BOAT TEST: HOOKER 8M WRC

By: Garry Smith


HOOKER 8M WRC HOOKER 8M WRC HOOKER 8M WRC
HOOKER 8M WRC HOOKER 8M WRC HOOKER 8M WRC
HOOKER 8M WRC HOOKER 8M WRC HOOKER 8M WRC
HOOKER 8M WRC HOOKER 8M WRC HOOKER 8M WRC
HOOKER 8M WRC HOOKER 8M WRC HOOKER 8M WRC
HOOKER 8M WRC HOOKER 8M WRC HOOKER 8M WRC
HOOKER 8M WRC HOOKER 8M WRC HOOKER 8M WRC
HOOKER 8M WRC HOOKER 8M WRC HOOKER 8M WRC
HOOKER 8M WRC HOOKER 8M WRC HOOKER 8M WRC
HOOKER 8M WRC HOOKER 8M WRC HOOKER 8M WRC

From Australia’s deep north comes the Hooker range of fishing boats, with Garry Smith taking the bluewater 8m WRC fishing platform out for a spin in cyclonic conditions

BOAT TEST: HOOKER 8M WRC
8M HOOKER WRC

HOOK ME ONE!
The 8m Hooker, powered by a Volvo Penta Aquamatic Duoprop D4-300 DP-H, is one hell of a piece of machinery.
It performs and handles more like a ski boat than an 8-metre offshore fishing rig. The handling is simply exhilarating, and the layout and finish on the Hooker are first class, adding up to an exceptional bluewater fishing platform.
The all new Volvo Penta D4-300 DP-H is the first installed in Australia according to Lee Pardey, sales engineer for Volvo Penta Oceania. The D4-300 press release goes on to say: "The world's most powerful four-cylinder diesel engine produces 300hp from a remarkably compact package.
"Performance and installation dimensions are both comparable with big-block V8 petrol engines," Volvo said.
They are not kidding when it comes to power! I have been testing Hooker boats for 10 years and this was the first time I have had to back off in a turn.
The power is just awesome! It is hard to get your head around the fact you are driving a diesel powered boat.

HOOKER'S HISTORY
Hooker Boats have been advertising in TrailerBoat for many years but this is the first review of one of their boats for this publication, so first a bit of history on the company.
Hooker Boats is owned and operated by John Margetts from Cairns and has been in production since 1998, when he started building dories for commercial fishermen. Margetts commenced his boatbuilding trade with 10 years working for the renowned Riviera boats on the Gold Coast.
Hooker Boats kicked off by producing an open dory for commercial fishermen from a single mould, but Margetts has continually expanded to the point where the Hooker range now includes a multitude of hulls and designs from 5m to the 8m bluewater beauty, which is the subject of this review.
All Hooker hulls are made with hand laid laminate, producing the absolute best quality shells. They all have positive buoyancy which makes them ideal and very popular for survey situations such as charter, guiding and commercial fishing boats.

FISHO'S FANCY
Recreational fishermen have taken a particular liking to Hooker boats in recent years and they now make up the large majority of the business for the company. To date, around 500 boats have been hand-built at Hooker Boats and they have found their way to every state of Australia.
The Walk Around Cabin (WRC) layout of the 8m Hooker sterndrive is a fishing delight with a huge, uncluttered cockpit, easy 360º access and a forward fishing area.
There is 2.2m of obstruction-free cockpit between the helm seat and the transom. In the middle of the cockpit is a 400lt, two-compartment, underfloor killtank/wet well, with a rear lounge on top of the engine compartment.
Sidepockets run about two-thirds the length of the cockpit, with the starboard pocket holding the deckwash and hose. The sidepockets finish just above the floor, giving excellent toe access and combine with the thigh-height side padding to provide superb support and comfort when fighting a big one.
Access to the motor is excellent with the lounge released from two clips to access the front, and the rear of the motor is opened via a hydraulic hatch.
Noise and heat insulation is spot on, with noise levels very low allowing easy conversation even at full tilt. Above the transom is a lift-out baitboard with built-in storage trays and rocket launchers in each corner. Below the baitboard is a centrally mounted livebait tank.
The helm and passenger seats are mounted on large moulded bases that hold a built-in fridge under the helm and ice box under the passenger seat. Both cold storages have padded, rear facing seats on top.
The EPIRB and fire extinguisher are set in a recess beside the passenger seat.
Access to the bow is via a wide walkway, with built-in steps illuminated by recessed LED lights. Security walking forward is excellent, with hand-to-hand grips all the way, using the bowrail and canopy mounts.

INSTRUMENTATION
The compact dash is superbly finished and fitted with standard Volvo Penta instrumentation, liquid dampened compass, trim and tilt controls, Furuno SCV-585 depthsounder and Standard Horizon GPS CP1000C.
Entry into the centre cab is via a folding hatch in front of the passenger seat, which would be a bit of a squeeze for a big bloke. There is plenty of room inside to sleep two, with a stack of storage provided by side shelves, under-bunk compartments and two lockers in the port aft end. A Porta-Potti sits in the well between the bunks and the cabin is well ventilated via a large front hatch.
The fibreglass canopy is very robust, with stainless steel supports and framing. Stainless steel fittings throughout the Hooker add to the classy finish, and the workmanship and attention to detail is excellent throughout. Built into the underside of the canopy is a radio compartment fitted with UHF and VHF marine radios. Twin deck lights and four gold-finished rocket launchers on the trailing edge complete an excellently designed hard top. My preference, however, would be for a full-length canopy in the tropics.
The anchoring system is superb, with twin hatches allowing the skipper to carry two fully rigged sets of ground tackle - one for rock/reef and the other for sand/mud holding. A centrally-mounted deck winch between the wells makes easy work for the deckie and the anchor can be carried on the bowsprit ready for quick release from the split-cross bollard.

CYCLONE GUBA
We took the Hooker out of the Cairns harbour into the tail of Cyclone Guba, which was lashing the north Queensland coast with heavy rain squalls.
Between squalls, we put the beast through its paces and what a beast it is! I have tested three 8m Hooker boats to date; one with twin 225hp Mercury Optimax outboards and another with a 260hp turbo diesel Yanmar with MerCruiser sterndrive, but the Volvo Penta D4-300 DP-H simply ate them for performance. The smile on Margett's face said it all. It was totally in a class of its own and an absolute pleasure to drive and ride in.
If you closed your eyes and felt and heard the action, you would bet a lot of money you were riding in a high-performance ski boat - it was simply exhilarating. In turns it stuck like a remora to a shark's belly and it cut a swathe through the chaotic seas with the smoothness and unwavering power of a Pamplona bull running through the frenzied crowd. Add to this the reliability of a diesel motor with a fully integrated duo prop-drive system, plus Electronic Vessel Control and you have the very best of the best in a fishing boat.
The Hooker ate the wild conditions and produced some very impressive performance figures during the trials, which were bettered once it was re-propped. The new props had not arrived in time for the review and I can't wait to get back on board an even better performing boat.
During trials the Hooker produced eight knots at 1000rpm, 10kts at 1500rpm, 21kts at 2000rpm, 27kts at 2500rpm, 32kts at 3000rpm and topped out doing 39kts at 3500rpm.
All up, the 8m Hooker WAC, with a Volvo Penta Aquamatic Duoprop is simply the best boat of its class that I have ever had the pleasure of reviewing. It has taken my expectations of an eight-metre fishing boat to new heights.

WHAT WE LIKED
Performance, ride and handling
Layout and finish
Built to survey standard
Excellent 360º walkaround access
Twin-anchoring systems
Large uncluttered cockpit
Overhead radios

NOT SO MUCH
Limited stern fishing access
Prefer a full-length canopy for the tropics
Cabin access is tight

 

Specifications: 8M Hooker WRC

HOW MUCH?
Price as tested: $166,000 w/ Volvo Penta Aquamatic Duoprop D4-300 DP-H sterndrive, trailer, regos, and options
Options fitted: Electronics package

GENERAL
Material: Hand laid laminate
Length:  8m
Beam:   2.45m
Deadrise: 24º
Length on trailer: 9m
Height on trailer: 3m
Weight: 2000kg (dry hull and motor); 2750kg (BMT)

CAPACITIES
Fuel:  500lt
Water: 100lt
Killtank:  400lt
Rec. max. HP:

ENGINE
Make/model: Volvo Penta Aquamatic Duoprop D4-300 DP-H
Type: Four-cylinder turbocharged electronic diesel w/ common rail injection and aftercooling
Rated HP: 300
Displacement: 3.7lt
Props: DPH Duoprop

SUPPLIED BY:
Hooker Boats,
81 Fearnley Street,
Portsmith, Qld, 4870
Phone: (07) 4035 1157
Website: www.hookerboats.com

Originally published in TrailerBoat #226

Find Hooker boats for sale.

 


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