The Haines name has been synonymous with the Australian boating industry for more than 45 years.
John Haines, with brother Gary, started building fibreglass deep-vee trailer boats from a small factory at Goodna on the south-western outskirts of Brisbane in the 1960s. Being based on the famous Raymond C Hunt deep-vee hull, these boats, ranging from 12 to 19 feet (3.6 to 5.8 metres) were initially branded Bertram, but within two years that name was changed to Haines Hunter, thereby starting a tradition that would see the Haines name badging more fibreglass trailer boats than any other in the country.
The year 1979 saw the first of a number of buyouts involving the Haines Hunter business; moves that eventually pushed John Haines out of the boat building industry – albeit only for a few years.
By 1983, John Haines was back with renewed enthusiasm and a determination to build a better boat and restore the Haines family name as leaders in the Australian trailer boat industry. In 1984, a Boat of The Year award for the first of the new Haines Signature models showed that Haines had not lost touch with the industry. And since then, it has been on the basis of building boats for local conditions and local needs that the Haines Signature brand has grown, with the company now recognised as the largest manufacturer of fibreglass trailer boats in the country, with around 40 models (from 4.8 to 8.5 metres) in the range.
The Haines Group also manufactures the Haines Traveller brand – a budget-priced version of some of the Signature models; distributes the famous Nautiques wake board boats from Correct Craft in the USA, and is the distributor of Suzuki four-stroke outboards throughout Australasia.
John Haines (AM) is a stalwart of the boat building industry. He is fiercely proud of local expertise and, of course, is very protective of his own company and its ability to design and build boats by Australians, for Australians – and for Australian conditions and lifestyles.
John (Snr) now takes only a very minor role in the everyday running of the Haines Group, leaving sons John Jnr and Greg in charge.
Remaining competitively priced with the imports is a big challenge to any of the local fibreglass boat builders, but one of the advantages of buying a boat such as the Haines Signature, is that it can be extensively customised with factory options. While customising usually means a wait for a new boat, buyers get what they need and are not limited to what the dealer has on the floor.
Two of the most recent new releases from Haines Signature show just what can be achieved using factory-fitted options.
The 600C is a fairly conventional family day boat – vee-berth cabin and adequate comfortable seating for the family in a cockpit that is simple, yet well laid out and roomy. It’s a nice boat that meets all the requirements for a day on the water with the family. And by incorporating a number of factory options, this day boat can be turned into a full-on overnighter.
Similarly, the 632FDIx (which I will refer to as the 632F for simplicity) was created as a fishing model, but like every fishing model the company produces, it has all sorts of options for the finicky fisherman. Additionally, it has enough flexibility in the basic layout and design to be just as much at home taking the family out for a day’s pleasure cruising.
The 600C maximises space, taking the interior right to the hull sides, in the process wasting virtually nothing in the way of unnecessary deck space. This also applies to the cockpit, where there’s just enough gunwale space to provide shelter to the moulded side storage pockets and rod racks; as well as enough space for recessing of grab rails, a couple of recessed rod holders, and flush-fitting deck cleats.
While many, many trailer boat buyers have serious intentions of going away for weekends or overnighting with a boat such as this, the reality is that most people will tend to take it one day at a time. It’s therefore important that the day boating practicalities of the boat are not compromised by the extras – the luxuries – that would be used for the only occasional longer trips.
At first, the fit-out doesn’t seem all that much different to many other family day boats. But fold the back-to-back passenger seats apart and built into the moulded base is an insulated icebox and a wash sink with pressurised cold water. Further investigation reveals a fold-down butane-powered cook top and access to a compact little galley storage bin. Though the butane cook top is not sufficient to cook a hot meal for the whole family, it can at least boil water for tea or coffee or heat up a meal for the toddlers.
A small round table fits into the starboard side floor socket immediately behind the helm chair, which swivels to face the table, while some of the rear lounge seating is also close at hand, provided you don’t mind two different levels of seating around the table.
The rear lounge is built on a moulded base with a lift-off upholstered seat, providing storage for extra life jackets, spare ropes and anchors. With the base held in place by a couple of internal slide bolts, the whole unit is easy to remove for a days fishing with the boys. It also makes cleaning of the cockpit and areas tucked back under the transom a lot easier.
There are storage bins, lockers and pockets to be found everywhere, from the small bin in the moulded helm station footrest to the side storage shelves (long enough for a couple of rods on the starboard side); an ice box/live bait tank/rubbish bin on the port side aft quarter deck, as well as dedicated recessed mouldings for a fire extinguisher and EPIRB. Most of these moulded storage units are also to be found on the 632F.
The cabin encloses two full-size vee-berths with a porta-potti built into the middle. There are the usual side storage racks – great for holding heaps of loose clothing, jackets, towels etc – all the stuff that is needed for a family day out, plus there is limited under-bunk storage. The cabin is fully-lined for extra comfort and insulation for overnighting.
The optional bimini top, with front and side clears and a full set of camper covers, encloses the entire boat and whether you overnight or not (with or without the clears), does provide great shelter over much of the cockpit.
Recommended power for the 600C is single outboards from 115 to 175hp, and the 150hp Suzuki DF150TX fitted to the test boat sits nicely in the middle. This four-cylinder 2.8-litre four-stroke provides about all the power that is needed, giving a top speed of 36 knots, and a comfortable cruise speed of around 23 to 28 knots at 4000 to 4500rpm.
The 600C hull likes engine trim and doesn’t raise the bow as a result. A downturn built into the rear of the hull levels the ride and holds the bow down, even if you do start off with a bit too much engine trim when getting the boat over the hump.
The 632F is presently the largest model in the Signature fishing range and, like the 600C, makes the most of the cockpit space. However, at the helm station and cabin there is a distinct step in the deck line to provide walkround access to the bow. I couldn’t see the need for this as there is a great foredeck hatch that opens right over the anchor well and behind the bow roller. But Greg Haines assured me that market research confirmed this walkround capability was what fishos wanted.
Hence it’s there, and I must say that even though the deck walkway is narrow, it is very safe and easy to use. The location of the step-up from the cockpit is just right and there are grab rails on the back edge and along the top of the hardtop ensuring there is a rail to hang onto every inch of the way.
The cockpit is the main working area of this boat and as such is clinically clean and uncluttered. The rear lounge – a must for when the family wants a day out – folds up flush under the padded backrests on the face of the transom, while the moulded side pockets hold the likes of rods, boat hooks and anything else flush to the cockpit coaming line. Fishos will welcome the toe space underneath, complete with aluminium non-slip trim fixed to the floor.
As with the 600C, there is the multi-purpose aft quarter deck ice box/bait tank/rubbish bin, as well as an underfloor fish holder and a saltwater deck wash to hose down the moulded, self-bailing cockpit liner. The transom bait-prep board is cleverly designed, complete with a small sink and flip-up cutting board that makes it easier to clean out all the mess. This lift-out unit sits nicely over the engine well and, thoughtfully, can be rotated so that the engine can be fully tilted for towing.
There’s nothing particularly unusual to report in the cabin – vee-bunks and side storage shelves and fully-lined, just as on the 600C. As I said earlier, the forward hatch is excellent, opening right over the forward locker, bow sprit and deck hardware. The optional anchor winch installation on the test boat I thought was excellent. The winch sits neatly on a shelf under the deck hatch, leaving the bow very clean and uncluttered.
The 632F uses the ‘conventional’ Signature variable deadrise hull – that is, the deadrise (angle) of the vee decreases as it moves away from the keel (32 degrees) to the chines (21 degrees), with the transition taking place along the line of each running strake. As a rule, the variable deadrise hull will run relatively flat, lifting and running lighter and cleaner on the water as speed and trim is increased. It is not a hull that will lift the bow high in the air, and with a relatively level trim the variable deadrise design produces a clean, smooth and dry ride.
This boat is rated for 150 to 225hp outboards and the test boat’s 200hp 3.6-litre V6 four-stroke Suzuki DF200TX does not overpower the hull. Top speed is more than 38 knots, but expect this to drop a couple of knots with a laden boat, while offshore cruising is accomplished easily at around 3500 to 4000rpm (19 to 23 knots), and up to 28 knots if the conditions are smooth. Acceleration from around 4000rpm is surprisingly brisk and requires a firm hand hold when the throttle is opened up.
On both boats, the quietness of the four-stroke Suzuki engines has to be experienced to be believed. At idle you simply cannot hear a thing. There is no vibration; no movement at all from the engine, and only if it is still and very quiet can you hear the sound of the tell-tale squirting into the water. The engine only becomes audible as the throttle is opened, but even then it’s still very quiet. This is silent running at its best – at least in my experience.
Common to both boats is the design of the helm console and the access for servicing, maintenance, and addition of new electronics. The main instrument and helm console is a single moulded section, hinged along the bottom edge, and fixed with bolts at the top. Remove the bolts and the complete console swings back to expose all the internal connections. On the bulkhead inside the cabin, the back of the main wiring module has a Velcro-fixed lining that gives additional access for routine servicing.
The helm console has more than enough space for all the electronics likely to be needed, particularly now that engine manufacturers have been able to squeeze all the functions of about half a dozen or more analogue instruments into a single electronic display unit.
The walk-through transom door and rear boarding platform are also common to both boats, as well as many others in the Signature range.
Playing the options game takes the price of the 600C (with trailer, engine and all registrations etc) from around $54,000 to $69,800, while the 632F goes from $67,000 to $88,500. The cleverly optioned 600C comes in at around 1960kg towing weight, while the 632F is a bit lighter at 1860kg and both are towable behind larger family cars (fitted with heavy duty towing packages, of course) and certainly many of the common 4WDs.
All Signature hulls also incorporate anti-theft DataDot technology.
SPECIFICATIONS: HAINES SIGNATURE
Length: 6.25m 6.47m
Beam: 2.43m 2.5m
Weight (dry): 850kg 950kg
Towing weight: 1960kg 1860kg
Rec. Power: 115 to 157hp 150 to 225hp
Price as tested: $ 69,800 $88,500
For more information, visit your nearest authorised Haines Signature dealer or go to: www.thehainesgroup.com.