The latest from Hooker Boats is an impressive piece of machinery. The massive 8m centre console looks magnificent on the water and has the performance and workmanship to match. While having a centre console, it also has a bow rider layout, with V seating at the nose and a fold down lounge across the stern.
I was lucky enough to go for a spin in the first of the 8m Hookers out of the factory, before it was shipped off to Western Australia to an eagerly waiting customer. The soon-to-be owner was so impressed with the performance and handling of the 6m Hooker that he ordered the new design straight off the plan, and he certainly won’t be disappointed.
The totally self-draining hull has a full-height transom for backing up on those big ones and the centre console is so big that it holds a SaniPottie and wash basin/shower, which are accessed from the starboard side. A door on the back side of the head compartment gives excellent access to the three-battery power supply and the back of the instrument panel. It’s an excellent idea as there is nothing worse than having to unscrew instruments to check connections when gauges start to play up.
The V seating at the nose will comfortably hold six and there are two massive, fully insulated eskies underneath, which could also be used for dry storage. The lids have an excellent spring operated strut system that holds them open for two-handed access. Stereo speakers are set into the backrest and can blast out the latest tunes as you power to your destination.
The upholstery work is top class and the thigh height padding around the rear half of the boat helps prevent bruising in rough conditions. Pop-up horn cleats along the gunwale offer handy mooring points, but they sit quite flush with the deck when not in use.
The anchoring system consists of twin self-draining anchor wells, a stainless steel split cross bollard and a bow roller on the end of the moulded bowsprit. The anchor wells have solid moulded fibreglass lock down hatches for durability and looks. The high bowrail offers excellent passenger security, and although I would prefer a split bowrail, the reality is that the nose is so high above the water, there is no chance of anyone boarding or alighting over the nose. The bowrail carries well back and along with plenty of other grab rails, makes for a very secure feel to the Hooker. Parents would feel very comfortable with youngsters wandering around the boat.
The stainless steel bait board, which sits in front of the twin 225 Mercury Optimax outboards, is a work of art, with a butcher board cutting surface, drain tray and four rod holders. The bait board is bolted on but could easily be removed if desired.
The rear of the console seat holds a fully plumbed live bait tank, which would hold a serious school of sardines. The tank is fitted with an underwater light to make it easier to catch the little devils. The side of the console seat also has a five-tray tackle box built into the port side and doors in order to access a stack of storage on the starboard side. The helm seat comfortably holds two or three at a squeeze, and the large console and wrap around Perspex screen offers excellent protection from the elements.
The console has a huge storage tray on top, with a gutter around the outside edge to drain off water. It is yet to be fitted with a mass of electronics but already has standard Mercury instrumentation and a twelve-switch pan to control on board electronics. The large stainless steel steering wheel is mounted like a truck and has a turning knob for relaxed one-handed steering. The super smooth Seastar hydraulic steering makes it a pleasure to drive the Hooker.
Under the floor, between the console and the helm seat, are all the taps to control the on-board water supply and a deck wash. The pumps are stored in the starboard compartment of the console seat, and a 70L freshwater tank sits under the live bait tank. The floor between the seat and console hinges up to give excellent access to the taps and deck wash.
The large, stainless steel framed canopy is mounted on the console seat at the back and to the front of the console with corner bracing, to offer excellent rigidity but still allow the angler to fish easily all the way around the Hooker. The back of the canopy has a six-shot rocket launcher to store rods up out of the sea spray. Under the gunwale on both sides are storage racks for rods when you want them close at hand.
Hooker boats have an enormous reputation as sea boats, and the 8m version is no exception. Even though it wasn’t particularly rough on test day, the hull has been trialled in some very ordinary conditions and come up trumps. It handled the sloppy conditions with ease and cut straight through some very large wakes coming off a large tourist boat returning to port. It has an overall dry weight of around 2000kg (including twin motors) – enough to give a smooth ride.
The twin 225hp Mercury Optimax motors got the Hooker moving in a hurry and produced some pretty slick figures. It pulled 45km/h at 3000rpm, 48km/h at 3500rpm, 66km/h at 4000rpm, 76km/h at 4500rpm, 84km/h at 5000rpm and topped out doing 88km/h at 5250rpm. The 8m Hooker comes with an option of one or two motors and has a massive fuel capacity of 850L in two tanks of 300 and 550L respectively. With a cruising speed of 26knots, the Mercs are only ticking over at 3500 rpm, giving an incredible cruising range.
The 8m Hooker centre console is a serious bluewater boat, working well as both a family cruising boat and a serious offshore fishing rig. The workmanship and finish are superb and the price is significantly under similarly sized boats on the market.
For more information on the Hooker range, contact Hooker Boat Sales on (07) 4058 0644 or check out the Hooker website at www.hookerboats.com.
Length overall - 7.9m
Beam - 2.4m
Maximum hp - 450
Underfloor fuel - 900L
Deadrise - 24 degrees
The Hooker 8m Centre Console will get the whole family to their destination in comfort and style.
V seating at the nose is a great place to take in the scenery in good conditions.
The front V seats contain fully insulated iceboxes with an excellent spring loaded support strut for two-handed access.
The fold-down lounge doesn’t extend the full width of the transom, allowing access to the corners for comfortable fishing. The stainless steel baitboard is a work of art.
The Hooker 8m Centre Console is family friendly as well as being an offshore fishing machine.
The helm set-up is simple and functional. There is a mile of room on the flat dash for all the electronics anyone could want.