Warren Hay owns Warren Hay Marine in Whangarei, Northland’s largest boat retailer and dealer for McLay aluminium boats and Mercury outboards, among others. John Eichelsheim takes the opportunity to join Warren on his latest ‘baby’...
In recent years Warren has worked closely with McLay Boats to produce a range of open-decked, side-console sport-fishing boats, exclusive to Warren Hay Marine, ideally suited to lure fishing around the Northland coast – especially soft-bait fishing. But in his latest collaboration with McLay, Warren has really ‘pushed the boat out’.
The Broadbill 8m is Warren’s baby. An award winner at the Hutchwilco New Zealand Boat Show, the boat is an out and out sportfisher – a fast day boat with the ability to get to and from distant fishing grounds fast.
Warren knew what he wanted in his own boat and didn’t leave anything out when it came to equipment. He worked closely with Steve McLay’s team on the boat’s design and specification: the Broadbill 8m has a McLay look about it and is built to McLay’s usual high standards, but is unlike any other trailer boat they have built. Warren Hay Marine will market the Broadbill brand exclusively.
The name ‘Broadbill’ is a clue to some of Warren’s plans for his purpose-built sportfisher, but it’s optimised for a variety of sportfishing styles.
A walk-around design with an open-backed wheelhouse for all-weather protection and basic sleeping accommodation for two in the fore-cabin, it has a plumbed toilet tucked around the corner behind the helm console for a bit of privacy. Warren intends to overnight at North Cape and then run out to the Three Kings Islands to fish. He’ll pack a portable BBQ or a canister stove for cooking duties; there’s fresh water onboard and a pull-out cockpit shower on the transom.
The foredeck is easily large enough for two anglers to fish without getting in each other’s way. The side-decks, too, are practical fishing platforms rather than simply access to the foredeck: from a drifting boat we lined four anglers along one side from bow to stern, and all were able to fish effectively, whether casting and retrieving or fishing on the bottom.
A padded seat in the bows is wide enough for two, and there’s a useful array of rod holders: four across the forward bulkhead for storing outfits while moving between fishing spots, along with a pair of through-gunwale welded aluminium rod holders.
The Broadbill 8m sports a double fairlead to accommodate two anchors in separate lockers: one a beefy Sarca anchor with 100m of 14mm warp and 15m of 8mm chain for general anchor duties, the other a grapnel fishing anchor with 100m of warp and 16m of 6mm chain for anchoring over foul ground. A Maxwell windlass with both a rope drum and a rope-chain gypsy is mated to an Auto Anchor helm control to deploy them.
The Broadbill’s bow is the place to be for lure casting. The bow rails are high enough to offer a bit of security and grab onto in sloppy conditions, while the foredeck is big enough to set your feet wide for balance. The treadplate sole provides decent footing.
There’s plenty of volume in the bows too, so unlike some smaller vessels, it’s unlikely to ship water over the front in sloppy conditions when a couple of blokes are fishing from the pointy end.
Because the boat has plenty of beam, the cockpit is very spacious. There’s room under the floor for a couple of deep kill tank/wet lockers that drain into the sump, as well as 550 litres of fuel carried along the boat’s centreline. The bilge pump has a float switch and is wired so it’s permanently on, even when the rest of the boat’s electrics are turned off. The pump takes care of water in the boat when it’s sitting on the trailer as well. The cockpit is self-draining through scuppers.
Transom step-throughs both sides of the cockpit have solid aluminium doors for safety when backing up. Warren has opted for two live-bait wells with inspection windows at floor level so he can carry a selection of live bait. As he pointed out, jack mackerel housed with kahawai usually come off second best, so intends to housing the two species separately.
The live-bait tanks complement a row of tuna tubes engineered into the transom wall. All the relevant tuna-tube, live-bait and wash-down pumps, valves and plumbing – along with the Verados’ hydraulic steering pumps – are accessed via a So-Pac hatch in the transom island at floor level.
The So-Pac hatch on the starboard side in the step-though protects the vessels relays, fuses and battery isolation switches. It’s a really tidy setup, perfectly positioned to be the first thing you see when climbing aboard and the last thing you check when disembarking. No excuse for not turning off the power!
Warren hasn’t skimped on electrical power, fitting two dedicated engine-start batteries and two 130Ah house batteries for general electrical duties. The battery bank is well-protected from the elements behind its own So-Pac hatch cover in a transom locker well off the floor. They are further protected by the folding rear seat when it’s in the up position – a neat and practical layout that’s typically McLay. Battery charging is managed through VSR monitors.
The Broadbill’s bait-station is excellent. Warren’s fitted tackle drawers in previous boats, but says they always filled with water. This time he’s gone for open shelves housing a collection of clear plastic, waterproof tackle boxes, a much better system that also allows tackle identification at a glance. The bait-board drains overboard, and there are several knife slots, as well as extra rod holders. A 160-litre Icey-Tek fish bin keeps the catch cool and doubles as a seat.
The two-tier rocket launcher can store up to 13 rods, angled so they don’t get in the way of anglers fishing from the cockpit. Ten through-gunwale rod holders are designed for trolling duties – added to the six rod holders in the bows, four on the bait board and a pair of dedicated pitch-bait rod holders on the transom, totalling 35 rod holders altogether.
When game fishing is on the menu, Reelax game poles drop into special ‘rigger sockets on the rocket launcher; racks along the gunwales hold tag poles, gaffs and other long items; and there are four downrigger-mounting plates complete with 12v power outlets. The power sockets can also be used for electric reels.
With all his fishing experience, Warren understands the importance of good quality marine electronics. He’s given himself every chance of finding fish by specifying a Raymarine Quantum radar and the latest Raymarine Chirp digital sonar. The radar has a ‘Bird’ function to help him locate work-ups.
Two 12-inch Raymarine E127 HybridTouch MFDs can be configured to show a huge range of data, including engine monitoring and diagnostics, radar, GPS-chartplotter and fish-finder displays. To help find bait schools and peruse structure, there’s side-vision sonar (adjustable for angle and spread) as well as Downvision and dual-frequency conventional sonar modes. A 1kW through-hull transducer looks after conventional sonar duties, with separate transom-mounted transducers for Downvision and sidescan sonars.
The helm console is busy: in addition to the MFDs, there’s a new 7-inch Smartcraft display showing vital engine and fuel-use data, anchor and remote spotlight controls, 12V and USB power outlets, the Zipwake control panel, along with large, customised Blue Seas switch panels. Lusty and Blundell fused the panels to Warren’s specifications.
Overhead, two VHF radios can monitor two radio channels at once, which is useful when trying to determine where the marlin are biting. The Fusion stereo head unit – also mounted overhead – feeds speakers distributed around the boat and an oversize subwoofer tucked away in the cabin.
This boat is the first in Australasia to be fitted with Mercury’s flagship JPO (Joystick Piloting for Outboards) control system, and it’s undeniably impressive. Warren was determined to have the latest technology, not least because he could see many fishing applications for JPO.
“I wanted this boat to push the boundaries. She’s full of leadingedge gear: steering and propulsion, electronics, trim control, communications and more,” he said.
The helmsman and front-seat passenger sit pretty on deeply padded, swivelling soft-rider pedestal seats from Hi-Tech Plastics. Both seats have adjustable height and reach, fold-up bolsters, folding armrests and fold-down footrests.
Mercury’s digital throttle and shift controls take care of the 250hp Verados most of the time, except when JPO is selected and the chunky joystick comes into play. Mounted behind the throttles, its easily accessed from either the helm seat or the cockpit.
Apart from the ability to move the boat backwards, forwards and sideways, which gives unrivalled control when docking, JPO can be used to hold the vessel on station as determined by its built-in GPS. Warren says this ‘Skyhook’ function is especially useful when positioning the boat over fish sign or a reef, or as we demonstrated with the vessel being held just off the rocks, so our anglers could cast lures into the wash.
JPO will come into its own when game-fishing as well, allowing the skipper to stand in the cockpit and control the boat using the joystick.
With 500hp on the transom, the Broadbill’s considerable turn of speed came as no surprise. On flat water we managed a burst of 46 knots, which in a big, beamy boat feels pretty quick. The hull has wide chines and a pronounced planing plank aft. Sharp, high-speed turns present no drama – Revolution 17-P counterrotating, four-bladed, stainless steel propellers really hang on in the turns and also provide excellent hole shots. The Verados are exceptionally quiet, too.
A set of Zipwake interceptor-type trim-tabs take care of lateral trim adjustment. After a bit of fiddling with manual-trim adjustment I quickly reverted to automatic mode and left the Zipwakes to do their own thing. For the most part the boat travelled nicely on an even keel and you hardly noticed the Zipwakes at all. The boat will plane on one engine, which is a good get-home safety feature.
Because it’s trailerable, Warren intends towing the Broadbill 8m to wherever the fish are biting. However, it’s a big boat. On its Toko galvanised steel trailer, slowed by a driver-adjustable Brake Commander electric-over-hydraulic break-away brake system, the Broadbill 8m weighs-in at a tad under 3500kg, which is right on the towing limit for Warren’s Ford Ranger utility. At 3.6m it requires over-width flags/panels and there are some minor restrictions around the time of day and where it can be towed.
The electric trailer winch should come in handy, especially as Warren sometimes launches from unformed ramps or off the beach. The trailer’s winching post is fitted with one of McLay’s clever quick-release latch system, making driving on and off a breeze.
We fished with Warren aboard the Broadbill 8m at the Hen and Chickens Islands, attempting to interest the resident snapper population in our soft-baits. To be fair, the results were underwhelming and we worked hard for every fish caught, most of which were barely legal size.
The size of the snapper in the wash was disappointing, but the Broadbill proved to be great for this style of fishing. Its uncluttered walk-around decks facilitate long casts and its joystick-controlled twin-outboard setup allows pinpoint manoeuvring. It even ‘anchors’ the boat in position when required. We worked our way around some very tight spots very close to the rocks!
The cockpit is brilliantly set up, not only for game fishing, but lure or bait fishing of any kind, and diving too. Unlike centreconsoles, there’s good protection inside the wheelhouse, which could be fully enclosed with the addition of a camper-style canvas cover for overnighting.
The Broadbill 8m might be Warren’s baby, but I don’t think he’ll keep it to himself for long. It was awarded Boat of the Show in its category at the Hutchwilco New Zealand Boat Show, and since then Warren’s fielded expressions of interest for similar vessels, even though package prices start at $250,000 ($329,000 for Warren’s boat)…
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