They say first impressions last, and the first thing you will notice about the Haines Hunter 760 Patriot is its sheer physical size. Measuring in at just over 8m in length and sporting a massive 350hp V8 Yamaha outboard on the transom, this is one serious offshore fishing craft. With such a clearly imposing presence, it’s sure to turn plenty of heads at the ramp and on the water.
Coming from the Haines Hunter stable, the Patriot has a thoroughbred pedigree. A lot of thought has gone into the finished design and layout. It boasts plenty of features that will endear it to dedicated offshore sportsfishers while at the same time offering enough creature comforts to appeal to a family boating market.
Thanks to cleverly designed walkways either side of the bridge area, there is good access up front. There are also plenty of well positioned grab rails to make the task of accessing the foredeck a simple procedure, even in a bit of a chop. Not that you should need to get out there too often, as the Patriot came with an electronic anchor winch to take the fuss and effort out of the anchoring process.
The cabin area is located in the bow and is accessed through a sliding door in front of the passenger seat. Stepping down into the cabin revealed enough bunk space to accommodate four adults in a modest degree of comfort. Even though it is below deck, the cabin has lots of head room with plenty of windows and a tinted hatch – it has a nice, bright and airy feel to it. For family members, the all important toilet is also located in the cabin with a sliding door for complete privacy.
The bridge area is located under a good sized hardtop, which again features plenty of headroom. Protection from the elements came in the form of a wrap around windscreen and ample front and side clear covers. The bridge area has been raised around 200mm above the cockpit, to give the driver an elevated seating position and this provided good all round visibility. However, I found that the top of the screen is just in the wrong position for someone of my height (187cm) and I either had to duck down slightly or peer over the top of the screen which is a little annoying. If you’re taller or shorter than me, you’ll have no problems.
Due to its size and bulk, it would be easy for less experienced boaters to feel daunted about being in control of the huge Patriot, however with its power assisted steering, driving is a pleasure. The helm is well laid out, with the controls falling to hand nicely whether seated or standing up. The driver and passenger seats are sturdy and supportive and very comfortable to sit in. Many skippers prefer to stand while driving, but remember that it can be a couple of hours run out to the reef, so comfortable seats and an ergonomic setup make the driver’s job a lot more tolerable.
Making good use of available space, a live bait tank is situated underneath the passenger seat.
The dash area is basic but well laid out, and instrumentation has come a long way in recent times. On the starboard side of the wheel, three large digital gauges provided up-to-the-second information on fuel consumption (and range), revs and speed. The gauges are easy to read, even in the brief periods of bright sunlight we had on the day of testing. Controls for the trim tabs, and other electronics, such as lights and the winch, are located on the opposite side of the wheel but still within easy reach of the driver. This still left plenty of room on the dash to fit whichever sounder/GPS and radar you prefer, while the radio/stereo could easily be accommodated in the upper console on the hardtop.
Once you start to move towards the aft of the boat, the true fishing pedigree of the Patriot really starts to become more obvious. The cockpit provided a massive open work area and would be a pleasure to fish from. The large cutting board/lure rigging station located above the motor on the transom would obviously be the centre of most fishing action. The cutting board is big enough that it could be used by a couple of anglers at a time so everyone can get baited up without bumping into each other.
Another nice touch that will be appreciated by keen anglers is the stainless steel toe bars that are located across the transom and along both sides of the cockpit. These bars are great for wedging your feet under and, in combination with the high sides, offered a lot of hands free stability for the angler, without being something you would trip over.
I particularly like the way the designers have incorporated so much storage space into the cockpit area. There are literally cupboards everywhere to hide all the smaller bits of fishing tackle. Rod storage is also in abundance, with horizontal rod (or gaff/tag pole) racks tucked in along the sides, as well as the stainless steel rocket launcher on the back of the hard top. Rod holders for trolling are also moulded into the gunnels and along the back of the bait station.
About the only thing that appeared to be missing is some additional seating for the passengers but this is taken care of by a folding lounge that is tucked away in the transom. The best part about all these features however, is that when you looked around they are barely noticeable and everything seems so clean and uncluttered.
The area beneath decks has also been cleverly used. There are a couple of self flooding kill tanks that looked easily large enough to take a decent mackerel or cobia. Interestingly, the tanks also serve another purpose. They are designed to fill up when the boat stops and effectively become ballast tanks as well. This helps to increase the stability of the hull while at rest. Once underway, the tanks drain out again to reduce weight and improve performance and fuel economy.
Our test run was conducted in Gladstone harbour on a dull and cloudy day with what could only be described as filthy water, courtesy of the recent floods coming out of the Fitzroy River. There was a 10-15 knot breeze blowing up the narrows, which created a small but annoying chop. Unfortunately, the conditions on the day didn’t allow us to truly test out the rough water capabilities of a boat of this size.
Nevertheless, it did allow us to see how she got along and she proved to have one clean riding hull. Any spray was deflected well back, low and wide out to the side. As a result the ride is reliably dry, even when running across the wind.
The performance provided by the V8 outboard was sparkling. Top speed was approximately 45 knots, which was more than adequate. You couldn’t exactly call it an exciting boat to drive however. Glass hulls of this size simply aren’t capable of stunning ‘hole shot’ performance. Also, the ride is so smooth and predictable that even tossing it through a few tight turns failed to cause any flutters.
Despite having 350 of Mr. Yamaha’s best horses underneath its cowl, the motor is so quiet that you can have a conversation at the bridge even when running at speed. When sitting at idle it is almost impossible to hear the motor running at all. When you see how big and powerful this motor is in the flesh, it’s hard not to be impressed by its quietness and most of all its amazing fuel economy.
Overall I’d have to rate the Patriot 760 as one of the best performing boats of its type. The standard of finish is excellent and there’s been a lot of attention to the small but important details that can really make or break a fishing craft. However, it’s not the sort of boat that’s so fancy that you’d be afraid to take it out and get it covered in fish slime and scales.
The V8 Yamaha outboard is a brilliant power-plant for this hull and together they make a formidable combination. All in all, this is a brilliantly designed boating package that would be right at home on long distance reef trips or even as a family cruiser for weekends away. Quality doesn’t come cheap of course and on a suitable trailer you’re looking at around $163,900 (plus electronics); but then you are certainly getting a lot of boat for your money!
|Max. engine weight:||570hp|
|Max. hp rating:||350hp|
|Fuel tank capacity:||500L (approx)|
|Price:||$163,900 (+ electronics)|
Yamaha 350hp V8 Outboard