Haines Hunter SF535

Haines Hunter SF535

Having been an aluminium gal all my life, stepping up to the helm of a glass boat was definitely going to be a new experience. I’ve always been an advocate of the simple customisation and durability that “tinnies” offered, but after spending a day with the SeaCraft team of Bob, Dennis, Rebecca R and Rebecca W, I’m now more than happy to change my tune.

We spent the day putting the SF535 FB (Fishing Boat) through its paces in the Hauraki Gulf, with some great results.

 

Looks

The Haines Hunter have a very definitive look about them, and the classic SF535 model is the epitome of the whole range – a deep-V hull with the classic blue or black stripe, a raised bow area and ample coverage from the elements. Even after 20+ years and with 3000 other SF535’s on the water, she is still a classy looking vessel.

Ease of use

The SF535 is the perfect “not too big, but just big enough” size. She’s beamy enough to comfortably sit four adults or a family, but also has the length to cut through a bit of chop with ease. As such, it’s well suited to a range of scenarios – big enough to take a few fishos and their kit out for a day on the water, but equally compact enough that it can be comfortably handled by two people, or a solo adventurer. The size is a bonus when it comes to the smaller sections of today’s urban areas as they relate to available boat storage.

The cabin on board is spacious (something Haines Hunter boats are well known for) with plenty of head room when seated. Making full use of the cabin space is two/three under-seat storage areas, as well as two forward stowage hatches to store your boating supplies and extra fishing bits. The pedestal seating is far enough apart that you can easily walk through to the cabin, even with people positioned in the pedestal seats.

The SF535 comes fitted with engines ranging in the 90HP to 115HP range. Our boat for the day was fitted with a Yamaha 90HP four-stroke outboard that had more than enough boogie to make light work of any fishing trip in our coastal waters. It would be equally at home on a lake, towing ski-biscuits or skiers. Needless to say, the 90HP made short work of pushing the boat around the Gulf, and any horse power above and beyond this, such as the alternative Yamaha 115 that can also be paired with this hull, is a great bonus. The marriage of the 90HP with the SF535 hull also makes for an attractive break in the budget, saving the buyer a cool $4000, leaving extra funds to customise the boat in other places.

 

Fishability

As with any sub-six-metre boat, space is a premium – the SF535 maintains an uncluttered cockpit and cabin, leaving you the chance to customise it as little or as much as you want. Our test model was kitted out with the standard two moulded-in rod holders, with an additional bait board capable of holding Railblaza mounts to accommodate extra rod holders and accessories. The addition of a stainless steel bimini frame gives an additional six rod-holders for storing gear for the keen fisher.

In keeping with the uncluttered style of the boat, there is a large underfloor storage area between the two pedestal seats, as well as side pockets on either side of the helm area and built in rod-holders in wells on either side of the cockpit. While there is no transom storage, there is room to stow low-lying fish bins or grab bags beneath the moulded-in seats.

All SF535 FBs come fitted standard with engine gauges, a Lowrance Hook 2 -7 split shot sounder/chartplotter and a VHF. The sounder package is more than enough for the regular fisho to navigate safely to where they need to go and find the fish below. I personally, am a huge advocate for going to the largest screen you can afford, so while the 7” Hook 2 is a good base option, the SF535 has enough of dash space to go slightly bigger if you want to.

The great thing about the FB variant of the SF535 is that it gives buyers a blank canvas to dress up or down as much as they want. Whether you’re a hardcore fisho who wants all the bells and whistles, or a weekender who is just as keen to cruise with the family as you are to drop a line, this pocket-rocket has a setup for all.

 

Ride and comfort

The classic Haines Hunter deep-V hull gives this boat a smooth, dry ride, whether you’re at the helm or sitting in one of the moulded-in seats in the transom. For those up the front, the soft riding Hi-Tech Plastics seats only enhance this, as tested when charging through wakes of the Gulf’s many ferries. The canvas top, even with the main hatched zipped open, kept us dry, however for those wanting to a slightly more comfortable and easier to use option, an upgrade to the bimini by adding clears wouldn’t go amiss.

The 90HP engine pushed the hull out of the water nicely, with the 115HP fitted to the SF545 (see details below) having that little bit of extra oomph that you would expect. When up on the plane, and trimmed correctly, the 115HP pumped out a few extra knots when pushing the throttle to the max, but for the SF535, the 90HP was a more than sufficient partner, especially given you’re unlikely to be running at full noise everywhere you go.

Both boats had enough beam to sit comfortably in the water. With two people on one side, the boats leaned slightly, but the list was not overwhelmingly noticeable – perfect for when you need a crew member or two to help net the big one!

The Haines Hunter Experience

After a day of testing, I can confidently say I’m no longer exclusively an ali-gal. Whether we were cruising at 18kts or pushing the Yamaha hard, hitting up to 31kts, this boat was a joy to ride in. The feeling of riding in a GRP boat vs an aluminium is definitely different, and in this case was very comfortable. The Yamaha pushed the boat along nicely and never left me wanting for more juice when we were cruising along.

I also appreciated the input from the Seacraft team. I was given a thorough briefing of the boat’s features and I was left with the impression that these were experienced boaties themselves, prepared to share their boating knowledge with their customers.

If you’re in the market for an all-rounder, this one is worth a closer look.

 

Tech Specs:

Length

5.8 metres

Width

2.13 metres

Hull Weight

620 kg

Towing Weight

1200 kg

Outboard

Yamaha 4-stroke 90HP

Top speed

36 knots

Fuel Capacity

120lt underfloor

Packages start from

$59,574

Value (as tested)

$59,574

 

Haines Hunter SF 545

The significantly larger sibling of the SF535 is the SF545.

Being the newest model in the Haines Hunter range the SF545 adds a little more luxe in comparison to the SF535 FB. With more length and beam the new model also features a structural composite floor liner, this allows for a dome in carpet or more fashionable “foam” decking options, plus dedicated positioning for all of your electronics.

It boasts increased fuel capacity for those longer adventures yet still offering the convenience of a single axle trailer and excellent performance with a 115HP outboard.

It features ample storage, a large anchor locker for the Auto Capstan option and hydraulic steering as a standard feature, plus a range of factory options that allow customisation to suit your needs. All of this plus, the high-quality finish that is synonymous with Haines Hunter boats.

The choice between the SF535 and SF545 will be a combination of costs and features. The SF535 FB is specifically designed as a baseline fishing model, with a range of additional customization options,as with the SF545, the base fishing package will more than satisfy your desire to get out on the water or again spec it up to your family cruiser. Regardless of which you choose, both boats will do you proud.

 

   This article is reproduced with permission of   
New Zealand Fishing News

November 2018 - Miah Dixon
Re-publishing elsewhere is prohibited

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