Haines Hunter 625 Offshore Boat Test

Haines Hunter is one of the most revered names in Australian trailerboats, attracting many followers with their large range of dedicated fishing boats. John Ford goes in search of marlin on a voyage to ‘The Banks’ off the NSW South Coast to test their new 625 Offshore.

Haines Hunter 625 Offshore Boat Test

Boat Test Haines Hunter 625 Offshore: OFFSHORE HUNTER
Author and photography: John Ford

This boat test ran in ISSUE 101 of BlueWater magazine – JAN-FEB 2014

For the complete feature, including all photos and information captions, you can purchase back-issues here

When I arrived in Ulladulla, on the New South Wales South Coast, the plan had been to fish there for marlin while running a test of Haines Hunter’s new 625 Offshore. I would be aboard the personal boat of Nick Edgerten, a former principal of the company. However, by the time I arrived, they had already been fishing for five days without success. Instead, we hatched a plan to rise before dawn the following day and head north to Crookhaven Heads near Nowra. There, out on ‘The Banks’, there had been rumours of striped marlin on the bite.

By the time we launched the boat, the sun was peeking over the horizon and conditions looked good for the 15km trip to the grounds. The run out gave me plenty of time to have a look around the boat, which joins the existing 560 and 675, also released this year.

Construction of the boats follows the Haines Hunter tradition of building strong hulls that have been proven to last through generations of boat ownership. It features a matrix stringer system below the floor. This combines timber and glass panels with all porous materials fully encapsulated in hand-rolled resin and bonded to the hull for rigidity and extreme strength. All voids are pumped with foam under pressure to further strengthen the hull, as well as provide floatation and sound dampening.

The design team for the new 625 went back to the drawing board to develop a model with a new hull shape, higher cabin and more height at the helm. There is also a standard side door for diving or hauling big fish aboard.

On the water the boat looks the goods, with the rocket launcher bristling with rods and the golden reels soaking in the morning warmth. Long, black outriggers finish off an impression that screams serious fishing. Under way there is a great feeling of security on board, with 840mm-high gunwales and good handholds around the cockpit.

Multipurpose

While on the way to The Banks, I inspected the boat more closely and my positive first impression only reinforced itself. Layout allows a big V-berth in the cabin, but still leaves a large cockpit and
ample room for the crew to travel to the fishing grounds in comfort. Over the last few years, there have been a number of centre consoles introduced onto the local market, including those from Haines Hunter. However, the preference in Australia for half cabin boats remains strong because they have a lot going for them. In particular they offer excellent storage and options, including weather protection and onboard sleeping facilities. Added to this is the versatility they offer for family-friendly boating, providing enough power to tow water toys, as well as a place for the kids to rest in safety and comfort.

I liked the 625’s well-finished cabin with white vinyl cushions trimmed in blue, and light grey carpet lining the roof. Windows either side give the cabin a light, spacious feel, while an infill converts the seating to a full width bed. Overhead is a slimline Bofor hatch for ventilation, as well as easy access to the bow. There is provision under the bunks for an electric toilet, in which case a privacy curtain could cover the entranceway.

Access to the bow is also possible on narrow sidedecks protected by rails and assisted by good handholds. In the bow I found the anchoring systems neatly hidden below deck, allowing easy boarding over the bow. The drum winch is housed in a hold with a lifting hatch and the anchor is located below the solid bowsprit.

Hardcore Fishing

Around the boat are numerous features that are sure to endear it to hardcore anglers. These include a long 250L fishbox between the helm seats, twin livebait tanks with windows at the transom, a marathon 280L fuel tank, lots of rod storage and a well-designed extendable bimini which is cleverly constructed to fold down for storage. Big sidepockets have dedicated places for rods and gaffs and the rocket launcher has seven slots, with more holders along the sidedecks and in vertical racks along the portside. Centrally located at the transom is one of the best bait tables in the business. It’s just the right height and size, with lifting lids to keep things in place, as well as cup holders and even more rodholders.

Narrow gunwales maximise cockpit width and help create a very neat looking and practical workspace. Hatches at the transom hide the batteries and fuel filters and are well clear of the floor for good footholds. The area to the side of the engine is kept clear, with the side door doing away with the need for a swim platform.

As we got closer to our destination, we stopped to collect some livebaits, while I took over at the helm. Laid out in front of me was a comprehensive arrangement of instruments and navigation equipment, with the 12-inch touchscreen of a Simrad sounder/GPS/StructureScan taking pride of place. This was surrounded by readouts for the Honda 225, as well as a Rockford Fosgate media player and controls for the Lenco trim tabs. Switches are well placed and marked and the side mounted engine controls are easy to reach from either a seated or standing position.

Both driver and passenger seats are supportive and comfortable buckets – the passenger’s on a pedestal and the driver’s on a moulded locker, with a five-drawer Plano tacklebox installed at the back. There was good all-round vision and I found the quality of the clears to be bright and undistorted.

High Hopes

There was plenty of power from the 225hp 4-stroke Honda to get us quickly on the plane and we maintained a steady 25kts and a soft ride in the easy, rolling swell. It was my first trip to The Banks and I was surprised to learn that it is named not for its natural formation as an undersea mount, but after early explorer Sir Joseph Banks. The area is legendary for its spectacular fishing and hopes were high when a boat just off our stern hooked-up a bronze whaler.

Livebaits were deployed and we began our drift across the shoals. A strong current was making a real mess of the ocean, with short, steep waves up to 3m high in the centre of The Banks. Our drift quickly took us several miles south but, without a strike, we motored north to have another go. In the end, however, our efforts went unrewarded and with conditions worsening and a stiff 20 to 25 nor’easterly kicking up the sea, it was time to head for home.

We trolled halfway back in a 3m side sea that hid the land from view in its troughs and blew spray over us on the swells. Still unable to raise any action, we wound in the gear and packed everything away. Motoring back we managed a good 22kts into the sea, grateful for the power of the big Honda as it strained up the backs of some powerful waves, while the Lenco tabs kept us flat across the wind.

Offshore conditions were unsuitable to evaluate speeds, so we undertook some runs back in the river. Around 2000rpm gave a trolling speed of 6kts and the efficient hull was out of the hole at 3000rpm, with a speed of 10.8kts. Mid-range cruise was 26kts at 4000rpm, with still plenty of acceleration right through to 6000rpm with 43kts on the GPS. Trimmed right out, we managed 44.9kts or 83kph, with 6100 on the tacho. Handling through the range was predictable and smooth, and the ride is soft as the hull lifts up out of the water onto its running surface.

Even with the lack of fish, it was still an extremely enjoyable day and a great opportunity to run the Offshore in its intended roll. Even in the sometimes ordinary conditions, the boat impressed. Although the cabin hints at a compromise towards comfort, the 625 bristles with features and options that assert its credentials as a well-distilled fishing platform, with stand-out looks to complement its ability. The 625 continues the tradition of Haines Hunter boats with a package that keeps improving over time.

Capacities

  • People: 6
  • Rec. hp: 175-230
  • Fuel: 280L

General

  • Type: mono-hull
  • Material: fibreglass
  • Length: 6.4m LOA
  • Beam: 2.42m
  • Weight: 2400kg (boat/motor/trailer)
  • Deadrise: 21°

Engines

  • Make/model: Honda BF225
  • Type: 4-stroke V6
  • Weight: 267kg
  • Displacement: 3471cc
  • Gear ratio: 1.86:1
  • Propeller: 18-inch Solas

SPECIFICATIONS: Haines Hunter 625 Offshore
Options fitted: Anchor winch, stereo, Simrad electronics, outriggers, bait table, engine upgrade, and more. 

Haines Hunter 625 Offshore Boat Test

Boat Test Haines Hunter 625 Offshore : OFFSHORE HUNTER
Author and photography: John Ford
Manufactured by: Haines Hunter

This boat test ran in ISSUE 101 of BlueWater magazine – JAN-FEB 2014

For the complete feature, including all photos and information captions, you can purchase back-issues here

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