ON THE offshore scene there were few boats during the late 1980s and early ’90s that had the impact of the Haines Hunter 680 Patriot. This big seven-metre offshore boat is designed with a deep-vee hull, high sides and ample fishing room to cater for anglers who venture far and wide in search of fish. It was a big success story and the 680 Patriot remains one of Haines Hunter’s biggest-selling boats.
Now, with an upgrade in layout and a few improvements, the 680 Patriot is set to take on the offshore scene again. It’s big and spacious and that’s just what you want when you throw a few mates on board and head offshore.
The centre-cab layout offers the best of both worlds – the best of three worlds, in fact. You not only have fishing room all around the boat and protection from the elements in the cab, you have a very big internal cabin that has leg room to spare for two adults, width to roll around in and the height to stand up.
When it comes to centre-cab boats it’s usually the space inside the cabin that is sacrificed to provide the other features. During our test run we had four adults and a little extra time up our sleeves to do some fishing so the rods and fishing gear were placed in the boat as well. Once you put four adults and some fishing gear in a boat you soon see whether you have space to move about or not. In this case all our gear was consumed in storage about the boat with room to spare.
One of the changes to the 680 Patriot is the windscreen and dash layout. Curved corners on the screen improve vision, with the corner supports moved farther back so there’s not a big blind spot. I found the boat very comfortable to drive, with good vision and more than enough room behind the wheel in both sitting and standing positions.
The changes in the layout of the dash allowed greater scope to lay out instruments and electronics. All the usual switches and the radio are in easy reach right at the wheel, while the sounder/GPS is mounted higher and right in front of your eyes so a simple glance down will have you looking straight at the relevant information.
Still in the helm area, I found the big pockets beside the passenger and driver very practical. The passenger’s side picket has two sections because it has the room taken up by the control cables and wiring on the driver’s side. The top section is the place to throw phones, keys, sunscreen and so on, while the lower section uses the width to the side of the hull so it’s rather deep and wide – enough so that you could place a reasonable tackle box and more gear. The driver’s side area is the place for a few tools and oil bottles.
You’ll find more storage in the compartments below the pedestal seats. You won’t fit big items in here but, being an offshore boat, I reckon it’s a good place for a few ice-cream containers full of sinkers.
To make full use of the centre cab you need to have a targa top and a canopy. They just complete the area, giving protection from the elements and increasing the practicality.
I always believe it’s best if you can have the aft deck clear of everything except for people fishing. The way to best achieve this is to use as much area as possible around the boat for storage that would otherwise be wasted space, and this includes the underfloor area. The Patriot has two long spaces under the deck which are more than suitable for use as fish boxes. They’re perhaps not the best eskies but they are suitable for a day’s fishing, with room for ice and fish. Being reasonably long, they are good for the likes of long fish such as mackerel, kingfish and tuna.
At the transom, a fold-down bench gives additional seating or can be folded down while fishing, with more storage behind the seat.
One corner of the transom is dedicated to a livewell and it’s a jumbo one – so big it’ll do the job as a small esky for fish of a few kilos. On the other side is the walk-through transom with a door. This makes it easy to move in and out of the boat as the gunwale comes high up on the thighs and it’s quite a stretch to try to get over.
The higher sides come into their own when you’re out in rough conditions rolling about with the swell – you can brace yourself while fishing with your feet under the full-length cockpit side pockets and thighs hard against the coamings. The coamings are padded so you don’t go home with bruised thighs.
Having spent a lot of time on boats, day fishing, overnighting and a few days away, the bait board becomes a very versatile piece of equipment and can be so much more than just a board to cut up bait. The bait board on the Patriot is by far one of the best around; I liked it so much I bought one a few years back when putting my own boat together.
The bait board itself is in two sections, each with a hinged lid to a shallow sink below. In this you can keep knives, pliers, rigs and suchlike in a handy place so they won’t bounce off, or you can sit them in the two recessed wells behind the cutting board. With the hinged lid in two sections you don’t have to remove everything off the top to get at what’s below. On a hot day I often keep some of the bait in here so it doesn’t dry out.
The board also has a couple of stainless rod holders and ample positions to mount knife holders if you want to. During overnight stays it becomes the place to cook up a feed or put a few plates and drinks on. It’s also removable, which is handy at times.
After your feed or when the fish go quiet it’s nice to have a comfortable bed to bunk down in and there’s plenty of room for two adults to have a good sleep in the centre cab (it’s a bit tighter with a few kids). It’s nice and dry, there’s plenty of storage in side pockets and under the bunks and a hatch above provides adequate ventilation if need be.
There’s no shortage of fishing room. Four of us comfortably threw lures at mackerel and tuna for a few hours (just to make sure there was room, of course).
I like to get right up the bow, where I found I could sit on the top of the centre cab while we snuck up on the fish, and then stand and cast when the time was right. Probably my only gripe is that the walkway down the sides to the aft deck is a bit narrow while trying to hang onto a rod with a fish at the other end. That’s the small sacrifice for having a huge cab.
While the sleeping and fishing room had a lot to do with the success of this boat, its greatest attribute is the ride. Recent upgrades to the hull have added another 200kg of glass and resin. Generally speaking, the more weight in a hull, the less it is going to be thrown around and here we see a good, deep 21° hull with a weight of 1400kg – and that’s the hull only.
It’s on those long trips offshore that you begin to appreciate such a hull. Trim tabs and hydraulic steering come as standard, and when you add a big thumping 225hp four-stroke Yamaha, you have quite a machine on your hands.
The ride is exceptional and I didn’t pick up a bad lean or instability which can be found in some deep-vee hulls. High-sided boats are prone to leaning into the wind when side on, hence one of the reasons for the trim tabs. I hardly had to use them, though, even when correcting the load of the crew as they moved about.
As far as engine power goes, because The Patriot is a big, heavy boat you wouldn’t want to go any smaller than a 200hp engine. The hull is rated for 300hp in a two-stroke or 260hp in a four-stroke, so there is the scope to play about with engines.
Running engines at the bigger end of the four-stroke spectrum or fuel-injected two-strokes are the way to go because on those long trips you’ll use a bit of fuel. This is another reason to use the space on the boat and because it takes four, the running costs aren’t as high.
With the amount of weight for’ard and the design of the hull there’s no rising of the bow on take-off and you maintain a good, level ride. It’s not a slow boat by any means, but don’t expect it to be zippy. We were still running in the engine and achieved a top speed of 41mph at three-quarter trim and 6000rpm.
It was nice to see a rig with the engine propped right for the boat as a motor should be running in the top half of its specified rev range to achieve optimum performance and economy.
It ended up being quite an enjoyable day and it was certainly a pleasure to be in a boat that had room to spare, a great ride and laid out in such a way that everyone could fish comfortably.
Package prices for the Haines Hunter 680 Patriot start from $90,000. See Middle Harbour Marine).
Make/model - Haines Hunter 680 Patriot Centre Cab
Construction - fibreglass
Length - 6.8m (7m overall)
Beam - 2.50m
Weight - 1400 kg (hull only)
Deadrise - 21°
Fuel - 350L
Water - 65L (optional)
Max hp - 300hp two-stroke, 260hp four-stroke
Flotation - watertight compartments below deck
Height on trailer -approx. 2.6m
1) Haines Hunters 680 Patriot is an impressive rig both on the water and to fish from.
2) As far as big boats go, you really should consider the more economical engines like the 225hp Yamaha four-stroke. In this case it supplies the right formula for speed and power.
3) The rear lounge folds down; transom door; large bait well and the u-beaut bait board all add up to a clean, practical layout.
4) The dash is nice and tidy with plenty of room.
5) Underfloor storage keeps the deck clear and these long storage boxes come in handy.
6) The cab side pockets are wide and deep.