For the average Aussie family in the market for an all-round fishing come family boat, the delightful little Haines Hunter 495 Breeze cuddy cabin offers excellence at boating’s grass roots. Haines Hunter’s 495 Breeze is an entry level boat at the $30,000 starting price.
And while astute design and contemporary manufacturing techniques have kept the price tag reasonable this neat little cuddy cab still offers more comfort than might be expected in a boat of the type, without sacrificing utility. It comprises a 4.6m hull containing both a sheltering cabin and a fishing cockpit, and while it lacks lining in the cabin, it manages a pair of deep bucket seats on swivels, plus bait well, aft quarter seats, padding along the cockpit sides (all in quality upholstery) and a very neat skirt to hide all the uglies under the engine well.
Some family boats fall down on looks, but not the 495 Breeze. Anyone would be happy to park it in their driveway. The 495 Breeze also uses Haines Hunter’s ‘Matrix’ technology. Matrix, when it was introduced, added substantially to the structural integrity of Haines Hunter’s classic hulls; and in the 495 Breeze, Matrix adds more than 80kg to the hull’s weight. Some boat builders boast about building light boats. But when it comes to the nasty wind chop we encountered on our way back to the launch site from the photo shoot, the team at Modern Boating will opt for a heavier hull every time. At 490kg, the 495 Breeze is still towable by family sized vehicles.
A tinny salesmen might point out that a tinny the same size can weigh more than 200kg less. It might be cheaper too. But we enjoyed the ride provided by the 495 Breeze’s 20-degree deadrise hull. It is, remember, a hull from a stable long renowned for its soft riding character. With the addition of the Matrix technology, it’s now a hull with enough weight to stay in touch with the water. Also adding to the awesome ride is an underwater shape capable of shouldering aside wind chop that would have driven your backside up to where your neck used to be in a metalhulled boat.
The 90hp Yamaha tree-cylinder two-stroke powering the test boat proved an excellent match to the hull. It’s a timely demonstration that traditional two-strokes, although out of favour these days, do provide a power to weight ratio as yet unmatched by contemporary two and four-stroke motors. And do so at a very affordable price. With a top speed of over 30 knots, sprightly acceleration, and the hull’s balance noticeably maintained by the powerful yet light motor bolted to its transom, the Yamaha made some valid points.
That is, while contemporary two and four-stroke motors are desirable for any number of good reasons, the low cost, light weight, and performance of traditional two-strokes will make them a proposition for some time yet. As for the structural integrity of the 495 Breeze, Matrix version, it was the lack of noise that thrilled, with any creaks, groans and apparent flexing absent. We found only a few negative points while testing this boat, but these were minimal when considering this is an entry-level craft.
Aft, the quarter seats feature a velcroed in place cushion which lifts easily away, freeing access into the rear corners when needed. A pair of bait wells are set into the coaming behind them. At the pointy end, a big hatch accesses a short bowsprit and divided stainless rail. Anchor warp is stowed inside the cabin behind a bulkhead. The bunks are big enough for children to catch 40 winks. The cabin is spacious enough for an adult and a rug rat or two to escape inclement weather, or the sun, and you really can expect no more from a boat this size.
The helm area features a pair of neatly upholstered swivelling deep bucket seats. The helm seat itself is adjustable fore and aft. One of the team thought the helm pedestal too long for comfort, which is a small detail easily adjusted by a competent dealer. Standing at the wheel, the ergonomics were faultless with a clear view over the raked windscreen and wheel and controls right where they needed to be. A below deck storage compartment (between the bucket seats), is well and truly large enough to serve as an icebox. It can be insulated to make it more efficient in this role if required. Our test boat had a canopy over the helm area which many 495 Breeze owners would opt for. There are two options here.
The full canopy, fixed to the top of the windscreen, has an opening panel at the front for ventilation and clear vision when standing at the wheel. This provides better shelter from rain and spray than the other option, a freestanding bimini, which leaves an opening between the screen and canopy. Even with the panel open the full-canopy option does restrict airflow into the passenger area by comparison to the bimini. Along each side of the 495 Breeze’s cockpit were double-decker side pockets with an upholstered pad running centrally between them. One of these featured a rod rack. Rod storage is always at a premium in any fishing boat. Few other small cuddy cabs provide any at all! For fishing, the cockpit is sufficient for two people bait fishing, or trolling. The removable quarter seats, bait wells and rod racks add to the appeal of the 495 Breeze.
In summation, the Haines Hunter 495 Breeze cuddy cabin is an ideal entry-level boat for all the family. It’s a top little fishing boat that lends itself well to family cruising and won’t baulk at towing the kids around on a few water toys.
Words by Warren Steptoe