REVIEW: SENATOR RH 770

By: MATTHEW JONES, Photography by: MATTHEW JONES


SENATOR PONTOON BOATS SENATOR PONTOON BOATS
SENATOR CHARTER BOAT NZ SENATOR CHARTER BOAT NZ
SENATOR RH 770 BAIT STATION SENATOR RH 770 BAIT STATION
SENATOR RH 770 BOW SENATOR RH 770 BOW
SENATOR RH 770 DECK LAYOUT SENATOR RH 770 DECK LAYOUT
SENATOR RH 770 HELM SENATOR RH 770 HELM
SENATOR RH 770 IN NEW ZEALAND SENATOR RH 770 IN NEW ZEALAND
SENATOR RH 770 ON THE PLANE SENATOR RH 770 ON THE PLANE
SENATOR RH 770 ON THE WATER SENATOR RH 770 ON THE WATER
SENATOR RH 770 PORT SIDE SENATOR RH 770 PORT SIDE
SENATOR RH 770 STARBOARD SENATOR RH 770 STARBOARD
SENATOR RH 770 UNDERWAY SENATOR RH 770 UNDERWAY

When a commercial skipper went looking for a custom sports fishing machine for her charter business she chose a Senator RH 770. Why? We sent Matthew Jones to find out

There aren’t too many big burly blokes who can say they’ve successfully landed a 100kg plus bluefin tuna. And there are even fewer ladies who would entertain the idea of attempting such a feat. However, Leanne Dixon has not only landed a whopping 294.5kg Bluefin Tuna but also potentially smashed a world record for a woman using 60kg tackle in the process. That’s pretty impressive in anyone’s book, but more so, when you consider that Dixon doesn’t even weigh 60kg herself!

So what’s next for this fishing high-achiever and commercial skipper? More fishing of course, plus running guided trips and taking fishing charters from the Bay of Plenty to Northland. But to achieve all this, Dixon requires a very special kind of boat— one that’s stable, comfortable, offshore capable, has a toilet, an abundance of storage, is built to Survey, fits on a trailer and of course, has to catch game fish. Faced with this long list of requirements, who does a fanatical fisho trust to custom-build their dream weapon? Senator Boats’ RH 770 fitted the bill.

 

SENATOR BOATS

SENATOR RH 770

Onboard the aptly-named Reel Angel, one day’s fishing is never enough, so the boat’s been set up to extend the adventure by comfortably overnighting three anglers within the large lockable hardtop. An infill converts the 1.9m long bunks in the front cabin into a large double, while in the main cabin the table and seat backrest drop down to create a third single berth.

Lifting up the squabs on the lure-watching seat in the cockpit reveals a twin burner gas cooker for hot coffee and cooked meals. The adjacent sink (with a pull-out showerhead) will allow the dishes (or the crew) to be given a good scrub before bed and a Califont system is optional for a hot shower.

An abundance of shelves and compartments cater for commercial safety equipment, along with plenty of room to cater for over-packed guests.

 

CHARTER BOAT

LEANNE DIXON CHARTER CAPTAIN

A large self-draining baitboard features a food grade cutting surface, and its lack of a front lip and good height make baiting up a breeze. Additional mounts allow the baitboard to be moved to the port gunwale or even completely removed during a hook-up. This allows unrestricted access to the large live bait tank and twin tuna tubes below.

To solve the issue of toe holds lacking in most pontoon boats, Senator cleverly designed a hard wearing rubber padding which is fitted to the upper gunwales. It’s comfortable to sit and lean against and wide enough to allow anglers to stand bolt upright with their feet against the gunwales and their thighs supported. With four heavy duty rod holders (with locking rings) per gunwale, a further nine rod holders in the rocket launcher and four on the bait board an arsenal of rods can be at the ready.

While trolling at 8kts Reel Angel uses around 9L/h with a 310L capacity allowing multiple days to be fished between fills.

 

ACCOMMODATION

SENATOR RH 770 BUNKS

If the weather plays up, the sheltered cabin can comfortably seat four crew plus the skipper, while the lockable sliding door also provides a safe haven for expensive fishing gear while on the dock. The game poles are telescopic, so they can also be safely secured in the cabin for towing or self-preservation. Being trailerable also means Reel Angel can move to where the fish are. She tips the scales at around 2400kg and just squeezes under the maximum road legal 2.5m beam on her braked Voyager tandem axle trailer which Dixon says "tows really well" with her Toyota Landcruiser.

 

SCALLOP DIVING

SENATOR RH 770 AT REST

Reel Angel is based in the scenic saltwater paradise that is Mercury Bay, so when a scallop dive was offered up, I didn’t need much prodding from the editor to venture on a road trip. However, once the kids, camera equipment and fishing gear was loaded into the car, there was no room for dive gear as well. Luckily with two professional skippers on board we had more fishing rods and gear than many tackle stores, so we went fishing instead. Unfortunately no matter how much burley, smelly bait and soft baits were thrown over the side, the fish simply weren’t biting.

With fresh fish taken off the menu, we let the Maxwell capstan do the hard work pulling anchor and headed around the corner to find some scallops. It was at that point we realised the scallop dredge wasn’t in the large underfloor compartment either. But with a stroke of luck, we stumbled across a friendly diver who kindly donated some of his quota to test out the livebait tank. Seafood fix finally sorted, we plotted a course for Cathedral Cove to shoot the photos before Dixon kindly handed over the helm for the run home.

 

ENGINE

SENATOR RH 770 WITH YAMAHA ENGINE

Yamaha’s brilliant 250hp four-stroke proved a great match for the hull and with drive-by-wire was also super-smooth. It still had the showroom shine so I played nice, but to give you an idea — in choppy conditions Reel Angel cruised comfortably at 21 knots at 3500rpm using 31L/h. At 4500rpm we hit 29kts using 56L/h.

 

THE VERDICT

SENATOR RH 770 CHARTER BOAT

The Senator RH 770 strikes a pleasing balance between a capable cockpit, all-weather protection and overnight accommodation for three in a versatile, comfortable and trailerable sportfisher. Ride quality becomes all the more important when playing offshore and the RH 770 combines good all-round stability with one of the best rides I’ve encountered on an aluminium pontoon boat.Incorporating so many features into a trailerboat that functions is no mean feat, so it comes as no surprise that many professionals put their faith in a Senator. The unwary marlin seem to approve as well.

 

HIGHS

  • Comfortable, capable and customisable sport fisher
  • Tough and dependable
  • A nice blend of stability and ride
  • Versatile and functional
  • Loads of storage

 

LOWS

  • Outside cooking facilities could limit all-weather capability
  • Too good a boat to find anything else to complain about

 

SENATOR RH 770 SPECIFICATIONS

GENERAL

TYPE Aluminium pontoon

MATERIAL Plate aluminium        

LENGTH 7.93m LOA

BEAM 2.49m external

WEIGHT 2400kg dry approx

DEADRISE 18˚

 

CAPACITIES

PEOPLE 5            

REC HP 150 to 250           

MAX HP 250      

FUEL 310L

WATER 100L

 

HOW MUCH?

Price as tested POA

Priced from $NZ135,000 (standard production boat with Mercury Verado 250XL outboard)

 

STANDARD FEATURES

Three year structural hull warranty, marine grade alloy, fairlead and roller, foredeck bow rail, anchor hatch, acrylic cabin hatch, forward cabin squabs, fully carpeted cabin, clear safety glass windows, king and queen seats, hydraulic steering, switch panel and wiring loom, non-skid walkaround, port and starboard LED navigation lights, LED mast light, bollards and cleats, four rod holders, nine rocket launcher rod racks, variety of grab rails, underfloor fuel tank, two underfloor fish bins, second shelf in pontoons, enclosed rear transom with two hatches, bilge pump, ladder with grab rails, transducer mount plate, twin duckboards.

 

OPTIONS FITTED

As this was a fully-custom design to meet a specific commercial charter application, there are too many options to list!

 

MORE INFO

Senator Boats

Tel: (+64) 6 843 6882

Web: senatorboats.com

 

See the full version of this review in Trade-A-Boat #449, February / March 2014. Why not subscribe today?

Find Senator boats for sale.

 


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