Haines Signature 602F Boat Test

The Haines Signature 602F is about as small a boat as could be considered a serious bluewater gamefishing vessel. A day aboard, chasing southern Queensland’s annual run of small black marlin some 20 nautical miles off the Gold Coast, convinced Warren Steptoe that this pocket rocket certainly makes the grade.

Haines Signature 602F Boat Test

Boat Test Haines Signature 602F: A BLUEWATER POCKET ROCKET
Author and photography: Warren Steptoe

This boat test ran in ISSUE 81 of BlueWater magazine – OCT-NOV 2010

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

The 602F is only 20-odd feet long and in bluewater fishing terms, common sense obviously imposes limits for a boat of that length. I’m happy to report, however, that within those limits, the 602F punches well above its weight.

The biggest thing the boat has going for it is its world-class hull design, a Haines Group exclusive and a product of the late John Haines’s fertile mind. The Haines Group’s Signature Variable Deadrise Hull (SVDH) design is arguably the most significant small-boat hull design to come out of Australia in a generation.

At the bows, SVDH features a heavy flare above a fine, chop-slicing 33° deadrise. At the transom, the deadrise has morphed into a still steep 21°, which isn’t at all unusual among ‘deep-vee’ small-boat hulls.

What is unusual is how the sophisticated bottom shape of an SVDH hull somehow manages to maintain all the desirable characteristics a steep deadrise gains, without falling foul of the inherent negatives many deep-vee hulls exhibit. These include scary downsides like broaching as the hull crunches down into the trough after descending a big swell, and annoying downsides such as ‘flopping’ from one side to the other at speed or at rest. Then there’s the jarring ride when chop coming from that awkward three-quarters-onto-the-bows angle crashes into wide chines used to stabilise the flopping.

That’s not to mention the way deep-vee hulls usually need a lot of power to hold all the wetted area in that steep deadrise on the plane, burning inordinate amounts of fuel at the same time. And they tend to not plane at all until relatively high speeds are reached, literally dragging their backsides and consuming even more fuel.

Well, there’s none of any of that in an SVDH hull. John Haines was an offshore powerboat racer of some note in his younger days, a mad keen fisherman all his life and leader and innovator enough in the Australian boating industry to earn an OAM… and create a world-class hull design.

Out Through The Bar

When we fronted the Gold Coast Seaway in the 602F, a big run-out tide meeting an incoming swell was producing some nasty-looking steep-sided lumps and bumps. The 602F cruised through comfortably enough, planing effortlessly at the low speeds imposed by the pressure waves as we picked our way across the entrance.

Once clear of the bar and with the hammer down, it tracked like the proverbial arrow. The helmsman casually steered with one hand as he set a course for Spot X on the GPS, while the hull coped with sea and swell with no fuss at all. Nearly there, we slowed to six or seven knots while the crew set out a pattern of skirted lures. Remarkably, the hull stayed cleanly on the plane even at that speed.

Digital Garmin GMI 10 instrumentation on our test boat, integrated with telemetry from the 175 Suzuki out back, showed lure trolling was burning between 13 and 14L/hour or, by pushing a button or two, 1.3L/km at 2700-2800rpm.

Some other performance figures of interest on our way offshore include an even more impressive fuel consumption of 27L/hour while cruising at 24 knots and 4300rpm. Put another way, that’s 0.6L of fuel consumed for every kilometre travelled.

Back inside the Seaway late that afternoon the taps were opened all the way and the 602F achieved 37.7 knots at 6000rpm. Fuel consumption at wide open throttle (WOT) doesn’t bear thinking about and is largely irrelevant anyway. Who runs a fishing boat flat strap?

Still, these aren’t the kind of performance and fuel consumption figures many bluewater sportfishing boats can boast!

Going Fishing

You may by now have figured our test day included some fishing. Which brings us to what I liked most of all about the 602F – it’s been designed by people who get out on the water and do exactly what you and I do… fish!

John Haines, ‘Hainesy’ to one and all in the Australian boating industry, sadly passed on last year leaving the Haines Group (who also build Haines Traveler boats and import and distribute Suzuki outboards in Australia) in the capable hands of his sons, Greg and John Jr. Greg is the keener fisherman and in fact the rather juicy array of rods and reels used as props in our photo spread were nearly all Greg’s.

Greg ended up driving our camera boat and when I turned up at the ramp our three ‘models’–a Haines Group staffer, one of their subcontractors and a mate –were busily loading tackle and gear… so much tackle and gear that your humble correspondent was banished to the camera boat with Greg.

Off we went until far enough offshore for our (so-called) models to set up and troll skirts around for an hour or so, before positioning themselves above a big show of bait and dropping bait jigs. With nothing better to do, Greg and I were pressed into service on some spare bait rods and jigs.

During the pause, Greg enthused about a recent trip out to Lady Musgrave Island on a 620F for a television film shoot the crew had done. Apparently, the weather going out was the stuff of dreams, flat and oily calm. Heading home several days later, conditions had deteriorated dramatically, with wind speeds up around 30 knots and the rough water that goes with them.

Greg’s point was that F-designated Signature boats work well when the going gets rough and when the lines are in the water. You can make what you will of his comment that ‘any other six-metre boat would have had to wait the weather out in Lady Musgrave lagoon’.

Internal Fitout

I changed boats to shoot some interiors, only to find we had to unload one of the models into the camera boat to make room. These three had enough gear aboard to stock a medium-sized tackle store (Sound like anybody you know?) and if the boat looks about as cluttered as the average small bluewater fishing boat gets during an average day’s fishing, I suppose it was.

Three people seems a comfortable limit on any 6m boat while it’s fishing, although family days out are a little different and the 602F is rated to a maximum of seven. For fishing, three aboard this boat works best when one of them works the helm while the other two occupy the cockpit.

Family boating is an important alternative for most boats of this size and the 602F caters well for it, with a boarding ladder and transom door. The comfortably upholstered standard fitment aft lounge cleverly stows away against the aft bulkhead to maintain cockpit space when fishing. A toilet hidden away under the bunks is a standard item too, although an infil to make sleeping space for two is optional.

About the only other options a fishing/boating family might need are an electric anchor winch and the GME GR9020 stereo system, neither of which had been fitted to the boat seen here. It had however been optioned with a lockable cabin door. It’s a great design feature that the door can easily be lifted off and left at home to save space when out on the water.

For fishing, our test boat had quite a comprehensive list of options. Notably, these included the workstation you see perched on the 602F’s transom. This is practically a work of art in itself, with a lure rack and drink, pliers and knife-holders, along with a small sink beneath a secondary work surface. It also racks three rods. The workstation is an upgraded design for Haines Boats and a new addition to their line of extras. Haines’ on-water experience at work here, yet again.

A livewell in the starboard side of the aft bulkhead is standard but needs optional plumbing if you want to keep bait alive. On our test it kept a heap of yellowtail and the very few slimy mackerel we could catch on the day alive and healthy. The optional deck-wash pump is separate from the livewell plumbing.

The helm and passenger seats mounted on stainless steel frames (with space for tackle and ice boxes underneath) are options I’d find it hard to live without. The same can be said about the targa bar, Bimini top and clears on our test boat. Trim tabs make a 602F used regularly at sea a better boat, along with a neat, stainless windscreen grabrail.

During the test we had a total of nine rods distributed between the targa rocket launcher and workstation. There were a further four side-deck rod holders, plus racks along each side of the cockpit for additional rods, gaffs, tag poles and so on. A pair of optional 5.5m Reelax outriggers complete the armoury for a well-equipped day’s fishing.

A Garmin 5012 chart-plotter/GPS/sounder unit took pride of place in the carbon-fibre dash. Give the Haines Group designers bonus points for providing a dash capable of flush-mounting bulky units like the Garmin. There might be lots of bluewater fishing grounds this boat is capable of fishing, but you’d be doing it hard on all of them without up-to-date fishfinding and navigation electronics.

A Bluewater Sportfisher

The 602F proved – albeit with several ‘must have’ options fitted – to be quite a complete package. The boat is as much at home fishing as on the kind of family boating duty normally expected from Australian-built cuddy-cabin boats. The fishing/family boat niche the 602F fits so neatly is highly developed in this country, with several fine 6m boats available, but this boat stands out amongst the crowd due to the rough water potential of its SVDH hull.

This is as small a boat as can be considered a serious bluewater fishing boat here in the Antipodes. The good news for anyone who might prefer something bigger is that Haines Signature also offer similar boats in 632, 675, and 702 models (translating to 6.3, 6.7 and 7m hulls in round figures.)

I’ve spent a lot of time in the 675F in particular and am completely comfortable saying that, like the 602F tested here, as pocket-rocket bluewater sportfishers go, the 675F is something special.

To be fair, you’d have to say it’s a better all-round bluewater gamefishing boat than the 602F.But then again that’s precisely what you’d expect from a similar boat almost a metre longer and this comparison in no way detracts from the excellence of the 602F when compared with competitors the same size.

Highlights

  • Perhaps the most advanced small boat design ever to originate in Australia.
  • How well that SVDH hull works at sea.
  • A supremely fishing-friendly interior designed by fishermen for fishermen.

Capacities

  • Maximum rated power: 175hp
  • Maximum engine weight: 240kg
  • People: 7 (525 kg)
  • Fuel: 200L
  • Holding tank: portable toilet

General

  • Material: GRP laminates
  • Hull type: variable deadrise monohull cuddy-cabin
  • Length: 6.25m (incl. bowsprit)
  • Beam: 2.43m
  • Deadrise: 21° (at transom)
  • Weight: about 850kg (hull only)
  • BMT towing weight: 1750kg plus

Engines

  • Make/model: Suzuki DF175
  • Type: DOHC 16-valve EFI 4-stroke
  • Rated hp: 175hp
  • Displacement: 2867cc
  • No. cylinders: 4
  • Weight: 220kg
  • Gearbox ratio: 2.50:1
  • Propeller/s: Suzuki s/s 21-inch pitch

SPECIFICATIONS: Haines Signature 602F
Options fitted: Workstation, bunk infill, lockable cabin door, GME stereo system, compass, stern ladder, cockpit lighting, livewell and deckwash plumbing, rigging and engine fit-up, VHF radio, targa, Bimini and clears, Bennet trim tabs, two-tone colour scheme, windscreen grabrail, Garmin 5012 and GMI10 electronics, Reelax outriggers, Maxwell anchor winch, seat frames and Waeco ice boxes, twin batteries and isolator switches, 1kW through-hull transducer, storm covers.  

Haines Signature 602F Boat Test

Boat Test Haines Signature 602F: A BLUEWATER POCKET ROCKET
Author and photography: Warren Steptoe
Supplied by: The Haines Group, Wacol Qld

This boat test ran in ISSUE 81 of BlueWater magazine – OCT-NOV 2010

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