Haines Traveler TC165 Review

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Issue: August 2006


She looks hot, will keep you dry and won’t burn a hole in your pocket.

There’s some excellent family fishing cuddy cabs over 5.5 metres long on the market. But making the concept work well in a smaller hull can be problematic. In my experience, boats under 5.5m in length rarely work as well as their bigger sisters. Except for Haines Traveler’s new TC165, the best all-round example of a 5 metre fishing/family cuddy I’ve ever tested.

Travelers are supposedly the less sophisticated, more cost effective members of the Haines Group’s Signature and Traveler families. This means some flow coat is evident here and there. But the Haines Group’s flair means good looks, a neat finish, classy upholstery and some brilliant thinking in layout all come with the TC165.

This boat will package up in the high 20’s to low 30’s (thousand dollar) bracket, which puts it into direct comparison with 5m centre consoles and bass and barra boats. As pure hard core fishing boats, these other models clearly have more to offer, but what they don’t do is provide shelter from weather and sun. The TC165’s cuddy and helm area are an absolute delight!

There’s a lot of people who’ll find a TC165 completely to their liking, if only because they prefer to travel behind a cuddy cab’s superstructure in a comfortable bucket seat. Not to mention having a seat under a canopy out of the sun when required.

Before touring the interior, let’s talk about the TC165’s hull.

Haines Signature boats utilise John Haines Senior’s legacy to comfortable rough water travel: SVDH variable deadrise hulls. Haines Traveler hulls use simpler designs which, while up there in terms of ride and comfort with conventional GRP hulls, aren’t SVDH.

But holy mackerel, the TC165 hull isn’t too far away.

Fishing tinnies have made a long journey in this country, that’s for sure, but I’ll tell you straight: if your heart’s set on aluminium, for Heaven’s sake, don’t test run a TC165. You’ll never be content with a tinnie’s rough water ride again!

The TC165 hull is a new concept for the Traveler side of the Haines Family Group’s boats and word is they’re kicking around ‘progressive deadrise’. They haven’t decided on a catchy name for it yet. Hey guys, how about BGPD: Bloody Good Progressive Deadrise ?

The TC 165’s ‘cuddy’ has been kept to a minimum. In fact, it’s scarcely a cabin at all ? the boat is more of a high decked runabout. This line of thinking goes back a couple of decades to the Haines Group’s multi award winning ‘F’ series. And it works as well as ever here.

In a 5m hull the ‘F’ concept translates to the inside of the cuddy being, at best, somewhere for kids to go ? with storage underneath the ‘seats’. Optional upholstery along the sides of this area in our test boat made the cuddy pleasant despite flow coat being used elsewhere.

The littlies might manage some shut-eye in here, but the realities of a 5m hull are that a decent size cockpit and more than absolute minimal ‘seating’ in the cuddy simply won’t fit!

Access to the bow is provided via the centre of the windscreen through a long hatch all the way to the bows. An anchor well is situated inside the cuddy with only a bollard and fairlead outside on the miniscule foredeck.

One negative in the TC165 is the lack of any kind of rail on the bows. There’s nothing to hang onto while launching, retrieving, or beaching. Even a couple of handles would help, the only solution perhaps being to splice up a short line with loops on each end to use instead.

Helm and passenger buckets sit atop moulded storage bins, with tackle locker inserts an option here.

A moulded bin with an upholstered top either drops into place between the bucket seats, as a third seat ? or it can be located aft in the centre of the transom. It serves as a fish box, a storage box and/or an extra seat. Insulation as an ice box would be fantastic!

Small seats in each aft corner almost keep you away from the cockpit’s extremities and in a supposed entry-level craft, it’s great to see neat vinyl covers clipped into each corner to hide stuff.

Below decks, in the centre of the TC 165’s cockpit, a moulded well serves as an easy-to-clean fish pit (capable of containing large fish.)

Alternately, it can contain an optional underfloor fuel tank. It’s a hard choice because in many applications this boat suits, a big fuel tank can be a real asset. But if enough fuel capacity is available in tote tanks stowed away, that big underfloor becomes a different asset. Tough decision…

The starboard side of the transom has steps moulded in while the portside has a built in bait-well which can be plumbed as a live-well. Moulded inserts along the cockpit sides provide some toes in/under leg support against upholstered pads. Up to four rods stow in built-in racks on each side. A great arrangement.

There are two rod holders in each side deck and about the only thing I found lacking (apart from some way to hold the bows) was a rocket launcher style rod rack across the back of the canopy. I appreciate that stainless rocket launchers are expensive when putting together a boat in this price bracket, but there are self-assembling, after market versions available at a lower cost. Personally, if putting a TC165 together, I’d cost one of these into my budget because it would bring this boat right to the top of its class.

A 70hp four-stroke Suzuki was a nice power match. It’s fast enough and provides ample mid range for towing those wake toys the kids enjoy so much.

The BMT package as tested was priced at $31,970. With the lovely four stroke Suzi, that’s great value. A basic two-stroke can bring this price down a few grand. Value indeed!

A 70hp four-stroke Suzuki outboard was a nice power match. It’s fast enough and provides ample mid range for wake toys.

In gusty, variable winds with some tidal flow, the Haines Traveler returned the following performance figures.

1.5 – 600
6.6 – 3100
14.1 – 4000
18.4 – 4500
21.9 – 5000
28.4 – 6000

LENGTH: 5.09m
BEAM: 2.21m
WEIGHT: 475kg
TOW WEIGHT: 1100kg
DEADRISE: 22.5 degrees
MIN HP: 50hp
MAX HP: 90hp


+ Great value for money; Suzuki four-stroke 
– No bow rail