Haines Signature 600 RF Review
Issue: October 2006
Hainsey's struck the right chord with this versatile offshore classic.
In 1992 when John Haines released the original 600F, it only just made it in time for Modern Boating's Boat of the Year Award judging. But even though it scraped in at the eleventh hour, it promptly carried off the top award.
At the time, the 600F shattered, more than broke new ground. Since then, constant revision and refinement has kept subsequent renditions among the class leaders. The boat tested here is the latest generation of a boat Hainesy still reckons is one of the best things he ever came up with.
Fifteen years on, the 600RF, the granddaughter of the mighty 600F, is still up there with the creme de la creme. But it's a boat that leans more towards fishing than most off shore fishing/family day boats in the marketplace today.
There was a moot point with the 600F over whether it was a cuddy cabin or a high-decked runabout - and it remains so in the 600 RF. Low headroom beneath the foredeck belies definition as a 'cabin'. Yet the high foredeck offers significantly more storage space than normally found in the average runabout.
History also records that the 600F was one of, if not the first runabout/cuddies to use a hatch, configured so you could walk right up to the bow. During 15 years of refinement the idea has been copied many times and remains as useful as ever.
In the latest 600RF, the foredeck is actually set high enough for two adults to sit upright in. But the bunks are strictly for kids.
In effect, space beneath the 600RF's foredeck becomes a largish storage locker capable of swallowing heaps of fishing gear in dry storage without hindering access to the pointy end.
Family boating is far from ruled out, but the boat definitely leans toward fishing and requires some compromise for family outings, compared to a 'classic' family half cabin. Which is exactly how the generation and-a-half of off shore fishing fanatics who've embraced the 600F/RF, prefer it.
A comfortable aft lounge is optional and might be enough to win over non-fishing partners who prefer extra cockpit space to having full length bunks. The lounge can be easily removed and left off the boat for fishing trips.
Set up the way our test boat was (with a Targa bar, bimini top and full clears), there was shelter from a biting winter chill and plenty of fishing room. But fussy owners might clip a vinyl cover underneath the engine well to cover fuel lines and the like which are exposed when the lounge is taken out.
Anglers will love the 600RF's huge under-floor fish box set down into the hull's foam filling. It can be a simple fish box or a very effective (large) icebox. The fuel tank holds 250lt, and few 600RF's owned by keen fishos will do without the port transom bait well being optioned as a plumbed live well (the same pump serves a deck wash through a two way tap).
The helm ergonomics in the 600RF are spot on, whether you're seated behind the windscreen, or standing up looking over it. This oft en-overlooked factor has always been one of this boat's unsung assets.
A stout grab bar incorporated into the windscreen frame is another innovative and purposeful feature on a 6m boat used off shore. After some 15 years of refinement, there's nothing out of place in this boat. The most profound change in the latest 600RF, (compared to an original 600F,) is the latest generation of John Haines's 'SVDH' hull. We almost take SVDH for granted these days, but when it was originally introduced, the hull showed the opposition a thing or two.
IN A NUTSHELL
This boat is one of the finest handling 6m off shore fishers we have tested! It combines a pronounced 'plank' along the keel with a deadrise varying from 21 to 33 degrees, which off ers both a remarkably soft,
choppy water ride and a hull that planes at speeds slow enough to smooth the roughest trips home. This smoothness can also be attributed to 'Nexus' technology incorporated into the hull. The foam fill and bonding process helped produce a remarkably quiet and notably solidfeeling boat at speed across central Moreton Bay's infamous wind chop. Fully rigged and heading out, the 600RF is a pure fishing machine.
The introduction of Suzuki outboards in 2002, was another recent sea change to the Haines family company. Not surprisingly, the test 600RF was perfectly matched to a 175hp Suzuki. While this motor hasn't been with us long (introduced in 2005), anyone who still thinks four-stroke
outboards perform poorly compared to two-strokes, will change their minds after riding in this rig.
TRY LESS POWER
To our own surprise, we suggest that people who travel light consider a 600RF with less power. Although the combination tested was an exciting one, the MB team thought that many 600 RF owners could live happily
ever after with 115-140hp.
The test boat was powered by 175hp Suzuki four-stroke spinning a 21in pitch Suzuki stainless steel prop.
Under light conditions in a slight chop with two adults onboard the 600RF recorded the following performance figures.
Deadrise: SVDH 33-21 degrees
Towing Weight: 1960kg
Min Power: 115hp
Max Power: 175hp
Base Price: $52,990
Price: $72,990 (As tested)
WORD : WARREN STEPTOE
Tags: Haines Signature 600 RF