Rugged rig

David Toyer | VOLUME 25, ISSUE 4
This is one very versatile, roomy and well-appointed, fishing boat.
Haines Hunter’s 650R is about as tough as they come, but has a softer side too.

The 650R is the latest and largest model to be added to the popular Haines Hunter R series. Actually, the “R” is a little misleading with normal industry protocols suggesting it stand for Runabout, while the boat is in reality a cuddy cabin. But as Haines Hunter boss, John Haber says, this runabout connection was deliberate.

In profile, the cuddy hugs so tight to the deck line it’s hard not to see the 650R as anything but a big, deep runabout.

Whether you view it as a cuddy or a runabout, this is one very versatile, roomy and well-appointed, fishing boat. I see it being just as much at home fishing the sheltered coastal bays and estuaries as it is travelling miles offshore in search of bigger challenges. It is also just as adept at taking the family out for a day as it is at performing fishing duties.

There is a lot of depth in the hull, offering excellent thigh support for the length of the cockpit, and the toe space under the bottom shelf is a good depth, with no rough or sharp edges, allowing a fairly secure reach way out over the side.

It’s also an extremely generous, uncluttered cockpit and even with a pedestal-mounted ‘lean seat’ fixed smack in the centre of the cockpit (and this can be optioned as a light game chair), there is plenty of room to move around without tripping or snagging on anything.

There are the usual two-tiered recessed storage spaces along each side of the cockpit, though this is shortened to only half length on one side if the lift-out cockpit side door option is chosen.

The hinged rear lounge sits neat and flush into the transom, so it’s not a nuisance when fishing, and there is net storage in the face (underside of the seat) when the seat is folded up. When it’s down, it’s possible to get into the pumps and other accessories under the transom by simply unclipping the recessed cover behind the seat.

FULL SIZE CUDDY

With such a roomy cockpit, I would have thought that the cuddy would have been pushed well forward and compressed, but this isn’t the case.

There are two full-length bunks – granted, a tight “full length” – but there is adequate space for two adults to lie down inside the cabin, although there wouldn’t be a lot of room left. Side shelves provide storage for clothing, safety gear etc, but with the space under the bunks foam-filled to provide positive buoyancy, storage room is at a premium. The soft cabin lining is an option.

There is an overhead deck hatch that offers good access to the forward rope and chain locker, without having to get out on to the deck.

For 50 years, the name Haines Hunter has been associated with exceptional rough water performance hulls, which are a product of its very simple deep-vee design.

While this boat retains the Haines Hunter 21-degree dead rise measured at the transom, the key to the success of its conventional deep-vee hull is, according to John Haber, knowing just where along the keel line the 21-degree dead rise needs to translate into the steeper bow section. Having sampled numerous Haines Hunters over the years, I can say with confidence that the company has certainly got the overall hull profile right on the 650R.

While the hull trims quite level at speed, the 650R runs reasonably high and dry. The strakes and chines push water well clear, keeping the sides dry and offering little opportunity for wind-born spray to find its way into the aft end of the cockpit.

As a result of its level trim and what seems to be a very good balance, in combination with the grunt of the big Yamaha V8 outboard, the hull is planing at just over 10 knots (18.5km/h) at 2300rpm and at 3500rpm runs a very comfortable 27 knots (50km/h) for a cruising range of around 200 nautical miles (370km).

As presented for this test, the 650R is exceptionally easy to drive with no apparent nasties. Surprisingly, with 300 horsepower on the back and at a top speed of over 45 knots (83km/h) at 5500 rpm, there is no torque on the helm and the hull doesn’t give the slightest hint of chine-walking.

Although not safe boating practice and something we don’t condone, it’s possible to take your hands off the wheel at full throttle. The boat doesn’t want to pull to one side, running true and straight – a testimony to the superb fit-up and its excellent balance.

Lenco trim tabs were fitted, but I found no need to use them during the test.

SOLID FEEL

With extensive underfloor foam filling (supplemented by additional foam under the sides, aft decks and cabin bunks) to achieve the positive (level) flotation of a fully-swamped boat, the 650R feels very solid on the water. There is no thumping or bouncing around in choppy water over other boat washes (we didn’t get anything rougher for our test day out on Port Phillip Bay), resulting in a very solid feel to the entire rig.

The test boat was also built to survey and the only extra work required over and above what is standard Haines Hunter lay-up to achieve the MSV survey approval, was the isolation of the fuel tank and the hand bilge pump installed in the aft quarter of the cockpit.

The big 300hp Yamaha V8 four-stroke is the maximum output allowable for the 650R, other options being a single 230hp two-stroke or twin 115hp four-stroke outboards. Maximum allowable transom weight is 380kg.

The Yamaha provides exceptional acceleration out of the hole as well as anywhere within the low-to mid-throttle range.

According to John Haber, when it came to planning this new model, the configuration of the main console was at the top of the priorities list. Customer feedback said that there needed to be space to house at least three large screens, in addition to the usual switches and engine electronic package.

However, the test boat didn’t incorporate the three screens, Haines Hunter instead opting for the latest and greatest 3D NavNet MFD12 single-screen unit from Furuno.

This multi-talented navigation system uses a single 12.1in screen that allows split screen technology to display up to four functions at any one time. The rotary knobs make for easy and quick operation for anything from radar, chartplotting (in both 3D and single-plane imaging), fish finding, tides, video, and all the usual water conditions etc.

With a 1kW transducer built flush into the bottom of the hull during factory lay-up, it is reading directly under the boat and, with no turbulence or interference reads absolutely clearly, with bright colours and sharp definition. Even at full throttle, we were getting perfectly clear readings from the sounder.

SYSTEM UPGRADE

The upgrade to a Rockford Fosgate sound system on our test craft has the potential to blast the fish out of the water if more conventional means don’t work. With six speakers located around the cockpit and iPod compatibility, the best of sound is guaranteed. Also with video input providing pictures to the Furuno NavNet screen, the kids can be entertained if they start to get restless during a family day out.

In addition to the standard items, such as a 350lt kill tank under the floor and plumbed live bait tanks in each aft quarter deck, the test boat had numerous options (see list at the end of this test), demonstrating the array of nice-to-have add-ons, as well as the more essential goodies that are provided for with this boat.

With all these options included, along with the 300hp V8, tandem Mackay Premium trailer, LED cockpit and transom lights, Furuno 3D NavNet MFD12 and on-water costs, the Haines Hunter 650R package, as tested is going to set you back over $120,000.

It needs to be understood that we are talking a top of the range blue water trailer fishing boat here and if you take out some of the not-so-essential extras that aren’t going to affect its all-round fishability, as well as opting for something like a still-adequate 200hp four-stroke engine, its possible to put a very well appointed Haines Hunter 650R on the water for around $85 to $86,000.

This is a very stable and roomy trailer fishing boat that has good, solid on-water performance and the ability to cater for a comfortable family day out when fish aren’t biting.

SPECIFICATIONS: HAINES HUNTER 650R

Length: 6.75m

Beam: 2.40m

Overall height: 2.2m

Approx weight (dry): 1300kg

Power rating: 1 x 300hp (four-stroke)

2 x 115hp (four-stroke)

Maxtransom weight: 380kg (Single)

Fuel: 230lt (approx)

Price: $85,500 (approx with 200hp four-stroke)

As tested: $120,000 (approx)

OPTIONS FITTED

Aft boarding ladder, cabin lining, colour sided hull, live bail tank pump including deck wash, outriggers, folding rear lounge, stainless steel rocket launcher, seat box with tackle locker, side door cut out, bimini top and clears, barrel winch, Furuno 3D NavNet MFD12, Airmar 1kW thru-hull transducer, upgraded Rockford Fosgate audio system, Marine Deck cork floor, deck lean post and pedestal, Lenco trim tabs, LED cockpit, deck and underwater lights, cabin entry door (three-piece slide-in panels), secondary switch panel, MSV survey.


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