BOAT TEST: HAINES HUNTER 650R
Haines Hunter continues to teach old sea dogs new tricks with innovative bluewater machines.
TEST: HAINES HUNTER 650R
I'm happy to declare right from the start that I've spent more hours offshore in Haines Hunters than on any other boat. I love 'em! My all-time favourite was the original Haines Hunter 635L. This was a boat that I have entrusted with my life time and time again while travelling long distances to the continental shelf!
Yep, the old L-series were great hulls, but their layout was certainly not all that "fisho" friendly.
So here we are, nearly 50 years after those old battle wagons, and Haines Hunter is still with us (and thankfully so am I). Mind you, a great many of the original boats are still out there performing on a daily basis (as I wish I was).
Time has moved on for many old salts but thankfully, fresh blood has moved in to carry on the tradition of quality boatbuilding forged over many years of success. The current team at Haines Hunter is made up of serious fishos with a passion for creating innovative, yet practical ideas to constantly improve the product. And this passion extends from upper level management right down to the artisans on the factory floor.
In short, the all-new Haines Hunter 650R is a true reflection of time-honoured quality and performance, matched with an extremely practical layout, premium finish, and the latest technology.
SINGLE OR TWIN OUTBOARDS?
Victoria's Port Phillip Boating Centre fitted one of the very first larger 650R hulls with its engines and accessories, and I must congratulate Phil and the boys for a job well done.
A pair of Yamaha 115hp four-strokes with 21in stainless propellers were wisely chosen for the job. Phil originally played with 19in props that gave enormous lift out of the hole but reduced top end speed by 10kmh. They are not counter-rotating, as many would expect, and I noticed no discernable leaning or pulling trends. Instead I found the feeling of raw and dependable power that you only get from the increased torque of a twin-engine fit up.
This boat is not only the demo package for Port Phillip Boating Centre, but is also the pleasure boat for Phil and the boys. This season it'll be targeting southern bluefin tuna off the continental shelf at Portland, and when you're chasing bluefin up to 100km from homeport you'll appreciate the added security of two engines.
We later tested the same package with the magnificent new Honda 225hp "Blast" engine. Both layouts performed to similar top end speeds and gave exhilarating performance throughout the rev range. True, the single outboard gave a sportier feel to the hull, but I still liked the twin-outboards for the offshore application. Simply put, the twin-outboards give peace of mind, not outright performance.
Haines Hunter's managing director, John Haber, is very proud of the new boat. He has a pro-active and hands-on approach to every facet of the operation and he's instrumental in design. This hull is an update from the original 650 Classic hull, with modified forefoot entry and bowstrakes to give the hull an even softer entry and even more lift.
John's also proud of the fact that he's now supplying boats in full commercial and passenger survey, and in fact, Victoria Police has just taken delivery of two of the new 600Rs.
This hull has a 21° deadrise and weighs in at approximately 1300kg dry. When fully fitted, the boat, trailer and motor combination with fuel and average gear weighs in at about 2500-2600kg on the road.
The 650R is built for day-to-day practicality, not for overnight accommodation. Its cabin is big and deep and allows plenty of storage, including large sidepockets and under-bunk cavities. It has short upholstered bunks, which are certainly big enough for the kids, but not little ol' me! There is certainly room for a toilet but the test boat didn't have one.
I was pleased to see that the entry to the cabin has two convenient steps, and there's only minor intrusion into the cockpit floor. The cabin hatch is large enough for this big bloke and allows good access to the bow.
Haines Hunter knows that anchoring is not an after-thought. The bowsprit on the 650R is beautifully moulded, and easily accommodates a suitable plough-anchor and recessed Sav Winch combination. It is enclosed with a strong, single-piece 32mm bowrail as standard.
There's no mucking around with cost saving on the 650R either. The toughened glass windscreen has a stainless frame and grabrail. The bimini canopy with clears, and the collapsible stainless steel rocket launcher, is again premium quality. The canopies also feature extra protection for those zips that can otherwise leak gallons of water onto the dashboard and the operators.
The helm and dashboard are busy, especially with the twin-binnacle controls, but they're convenient, well laid out, easy to operate, and very attractive. I'm constantly amazed at just how much those fitters can get into this small area, and still have it looking good and, more importantly, functional.
The dash incorporates twin-binnacles, a Monza composite sports steering wheel on Ultraflex hydraulic steering, a Furuno FCV565 colour-sounder, and separate Furuno Navnet 3D GPS/chartplotter. There's also a full set of Yamaha multi-function gauges including separate tachos and fuel computers, independent key starts for each engine, windlass controls, a six-gang switch panel with circuit breakers, and Northstar 27MHz and VHF radios.
The passenger side has a lockable waterproof glovebox, a GME sound system, and a very handy stainless Jesus bar. As is the case elsewhere on this boat, the dashboard mouldings look terrific.
Whether you're sitting or standing, the helm is very comfortable. Large and thickly upholstered shell-type seats are fitted to short pedestals and fibreglass seat boxes. To be honest, I wouldn't have it any other way, particularly with the stress on the seats in an offshore style boat. In my opinion, and from my experience, there's simply too much leverage on full-length pedestals for long term security.
Thankfully, the boys at Port Phillip Boating Centre agree with me, and they factory-ordered the seat box module options that give the benefits of extra storage, plus five-drawer tacklebox and secure seating-mounts.
Cockpit space is simply tremendous! Its sides are designed to be high enough for great security with children, or when confronting difficult seas, yet they're also low enough to allow for suitable use of the stand-up tackle used in offshore game and sportsfishing applications. The gunwale height is between 700 and 750mm and that allows the use of short strokers and bent-butt outfits in low-mount gimbals, with the added security of some very welcome toeholds.
The distance between the rear combing and the enginewell has been specifically calculated to allow full tilt on the engines, but a much-reduced distance for easy fishing all around the cockpit. The port sides have full-length upholstered pockets with rodholders and combing racks, and the starboard side has a terrific lift-out dive door option. This will really appeal to divers and fishos alike, however, it gives easy access whether on or off the trailer, and can accommodate disabled passengers.
Transom layout is neat, simple and very effective. All the working components such as batteries, deckwash and bilgepump are easily accessed through secure flush-mounted hatches. There's a good-sized livebait tank in each side, and both can be fully plumbed as an option. Fishability is enhanced with a removable fibreglass baitboard, and there's a small transom-step on each side. There were even plans for an optional berley bucket, but the boys hadn't fitted it yet.
Other features include a large underfloor killtank, recessed mooring cleats, stainless rodholders, high transom-mounted deck fuel-fill, deckwash, and VSR battery-isolator system. The floor in the demo boat was left as speckle coat but Phil is considering either teak or seadek options.
If you want one, then get your order in early because production is already booked for around six months ahead and dealers are fighting each other for stock!
The Haines Hunter 650R looks magnificent, its lines are beautiful, and its mouldings and finish are exquisite! The silver, red and grey graphics look sensational on the indigo hull and the new Haines Hunter badges match the rest of the boat by displaying class and dignity.
I guess you get the picture. In my opinion, the Haines Hunter 650R reflects its pedigree by presenting one of the best production offshore vessels available in a worldwide market. The company has once again offered a fully Australian-owned, designed and manufactured boating package to be proud of. See you on the shelf in a Haines Hunter 650R!
ON THE PLANE
Twin-rig peace of mind
Big fuel capacity
Premium quality construction
SANK LIKE A BRICK
Cabin not lockable
Cockpit combings not padded
Only two seats and none at rear
(Note that these are all available options)
THE REAL TEST - Does it feel good?
On-water performance is the ultimate priority, and while our test day was a little too calm to really push the big deep-vee thoroughly through her paces, I have no doubt of the seakeeping quality. The boat has a great feeling of security on the water, and since it's derived from the 650 Classic hull I have absolutely no doubts about its ability to tame the wildest conditions.
Speed wise, we found a pleasing Wide Open Throttle (WOT) top end of 40kts (74kmh) at 6000rpm with three people on board (including me who counts for two), bimini up, full load of fuel and some gear. She will even travel nicely at low speeds. I found a good cruise at a low 2700rpm, doing 12kts (22kmh). However, she really sits up and levels out onto the plane at an economical 3500rpm doing 22.5kts (42kmh).
Like all deep-vees, the 650R really likes to get up and boogie! It has steady increasing speed with relation to rev range and has no peaks or uncomfortable points. There was also a lack of noisy harmonics that can sometimes be a problem with many twin-rig/four-stroke set ups.
The hull has terrific stability at rest that offers confident and predictable handling. Its progressive hull design and inherent construction quality give a soft, quiet ride on the water. The magnificent twin-Yamaha 115hp four-strokes supply quiet, fuel-efficient and extremely torque-laden power right through the rev range, giving the 650R a strong and dependable attitude.
Specifications: Haines Hunter 650R
Price as tested: $115,900
Options fitted:Mackay trailer, twin-Yamaha 115hp, Furuno sounder and GPS/plotter, audio unit and speakers, VHF and 27MHz radios, electric anchor winch, plumbed livebait tank, twin-batteries, removable dive door, rocket launcher, cutting board, S/S combing racks, fibreglass seat box modules, five-drawer tacklebox, VSR battery management / isolator system with three batteries, LED lights and more.
Priced from: $79,990 with single 175hp
Type: Monohull deep-vee
Length (overall): 6.75m
Fuel: Approx. 240lt
Rec. max. HP: 260
Make/model: 2 x Yamaha 115hp
Type: 16 valve DOHC, direct action,
Displacement: 1741cc each
Weight: 195kg each
Gearbox ratio: 2.15:1
Propeller: 21in S/S
Port Phillip Boating Centre
Factory 2, 10 Wallace Ave
Point Cook, Vic, 3030
Phone: (03) 9369 0099
Originally published in TrailerBoat 256.