Sunrunner 3800 Review

Issue: September 2001

When Anthony Skillen from Queensland-based Sundown Marine sat down to design the Sunrunner 3800 for the local market, he had two objectives in mind. The first was to come up with a boat that would suit the needs of the Queensland fishing and cruising market.

The second and more important objective for him was to design a boat that would suit his personal needs. That’s because the first boat off the line was for him, so everything had to be right.

Anthony gets the bare hulls from the factory, then the fun begins. From the first bolt to the finished product it’s a labour of love for Anthony and his team. The result is a 38 footer with an extremely good finish that can withstand the rigours of days on the high seas chasing big fish. The Sunrunner is equally at home housing the family on an extended cruise.

Everything about the boat’s layout is practical. During construction the fibreglass hull is moulded in one piece with a vinyl Ester first layer to guard against osmosis. All bearers and bulkheads are glassed to the hull, including the forward collision bulkhead. The foredeck, saloon and aft deck are also moulded in one piece then glassed to the hull. And the end result is an extremely sturdy vessel.

In most cases a boat’s layout dictates how that boat is to be used, but the Sunrunner 3800 breaks the mould in that it is extremely versatile. The aft cockpit floor is self-draining as is the forward anchor locker. From a fishing perspective this cockpit is open and uncluttered. There are no sharp edges to catch clothing and skin, plus the gunwales are high enough to brace against when fighting big fish. The stern cleats are also cleverly recessed in the corners formed at the junction of the gunwales and transom.

Even the fishermen out there will appreciate the beautiful hand-laid teak cockpit sole, but we’re sure they’ll manage to spill some blood on it. They will also appreciate the large ice box/freezer in which to keep their catch fresh. The hatch in the centre of this cockpit floor is flush fitted giving access to the steering gear and fuel tanks.

The boat wasn’t fitted with a marlin board during our test, but Anthony assures us one will be fitted the first time the boat is slipped for anti-fouling. Future models will be fitted with a moulded fibreglass swim platform as standard.

Moving around the foredeck is safe even in a big sea thanks to the high bow rail and non-skid surfaces. Welded to the stainless steel bow rail are six fender holders so fenders can be accessed quickly, but remain out of the way when not in use. Up on the flybridge the skipper’s been well catered for with full instrumentation, single lever controls and a comfortable, supportive helm seat. The same seating has been included for the navigator.

The Sunrunner’s fishing designation is again addressed by positioning the helm seats at the back of the flybridge. This allows the skipper to face astern to watch the action or back down on a big fish. Tinted clears protect the flybridge from the elements, but the forward panel zips out when underway so vision is not impeded.

Down below there is no lower helm station on the Sunrunner 3800, which increases the size of the main saloon. Considering the size of the aft cockpit the open plan saloon is extremely large. We can picture ourselves relaxing on the two heavily padded forward lounges, with a coldie from the built-in bar and a third tester in the well-appointed galley cooking up the catch of the day.

The galley is positioned at the rear of the saloon, which again promotes the open-plan design and gives the impression of space. Passengers in the main saloon have 360 degree views around the boat when the wooden Venetian blinds are opened, but these blinds were also the only real fault we found with the Sunrunner 3800. They rattle when underway and need a track down each end to stop them damaging the cherrywood panelling adorning the walls of the saloon.

Anyone want to watch the weather report ? How about a video ? A remote control 51cm TV and VCR are mounted in a wooden cabinet on the starboard side of the saloon for easy viewing. The underlay and carpet on the floor of the saloon is high quality, as are all the fittings and fixtures used during the Sunrunner’s manufacture.

After a good feed and a few quiet ones, most would head for a hot shower before bunking down for the night in the well-appointed cabins. The main stateroom features a queen-sized island bed with storage underneath and two hanging lockers. Flow-through ventilation comes from the two portholes on either side of the hull and a large deck hatch in the roof of this cabin. Guests are also looked after in a cabin with a lower double bed and an upper single bunk. It sounds cramped, but it’s not and the layout works well.

Out on the water during our test 30 knot winds sent water flying in all directions, but even in the aft cockpit the ride was dry. The boat’s deep-vee hull slices through the chop and swell easily without any excessive banging or hull slap. Tight turns are performed without fuss as the keel digs deep. During figure of eight trials we couldn’t detect any cavitation or tail slippage, while trim tabs ensure the correct bow attitude and lateral trim angle.

Whether you’re into full on game fishing, or simply in the market for a versatile cruiser, you should take a closer look at the Sunrunner 3800. The finish and standard of componentry used in her fitout are top-class as is her performance.

With a price tag of $395,000 this vessel slips competitively into the Aussie market, but should also interest overseas buyers. 

Engine Room
The Sunrunner 3800 is powered by twin 370hp Volvo turbo diesel engines through stainless steel shafts.

At wide-open-throttle pushing 2800rpm the engines propel the boat at 33 knots. The boat cruises comfortable at 24 knots pulling 2500rpm, with a fuel burn rate of 30-35lt per hour per engine.

Sunrunner’s fuel capacity is 1450lt, which equates to a cruising range of around 560 miles. Running flat out the fuel burn figures jump to 45-50lt per hour per engine.

Conversations in the main saloon while underway are unaffected by engine noise, thanks to the thermal and sound insulation in the engine room.

The Sunrunner carries three heavy-duty marine batteries, linked by a paralleling system and features battery isolation switches and a shore power AC system with AC panel circuit breakers.

Story & Photos by Ian MacRae