BOAT REVIEW Fjord 38xpress

August 2022 Launch Reviews
Words by Kevin Green. Photography by Kevin Green and Supplied.
Build Quality
MODEL Fjord 38xpress
DESIGNER Fjord/ Allseas Design (Patrick Banfield/Jim Wilshire)
BUILDER Hanse Yachts
LOA 11.63M
LENGTH (Waterline) 11.28M
BEAM 3.64M
ENGINE 2 x Mercury Verado 350hp six-cylinder inline outboards/ Base 2 x Mercury 300hp
Maximum Speed 42 knots
Cruise Speed 30 knots
ACCOMMODATION Sleeps two, seats up to 12
  • Versatile cockpit layout and ability to overnight
  • Excellent build quality
  • Stable at high speeds and comfortable in choppy conditions

The Fjord 38xpress offers performance, accommodation and a versatile deck layout in a stylish package. This stylish and sturdy open day-boat can also take you on coastal hops and has the performance to return home, no matter the weather.

Developed as a high latitude boat, it is a bit like a Volvo convertible – a vessel for all seasons. The Norwegian builder was acquired by Hanse in 2007 and production of these luxury powerboats was moved to the German yard. Local Hanse dealer Windcraft imports the boats into Australasia.


The yard move included a makeover by Fjord chief designer Patrick Banfield to inject some pizazz into a range that runs from 38-53 foot (11.6–16.2m). The angular lines of plumb bow, flat sheer and abrupt transom are reminiscent of the Banfield’s Wallytender design, which means stylish but practical. Yet another luxury feature is the high level of customisation offered to make each boat unique (or to match its superyacht mothership).
Among the attractions is a tall hull which gives protected topsides, 40-knot-plus top speed and various deck layouts. The first hull to arrive in Australia, number #80, comes with a T-Top – ideal for conditions downunder – protecting the central console. This is an outboard-powered model with twin 350hp six-cylinder Mercurys, but an inboard version is also available.

The review boat deck layout included dinette and cooking facilities, but you could opt for watersports orientated open-deck layout. The tall topsides allow for a double bed with toilet in the forepeak and cooking is done on an electric barbecue beside the aft dinette on deck. The dinette transforms to a double sunbed.

Versatile deck
Open day-boats are all about maximising the fun and sensations of alfresco boating, so feeling the wind in your hair as you blast along, perhaps with a skier behind, is all part of the thrill. Driving is a key part of the fun on the Fjord and the centre console layout plays to that. Whether standing or sitting at the bolstered helm seat with your co-pilot alongside, both sheltered behind the frameless spray hood enjoying maximum visibility, it’s a fun place to be.
The console is angled to be shaded, with all the essential controls close at hand – twin throttles and the bow thruster joystick nearby on the right (a bowthruster is recommended given the vessel’s tall topsides will create windage). The Simrad NSS MFD provides essential charting, there are chunky switches for the other controls and the Mercury digital display gives the fuel burn.

Enjoying a day of boating to the maximum requires some subtlety as well. So, the extended T-Top on our review boat also covered the dinette, with an electric awning providing even protection when deployed. Beneath the shelter, six can enjoy lunch seated around the dinette. The aft bench seat lowers to become a daybed or triple sun pad. In action mode, reverse the seat back so a spotter can keep an eye on the skier.
The aft deck area appears sturdily built with well-engineered fixtures finished in thick chrome. Underfoot, synthetic teak offers a cool and grippy surface.
Choosing the inboard version would maximise the boat’s open-plan layout, but the popularity of outboards is hard to argue with. And there’s still good water access to either side of the 350hp Mercury engines, swinging gates preventing junior crew or dogs exiting.

Waist-high bulwarks with tubed rails offer further security when you amble forward for some bow riding, or to enjoy the forepeak lounge poisoned between the console bulkhead and the boat’s sides in the bow. It’s a spacious lounge that can seat eight around the small teak table and comes with an optional poled bimini. Teak gunwales add to the comfort level, especially when it’s hot.
Beneath the forepeak is a large hatch providing light to the cabin and a deep chain locker above it with windlass and external anchor ready for deployment. A small bow ladder for beach access is something I’d like to see, because once those outboards are tilted, the Fjord could easily nose up onto the sand with a stern anchor deployed.

Cosy cabin
Entered via a sliding clear acrylic door, the cabin clearly takes advantage of the 38’s hull volume to offer standing headroom at the entrance and in the bathroom. Going beyond these areas requires a crawl onto the double bed, but the large skylight greatly adds to the sense of airiness and there are opening portlights as well. Other pluses down here include the fridge, lockers and shelves with subtle mood lighting. The bathroom is basic, but adequate, with a hand-held shower, electric head and sink, plus cupboard space.

The striking aesthetics are formed by the plumb bow, high freeboard and flat sheer, which together create a voluminous hull. The build is SP Systems epoxy using foam core and vacuum bagged. Sturdy stringers were apparent throughout the hull when I inspected the bilges. Originally intended for twin inboard Volvo Penta D4 (270hp) sterndrives, the entire aft deck lifts via a hydraulic ram, revealing a large, empty compartment, which on the outboard model is available for storage.
Given the open transom design, this hold area is well sealed with a deep gutter and rubber gasket. Inside you’ll find access to the electrical circuity – top-quality Victron components – and a watertight hatch forward which further limits any water incursion, plus bilge pumps for evacuation. Sensibly, the house batteries and tankage are positioned here, ideally centralised to aid hull trim.

Outboard power options are twin 350/300hp from Mercury, Yamaha or Suzuki, with joystick control options where offered, which could be useful given the windage of the tall topsides.

Offshore Sydney
Gliding through a bumpy Sydney Harbour at the helm of Fjord 38xpress proved one of the most enjoyable open boat experiences I’ve had in a while. You are positioned low in the hull, which imparts a feeling of security, felt even when I blasted offshore to dance around the breaking swells off South Head.

Windshear noise was louder than the smooth and quiet inline six-cylinder Verados, so it was all about the thrill of enjoying the natural elements. Yet the main element, water, didn’t come aboard at all, thanks to those high bows, spray rails and tall topsides. The plumb bow with its angled forefoot dealt efficiently with oncoming swells while avoiding digging into the backs of others while running downhill, emboldening me to push the hull harder into the turns – no sensation of spin-out thanks to the hard chines gripping as we heeled.

In a straight line, I noticed a pronounced surge of acceleration once we reached planing speed at 17 knots, no trimming required. So, in a flash, we reached an ideal cruising speed of 30 knots, which would give a decent range of 200 miles. Even at this speed the dampening effect of the hefty, six-tonne hull made for a comfortable ride. However, if you’re late for cocktails at the yacht club, pushing the throttles forward took us to a breathtaking 42 knots without any dramas.
Calm, cool and practical – the Fjord 38xpress takes a very Scandinavian design approach with a luxurious twist of German Vorsprung durch Technik.>