dry and provide level cornering. All this equates to tremendous fuel efficiency. 

On the water the boat performed with outstanding power (see specs for rpm and speed stats). The hull has a general confidence about it and you can feel that it rides high on the water with very direct and responsive steering. It tracks true in a following sea and stayed dry taking about 12 knots of south-westerly and a 1.5m swell on a front quarter. There appeared to be no keel grab or any tendency to bury its nose? even without activating the trim tabs. The two big electronic Yanmars provide smooth, quiet power with virtually no vibration, and zero smoke when the revs are cranked up! The boat backs up well and loses water in the cockpit very quickly.


The basic layout is very sensibly thought out, offering simplicity, practicality and ultimate functionality for its intended use. Layout of choice for the cabin takes the form of vee-shaped bunks, supplying comfortable sleeping for four. The companionway gives wide access from cabin to galley/dinette and provides locker space fitted with coat rails. A high-gloss timber table and U-shaped lounge form a dinette on the port side. Opposite is a snug?though very functional galley. A dark marble work top and sink is surrounded by stylish high-gloss timber bench top on a higher tier. The forward sections of both galley and dinette have hinged bench tops that create safe and spacious storage for glasses and cups. An Isotherm fridge, microwave and cupboards provide all things necessary for a functional galley. The main switch panel is fitted just forward of the galley. 

A large hinged hatch in the floor between the dinette and galley give way to a massive saloon bilge storage area complete with a 90L Isotherm freezer, two 200L water tanks, trapdoor to the engine room and pumps. Grab rails run along the saloon ceiling very important in any boat spending serious time at sea. Aft of the dinette is a comfortable settee with hinged back that folds up to create a top bunk, so another two bodies can sleep here. A large flat-screen TV is mounted in the aft starboard corner of the saloon. 

Stepping outside, the cockpit strikes you immediately as being huge. The cockpit floor is also set higher to water level than many gamefishing boats, giving a nice feel. Relatively low gunwales give good rod clearance for fighting fish and are supported by grab rails virtually right around. Full-length side pockets create loads of storage for gaffs, tag poles, deck wash brooms and the like. Two huge gas-strutted hatches give access to port and starboard engines. Very intelligently, this boat has been designed around having engines solely in the cockpit so if there is any major maintenance to be done at any stage in the boat’s life, it doesn’t have to involve pulling the interior of the boat to bits. 

Twin live bait tanks sit port and starboard of a central, clear perspex transom door. A removable game chair is perched forward of the rudder inspection hatch. At the forward portside of the cockpit, a door accesses the head with electric toilet, hand basin and shower very smart thinking for a fishing vessel. 


Upstairs, the bridge has a copious amount of space. A hard-top with full roll-up clears offers protection from the elements. An island helm console houses twin Humminbird 1197C GPS fishing systems, Raymarine radar, VHF radio and all other necessary helm instrumentation and controls. The skipper and navigator each sit in upholstered chairs with arm and back rests. 

Marine carpet creates a non-slip flooring. Opposing comfortable corner seats with a centrally located Isotherm fridge are located at the front of the bridge.  The vessel seems to be well appointed with rod holders, rod storage and all of the other bells and whistles that you’d expect from a boat this size.