The SeaJay 500 Haven is a well-combined craft that seems to have everything going for it, including the price. The boat contains a centre console and has a large fishing area. The fold-down rear seat can accommodate at least three adults making it a suitable boat for the whole family.
On the 150mm raised casting deck ahead of the console there is an open anchor well, bow eye and roller with a storage area below. A lip prevents items placed there from sliding aft. Easy access to the anchor well is due to a rounded recess in the fore deck. This also increases the internal room of the craft.
A large hatch, suitable for lifejackets and similar items, is built into the carpeted floor with a finger tab providing easy access.
The Haven's railed centre console is just the right size for an angler attached to a lively fish to slip past with ease. With three levels and a shelf on its base, the console also makes a handy helm station.
On the top level, tucked behind the windscreen, is a Humminbird 757C (colour) sounder/GPS unit. On the vertical face of the console is a neat recess holding the marine radio with the Yamaha multi function gauges to starboard. On the last level is the craft’s wheel and easily reached array of switches, including the engine’s forward controls on the starboard outer edge.
The best function of the unit is that it folds forward, around half way up, making it easy to store in the garage. The same fold-down capacity extends to the very strong (optional) bimini frame. This can be unbolted from the attachment point on the gunwale and slipped aft when required. The bimini’s frame is massively braced and can even be left up while towing the rig at highway speeds.
A further bonus of the bimini frame is its tall stature. A 193cm tall crewmember can move freely without fear of ruffling their hair. The craft is rated for up to five persons and an optional two-person ice box seat was provided during the test. The padded lid ice box seat is a popular option in many fishing boats today. Even though it is non adjustable, I found I could sit or stand comfortable to drive the craft.
The remainder of the carpeted cockpit was pure fishing space. The folding three seater aft lounge can be dropped in an instant to allow further angling space. Rods can be easily removed for use from either the holders atop the bimini or from the transom bait station.
Other cockpit features include large side pockets, aft off-floor storage at the transom, grab rails, holders on the gunwales and a livewell in the port transom quarter. A handy aft coaming forms the backrest for the folding seat. Gunwale and transom height is 1.21m, providing plenty of freeboard.
An interesting design feature of the Haven is the absence of a pod. The sides carry aft to the hull’s extremity with a rearmost boarding platform mounting the engine. The SeaJay refer to this design feature as the Ultimate Edge. My assessment is it creates both stability and buoyancy astern, to the extent that a four stroke engine up to 90hp are approved.
A further bonus feature is that aft of the transom is a wide non skid-board platform with the engine bolted to the rear. Given the amount of room, a diver or swimmer could easily use the handrails provided to enter back into the craft.
Overall I was very impressed with the ride and handling of the mid sized Haven. They range from 4.55m to 6.1m in size with a silky 80hp Yamaha four stroke on the stern. At the wheel, things clicked into place extremely well. The driving position was right and the non-feedback steering was fingertip light to use. The power from the very smooth and remarkably quiet Yamaha came on in a seamless manner. The rig had an all over feeling of balance.
Several things of the SeaJay 500 Haven impressed me. The quietness of the engine was matched by the lack of noise from the hull. This was due to it being foam filled and of a fully welded construction. This made all 13 cross ribs plus the decks quite rigid and vibration free.
The other impressive feature was the amazing stability, whether at rest with two people on one side or when moving in and out of a sharp turn, the craft held well. The exceptional stability is explained through the Haven’s 2.24m wide hull construction involving wide outer reversed chines and a 15-degree dead rise at the transom.
I was keen to see if the Haven’s ride matched its high standard of finish. However, the test runs were carried out on Moreton Bay in smooth conditions. The only test provided was when crossing the wash from the other craft.
Hitting large washes at speed is not always pleasant in an aluminium craft, however I am pleased to report that the SeaJay came through in fine form. Even though there were plenty of bumps during the test, none were particularly vicious or jarring. There is obviously sufficient rake in the bow area to reduce impact effectively.
The handling of the boat was spot on. The craft's keel and reversed chines combined brilliantly to allow the Haven to be thrown about without sideslip or cavitation. For the record, the craft planed at 13.5km/h at 2,600rpm. Certainly fast enough for most fishing applications in my view.
This is a rig that a beginner could take straight from Stones Corner Marine's yard and be familiarised with in a morning on the water. It is just that well balanced and easy to drive. The fishing features are certainly there, as is a high standard of finish with nothing but highest quality fittings and materials. SeaJay pride them-selves on master quality throughout and even paint under floor areas or hidden spaces. With a very modest start up price of $24,540 for a basic rig of 70hp two-stroke engine is terrific value.
With the many extras on the test rig that include the bimini, Humminbird 757C sounder, and 80hp four-stroke motor the reviewed craft costs around $34,990.
Stones Corner Marine supplied the SeaJay 500 Haven used in this test. For further details please phone (07) 3397 9766.