As the largest of the Haines Signature F series craft, the 650F Hard Top is regarded by many fishing and boating enthusiasts as arguably the ultimate trailerable fishing boat.
The point is that this craft just has so much going for it, from the beautifully proportioned lines of the sleek fibreglass hull, neat cuddy cab and high cockpit sides, all linked to enough standard fishing features to satisfy any angler wanting to have the lot at the finger tips. And there are a lot of options! In the reviewed craft alone they stretched from outrigger poles to an auto pilot, massive Garmin unit and other goodies. And let’s not overlook the ride from the variable deadrise hull. In all, the ride was very enjoyable whether just cruising or really punching along.
The 650F offers several transom options for the buyer; the reviewed craft being equipped with a full size engine well, clear sided recirculating live well plus a locking transom door.
The reviewed 650F was anchor winch equipped. I feel that most owners would opt for a power winch in lieu of accessing the anchor hatch via the cabin’s front hatch. It’s possible to go forward to the front of the 650’s cabin making use of various hard top hand holds (which I did on the beach) but I could not see this being viable at sea. When leaving the craft from the front, the large bow rail offered excellent security.
Within the 650 F’s cabin, I noted ample headroom, soft lining, overhead pockets plus plenty of light from windows. Excellent cushions would allow a couple to sleep in comfort and there were generously large storage lockers under the 2m+ bunks. Entry was via a locking sliding door.
Note that an under floor compartment was located just outside the cabin door and would be handy for the skipper and first mate’s tucker or cold drinks.
With a fully enclosed hardtop on a stainless steel frame the 650F’s helm area and forward seating were thoroughly weather protected thanks to the shelter provided by the hard top and wiper equipped curved windscreen up front, paired sliding side windows. Note that cockpit lights were set into the rear of the targa framework with some 7 rod holders up top.
The craft’s full width moulded dash area incorporated a locking glove box with a grab handle under it for the first mate; a side pocket with drink holder at the elbow. The 650F’s main dash area was a split system in that Garmin GMI 20 gauges monitoring the Suzuki 250 were set up above the windscreen, within the hard top’s return, along with a VHF marine radio and compass. In this location it would only take a glance upwards for the skipper to keep in touch.
Directly ahead of the helm seating was a very neat moulded binnacle with a padded lip providing shade over the craft’s (optional) Garmin GPS Map 8015 unit. The craft’s 3-spoke wheel was directly below with banks of rocker switches set each side, as well as under, the wheel. Controls for the craft’s GHP auto pilot (another option) were prominent while the Suzuki 250’s forward controls, featuring Suzuki’s ultra smooth Precision Control System, were side mounted along with an ignition key plus other controls, among them being trim tab activators.
In all it was a very neat dash layout, definitely highlighted by the fact that the moulded binnacle could be unlocked from the adjacent moulding and tilted back to allow access to the extremely neat wiring tucked behind it. Without doubt this was one of the best set ups I’ve seen; a marine mechanic’s dream come true.
Forward seating was of deluxe standard with slide adjustable bolster fronted buckets (featuring double stitched upholstery) mounted on rigid stainless frames and affording both skipper and first mate highest levels of visibility and comfort. Interestingly, padded Waeco ice boxes were strapped into place under each seat allowing a further two anglers to stay up front enjoying both shelter from the elements and ease of conversation. On longer trips, both issues are quite important!
What I noticed next was the 700mm deep cockpit with it’s teak flooring, plus a welcome plethora of features for the angling team, 4 of whom could fish with complete ease in that big half-of-craft cockpit. Without doubt, the prominent cockpit feature was the sheer volume of the 650S’s off floor side pockets, which extended from the transom forward to the rear of the cuddy cab. These were huge, providing plenty of room for tackle boxes, gaffs, tag poles and other large items as well as brace points for the feet under them. Each pocket also incorporated horizontal rod racks to keep rods readily accessible while under way.
At the rear of the starboard pocket, a battery isolator and other switches were within easy reach while a deck wash was snugged into the aft section of the port pocket.
Additional features included paired rod holders plus large grab rails atop gunwales as well as 1m long under floor storage compartments each side of the cockpit work area. At the full height transom, a fully plumbed clear fronted live bait tank sat to starboard, battery compartment central, with a locking boarding gate to port, boarding ladder directly aft. A moulded bait station featured a cutting board and tackle tray plus drink holders. Completing stern features were teak inlaid boarding platforms each side of the Suzuki 250.
The 650 F’s Standard Variable Deadrise Hull – featuring a fine entry running back to a 21° ‘V’ section astern (and with some impressive under hull strakes in between) weighs in around 1250kg. The excellent design plus weight then combine to offer one of the best rides to be found in a modern fibreglass craft. There’s no denying the fact that this 7-person rated rig needs to be well powered. Accordingly, engine ratings are from 150-250hp, which saw the V6 250 Suzuki as top power.
Whisper quiet at idle, I noted that even at near full throttle the 3.6L V6 hardly intruded upon cockpit conversation. The rig planed at 14.2km/h at a mere 2500rpm, 3000rpm saw 25.6km/h, 4000rpm saw 48.6km/h, 5000rpm to 62.8km/h and 6000rpm got us flying along at 75.5km/h.
Fuel consumption figures were interesting. At planing speed the big Signature was using 13.5L/h. At a fast plane of 25.6km/h, (3000rpm) fuel consumption was modest 24.3L/h but what really impressed me was fuel consumption data at what I believe would be an ideal cruising speed in an offshore situation of around 40km/h: 28L/h at 3,500 rpm.
I found the big 21 footer was a pleasure to drive. It was so well balanced, so easily powered by the 250 Suzuki, in many respects I felt as though I was at the helm of a much smaller boat. My review was carried out in Moreton Bay on a fairly unfriendly sort of morning with plenty of northerly pushing through yet the big hull handled things with such ease, so gentle through the chop and with a complete lack of fuss, that it was fun to execute sharp turns just to see how rapidly the hull recovered to a level attitude. Throughout it all the hull’s interior remained dry, all that nasty salt water kept well away from us.
Fishing boats need to be stable and thanks to the considerable mass of the craft plus the time proven hull design, stability was so good that even 3 persons on one side could not upset the hull’s levelness at rest. This factor is important in the sorts of offshore fishing situations the 650 was designed for, as attested by the 370L fuel capacity.
Given the deluxe standard of finish, that brilliant ride linked to an impressive sea keeping ability plus angling features galore, I believe the Haines Signature 650F Hard Top is an exceptional fishing craft for the dedicated angler who is keen on all manner of bay or serious offshore work.
Common sense dictates that quality of this high standard does not come cheaply yet a basic package equipped with a 175hp Suzuki carried on a dual axle Dunbier trailer would come home for a quite reasonable $78,491, including registration and safety equipment. Note that Haines Signature hulls come with a 10-year structural warranty.
To ascertain details of a local Haines Signature dealer, the Haines Group can be contacted on wwwsignatureboats.com.au or phone (07) 3271 4400.
|Length on trailer||approx. 7.60m|
|Height on trailer||approx. 2.45m|
|Engine fitted||250 Suzuki 4-stroke|