It’s not often that the Gold Coast puts on perfect weather for a boat test – warm, clear skies and less than five knots of breeze. If Haines Hunter could bottle that weather and sell it with their family-oriented Breeze 530 boat package, you’d have everything a growing family needs for a perfect day on the water.
There’s a lot of choice in the marketplace if you’re after a 17-foot half-cab, but the Breeze/Evinrude E-Tec package is designed to be comfortable, simple to use and able to fulfil a variety of purposes for the family user.
Although bow-riders are popular, there’s always the need for a half cabin boat for keeping everyone happy. There’s a shaded area where gear stays dry, and where those who get a little tired of boating can take a rest on the padded bunks. Also, there is enough space for Dad to drop a line over the back if he decides to duck outside on a calm day.
They’re not the perfect fishing boat, the perfect skiing boat or the perfect overnighter, but they do each of these jobs well enough to keep all but the purists happy.
Starting at the transom, the 530 is designed to be easy to use. The instant-starting 90hp Evinrude E-Tec on the test package is incredibly user friendly – it uses little oil, is virtually smoke-free and is backed by the increasingly-credible three-year/300-hour interval to the first dealer service.
Out of the water, the extra-long shaft looks a little weird, as it’s fitted with the standard V6 gearbox, and it spins a propeller to match (in this case, a 14 3/4”, 17” Viper). In the water, you can tell that there’s probably a tad too much propeller the motor has got to push, and I reckon that a slightly smaller diameter would increase the responsiveness even more.
Even so, the Breeze jumped on the plane easily and we had no problems dodging reasonably large swells on the way in and out of the Gold Coast Seaway. Comfortably cruising at around 25mph at 4000rpm, the rig is cheap to run. A day’s boating with the family – say, from the Gold Coast to the Jumpinpin and back – would use around 25 litres of petrol.
At the helm, the Breeze is one of the most comfortable boats to drive I’ve been in. Both the captain and the passenger are treated to well padded and adjustable pedestal seats that are positioned perfectly. You can see through the middle of the windscreen when you’re seated and comfortably clear of it if you’re driving while standing up.
The test boat is fitted with a standard Evinrude throttle box, which mounts on the side coaming, but a flush-mounted unit (as Haines shows on their website at www.haineshunter.com.au) would be even smoother.
A moulded fibreglass dash is inlaid with a carbon-fibre-like insert, through which the gauges are mounted. BRP’s Retro gauges look fine and do the job. There’s a flat spot for mounting a GPS antenna, as well as a space that will fit most sounders/GPS that a user of this boat would want to fit.
A pair of travelling seats at either side of the engine well can be removed to create more fishing room, as can the carpet in the cockpit – there’s no use spilling blood and guts all over it when it’s easy to remove. This way, a scrub with some suds and a brush will have it shiny in seconds. There are ample side pockets for all of the bits and pieces of tackle you’ll need, or for the snorkelling gear.
Either side of the well, there are also drained receptacles that would be perfect for ice and bait or ice and drinks, or even small livebaits. Under the floor in the cockpit, there’s wet-storage that’s great for fish or used wetsuits.
Up front is where most of the day’s gear can be stored. There is storage under all of the padded bunks, and plenty of room on the shelves. There is no lining of the back of the dashboard, so you’re looking at an ugly mess of wires, bolts and the wrong side of the gauges if you’re lying on the seats and facing back. Haines could fix this with some press studs and canvas.
Access to the anchor well is easy, via the front cabin door, although there’s no handle on the outside of this, so it’s pretty hard to open if you’re climbing aboard from the bow and want to get back through the boat.
Supplied on a Dunbier multi-roller trailer, there were no problems launching and driving the boat back on and the weight of the rig means a family six-cylinder car will pull it along no problems.
As tested, the 530 Breeze will set you back around $38,000. See www.haineshunter.com.au for your nearest dealer.
Hull length - 5.3m
Beam - 2.2m
Height (keel to windscreen) - 1.92m
Weight (hull only) - 650kg
Max hp (2-stroke) - 115hp
Max hp (4-stroke) - 100hp
Transom height - 25”
Fuel capacity - 120 litres