BOAT TEST: HOOKER 8M WRC

By: Rick Huckstepp

Presented by
  • Trade-A-Boat

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Rick Huckstepp finds the comfortable, soft riding Hooker WRC 8m an excellent long-range dayboat.

BOAT TEST: HOOKER 8M WRC
HOOKER 8M WRC

 

TEST: HOOKER 8M WRC

When it comes to trailerboats near maximum legal towable length, more often than not one is confronted with a seriously large mass that requires a tow vehicle in the light to medium truck category to keep things safe on the road. So, with orders from TrailerBoat magazine to test the Hooker Boats 8m Walk Round Cabin (WRC) I diverted the 4WD at Cloncurry during a return trip from Darwin and made a beeline for Townsville, where a local dealer had a franchise for these Cairns-built boats.

On arrival at the ramp I was surprised, to say the least, by the lack of bulk displayed by this craft. While the impression was in part due to the relatively small cabin surrounded by the walkaround path, it was also attributed to the low-profile gunwales that tapered in slightly from the flare of the forequarters as they sweep aft toward the transom.

The height of the gunwales achieves what the manufacturer aimed for when designing this boat - a practical fishing height that doesn't compromise the safety of anglers leaning against the coamings. Seasoned anglers know that it matters little how effective a deckwash system is because it's always easier to lean over the side to wash fish slime off the hands. And that's not even touching on the ease of wiring fish aboard or the angler's ability to release that which doesn't end up on the dinner table.

While there and doing piscatorial battle, one's feet tuck comfortably under the bottoms of the sidepockets which are part of a complete module rebated into the inner liner. For added grip, ribbed-aluminium step-treads reduce slippage on wet surfaces.

 



BIG COCKPIT

The standard model has no shortage of crew space thanks to a full 2.2m length cockpit, measured from the rear of the cabin walls. I say "standard" because the test rig is owned and set-up by the local Hooker dealer as a dayboat for family fishing. For this reason an icebox suitable for a small prawn trawler (600lt) has been built onto the centre of the deck. It consumes a lot of deck space but there's ample walkaround room to effectively fish around this superstructure in comfort. Its volume would carry enough ice and supplies for a week at sea.

A practical bait-rigging table sits between the rear pole-supports for the extended vinyl awning that runs from the fibreglass hardtop to over the transom bulkhead. It has a shallow compartment under the hinged cuttingboard in which to lay hooks, small lures and bait needles. A couple of rodholders are included on this, along with a drain that takes fish scraps to the enginewell to eventually flush overboard. The pipe of this drain is a convoluted tube which should be changed for a smooth wall type since the convolutions trap rubbish and are impossible to clean thoroughly, creating bad odours.

An effective vinyl awning, with extended sidewings for extra shade when fishing from the gunwales, is supported by a sturdy stainless steel frame. It's another custom-addition, and one that is common in this part of the world. Unfortunately it won't suit many sport anglers due to its restriction on rod movements when casting.

 



NICE AND ROOMY

A pair of counter-rotating Suzuki DF225 engines occupied just about all the transom fishing space, and a long fore and aft enginewell adds to the restriction. However, there's plenty of room at the port and starboard side-gunwales for a big angling crew.

Two-hinged padded seats supported by a single leg are located on each end of the transom bulkhead and fold down out of the way when required. Centrally located between the fold-down seats inside the transom bulkhead are the batteries, isolator switch and power transfer system. The top of the transom bulkhead has a near flush-mounted waterfiller and another capped port that features a pull-out freshwater cold shower, handy for cooling down and rinsing tackle at the end of a day's fishing.

A basic, telescopic boarding ladder is mounted on the port stern corner.

Moving toward the helm, comfortable bucket seats spin on short pedestals, mounted on fibreglass modules that have a rebated aft end on which a seat cushion is fixed. Lifting the cushions, one can easily access an insulated icebox.

 



GOOD ALL-ROUND VISION

At the helm the throttle controls sit at hand, rebated into the cabin liner and sharing the flat ledge with Raymarine's autopilot control. The dash layout is a large brow fixed to the top of the bulkhead but its profile is low enough to not impede all round visibility. A Raymarine E120 panel dominates the electronic display while a cluster of Suzuki gauges and a pair of rocker-switch panels occupy the remaining space. The radios are fitted to a console in the hardtop from which all-round clears hang down to the toughened glass round-profile windscreen. The void inside the hardtop is accessed by front and rear hatches which also serve as ventilators.

Internal cabin space is not overly large, which is what you'd expect when it's been shrunk to accommodate a walking path around three sides. A small amount of stowage space is found under the cushions, which at a squeeze could sleep two average adults. Good ventilation comes through the ceiling hatch but its diameter dictates that ground tackle work is best achieved by walking around the cabin to the bow. Once there, two very large anchorlockers have flush-mounted hatches that will hold more than enough rope and chain to wear out the average deckhand if pulling it manually. No winch was fitted to the test boat but the size of the ground tackle needed for an 8m boat dictates that one should be a priority.

 



A GOOD SPREAD

On the troll the Hooker displayed a nice bow up attitude while the transom settled low in the water, great for punching big waves and wind chop when dragging lures at 5kts. At 7kts the height and clarity of the wash coming off the aft corners produced good windows on which to have a spread of lures smoking, and even though 450 horses were saddled up, ambient noise was quite low at this speed.

Manoeuvrability going astern was very direct and responsive so backing down on a rampaging pelagic won't be a problem. Running them going ahead wouldn't be a problem either as there's plenty of bum room on the cabin roof brow for a couple of anglers to fight from the bow with bent rods.

On the cruise at 3500rpm the pair of Suzukis pushed the Hooker along at about 30kts (55.6kmh). If you were in a rush then 4500rpm would realise 38kts (70.4kmh) - and if you're in a real hurry then WOT at 5800rpm should have you cracking along at 51kts (94.5kmh)! However, at planing speeds you'll be looking for trim tabs on this boat as it's list-sensitive to people moving about.

The weather on the test day was a breeze of 5-10kts, a rare window in an otherwise blustery month. It was great for everyone leaving the ramp in droves, loaded to the gunwales for an extended offshore fish on the outer reefs, but it wasn't our preferred weather for a serious boat test. We were restricted to running over our own wash and waves but we found there were no concerns with the quality of the ride or the spray. In fact, very little salt spray found its way onto the Suzuki cowls for three hours running, suggesting a generally dry ride.

All up, this is a top offshore rig that's particularly suited to day trips.

 



On the plane...

Good offshore long-hauling boat

Comfortable walkaround feature

Gunwales are a good fishable height from the water

Boat settles into a nice trolling attitude for pelagics



Dragging the chain...

Needs trim tabs

Horsepower overgunned for the average fisho

 







Specs: Hooker 8m WRC



HOW MUCH?

Price as tested: $188,000

Options fitted: Canopies, grabrail, extended dash, icebox, extra steering ram, cushions in cabin, small rear seats, SARCA anchor, additional rodholders, all electronics, twin-Suzuki 225hp outboards

Priced from: $127,500 (with single DF225hp Suzuki)



GENERAL

Material: GRP

Length: 8m (9m on trailer)

Beam: 2.45m

Weight: 2000kg (boat plus motor dry)

Towing weight: 2750kg

Deadrise: 24°



CAPACITIES

Max HP: 450

Min. rec. HP: 225

People (day): 8

People (berthed): 2

Fuel: 600lt

Water: 100lt



ENGINE

Make/model: Suzuki DF225 TX and DF225 ZX

Type: Fuel-injected V-6 four-strokes

Weight: 263kg (each)

Displacement: 3614cc (each)

Gear ratio: 2.29:1

Propellers: 16 x 23 three-blade (one counter rotating)



MANUFACTURED BY

Hooker Boats

31 Muir Street,

Bungalow, Qld, 4870

Tel: (07) 4041 7171

Web: www.hookerboats.com



SUPPLIED BY

Townsville Marine

943 Ingham Rd (Utility Lane, off Enterprise Street)

Bohle, Qld, 4818

Tel: (07) 4774 3777

Web: www.townsvillemarine.com.au

 

 



Originally published in TrailerBoat 260.

 

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