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David Toyer | VOLUME 26, ISSUE 1

The Haines Group has launched a new walk-around craft that will likely find a lot of interest amongst serious fishers.

The TF200 is the first walk-around to be built by the Haines Group for its Traveller series, and company designers have certainly squeezed a lot into this boat.

The Traveller series was created by the Haines Group in 2000 to provide basic, practical and affordable trailer boats, built to the same quality and engineering that is behind the fabled Haines Signature range. Over the years, the two brands seem to have moved closer together, particularly with the larger models, as the difference between ‘basic needs’ in a boat and the essentials in the ‘top of the range’ has narrowed.

The base price for the TF200 is a shade under $60,000, but with the extras added on our test boat that price has crept up to a neat $83,521. This is a little misleading, though, as the base boat doesn’t need very much in the way of extras, and the cost of those fitted to the test boat includes some state-of-the-art electronics, as well as some ‘nice to haves’, that many serious fishos nowadays consider essentials.

These included the live bait tank, deck wash, the bait prep board that sits nicely over and drains into the engine well, the folding stainless steel targa, canopy and clears, VHF radio and aerial.

While above the water a lot of clever design work has gone into the TF200, there is nothing fancy about the design of the running surface. It’s just a good, old-fashioned, conventional deep-vee, with a maximum of 22.5 degrees deadrise at the transom.

TRIED AND TRUE

This is a tried and true hull design that has worked for decades and still does today. The only change is in the way it is built. There is no longer any timber used in the sub-floor construction – a bonded fibreglass stringer system with foam filling produces a long-lasting, rigid hull. This, in turn, adds to the inherent smooth riding qualities of the deep-vee hull by eliminating all the thumping and water noise drumming against the bottom of the hull.

The boat trims very level at any speed, and while engine trim does free up the hull on the water and increase speed, there is almost negligible lifting of the bow. Offshore, this level trim does see the boat pushing out a lot of white water, but it is pushed flat and away from the hull, reducing the chances of wind-borne spray coming back over the cockpit.

The 140hp four-stroke Suzuki is a pretty good match, but I expect that the more serious bluewater fisherman will go for a bit more power to handle a heavier load and to have the potential to get out and back a bit quicker.

That said, the 140 is no slouch. It doesn’t slam you back in the seat under acceleration, but it also doesn’t need anything more than an easing open of the throttle to get the boat sliding out of the hole and holding planing trim at 21km/h at just on 3000rpm. Top speed is 64km/h at 6100rpm.

EYE-OPENING ECONOMY

The big eye-opener on this test was the width of the economical throttle range for this engine – from 3000 to 5000rpm. This information all came courtesy of the Garmin GMI 10 electronics package. Interfaced with the Garmin 5008 and taking all its engine operational information directly from the ECU on the Suzuki, the GMI 10 is able to turn out all sorts of extremely accurate navigational and operational information that previously was supplied by various forms of multi-instrument packages.

Apart from the usual and basic rpm, temperature, speed and other engine information, the Garmin GMI 10 provides very accurate fuel consumption and speed-distance figures. This included accurate readings on just what were the most economical throttle settings in terms of kilometres per litre.

All of this not only gives the driver a clear reading on his fuel consumption, it also provides information on the fuel required to get to a nominated location as well as helping to ensure skippers have enough left in the tank to get back home at the end of the day.

The continual development of marine electronics and their ongoing ability to provide more and more information at the touch of a menu panel just continues to amaze. Of course, all of these extra electronics do come at a cost, but in the overall package price, and particularly on top of what may already be spent on the latest GPS/sounder, that additional $1400 or so for the two GMI 10s can be money well spent.

On our test craft, these Garmin electronic modules provided everything necessary on the driver’s console, other than the normal switches. In fact, the entire TF200 console is now looking very different to what we had come to expect on a trailer boat. Basically, the interfaced electronic package puts all the information on a couple of screens, doing away with the myriad gauges we have seen in the past.

Traditional Suzuki instrument packages are still an option for anyone looking to save a few dollars, but once you add something like the Garmin 5008 GPS/sounder, it’s not a great deal more for the complete state-of-the-art package.

WORKABLE SPACE

The walk-around side decks offer good, workable space to move around. There is more than enough space underfoot so you can confidently step out from the cockpit and walk around to the foredeck hardware. The walk-around has been made easier with the bow rail being offset away from the boat deck line, providing more space between cabin and the railing.

Serious fishos will appreciate that, in the event of a big ‘greenie’ coming over the bow, the side decks are designed to carry water over the side of the boat, rather than into the working areas and cockpit. Generous 50mm over-board drains ensure any contained water will drain quickly.

One of the usual problems with walk-arounds is the space they take away from the cabin, but a good compromise has been achieved with the TF200 and the onboard space that has been provided is exceptionally good for a 6m boat.

The cabin is very basic, but does the job. The V-berth bunks are big enough for a couple of adults, and with a large and high opening into the cockpit and bulbous cabin roof offering decent headroom over the bunks, the cabin provides fairly comfortable shelter if the weather turns nasty. A portable toilet sits in the centre of the berths.

Though the cabin side pockets are restricted in height by the intrusion of the side decks, there is enough space to hold soft items, including safety gear.

STURDY SEATS

Out in the main cockpit, the passenger and helm seats are mounted up on sturdy stainless steel frames, which allow two 100lt Waeco ice boxes to slide partially in under the framework. The lids of these heavy duty coolers also act as casual seats and as step-ups onto the walk-around deck.

The portable coolers have been used instead of built-in ice boxes as they provide much better insulated storage and will hold enough ice for a couple of days. In the heat of north Queensland, where fishing trips can involve a lot of travelling, this long-life storage capacity is essential.

Down the back, there is a folding rear lounge that stores neat and flush against the transom under the padded coaming. Unfortunately, when the seat is hinged up, it exposes the fuel tank filler, breather and supply lines for the underfloor tank to possible damage.

A 160lt kill tank is built in under the floor forward of the fuel tank, while a plumbed live bait tank is installed in the aft starboard-side deck. Port-side is the walk-through transom door that leads out to a short platform and boarding ladder.

This is a very roomy, stylish boat that is well-equipped in its base form, but even with the options that were fitted to our test boat, including the sophisticated electronics package, it is still well-priced. There is a lot of space on board and, with the side deck walk-arounds, accessibility is a big feature. And given the $60,000 base boat price, the TF200 is a boat that will fit just about every open-water or offshore fisherman’s needs.

SPECIFICATIONS: HAINES SIGNATURE TF200

Length: 6.15m

Beam: 2.5m

Deadrise: 22.5 degrees

Rec power: 115 to 175hp

Test engine: 140hp four-stroke Suzuki

Hull weight: 750kg (approx)

Max engine weight: 230kg (test engine 189kg)

Towing weight: 1900kg (approx)

Price: from $59,340

Price as tested: $83,521

For more information, contact The Haines Group, tel (07) 3271 4400, www.thehainesgroup.com.


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