Tristram 881 Offshore

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Tristram 881


When the new Tristram 881 Offshore picked up the prestigious Fishing Boat of the Show Award  and the Propeller Magazine’s People’s Choice Award at the 2010 Hutchwilco New Zealand Boat Show in Auckland, Lance Fink, managing director of Tristram Marine, knew he had a winner.

the 881 Offshore is based on the same hull as the 851 Grandeur, that’s a about where the similarities end. It is effectively a totally new model. it comes with a totally new cockpit and cabin layout and redesigned transom. Also the hardtop has been borrowed from the 781 Ultimo. The reasoning is simple. To make the cockpit more suitable for fishing and diving, whilst still retaining a high level of cruising comfort. The two defined areas have harmonised seamlessly together to provide the best of both worlds… the high levels of comfort and appointments of a trailerable weekender with the working space requirements of a sport fisher.

Compared to the 851 Grandeur the self draining cockpit is longer and there is a purpose built transom with a permanent live bait tank in the starboard corner, built-in bait board and rod holders, plus a secondary bait board position on the central stainless steel leaning bar.

The full-width boarding platform features external longitudinal girders underneath to disperse the water flow when backing up and also to stop wave slap at rest. The actual running surface of the hull is the same as the 851 Grandeur, but the overall length of the 881 is 300mm longer.

Being designated for the fishing and diving market, the cockpit layout reflects the need’s of its owners. The cockpit sides have individually moulded pockets that are part of the main cockpit moulding. There are dedicated rod holders either side and a handy shelf for the boat hook, gaff or tag pole. For stand up fishing the padded side coamings are at the right height and the teak capping on the coamings means you aren’t going to scratch the fibreglass. The wide side decks provide excellent foot support should you need to go forward and there’s even a heavy bowrail tube to grab onto.

Moulding Changes

Forward, the extra large seat bases are part of the cockpit moulding, The design provides a massive storage area under the seat moulding, capable of taking dive bags and bottles being stowed off the cockpit floor and out of sight.

The forward seating has back-to-back seats with a cooker and sink unit to port and back-to-backs with an adjustable sliding driver’s seat to starboard. Within the helm seat module is an electric drawer fridge, which is ideal for a few tinnies, and as it doesn’t go all the way to the cockpit sole, it doesn’t encroach too much into the seat base storage area.

Under the flip-up passenger seat is a two-burner gas cooker, plus drawers for cutlery, plates and pots. Moulded into the seat module is a galley sink with hot and cold water. The 881 Offshore comes standard with a 19-litre hot water cylinder and 140 litres of fresh water storage.

Tristram knows that the serious fishermen who buy the 881 Offshore will want ‘serious’ electronics so the dash has provision for up to 12″ screens. An upholstered eyebrow over the dash adds a touch of class to the dash area. Our boat was equipped with a Lowrance HDS 10 that provided an outstandingly high clarity image. It was a shame we weren’t in fishing mode as the sounder certainly gave us a hint that there were plenty of snapper still around Bean Rock.

The 881 Offshore is a boat that you will probably spend most of your time driving while seated in the fully adjustable helm seat. However, it slides back far enough that you can stand to drive if you wish. And if you are very seriously into your fishing, you can open the overhead hatch, set your throttle, stand with one foot on the driver’s seat and the other on the steering wheel, and look for work-ups or fins.

There is a major wet locker storage area under the cockpit sole, where there are now two huge removable fish bins. The one big bin option is also available. Batteries are kept in lockers in the transom.

The decision to utilise the 781 Ultimo hardtop was done because it is shorter than the one on the 851 Grandeur and therefore more suitable for fishermen. Anyone into soft bait fishing will appreciate the need for some open space above and not wanting an overhanging hardtop getting in the way. This is finished with vinyl panels, twin opening Cule hatches and plenty of recessed lighting. There is an LED light at the rear of the hardtop which ‘floods’ the cockpit, plus strip lighting under the coamings adds both mood at night and practical lighting when fishing.

Adding to the mood effect is a Fusion stereo system complete with MP3 player and overhead speakers to equally disperse the sounds.

The 881 Offshore uses a heavy aluminium windscreen extrusion and has twin mullions in the forward screen for extra strength should you take a big ‘green’ one over the bow!

All-new Inside

While the 851 Grandeur has a separated toilet compartment inside, the 881 Offshore has a bunk unit incorporating a toilet under a lid, rather than taking up the full space of a cubicle. The fact that the boat already has a sliding lockable cabin door means privacy is not a concern. It is also a good security issue when you are away from the boat. The standard toilet is a Portaloo, but the owner of our boat had gone for a full plumbed-in electric head.

Accommodation is provided with twin single berths, plus a moulded table that converts to a bunk infill to make a big double.

There is plenty of storage for gear under the berths, in full-length side trays and a couple of small lockers. Well-placed lighting and backrests makes this quite a cosy area at night. Dark teak timbers are used to accent the soft furnishings and cabin linings.

If you prefer the separate head cubicle layout of the 851 Grandeur then it is available as an option.

Diesel Option

The first 881 Offshore is powered by the optional diesel package and in this case the owner chose the Yamaha ME422STI-P1, a 275hp, six cylinder, 12 valve overhead cam, direct injection engine coupled to the TRP Hydra Drive leg. Twin counter-rotating propellers offer smooth, torque-free control and the stern leg, with its hydraulically operated multi-plate clutch system, offers a whole new level of precision, smoothness and quietness of shifting action. It was certainly very noticeable on the 881, especially in low speed manoeuvring and when docking.

I was particularly impressed with the ‘finger touch’ steering of the boat, be it at full rpm or at low speed, helped considerably no doubt by the hydraulic power assisted steering. The 881 Offshore tracks wherever you steer it and doesn’t have any vices when it comes to handling.

Our test day on Auckland Harbour was one of those typical calm winter days when the roughest water was that of our photo boat’s wake. A boat this size needs rough water to really show its true colours, but that wasn’t going to happen on this day. However, the very happy owner of the 881 Offshore, who was on board for the test, said that he has had the boat out in some seriously nasty seas off Pauanui and it ran beautifully.

I found that with a little sternleg trim and a touch of the appropriate electric trim tab (built into the hull) I could get the boat trimmed perfectly for the conditions. It doesn’t take much and the hull responds very quickly to any adjustments.

You might think that because it’s a diesel it is going to lack the immediacy when you punch the throttle. Not so. The silky-smooth action of the remote control, combined with the fast response of the engine saw the 881 literally leap onto the plane and achieving maximum 3900 rpm in very quick time.

While the 881 Offshore isn’t about speed, the Yamaha ME 422 certainly offers plenty of power and ample speed for a sportfisherman. I found a really sweet cruise spot at 3000 rpm @ 24.0 knots and the engine sound within the enclosed hardtop was at a very acceptable level.

Standard power package is a 5.7 litre petrol MerCruiser/Bravo 3 @ 300hp which gives a top speed of 40 mph.

Cross Over        

The 881 Offshore is an alternative to the 851 Grandeur, with back-to-back seats and a bigger cockpit, rather than a spacious lounger. The 881 Offshore is purposefully designed for sport fishing and diving and could be describe as a crossover boat, but however you want to describe it, the 881 Offshore simply gives you more of a choice from the expanded Tristram Marine line up. It’s a boat built to purpose!

Cross Over

The 881 Offshore is an alternative to the 851 Grandeur, with back-to-back seats and a bigger cockpit, rather than a spacious lounger. The 881 Offshore is purposefully designed for sport fishing and diving and could be describe as a crossover boat, but however you want to describe it, the 881 Offshore simply gives you more of a choice from the expanded Tristram Marine line up. It’s a boat built to purpose!

No boat review would be complete on a Tristram without reference to the construction, fit out and finish, which in the case of the 881 Offshore could only be described as incomparable. In the production fibreglass trailer boat market there is none better. It’s that simple! It’s something that Tristram’s owner and designer, Lance Fink is justly proud of. “We pride ourselves on the finish and extremely high build quality of our boats and quite honestly we couldn’t build them any better!” And that I would have to agree with!


  • Model: 881 Offshore
  • Designer: Lance Fink
  • Price as Tested: $230,000
  • Packages from: $185,000
  • Material: GRP
  • Type: Hardtop
  • LOA: 9.25m
  • Beam:  2.5m
  • Deadrise: 21 degrees
  • Hull Config: Deep V
  • Trailerable Wgt: 3500 kg
  • Height on Trailer: 3.1m
  • Engine Capacity: 6.2 – 8.1 litre
  • Power Options: Sterndrive Only (Diesel/Petrol)
  • Fuel Capacity: 390 litres         
  • Water Capacity: 140 litres

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