REVIEW: HAINES HUNTER 600R BREEZE

By: David Lockwood, Photography by: John Ford


The Haines Hunter 600R Breeze has everything in place to make it a very capable offshore runner, writes David Lockwood

A household name revered among rough-water boaters, Haines Hunter has undergone various ownership changes over the years but has successfully re-established itself as a serious trailerboat manufacturer. In fact, it has expanded operations with a second factory in Melbourne and was recently inducted into the Victorian Manufacturing Hall of Fame.
That says something about the enduring quality of Haines Hunter. When you drive a boat like its 600R Breeze, which was designed largely due to demand from Melbourne boaters, you soon see why. What the 600R Breeze lacks in polish – the demo boat was intentionally basic, functional, but with few frills – it more than makes up for with an impressive ride.
The signature deep-vee hull, what Haines Hunter dubs a Performance Deadrise Vee, has a sharp 21 transom angle. Think of it as an axe, which was the nickname of my former Haines Hunter. Unlike the often wider and flatter American boats, the classic deep-vee hulls cut a swath across our usually bumpy Australian waters. And who wouldn’t welcome that?
It was in lousy conditions that I drove this boat, rated for up to 230hp, with a Mercury 150hp four-stroke Verado outboard. Rightly, everyone seems to want the four strokes these days, but perhaps unlike a lot of today’s trailerboater I thought the 150hp was plenty of power. Victorians, for example, often think otherwise.
As it was, it didn’t take long at the helm for me to start sporting a wide grin. There were no hard thumps to remind this writer that his youth is fast slipping astern, and with that my confidence grew until I was back at my youthful best behind the wheel.
Memories of the Haines Hunter 580SF I owned for 12 years came flooding back. Offshore, with a touch of in-trim, the 600R gave a stand-and-deliver ride across rough water.
Compared to the earlier Haines Hunters, the newer boats have more buoyant transoms, more freeboard in the cockpit and generally more volume above the waterline. So you’re less likely to put water aboard. And with a bimini and clears, spray isn’t an issue either.

DESIGN LINES
Though it might be deemed a runabout by its R designation, the low- profile cuddy cabin has a vee berth in which you can escape the weather. With an optional infill you could create a bed for nana naps or maybe longer.
Though it was rudimentary and not lined, the basic cabin had dry storage under its short bunks and seated head room when perched atop them. The wiring behind the dash was exposed, without a cover or curtain, but there was an especially big hatch from which to deploy the anchor.
I don’t much like the fact that you have to stand on the upholstery to deploy the anchor. You can scamper around the cabin sides, too, though it's a tad narrow and, thus, daring at sea. Also, I think the non-skid could be improved. But the anchoring gear was sturdy, with an integrated bowsprit, one-piece bowrail made from 32mm pipe, deep anchor locker with deadeye, and cleat. And there are more of them aft.

COCKPIT LAYOUT
While it’s destined to be used as an offshore fishing, diving, and adventure boat, the 600R Breeze has an accommodating cockpit that will come to the fore when trolling or swinging on the anchor.
Despite its deep-vee and relatively narrow 2.4m beam, the 600R is surprising stable for, say, four anglers. The boat is rated to carry seven adults, but that really would be a crowd. The gunwales and toe-under space let you lean outboard with confidence and, as touched on, there’s a good sense of freeboard.
Best of all, there’s oodles of space for stashing gear. Storage exists in what are among the most generous two-tiered sidepockets I’ve seen in a 19-footer. There was also a modest, in-transom, oval livebait tank, which drains overboard, and a small sub-floor wet locker between the helm seats.
The (optional) twin batteries hide under the transom and it will be a challenge checking their water levels. But a clip-off vinyl curtain grants good access to the bilge, fuel filter, and bait pump.
The boat’s best design feature is a fold-down lounge at the transom for social outings. The lounge can seat two people, feels supportive though there’s not a great backrest. When folded back, it is completely out of the way. It also includes a storage net.
The co-pilot or navigator, meanwhile, has a glovebox with a flimsy lid, but sturdy stainless steel grabrail, and matching drinkholder. 
All the stainless work on the boat is just great, and the more you get done at the factory level the better.
With the frugal 150hp Verado four-stroke outboard and 210lt underfloor fuel tank you are assured of a good cruising range. I like the fact you can access the fuel sender under the floor. The floor itself was simple flowcoat for easy cleaning post fishing.
You can easily make the boat sexier with clip-in carpet and, by my reckoning, there was room for two adults to sleep on deck. Whatever you choose to do there, it sure is a big, long cockpit with plenty of room for fighting, tracing and securing serious fish.
If it were mine, I would order the boat with one of those superb Haines Hunter fold-down targa arches, with rocket launcher, canvass and clears. To keep the price down the dealer fitted a more affordable aftermarket bimini with clears that, when folded flat, let you store the 600R in a garage. During the test, the enclosure was appreciated, keeping spray away on the blustery day.
There was also an option stainless steel bait-cutting board at the transom, a stainless steel windscreen grabrail, and a rear swim ladder for those family days. Last but not least, the 600R has a nice deep transom that will keep the water at bay, with a walkthrough or cut-out to assist with access to the swim ladder.

BLUEWATER THOROUGHBRED
There were twin pedestal helm seats, a purposeful Monza sports wheel linked to Quicksilver hydraulic steering, and the dealer fitted a Navman 5500 GPS, Navman 4500 sounder and Navman 27MHz radio. The Mercury had a speedo and a tacho and, moreover, SmartCraft with an array of functions including your cruising range.
I found the visibility excellent when seated or standing. The Mercury DTS system has keyless ignition with the stop/start button on the throttle. Once pushed, being a typically quiet four-stroke outboard, you have to look twice to tell if it’s running.
Compared to the older Haines Hunters, the new models are a lot more efficient. The 600R Breeze with Verado 150hp four-stroke motor spinning a 17-inch Vengeance prop and with full in-trim held a slippery 7.5 to 8kt planing speed. That would be perfect for trolling.
Low-speed cruise was clocked at 16 to 17.5kts at 3200 to 3500rpm. The motor was in the groove at 4000rpm, where the boat cruises at
24 to 25kts, and fast cruise was 27 to 28kts at 4500rpm. Maximum continuous revs of about 5000 gave 31 to 32kts, and top speed was
38kts.
The 600R has a fine entry that, at low speeds, is inclined to dip a little. But it’s where others flounder that the Haines Hunters excel. I managed to maintain that 24 to 25kt high-speed power cruise at 4000rpm in rough seas. And, with great acceleration, it’s just the kind of boat you need to outrun a storm in, tackle a coastal bar, and get to the wide grounds or FADs in a hurry.
There’s still work left to do on the finish front, especially when you look at the imported craft, but the most important ingredients are in place to make a seriously capable offshore runner.
 
WHAT WE LIKED
Great offshore performance
Smooth ride
Likes it fast and furious
Sturdy deck gear and solid hull with seven-year warranty
Huge storage capacity
Handy low-profile cabin
Generous cockpit
Plenty of freeboard at the transom
Good ergonomics and stability for leaning outboard

NOT SO MUCH
Finish could be improved
Non-skid isn’t very ‘grippy’
Anchoring requires standing on the cabin cushion
Flimsy glovebox lid
Difficult to service batteries

 

Specifications: Haines Hunter 600R Breeze

HOW MUCH?
Price as tested: $68,990 w/ four-stroke Mercury 150hp Verado outboard, dual-axle trailer, safety gear, registrations and dealer-fitted options.
Options fitted: Navman 5500 colour GPS, Navman 4500 colour sounder, Navman 27MHz radio, aft cutting board, factory-fitted rear ladder, stainless steel rail kit, bimini, and covers.

GENERAL
Material: GRP
Length overall: 6.35m
Beam: 2.4m
Deadrise: 21 degrees
Weight: Approx 1150kg hull only, approx 2000kg on road

CAPACITIES
Berths: Two on deck or in cabin with infill
Fuel capacity: 210lt
Passengers: Seven adults at 75kg each
Rec. max HP: 230

ENGINE
Engine on test: Mercury 150 EXLPT Verado four-stroke outboard
Rated HP: 150 at 5500 to 6000rpm
Drive: outboard
Propeller: 17-inch stainless steel

SUPPLIED BY
TR MarineWorld,
4 Curtis Road, McGraths Hill, NSW, 2756
Phone: (02) 4577 3522
Website: www.haineshunter.com.au

Originalyl published in TrailerBoat #214

 


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