We task Nick Burnham with finding four used boat gems for under £50,000
When the Princess 385 was launched in 1985, it was the last of the yard’s John Bennett designs. Bernard Olesinski was brought in to design the new 30DS in 1980 and has been involved in every new Princess model since.
In fact, the 385 was really an update of the Princess 38, the ‘5’ designating the GRP radar arch instead of stainless steel, and porthole windows in the cabin top rather than letterbox style. It was replaced by the conceptually similar but more modern Olesinski-designed 388 in 1988.
Those high-level portholes date it – all Olesinski Princess boats (bar the 30DS) put the portholes below the rubbing band. And this is the era before integral bathing platforms and flybridge stairs. But actually, this is still a great-looking boat, well proportioned and classy.
In the mid 1980s, designers hadn’t really got to grips with the concept of ‘layering’ the decks of boat interiors, where guest cabins extended back under the helm, for example.
As a result, headroom throughout all of the lower deck is very good. There are two cabins, two heads and the galley is generous and fitted with an eye-level oven – remember those? A converting saloon takes the total number of berths to a crowd-pleasing seven.
All twin shaftdrive diesels, Cummins were on the options list (6BTA at
250hp each) as were Volvo Penta TAMD 41 at 200hp (fine for river but a little light for offshore work).
But the engines to have (and most did) were the good old TAMD 61 straight-6 turbo diesels that seemed to find their way into everything of this era of around 40ft. At 306hp each, they gave the boat a top speed in the high 20s.
No sportsboat the 385, but it is a solid old dowager, capable of maintaining a comfortable 20-knot cruise even when it’s chopping up a bit.
Length 38ft 9in (11.8m) Beam 13ft 9in (4.0m) Draught 3ft 0in (0.9m) Displacement 8 tonnes Fuel capacity 220 imp gal (1,000 litres) Engines Twin Volvo Penta TAMD 61 306hp diesels