Meet Australia's largest production trailerboat, the mighty Patriot eight metre offshore walkaround which sports twin V-6 motors on the back and live-aboard accommodation.
Hollywood really did come to the Gold Coast this season when the OMC Haines Hunter team released their mega-maxi eight meter trailer fishing boat, the Patriot. The Patriot is a large walk-around fishing machine with the glamour of an American cruiser and the luxury touches you'd expect in big game boats. But is it a boat which the fishos will want? Sure it has a lot of sport fishing features, yet the style and extensive accommodation also places it at the crossroads of a luxury cruiser. And that means a high price tag.
No doubt many Patriots will be sold to people for other reasons than fishing because walkarounds are the "in boats" with the fashion crowd. There's a good reason for this because there's a lot of practical benefits in a walkaround. One owner here in fact has ordered one with a side opening door so he can carry his two jet skis in the cockpit!
Big deep Vee rigs of this size are also pretty addictive fun to drive and if you've got the money, why not buy one, is Haines Hunter's thinking.¬† And one thing is for sure. By its sheer size and weight the Patriot gives you the "biggest" trailer rig in the country. At a centre-line length of 8.23 m (27 foot) it is longer than an Allison 244 and even the Bertram 26. The Patriot obviously draws on the success of the companies hugely successful 680SF, which has been a big hit for the company.
Haines Hunter has no doubt seen the increasing competition in this sector from boats like the Allison 244, so it has decided to fill out its range with a mega walkaround. It actually hard to see how anyone would ever be able to build a BIGGER trailerboat than this one, at least one which has a highway legal beam limit, and which is not going to need a Mac truck to tow. This rig cracks the three tonne weight limit so it already beyond the legal limit of large 4WDs in NSW.
Given this fact many of the Patriots will go straight into marine dry stowage, or wet berths rather than be regular trailer boats. Certainly the attraction of this new maxi is the cockpit space and the fact that it has a really decent sized cabin as well. The walkaround means you can use the full length of the boat for deploying lines as well as having the convenience of easy access to the bow for anchoring. The Patriot is also well set up to sleep its crew overnight having as it does a roomy fore cabin with four berths, plus toilet and clothes stowage. There's also an optional galley unit in the cockpit with pressure water, sink and stove.
This is a total new hull of 8.23 m (27 feet) overall length combining features of previous Haines Hunter designs. The bow sections are reminiscent of the classic Formula 233 offshore race boats with a clean, sharp entry and long overhanging bow. The hull section has slightly less Vee than the companies other performance models with the transom deadrise being 21 degrees. The clines sweep to the water fairly quickly and this helps to stabilize the boat and give it the stability required for fishing. The deep Vee bottom has a clean underbody with only two strakes aside, no runner plank on the keel and not too much chine width either.
In side profile the boat has a slight reverse angle to the deck sheer fore and aft, again like the Formula 233, but the most noticeable feature is the full width landing platform at the transom. Called a Portofino stern, this is just the place for boarding your guests from the dock at Marina Mirage, or simply taking the kids for a swim up the back of Straddie.
The open stern deck certainly raised some eyebrows from fishermen when it was first unveiled at the Brisbane Show. They, like us were quite concerned about the lack of security for fishing. Our team passed these thoughts onto Ben Hipkins and by the time of the test the Patriot had a waist-high security rail. Fishing concerns aside, the stern deck certainly has the benefit of providing easy access onto the boat whether it be from the beach, or ramp. What is more, the stern deck is divided from the rest of the cockpit by a bulkhead which is very practical as it creates a fishing 'work station' towards the back end of the boat.
There's a step-through access from the stern deck to the cockpit on the porthand side and the cockpit is independently self-draining via large drains in each stern corner. The cockpit is quite roomy despite the size of the cabin and bridge and offers twin, molded kill tanks in the floor which can be flooded with seawater, via sea-cock if required. Moving forward there the central bridge/steering station which is raised above the cockpit floor level and has seating for two on a wide helm seat. There is further seating for up to four with (optional) fold-down lounges at either end of the cockpit.
The raised walkaround is sufficiently high to give quite good room within the cabin. The walkway is relatively shallow in the American style, yet still has about 70 cm of side support with the wrap-around bow rail. The boat is designed to take single or twin outboards within the capacity of 400 hp. However the factory has allowed one owner to go the 'max' with twin 225 hp engines. This extra power is expected to get the boat up and flying along at around 50 - 53 knots.
Alternatively the boat could be fitted with a sterndrive to 400 hp - there's already a large locker in the stern to provide the space for such a powerplant. Fuel range is also catered for with a massive 500 liter fuel tank sited under the cockpit floor. Still you'll need it when you have twin V-6 s eating around 130 liters an hour at full bore. From the trailing point of view you're talking about serious weight with this rig. I estimated the test rig to be around 3020 kg without fuel aboard, so its well beyond the legal tow range of your Nissan Patrol or LandCruiser in NSW. Apparently the long wheel base Ford and Chev 250s would meet the requires here.
After the morning flight up from Sydney we stepped aboard the Patriot at Runaway Bay in time to catch the smooth conditions of the morning. Powering down the Broadwater it soon became apparent that this craft acts more like a cruiser than a trailerboat. Seriously, you simply don't feel the small waves or chop at all like you do in an average trailerboat. The ride is naturally pretty good because of the weight and you only need to take a hand hold in rougher water. In outside waters the big Vee boat hull sliced easily through a 1.5 meter swell and gave us a fairly soft landing.
However it's a heavy boat and at times running in with the waves, or quartering it dug deep with an impressive bow wave either side. Obviously you'd have to careful not to drive the boat that hard because, as we found, you can get water back into the cockpit. To be fair though the previous comment has to be qualified by the fact that we were traveling at much higher speeds than you'd normally be doing in a trailerboat. The hull is relative narrow for its size and this also means it tends heel easily into a turn. This also happens when you peel off the side of another boat's wash.
Not a handling problem so much as a 'characteristic' which you learn to live with as you got to know the boat. Maybe the optional trim tabs will help in this regard. Running twin motors also takes a bit of getting use to first, but once they are in tune the big hull flies along nicely at 30 knots. I can assure you that there are very few boats in this world which could sustain this speed in wave conditions without harm to the crew. From a steering point of view the relatively high helm station gives good vision, whilst the instruments being grouped to one side (same as the 470SF) allows you to keep an eye on the gauges at all times.
However, there were some things I didn't like about the helm position. For starters, I'm not crazy about driving a boat fast offshore with someone sitting shoulder to shoulder with you on the seat. I think having a separate 'body-hugging' bucket seat for both driver and co-passenger is both safer and more practical for offshore boating. Mind you, the lounge would be great for social inshore boating.
The helm seat is on a fore and aft slide and this enables you to adjust the setting to suit your leg length. However, it doesn't allow you room to kick the seat right back so you can stand at the wheel. They must reckon the ride is so good you'll never need to! In performance terms our test rig with twin Johnson Oceanrunner 175 hp outboards was more than adequate. With both motors going full bore on flat water we were doing 44 knots. Also with one motor stopped, and tilted we still did 22 knots. In other words, you'd get home in pretty good shape if one motor goes down. No doubt the combination of twin motors will be a big selling point with offshore boat users.
The boat starts with an integrated molded bow sprit which has a wrap-around bow rail, bow roller, capture pin and Ronstan Tee-bollard to lock the anchor on deck then required. The molded foredeck incorporates non-skid surfaces as well a reasonably large anchor locker. My only criticism here was the lack of a positive latch on the hatch. The shallow walkway gives good access to the bow for anchoring, or fishing and the cabin top has a glass-topped forehatch which is designed more for ventilation than foredeck accessing.
The cabin roof offers plenty of seating if you were fishing up forward and the roomy side deck gives quite easy and safe access forward with a rail height off the deck of some 70 cm. Moving aft there's a four-panel windscreen in toughened safety glass with a stainless steel hand rail around the perimeter. The combination of bow and side hand rails in the cockpit provides pretty good safety within the boat and should make it user-friendly for the kids as well as the fishing mates.
There's a lot more features on this boat to talk about, but among the most important is the dedicated area right in front of the helmsman to flush-mount sounder and GPS screen. There's even room to squeeze in a mini radar screen as well. The helm seat is bounded by a stainless steel grab rail which is another good feature along with a molded floor locker for the beers.
The cabin is easily accessed via a passageway to port with lockable bi-fold doors and several steps. The cabin offers full height standing headroom, two Vee-berth settees and a double berth back under the helm station. This area is most attractively finished with waterproof carpet floor and headliner all standard along with a Porta Potti toilet and padded backrest shelves and spot reading lights. This accommodation is complemented by a standard 65 litre water tank and pressured water system to a tap and sink in the stern work console. Meanwhile, an optional galley unit with sink and stove fits under the helm seat.
The stability and cockpit area of this boat obviously makes it suitable for sportfishing or bottom bashing. The cockpit has approximately 85 cm of internal freeboard and comfortable coaming cushions for sportfishing comfort. Certainly the addition of the stern safety rail makes the stern deck safer, I seriously doubt anyone will want to fish from there in open water conditions. They'll use it in calm waters, but otherwise only venture there to gaff/retrieve a fish.
I still think a conventional style transom would have been a better option for fishing as the rear deck does create a fishing 'blind spot' out back. Apart from that criticism there is certainly no lack of fishing features within the cockpit itself and these include large, recessed side pockets with rod rack stowage. There's also the rear work station with live bait tank (rounded corners), sink, fold out cutting board table and tackle draws (port passageway).
The cutting board is quite wide but not so easy to reach from within the cockpit and I can see some owners modify this area with their own cutting board set ups. However, you do get a salt water deck wash, optional coaming padding and overhead targa arch/rocket launcher. A live bait tank aerator and pump system is another option along with a fiberglass hardtop and side/storm covers. This is all good stuff to have aboard, especially if you are serious about offshore fishing.
The Haines Hunter 800SF Patriot has certainly given buyers something to think about in the maxi trailerboat market. However, lets face it, this boat is really getting beyond the practical limits of a regular trail boat and in this regard will be more of direct competitor with small in-water cruisers. This was certainly a gutsy call from Haines Hunter and it will certainly interesting to see how it will go in the long run. Fully rigged you're looking around the $83,000 mark when you add all the extras like electronics, trailer and factory options like the targa.
At this price you'd certainly making comparison. For instance, there are the wide-body offshore sports cruisers like the Bertram 26 and Blackwatch 26 which offer better cabin accommodation. These boats have the galley enclosed as well as proper dining areas which the Patriot does not. On the plus side though the Patriot is a quicker, lighter boat with a narrower beam which makes it more suitable for dry-stacking and trailing. After all, mooring a boat can be a real pain in the wallet when it comes to slipping and service costs.
Then again some buyers might not want to pay quite as much as this, particularly if they are looking a boat which they can tow with a regular 4WD. In this the buyer will look to the smaller, lighter and less expensive maxi walkarounds, maybe even the Haines Hunter 680SF, which is still a good size for offshore work. Overall I think this is going to be one of those boats which will either appeal to you or not, there's a lot of 'sports' boat about the 800SF and that's going to play a big part in buyer decisions.
Build-quality is very good, and from what we saw in the factory visit the boat is very solidly built with Kevlar reinforcing through the keel area and divinycell foam core construction in the topsides. Both features ensure rigidity and strength without adding too much weight.
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