There are not many boats on the market that will hold their resale value like Signatures. Founded by John Haines and now run by his enthusiastic sons, John and Greg, the name Signature conjures up sleekness and contemporary styling.
From the small 4.6-metre right through to the big, comfortable 702 with galley, sportsbridge and queen-size berth, Signature has a large range of models, all with oodles of creature comforts which take the heat out of bare-bones fishing.
I travelled up to the Central Coast to have a spin in one of the latest offerings from the Haines stable, the 600F. It was a customer’s boat and I would like to thank Fernando for the loan of his pride and joy so we could put her through the hoops around Gosford’s waterways.
It was one of those days made in heaven as I pulled into Boaties Marine Superstore at West Gosford. I was gobsmacked at the huge yard filled with glistening new boats.
Boaties Superstore manager Grant Wiggins hitched up the big Signature and we headed down to the ramp. Temperature was around 28° and climbing with high humidity and not a breath of wind. The Suzuki four-stroke purred into action and I hung around the wharf while Grant parked the car and trailer.
Fernando had invested a lot of his hard-earned into this rig: It came with the Synergy package, which includes CD player, hydraulic steering, porta-potty, full-width rear lounge, targa tower with rocket launcher, bunk infill and boarding ladder, to name but a few of the add-ons.
There were also full covers, as well as a bimini top and even a cover on the V-berth, electric anchor winch, cockpit deck wash and a shower outlet. A flush-mounted transom hatch contained the hand-held shower and hose assembly.
Being an out-and-out fisho, I am used to jumping into boats that have the barest of creature comforts. This boat was the opposite, with padding and luxury everywhere you looked, and you know something? I quite liked it. I must be getting old!
The large cabin (2005mm x 170mm) would sleep two with ease. Height is limited to one metre, which means bending the neck when sitting. A tinted polycarbonate hatch and two small slit windows gave ample light and there was a fluoro interior light. A chemical toilet is under the bunk cushions.
Opening the gas-strutted hatch gave me plenty of room up forward on the ground gear. This boat had an electric winch, making dropping and retrieving the anchor a very simple operation. A large self-draining anchor well with hatch will store a mile of warp plus a spare anchor.
For someone like me who loves lots of knobs and dials in front of him, this boat was a beauty. A full range of engine management gauges, depth sounder and GPS plus a bank of switches to control electrics, lights and pumps smiled back at me. All could be scanned at a glance to ensure we were on track mechanically and navigation-wise.
Extra-high coamings (900mm) covered two-tier, full-length side pockets. One of the tiers had cut-outs for rods with holes in the bulwark to protect delicate tips. As an extra, there were elasticised tie-downs to make sure rods stayed put in rough water.
Four stainless flush-mounted rod holders, each with a rubberised cover to prevent water intrusion, will give a good spread when trolling.
The full-width, upholstered rear lounge would enable one to relax in comfort as the boat powered ahead.
Swim platforms either side of the motor and a drop-down stainless steel step make access from the water or the ground easy.
The boat has a walk-round configuration, although you have to be a bit nimble (and thin!) to squeeze past the cockpit.
Sitting in the helm seat gave good forward vision and the throttle fell nicely to hand. The four-piece, tinted, wrap-around screen has a grab rail across the top for passenger and skipper. The wood-grain dash facia does add a bit of class.
I gently eased the throttle forward and the 140hp four-stroke Suzuki obeyed my command immediately. The 14” x 19” prop dug in and lifted the almost two-tonne hull up with no complaint whatsoever and in an instant we were on the plane. Not bad for a boat boasting only one under-hull planing strake.
Signature’s variable deadrise hull made short work of the chop and in turns, the big boat hardly leaned. For a six-metre heavy fibreglass beast, I was surprised how nimble she was and how tight I could turn her under power.
At rest, with Grant standing on the wide coamings and me leaning over, the boat barely tipped. In rough water, the big lipped chines would dampen down most of the rock and roll that gets the mouth dry and the guts churning.
In hard reverse, water gurgled over the swim platforms but not one drop came into the cockpit.
The boat clocked 42mph (67kmh) flat stick with the rev counter showing 6200rpm. Suzuki has put a lot of work into their new breed of four-strokes in terms of quietness and torque. The one we had on the back was no exception and Grant and I could converse at cruise without having to raise our voices.
By the time we decided to back to the ramp, a strong nor’-wester had set in but the hull made short work of the chop.
For an angler who wants to travel first-class with the option to overnight, the 600F fills the bill beautifully. It won’t fall into most bait-soakers’ budgets but if you are looking at fishing plus a little of the good life, take the F3 freeway to Boaties Marine Superstore and they will happily give anyone an on-water demonstration.
|Length (inc bowsprit)||6.25m|
|Fuel capacity||150 litres|
|Max engine weight||240kg|
|Hull weigh only||850kg (approx)|
|Tow weight||1960kg (approx)|
Anchor locker, bilge pump, split bow rails, bowsprit/hardware, dash grab handle, driver footrest, instrument cover, datadot technology, woodgrain dash, 2 rodholders, hydraulic steering, porta potti, transom step, bunk cushions
Synergy Package, Navman 5500 GPS, electric winch, storm covers, side clears, sliding passenger seat, cockpit lighting, full-size graphics, two-tone hull, foam-filled floor, full carpet in cabin, plumbed deckwash
Price as tested with Synergy package plus options listed, twin-axle braked Mackay trailer (2010 series) with 13” wheels, safety pack including life jackets, fire extinguisher, trailer tie down and on-water instruction: $62,307.
Boat supplied by Boaties Marine Superstore, 304 Manns Road, Gosford West, NSW 2250. Ph (02) 4322 8165, Fax (02) 4322 8344. Website: www.boaties.com.au .
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