The new release 8m Hooker WRC is a serious piece of offshore fishing machinery. From the moment you step aboard and turn the key the urge to head east to blue water is irresistible. The layout is pure fishing with the key elements of simplicity and function. The reliability of a Yanmar BY260hp turbo diesel inboard coupled with a MerCruiser stern drive produces the perfect offshore fishing rig.
The most striking feature of the 8m stern drive is the amount of uncluttered cockpit space. From the back of the helm seat to the transom is 2.2m of clear floor area, with central access to a 400L underfloor kill pen. This layout is ideal for fishing four to six persons at the reef. Thigh height padding on the inside of the gunwale and toe access under the side storage recesses make it easy to maintain balance when battling that trophy fish.
The front of the engine hatch doubles as a lounge seat but doesn’t carry across the full width of the boat. This allows anglers excellent access to the rear corners of the boat my favourite fishing position at the reef. There is a 100L freshwater tank, with showerhead for washing your hands or body. A removable bait board with two-rod holders is centrally located on the transom. Underneath there is a bait/knife storage box that could be converted into a small live bait tank.
The walk round cab (WRC) gives excellent 360-degree access and two anglers can comfortably fish from the nose. The front hatch is large and the walk around is wide and secure enough to be used in all weather conditions. LED lights set into the steps also make this a safe night option.
Access into the V-berth cab is easy via the folding door between the seats. There is plenty of room to sleep two and the large hatch provides good ventilation, which is an absolute necessity in the tropics. The fully carpeted interior provides a classy finish and there is a stack of storage room under the bunks and in the wrap around storage shelf. A porta potty is located in the well between the bunks.
The luxury padded pivoting bucket seats are adjustable forward and back and can be locked into position. Soft elastic top storage pockets on the back of each seat are excellent for holding those quick access items like cameras and sunglasses. The helm seat-mounting box contains a built in fridge with a slide out access tray and the passenger seat box has a fully insulated esky. The rear section of the support boxes can also double as padded, rear facing seats.
The helm has standard Yanmar instrumentation, beautifully laid out on a compact dash with a Furuno integrated chart plotter and sounder set to one side in perfect line of vision. A small grab rail in front of the passenger seat is ideal for hanging on in the rough stuff. An EPIRB and a fire extinguisher are set into the sidewall in a moulded recess next to the passenger seat.
The fibreglass canopy is attached by a super strong stainless steel frame. There is a four shot rocket launcher on the trailing edge to carry rods up out of the spray. A centrally mounted deck light throws a heap of light over the stern. Under the canopy in a moulded compartment is a marine radio and stereo. A fluoro light provides a ample light for the main cockpit.
Access to the nose is superb, and the anchoring system is spot on. Twin anchor wells complete a set of mud/sand ground tackle. This can be carried in conjunction with a reef set up so there is no need to stuff around changing anchors when you change location. An electric winch is fitted to take the labour out of weighing anchor and the split cross board makes it a breeze to lock the anchor on the bow roller when shifting spots.
We took the Hooker out along the main channel leading out of the Cairns harbour. The urge to keep going all the way to the reef was unbearable as the Yanmar diesel just purred along. There is something about a diesel motor in a boat that just exudes confidence. The conditions weren’t ideal for testing rough water handling but it ate what chop there was. John Margetts, owner of Hooker Boats, sung its handling capabilities after coming back from the reef the previous week in very ordinary conditions. He found the hull performed better the faster he went, with it getting up on top of the swells and cutting through them beautifully.
The Hydrive Admiral Series power steering was simply superb to use and the Hooker was a joy to drive. We put the WRC through some tight manoeuvres and it handled more like a ski boat than a large offshore rig.
The 260hp turbo diesel Yanmar, while not quick out of the hole, certainly produced plenty of speed. The location further forward and its lower centre of gravity seemed to produce a better ride than the twin outboard version I reviewed some time ago. At 2000rpm it produced 25km/h (16mph, 13-knots), reaching 34km/h (21mph, 18-knots) at 2500 rpm, 44 km/h (27mph, 24-knots) at 3000 rpm, 53 km/h (33mph, 29-knots) at 3500rpm, 60km/h (37mph, 32-knots) at 4000rpm and topped out doing 63km/h (39mph, 34-knots) at 4100 rpm.
Overall, the 8m Hooker WRC stern drive is a superb offshore fishing boat that has the style and exceptional finish. It looks just as much at home cruising the islands and bays with the family as it does heading to your favourite deep-water marks with the crew ready for some serious fishing action.
For more information on the 8m Hooker contact Hooker Boats on (07) 40351157 or check out the Hooker website at www.hookerboats.com . Garry Smith
|LOA (including trailer):||9m|
|Height on trailer:||3m|
|Boat/ Motor weight dry:||2000kg|
|Boat, motor and trailer weight:||2750kg|
|Kill Pen capacity:||400L|
|Cockpit size from the back of the cabin:||2.2m|