A mad-keen fisho shows off his smick new offshore fishing machine, showing how attention to detail can really make a difference to performance and on-water appeal. Jim Harnwell reports.
ANY boat is only a sum of its parts. This was more than apparent when Riley Tolmay rolled to a stop outside my place and hopped out of his Nissan Pathfinder to say g’day. Behind the 4WD the brilliant white Haines Hunter 600R sat low, cradled by the custom dual axle Mackay trailer. My two sons, Jack, 12, and Harry, 9, ran up to check it out. “What a cool boat!” they both yelled.
They were right. Riley’s new boat is pretty cool. In the late afternoon sun the polished stainless work around the cabin gleamed and the twin 115 E-Tecs on the transom gave the rig a powerful, predatory look.
Along with other builders of quality fibreglass boats, Haines Hunter has worked hard over the past few years refining design and improving quality control. The result is boats which are both stylish and practical. Good Aussie boats like this one clearly match the best the US builders can produce in regards to design and finish.
It’s always interesting checking out a boat purchased and used by someone who knows what they’re doing. Riley Tolmay is a dedicated sportfisherman who just happens to work for BRP, makers of the innovative E-TEC range of DI two-stroke outboards. This Haines Hunter 600R is Riley’s personal boat. He spent significant time considering which boat suited his needs and, once he made up his mind, spent even more time customising the boat and accessories to suit the sort of fishing he planned to do. The result is an uncompromising sportfishing package that also doubles as a comfortable dayboat for socialising with family and friends.
Boat Fishing spent a solid day fishing with Riley in and around Jervis Bay, on the NSW South Coast. Spending time on a boat – and actually catching a few fish – is the only way to properly assess its characteristics. Although we don’t claim to have a totally comprehensive understanding of the boat’s handling and performance characteristics, we certainly formed some useful impressions of how the boat rides, handles and fishes.
The 600R is the biggest boat in Haines Hunter’s Breeze line-up (which ranges from 470 to 600). The boat, according to Riley, was primarily designed for the Port Phillip Bay snapper fishery where anglers require a roomy boat with a soft ride. The boat features LOA of 6.35m with a beam of 2.40m.
“I went for this boat because they’re built solid with a lot of deadrise making them ride well in rough. seas,” Riley told Boat Fishing
“All I want to do in 2008 is chase big yellowfin tuna, king, snapper and marlin out wide so a boat with excellent sea-keeping abilities is vital. They also look fantastic on the water.
“I was originally opting between a 680 Patriot, 650 Classic and the 600R Breeze. I would have needed a new car to tow the Patriot so I dismissed that; the 650 Classic is a great all round boat but I was after deck space, not a cabin. The 600R Breeze had similar deck space to the Classic, so it was a better option for me as the cabin is purely used for dry storage. It was also a bit more affordable.
“The 600R has a lower windscreen than the 650 Classic so it’s better suited for fishing and all round visibility. In wind and swell, you can get wet but this is easily taken care of with good clears.”
Haines Hunter fits the 600R up with a comprehensive list of standard features to make it a fairly decent off-the-shelf fishing boat. As any serious fisho knows, however, there’s a lot more you can do to transform a standard boat into something special. The 600R hull weighs in at a hefty 1150kg (about 220kg heavier than a standard 6m ‘glass hull). Riley added a custom SS canopy frame, full clears and cover from Streamline boat covers, a Haines Hunter SS six-pack rocket launcher, a very practical customised bait station (removable), deck wash, plumbed livie tank, Relax outriggers, step through transom, boarding ladder, clip-out carpet and a Penn Fathom Master downrigger.
He retrofitted an icebox amidships and makes the point that few Aussie boat builders seem to consider cold storage when they design boats.
Four SS rod holders are complimented by snazzy Rex grips on the gunwales; there’s 210 litres of fuel underfloor; a sizeable kill tank amidships; and a very nifty Hella lighting package ideal for night fishing activities.
Electronics include Navman 27 and VHF radios; a Lowrance LCX 112 sounder/plotter with switched 600 and 1kw transducers (the 1kw model is mounted in a wet box; Riley isn’t too enamoured with its performance so far); and a Quick anchor winch (I’ve got one of these as well – they should be called Slow because they sure aren’t quick!). The system is powered by twin Optima cranking batteries and a single Optima deep cycle house battery.
One of the more interesting aspects of Riley’s electronics package is the inclusion of a waterproof Jensen NSR7007 AM/FM, CF, MP3 and iPod marine stereo. This high-output unit features an iPod docking system, a massive 200 watt subwoofer in the cabin and quality 80 watt speakers out in the boat. Riley cranked up the Akka Dakka as we headed down the creek to enter the bay: I thought I was in a nightclub, not a fishing boat. The stereo system can be controlled via a remote control station mounted portside aft, thus meaning you can fish down at the transom without having to constantly move forward to adjust volume or change songs. Talk about luxury!
The boat features a fold-down rear seat as standard. We didn’t use this – we were fishing, not socialising – but I checked it out and consider the design to be outstanding. Folded away, it doesn’t intrude on deck space at all. But it’s there for family days, which is important for married blokes like Riley and I.
The cab is nothing more than storage space. Kids and small adults could lie down for a quick nap, but hefty blokes like me and Riley would have no hope of squeezing in there. An optional toilet would be worth looking at if you’re a family fisho.
The helm seats were nicely padded and comfortable, and the dash panel was sufficiently spacious to allow the seven gauges which form part of E-TEC’s innovative iCommand digital engine management system. Riley was disappointed he could only fit twin side mount controls, and not a binnacle mounting, for his twin 115 E-TECs.
Controls for the Quick (slow) winch and the Evinrude E-TEC Trim Sync Switch, which means you can trim both engines simultaneously, are mounted on the starboard side of the helm.
A RAM mount for a spotlight is fitted atop the relatively low windscreen and there are also RAM drink holders hanging from the canopy framework either side. When I saw these I realised that rumours that Riley doesn’t mind the odd beer could well be true …
The twin 115 E-TECs represent maximum HP for this boat, although it didn’t seem in any way overpowered. These new age DI two-strokes look almost ridiculously diminutive compared to four-stroke or old-style 115s – but they have plenty of get up and go. We hit a top speed of 40 knots, and cruised comfortably between 25 and 30 knots. Acceleration, as is typical with DI engines, was excellent. But speed isn’t everything. I’ve run a 200 HO E-TEC for the past few years and have written previously about how well these hi-tech donks perform at low revs. Riley and I trolled live squid for kings along the cliffs in front of JB (no takers, unfortunately) and I found the twin 115s performed the same as my HO in regards to smoothness and quietness. Like all modern engines, the E-TECs emit minimal fumes or pollution, an important aspect for any environmentally responsible fishos. It’s also nice to slow troll without being surrounded by clouds of rank blue smoke.
Fuel wise, E-TECS, like all modern outboards, are pretty damn good. Stats from Riley’s boat reveal the following fuel use:
* Slow troll: 1.4 litres per hour
* Medium cruise: 27 litres per hour
* Flat out: 74 litres per hour vessel consumption
That’s pretty impressive when you consider you’re using two 115hp outboards and the boat they’re pushing is a big, solid affair.
According to Riley, oil use for the twin-rig set up is minimal, especially when slow trolling when the 300:1 cycle kicks in.
I have to admit that the boat wasn’t as fast as I thought it would be. The weight of the rig and drag from the twin legs in the water obviously must slow it down. On the way in we had a race across the bay and the mighty Fisho Stabi with its single E-TEC 200 HO left the Haines Hunter in its wake!
Before we went out Riley warned me that I might find the 600R to be a tad tender at rest, especially as I’m used to the rock-solid stability of the Stabi-Craft. The deadrise of 24 degrees provides the 600R with an exceptionally soft ride, but isn’t designed for stability at rest. If you want stability you go for a less aggressive deadrise or opt for a different design (like the pontoons offered by Stabi and other boat builders). Bearing all that in mind, I can’t say that I found the Haines Hunter to be particularly tippy – both Riley and I are pretty big and when we were on one side the boat certainly leaned, but I didn’t feel that it did so excessively.
We enjoyed reasonable conditions in the bay and the boat handled the low swell and chop with aplomb. Outside a metre or two of swell made things more interesting, but there was no question that the boat felt stable and smooth at all times. Without the clears you’d obviously get pretty wet. The low windscreen and sleek design look great but don’t offer the protection afforded by boats with bigger cabs or hardtops. You’d get away with no clears if you only fished bays but offshore work will see a good set of clears as mandatory.
The Sea Star hydraulic steering made turns easy, and the twins certainly proved their worth when manoeuvring at the dock. The safety aspects of twins in an offshore boat can’t be discounted. Modern engines are very reliable but knowing you can get home with one engine if the other fails is nice to know.
All in all, this is a beaut package that any keen fisho would be more than happy to see parked in his shed. Riley has tricked the boat up with all the essential fishing gear and added some stylish touches – such as the brushed red aluminium bezels around the gauges and the engine mount connections – that help make an already attractive boat even better looking.
As a final note, Riley outlayed the cash to ensure he had the best trailer possible under his new boat. Trailers are often an afterthought for many boat owners, but an expert boatie/fisho like Riley knows a good boat on a bad trailer swiftly loses its appeal. His custom Mackay tandem trailer with Sens-a-Brakes added a fair bit to the price of the package, but is worth every cent.
“Trailering the boat with the Mackay trailer has been a pleasure,” Riley said. “The boat and trailer suit each other perfectly; it is a one man show trailering the boat and on the open road you barely know it’s behind you (with the right car of course).”
We managed a swag of smallish kings, a few little reds and some quality JB squid on our day on the water. Riley has caught big reds and good kings and plans to put serious time in over the next few months chasing tuna. Hopefully he’ll be able to hear the scream of the drag over the hard rock music he’ll have blaring out of his flash stereo!
HAINES HUNTER 600R
Overall Length: 6.35m
Overall Beam: 2.40m
Weight: 1150kg (hull)
Power: As tested, twin 115 E-TECs
Fuel: 200 litres
Price: As reviewed, $90,000. Packages with a single two-stroke 150 start at about $63,000.
Contact: www.haineshunter.com.au, www.brp.com/en-AU/