BOAT TEST: HAINES HUNTER 650 CLASSIC

By: PHILIP KABERRY


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Listening to customers has paid off big time for Haines Hunter, with the release of its much-anticipated 650 Classic. For our money, it's one of the best six-something-metre 'glass fishing boats currently on the market.

BOAT TEST: HAINES HUNTER 650 CLASSIC
HAINES HUNTER 650 CLASSIC

FROM THE ARCHIVES: First published in TrailerBoat #183, Sep 2004

Every once in a while a boat comes out that you instinctively know will prove to be a winner, even before setting foot on it.


At first glace, Haines Hunter's spanking new 650 Classic - two years in the making - promises to be the offshore angler's dream boat. But money talks and bullcrap walks; so before I start tossing superlatives around like promises in an election year, it's worth noting that Haines Hunter has already sold about 35 of these boats well before a drop of ink was spilled by the marine press. Some customers even signed up before hull #1 was popped out of the mould.

So what's so great about this boat? What's it got that so many other six-something-metre 'glass cuddies don't?

 

 

NEW FOR OLD



Haines Hunter hasn't strayed far from the hull-design principals that have stood it in such good stead for the last 45 years.
While the 650 is an all-new hull, it still boasts Haines Hunter's traditional 21° of deadrise at the stern, three running strakes per side, a decent planing plank in the rear, prominent lipped chines, heaps of vee in the bow and exceptionally high sides.

With a hull-only dry weight of about 1300kg, it's obvious that plenty of fibreglass has gone into the build, and it feels like it on the water, too, with a lot of boat beneath the waterline.

The thing feels solid, strong and safe, and while we enjoyed very flat conditions for our test day on Port Phillip, Trailer Boat's Queensland correspondent Rick Huckstepp found some messy water off the bar at Southport during his brief test at a recent media day. Rick confirms it eats swell and chop for breakfast, delivering an exceptionally smooth ride with no slamming up-sea or erratic behaviour powering down-sea.

Stability is awesome, thanks to a huge beam-to-length ratio. At its widest point, the 650 measures 2.40m - that's a specification more commonly found on much larger boats.

With three blokes leaning over the coaming, the hull shifted imperceptibly then sat rock-solid. Cockpit height is about
90cm, or around your upper thighs, ensuring a feeling of security when out on the water.

 

 

BIG KID'S PLAYPEN



Fishos love a big cockpit, and boy, does this boat have some room to move. You could drop one of those big fibreglass Bailey's iceboxes in the middle of this space and still have room to stage a dance party.

Well, almost. Rest assured, you and three mates won't be stomping on each other's thongs when out on the snapper drop.

Hooray! An Aussie boatbuilder has learned how to design a fold-out rear lounge that doesn't smash into your knees,
limit access to the stern or look like it's something the Beverly Hillbillies slapped on when Ma wasn't looking. It locks flush into the bulkhead wall and you won't know it's there till you need it.

Haines Hunter reckons it's spent ages refining this boat's cockpit finish, and it is one of the better ones I've seen.

There's thick padding all the way round the coamings (including transom), encased in durable colour-coded marine-grade vinyl. This doesn't hinder access to the generously proportioned sidepockets, which trace both cockpit walls, complementing two large ones just aft of the helm and passenger positions.

There are rod and gaff racks beneath the sidepockets; full aluminium toerails trace cockpit, and you can tuck your feet underneath the cockpit walls to brace yourself when fishing the reefs.

The cockpit is self-bailing and drains into the bilge. Any water gets dumped overboard by a high-flow bilge pump, and the carpets clip in and out to make post-fishing clean-ups less stressful.

Oh, there's an extra-long raw-water deckand hose with high-pressure shower rose so you can wash squid ink and tuna blood off those nice shiny surfaces before they stain!

The livebait tank is huge and has rounded corners, drains overboard and comes with high-flow plumbing, and there's provision to mount a baitboard over the stern.

In keeping with this boat's purpose, all cleats are recessed; there's a neat inward-folding transom door with deep s/s boarding ladder on the boarding platform; four top-grade stainless rodholders sit in the coamings; and there are moulded recesses for fire extinguisher and EPIRB.

Mulloway anglers are going to love the stainless-steel courtesy lights in the cockpit: they illuminate the area and don't throw glare into the water.

Below decks you'll find a 210lt fuel tank fed by a deck filler with breather: with a four-stroke or DFI two on the back you can expect to cover a heap of sea miles without needing to crack open the wallet too often.

The twin battery rack is up off the floor and is accessed through a vinyl curtain behind the stern lounge; as are the
fuel filters and isolation switches. All wiring is loomed and colour-coded - it appears the engineering throughout this boat is heavy duty.

Overall, the cockpit is very well presented: things like hinges, cleats and other fittings are either chrome-coated brass or stainless steel; the insides of hatches are neat; and the storage bin interiors are polished 'glass, not flow-coat. Almost a shame to get it filthy during a hot bite...

 

 

POINTY END



It's obvious that Haines Hunter did some research on what anglers want from a helm station. Priority is given to two standard flush-mounted Navman depthsounder and chartplotter units, which are directly in front of the driver just below eye level - right where you want them.

Optional analogue gauges are positioned neatly about this electronics suite in a carbon-fibre fascia; the throttle falls comfortably to hand; and the steering, naturally enough, is hydraulic.

There are also two flush-mount VHF and 27-Meg radios above the wheel - not tucked away in the cabin. In fact, those all-important electronic accessories are incorporated at the factory and not tacked on haphazardly wherever they'll fit at some later stage.

The helm and passenger pedestal seats swivel and slide so you can stand when driving. There are footrests to brace against, the passenger gets a grabrail, and there's another that traces the lovely Taylor-Made safety-glass screen.

Vision and headroom are great; comfort levels, finish and design cohesion are above average. With a set of clears to complement the canvas (which has this great pull-out awning to shade the cockpit), you could cruise home through a stiff nor' easter in complete comfort.

The stainless targa top is turned at the factory and is topped with a six-pot launcher for your 6-8kg Baitrunner outfits: I'd think twice before filling them with 24kg stand-up outfits, though.

 



SLEEP BETWEEN BITES



The cabin interior is light, airy and comfortable. Bunks measure 1.9m and with a drop-in infill they convert into a spacious double berth.

The storage bins below the cushions have lights (top idea); the sidepockets tracing the cabin walls are padded for comfort, and the footwell is nice and deep, promoting better headroom. A hatch in the front gives access to the windlass, and there's an enormous hatch you can crawl through to get on deck.

Toilets in small boats can be a hit-and-miss affair. This one works: I tried it in a "dry run" and you can sit upright and close the cabin door for privacy, or lock it if you're paranoid someone will catch you in action.

It's an electric loo with a macerator, and when not in use you can drop an infill cushion over it.

As far as cabins go, the Haines Hunter 650's is a beauty. It's got space, it's got comfort and it's got light and air. And it's finished neatly and tastefully.

Up front, the deck is traced by an extra-heavy-duty inch-thick stainless bowrail and has a deep anchor locker and a plough anchor-carrying bowsprit serviced by an optional electric windlass. Access to the deck is via wide cabin walkarounds or through the front hatch.

 



PERFORMANCE & HANDLING



The demo boat was powered by Yamaha's excellent 225hp four-stroke, which was quiet, smooth and smoke-free. However, due to time constraints the boat was propped wrong, spinning a 17in stainless wheel that was too finely pitched for the job.

RPM versus speed figures were not representative of true performance and power had to be kept on in sharp turns to stop the rig losing momentum. Normal propeller for this boat is a 19in stainless. The boat returns top-end speeds in the low-80s at around 5800rpm, according to Haines Hunter, and easily maintains cruise at lower revolutions. As it was, we hit about 79kmh with the outboard pegging at 6000rpm.

This aside, the 650 performed beautifully. This hull delivers one of the flattest, smoothest transitions to the plane in the business. Apply throttle and the boat slides imperceptibly out of the hole and runs out to a quiet, smooth and comfortable cruise, holding it down to 25kmh and 2500rpm.

The incredible lift generated by the hull means the boat will hold low-speed plane in rough conditions, meaning you won't have to juggle the throttle constantly to keep the boat out of the hole in heavy weather.

Despite the propping issue, the 650 turned effortlessly but was bored by the flat conditions. Give it some swell and it comes into its own, Haines Hunter promises, and we see no reason to doubt it.

What we could see for ourselves was the boat's exceptional talent for economical cruising, the massive amount of available space, superb stability at rest, attention to detail and intelligent design ideas. This boat simply gels.

While it's not the cheapest boat of its kind, the quality is abundant; the performance is excellent and it's got that special "X" factor many experienced offshore anglers have been looking for. It just begs to be fished!

STORY: PHILIP KABERRY  PHOTOS: STUART GRANT

 

 

 

SPECIFICATIONS

 

Price as tested: About $88,000

Options fitted: Engine and gauge upgrades, carpets, cabin liner, bimini upgrade, windlass, deckwash, bait-tank plumbing, transom door, cockpit and cabin lights, heavy-duty trailer and more

Priced from: $65,000 w/ Yamaha 200hp two-stroke sans options

 

 

GENERAL


Hull type: Monohull cuddy cabin
Material: Fibreglass
Length (overall): 6.75m
Beam: 2.40m
Deadrise: 21°
Weight: 1300kg
Towing weight: 2300kg

 

 

CAPACITIES


Fuel: 210lt
Water: Black-water holding tank
Passengers: Six adults
Power: 200/225

 

 

ENGINE


Make and model: Yamaha F225
Type: Fuel-injected V6 four-stroke
Displacement: 3352cc
Output: 225hp @ 5500rpm
Weight: 265kg
Drive/gearbox: O/B 2.00:1
Propeller: 17in stainless

 

 

SUPPLIED BY


Port Phillip Boating Centre, 2/10 Wallace Avenue, Point Cook, Vic, tel (03) 9369 0099. More information, contact Haines Hunter, tel (07) 3287 4088 (Qld) or (03) 9931 1060 (Vic), or visit www.haineshunter.com.au

Find Haines Hunter boats for sale.

 


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