For many years Hooker Boats have kept under the radar of we anglers in the southern states but that’s about to change as this boat builder slowly becomes recognised for the superb quality and finish on every craft that leaves the North Queensland factory.
Back in 1998 John Margetts started building small dories for commercial fishermen. John had spent a decade fine-tuning his fibreglassing skills under the watchful eye of Bill Barry-Cotter at Riviera cruisers. Very early in the piece, John discovered that the only way to properly construct a fibreglass boat was to hand-lay it.
We launched the Hooker 6.7m Pro Fisherman at Roseville boat ramp on a very un-North Queensland day with cold, persistent showers. With me was Hooker NSW dealer Jon Wilshire from Northern Beaches Marine at Brookvale.
A cursory glance around the boat shouted back quality – nothing cheap or shoddy here.
This is a blue-water boat designed to fish far offshore, so let’s firstly look at the safety features.
For the techno buffs, hull construction consists of 887g biaxial rovings and 600g hand laid chop-strand mat with Polyplex LSE resin. Bearers are urethane core with chop and biaxial lay-up for strength.
Floors are made from honeycombed Plascore, which does not allow fractures and water leaks to spread. Closed-cell positive flotation is injected into all void spaces not occupied by kill boxes or fuel tanks.
All electrical wiring is 4mm tinned and twin-sheathed cable with 6mm twin-sheath as main supply from battery to switch panel.
With a self-draining deck and huge moulded spray deflectors, this is one awesomely-built boat.
Stability at rest comes from the twin chines plus the pod-like rear boarding platforms that sit in the water but lift clear when the boat rises on the plane.
From the bow, two drained anchor wells hold a mile of warp but are too small to stow anchors. A bowsprit and a split crucifix bollard are for the tying off ground gear.
Wrapping round the bow is a large stainless steel rail, rock-solid and, for the purists, spray dodgers can be fitted although will not be needed.
As the boat is totally injected with foam, all wells are insulated. Under the bow, behind a hatch is a large dry storage area.
Under the two-person dickey seat in front of the console is insulated food and drink stowage.
Each side of the centre console are walkways, not ‘squeeze-ways’, and even my bulky frame can pass through without compressing.
Under the helm seat is more dry storage and on the console floor are the twin (supplied) batteries, complete with isolating switch and easily accessed for maintenance.
All-round vision is excellent through a strong, tinted screen. There’s plenty of dash space and the Suzuki analogue instruments are easy to read.
I loved the retro-style switch panel that includes the manual override for the two automatic bilge pumps. It’s from here that the freshwater shower, deck wash and live bait tank pumps are operated.
Floor is non-slip and all hatches have recessed stainless catches. Mooring cleats are the flush pop-up variety and the four inset rod holders come with rubber caps.
A super-large, insulated, in-floor kill tank tucks back under the helm seat and will hold small yellowfin as well as five or six stripies.
A stainless steel T top carries an all-round white light, radio aerial, four-shooter rocket launcher plus a halogen floodlight.
Small quarter side pockets have rod holder clips but would store only small fishing knick-knacks.
A drop-down hatch in the transom reveals a water-separating fuel filter and pumps for the bilge, live bait, deck wash and freshwater shower, plus the fuel priming bulb.
A hatch in the starboard transom cap contains a smallish reticulating live bait well which will support around a dozen yakkas or four slimies. To port side is another well for bait storage.
A very small transom door can be removed for boarding and the stainless telescopic ladder has extends long enough so the boat can be accessed from the ground when on the trailer.
Hydraulic steering gives one-finger course adjustments and the large engine well easily accommodates the motor when fully tilted.
With grey skies, a heaving swell, icy blasts from the west and intermittent showers, we pushed through Sydney Heads into open water. This is a heavy boat (about 2.5 tonnes wet) but the 200 Suzuki’s 20” stainless prop was well up to the task. She shot on the plane with no noticeable bow lift and engine noise was not at all intrusive.
With 22° deadrise, the Hooker Pro Fisherman eagerly devoured the chop with not a hint of hull slam. Huge moulded spray deflectors just below the forward gunwales kept us bone dry, apart from the rain that came through the gap between the top of the tinted screen and the Targa – easily fixed by adding zip-out clear canvas.
In tight turns the Hooker stuck like glue. In reverse, the pods drove down the stern slightly but water intrusion into the cockpit was minimal.
I gunned the boat over large swells but the landings were just a loud ‘swoosh’ as air trapped under the twin inverted chines helped cushion impact.
Head, following or beam seas made little difference; she tracked true and there was no strong feedback felt on the wheel.
The throttle lever was well-placed and silky smooth, allowing me to judge the conditions and trim the motor accordingly. The huge split-screen Lowrance HDS 10 combo gave me bottom soundings plus a rolling GPS map in startling clarity.
When stationary, the rear boarding pods and the inverse chines stopped the side-to-side slap so many deep-vee boats are guilty of.
With Jon and me on one side leaning as far out as possible, a list was hardly discernable – a comforting thought when you have the whole crew on one side of the boat working a big fish.
On our return we easily drove the big Hooker back on the extremely capable Redco Sportsman dual-axle electric/hydraulic braked trailer with its spare wheel, centre walkway and chequerplate wheel guards.
This is one of the best builds I have seen on a glass boat. No money is spared in the manufacture or fittings, which means there should be no annoying problems that occur out to sea due to cheap components.
If blue water is what gives you the jollies, I recommend you take a very serious look at the Hooker 6.7m Pro Fisherman.
Hooker 6.7m Pro Fisherman
|Max transom weight||270kg|
Stainless steel targa top and bow rail; stainless boarding ladder and grab rail; hydraulic steering; dual anchor wells; large built-in esky; large centre console and footrest; insulated helm seat and swing-over backrest; underfloor kill tank; plumbed deck wash; fresh water shower; fibreglass bait and rigging board; dual automatic bilge pumps; self-draining deck; tinned electrical wiring; LED nav lights and deck floodlight; 4 heavy-duty rod holders; stainless grab rails and pop-up cleats; side pockets with LED lighting; positive buoyancy; transom door; Lowrance HDS 10 colour sounder/GPS; Lowrance VHF radio with DSC facility. Price including safety package, Redco dual-axle trailer, all registrations and on-water familiarisation: $87,990. Boat supplied by Northern Beaches Marine, 33 Mitchell Road Brookvale, 2100. Phone 0414 285 155, email --e-mail address hidden--