With a predicted seven knot easterly, I awoke the morning of the scheduled 625 Offshore boat test hoping the weatherman would be wrong and the wind would pick up a little. After all, this was a Haines Hunter I was reviewing and a flat sea wasn’t going to let a boat of this calibre show off its rough sea capabilities. Well, I hoped a little too hard and we were greeted at Altona launch ramp with a black sky, a 15 knot south westerly gusting to 20 knots, light rain and more than a metre of slop and chop. Although these conditions are ideal to test a boat designed to head offshore, they aren’t ideal for a cameraman trying to keep a steady shot. There were three boats out and we were also testing the 675 Offshore (to be reviewed in a later issue). A 560 Classic was brought in to be used as a camera boat and actually made the run from Carrum to Altona by sea which is a 50km return trip. The owner Nick Janides is a retiree and I think that if a man of his age can do that kind of trip in those conditions with ease, it shows just how good these boats are! We made a run from Altona to Williamstown to find some shelter in some very sloppy conditions and this is where I really got to test how this 625 performs. I don’t know how many of you have been out in Port Phillip Bay in these sorts of conditions so let me tell you, the chop is sloppy, there is no timing between the waves and they come from multiple directions.
In the realm of large trailer boats the 625 falls into that “not too big & not small” category of boats. It has an overall length of 6.4 metres and presents a little bigger than you’d expect. First impressions show that unsurpassed quality I expect from Haines Hunter and a design that is sure to turn heads at the ramp. Once inside nice high sides give you a sense of security and are a great aid when fighting fish. The helm has been ergonomically designed with the dash able to house multiple large electronics. Two pedestal bucket seats that sit on top of storage boxes for tackle or safety gear make good use of the space. Vision is not hampered by the stainless or screens and clears are all set up to provide the skipper with optimal vision and protection from the elements. The seat and dash configuration is well laid out for driving while standing or sitting. The ample cabin space provides storage and enough room for two on an overnight stay. The interior and upholstery are all finished immaculately and the cabin side shelves provide further storage for PFD’s and whatever else. The most noticeable aspect of the 625 is the very roomy use of cockpit space and this is where the interior really shines. Although bunk length in the cabin may have been slightly sacrificed to achieve this, Haines Hunter have clearly targeted this boat at fishermen and they’re aware that every fishermen needs and wants more cockpit space. It allows for an uncluttered boat when the fishing is hot and will more than comfortably fish four adult anglers and easily accommodates six. When you’re in this boat it feels like you’re in a much larger boat with the amount of space you have.
The 625 comes standard with a dive door on the starboard side and moulded side pockets on the port allow for multiple gaffs and other items such as deck wash hose etc… If you don’t want the dive door you would have to order this through the dealer but the only advantage would be more gaff space and a dive door offers many advantages so its not an option I believe many would go for. The spacious twin live bait tanks are something every fisherman will appreciate as is the accompanying windows that allow you to see your live bait swimming around! Moulded battery hatches are located in the port and starboard corners which allows hassle free access for maintenance. This frees up space at the stern to allow easy access to the bilge and live bait pumps via twin hatches. All pumps and fittings have all been meticulously installed, secured and positioned. High quality stainless gunnel mounted rod holders are intelligently positioned to allow the installation of snapper racks or for setting a spread when trolling offshore. Lighting is also very well placed with four LED cockpit lights for night fishing. Travelling distance is no issue with the standard 280 litre fuel tank on the 625 and equipped with an efficient four stroke you can go wide, troll all day and get home without issue. Clearly a boat that has been designed by fishermen for fishermen.
Ride and Handling
As mentioned earlier the conditions on the day of testing were very sloppy and the 8km journey at 50km/h through the slop was a complete breeze for the 625. The 21 degree deadrise provided an extremely soft ride. For much of the journey I was travelling into it with the waves crashing in from the sides and with some slight adjustment of the trim tabs the boat ran true, steady and straight across it. The interior remained quiet and felt extremely solid on the occasions where I was over zealous and put her out of the water a little and all over the 625 has a robust and solid feel. Weight distribution is excellent and the 625 presents neither bow or stern heavy while underway or at rest. The narrow vee and spacey 2.4 metre beam provide a steady and dry ride when coming down sea. While someone took the helm I moved to the rear of the driver and passenger seats and positioned my self around the cockpit and the ride remained smooth, dry and steady. There aren’t too many boats on the market of this size that can perform like the 625 does. Moving into calmer waters I was able to test turns at speed, responsiveness and handling. Turns at speed are no issue for the 625 and equipped with hydraulic steering it was extremely responsive. It held the water well and I was instantly comfortable with the boat and could easily predict how it would respond to any movements on my behalf.
This is an amazing vessel and a great all rounder for the angler that doesn’t want to deal with a 7 metre but still have a lot of space, rough weather ability, fuel capacity for distance and not need a really big car to tow it. I foresee the 625 as a model poised to raise the benchmark in design and performance in this category. Everything on this boat has been finished meticulously and no expense has been spared in the fit out or presentation. It’s little things like the way screws and bolts have been fitted and finished, upholstery, flow-coat and gel coat that has been finished with care and attention to detail even in places where you can’t see it. This isn’t a boat that takes a long time for you to get to know it and learn how it will react to any situation. The 625 Offshore is a versatile fishing machine that is a great addition to Haines Hunter’s already outstanding line up.