Haines Hunter 680 Patriot Boat Test

Haines Hunter’s 680 Patriot is not a new model, but rather is a thoroughbred that with boss John Haber’s attention to detail continues the company’s reputation for solid, sea-taming hulls designed for serious offshore fishing. John Ford joined a rough-water tuna trip to evaluate a current rendition of this proven performer.

Haines Hunter 680 Patriot Boat Test

Boat Test Haines Hunter 680 Patriot: PATRIOT GAMES
Author and photography: John Ford

This boat test ran in ISSUE 98 of BlueWater magazine – JULY-AUG 2013

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

Haines Hunter makes fishing boats. That’s their game, and they have carved out a space in the local scene that has given them a big reputation and a loyal following, with many boats built back in the 1980s still slogging it out to the ’shelf in search of big fish.

These days the company is steered by John Haber, himself a passionate fisherman and an equally passionate boatbuilder. He likes to do things properly. That’s why his factory in Melbourne’s west is not your typical fibreglass production facility – there’s not a speck of dust on the floor or walls and not even a whiff of resin in the air, while on the office walls hang industry awards for innovation and excellence.

John’s attention to detail goes so far as to record the batch number of the gelcoat and the temperature of the fibreglass cure of every boat leaving his line, so that if it comes back later for repair the finish can be perfectly colour matched. All this care, all the awards, all the staff training means one thing – this is not a fly-by-night operation and he wants his boats to both perform well on the water and also to last long into the future.

When I visited the factory the day after this test, there was a 680 hull still in its mould on the production floor and in the process of having its internals fitted. The production supervisor pointed out the level of detail required to make the stringers watertight and the depth of resin around the keel line. The boat is properly built for strength; and customers are encouraged to visit the facility to check progress for themselves.

The 680 is one of Haines Hunter’s most enduring models, having been in production for some years. The test boat’s owner, Alan Nichols, puts it to good use from his home base in Portland on Victoria’s west coast where big seas rolling in from the Bight don’t deter the locals from heading miles out to sea chasing big tuna. On our test voyage we headed wide to the bluefin grounds, but Alan is known to regularly fish up to 80km from port, bottom bouncing in 500m of water for blue eye trevalla and hapuka.

Easy Access

At seven metres LOA the boat is bigger than most trailerboats, and with a walk-around design there is lots of fishing room and easy access to all corners. There are moulded steps from the cockpit to the side deck where access to the bow is assisted by well-placed handholds on the cabin and a solid bow rail that runs back along the sides. At the bow is a Lewmar anchor winch and deep chain-locker along with a large bowsprit and a sturdy bollard.

There is a 10cm step up to the bridge deck, and despite the side decks intruding into cabin space there is still plenty of room for a crew of four to take advantage of the hardtop’s protection when travelling. The skipper gets a bucket seat mounted on a storage locker while the passenger seat is pedestal-mounted to allow easy access to the forward cabin. A nicely finished stainless-steel structure supports the fibreglass hardtop and incorporates handgrips overhead and along the sides for standing passengers.

Spread out in front of the driver is a moulded glass dash big enough to incorporate a good spread of navigation equipment and controls, here including a 7012 Garmin GPS and a Furuno 585 sounder. Yamaha smart gauges give readouts for the motor, and a panel with 12 switches operates lights, bilge and wash pumps plus other accessories. Extra switches connect to Lenco trim tabs, the anchor winch and a Guest remote-control spotlight. Music blasts out of a Rochford system with four speakers and a sub-woofer. Across the dash is a four piece Taylor Made windscreen with clears all round and a 27MHz radio is housed on the roof. The passenger gets a grab handle and two large side pockets for storing personal items and tackleboxes.

To port is a narrow opening leading down to the cabin where full-length bunks are long enough for over-nighting and a flush toilet adds a bit of convenience – so to speak. Lots of light is allowed into the cabin from a large overhead hatch and long windows along the side. Side storage pockets and under-bunk storage accommodates loads of essentials and the lined roof and neat upholstery give the cabin a quality feel. Around 1.8m of ceiling height offers enough standing room for most people and creates good feeling of space when seated.

A Bluewater Cockpit

With high gunwales and a big clear space, the cockpit is a true bluewater fishing platform. Two strong storage shelves run along each side, and toeholds allow anglers to lock themselves in for fighting fish. The test boat’s owner has installed vertical storage rodholders along the port side of the cockpit, so along with the overhead rocket launcher and rodholders on the bait table, he has slots to hold around 24 rods.

Doors in the transom keep the batteries, bilge and filters well-protected and neatly arranged, but service access is a little tight. To port, a door makes access over the high transom somewhat easier, and to starboard a monster livebait tank will house a plentiful supply of slimy mackerel. One of the better bait tables you will find is centrally located with sinks, bait trays and generous storage for knives and rigging tools. Two long tanks in the floor can be used for cold storage on the way out and fishboxes on the return journey.

Weight To Tame Seas

Weighing in at around 1500kg, the 680 has a hefty hull, but the 300hp Yamaha had no trouble getting the boat onto plane with hardly any lift at the bow and the willing 4-stroke power easily took us to a maximum speed of 80km/h (43kt). That’s pretty good for a boat with four on board and a tank half full of fuel, and demonstrates the easily driven nature of the deep-vee hull.

A more sedate cruise of 36km/h was achieved at 3500rpm, but the boat feels happiest between 4000 to 4500rpm at around 70km/h where it starts to get up out of the water onto its running strakes and really feels like it wants to get going. I found the rounded windscreen offered clear vision ahead at all angles of view while seated, and the comfortable bucket seat kept me in pace in turns and over a gently loping three-metre swell. Across some nasty chop closer to shore, the ride was smooth with only the occasional bang when landing over the back of some particularly nasty steep waves. Trim tabs are fitted, but we did not need them during the test, although they could prove handy when weight is distributed unevenly (a huge fish on the deck) or when heading through a strong side wind.

The 680 continues the best traditions of Haines Hunter as serious offshore fishing machines. It does not make any pretence about being anything other than a straight-out fishing boat and it handles that mantle admirably. Fishermen will appreciate a hull that can cut through rough water and comfortably handle big miles. The 680 might not have all the bells and whistles that some more recent releases offer, but everything is there for hard-core anglers who want a safe, reliable craft for the long run.

Highlights

  • A well laid-out boat that takes advantage of all the fishing space
  • Handles rough water well and is stable at rest
  • Hardtop offers good weather protection
  • Haines Hunter legacy means good resale value

Capacities

  • Maximum Rated Power: 300hp
  • Maximum Engine Weight: 500kg
  • People: 7
  • Fuel: 350 litres

General

  • Material: Fibreglass
  • Hull Type: Centre cabin hardtop monohull
  • LOA: 7 metres
  • Beam: 2.5 metres
  • Deadrise: 21 degrees
  • Weight: 1500kg

Engines

  • Make/model: Yamaha F300
  • Type: V6 DOHC 4-stroke
  • Rated hp: 300
  • Weight: 295kg
  • Displacement: 4196cc
  • No of Cylinders: 6
  • Gearbox ratio: 1.75:1
  • Propeller: 19-inch, three-blade

SPECIFICATIONS: Haines Hunter 680 Patriot
Options fitted: Engine upgrade; electric winch; downriggers; outriggers; rodholder racks; spotlight; sound system; GPS; sounder; flush toilet.

Haines Hunter 680 Patriot Boat Test

Boat Test Haines Hunter 680 Patriot: PATRIOT GAMES
Author and photography: John Ford
Supplied by: Port Phillip Boating Centre  

This boat test ran in ISSUE 98 of BlueWater magazine –  JULY-AUG 2013

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