Haines Hunter 800 Patriot Review

Issue: October 2006


Can any fishing boat be better than a 680 Patriot ? It sure can !

As is often the case, we borrowed this test boat from her owner, Bill Dwyer, who kindly came along on the day and drove her for our photo shoot. Talking to owners like Bill, who’ve been around boats for years, is always informative. Bill’s last boat was moored, so he couldn’t be happier about being able to take his latest, Bill D, home at the end of a day to clean her up and reprovision for the next trip. “Fair enough you need a big 4WD or light truck, to get a boat like this to the water,” he said. “But at least I’ve got it at home to do the little things that need be done to any boat. If I want to fish up or down the coast a bit, or even take it way up north, I just fire up my F250 and see ‘ya’ later. “No more mooring fees and no more getting her out of the water twice a year to clean her bottom. I’ve even managed to store her under a roof, which makes keeping Bill D looking like new easy!”

Haines Hunter’s Glenn Davidson agrees. “The team’s been surprised to find that most Patriot buyers are saying much the same, having downsized to live happily ever after without the hassle of a moored boat.” Righto guys, you’ve made your point. Now stand aside and let us take a better look at what all this fuss is about. The Modern Boating team’s spent countless hours fishing from 680 Patriots over many years. That boat’s probably one of the most respected off shore fishing platforms around. And yes, the 800 is a bigger and better version in every way!
The cockpit is huge! We’ve seen larger cruiser-type boats with smaller cockpits than this. And while she’s more suited to the sport fishing, if you just want to go drift ing for flathead, she’ll handle that too.

A comfortable aft lounge, which will get plenty of use on family days out, can be removed completely if you prefer when the fishing gets serious. While this boat makes some concessions to family boating, its centre-cabin configuration does restrict sleeping space, but it makes up for it with extra room for fishing. If you need to go forward around the cabin for any reason, the going’s easy.

Plus, you don’t have to put up with the hassles of water running along the deck and into the cockpit, thanks to an effective baffle and drain system in the moulded-side decks. The centre cab can also be locked, which is unfortunately necessary in today’s world. Like all keen anglers, one feature we really liked was the transom-mounted workstation. It’s integrated into the aft bulkhead and doesn’t intrude into the fishing room in the cockpit like many others do.

Workstations you tend to live with because you can’t live without them, but the clean lines of the 800 Patriot’s top deck were a blessing. The entire lid of an enormous bait well stretching right across the transom is a cutting surface high enough (830mm above the deck) for comfort. Under the cockpit floor are a couple of big insulated fish wells, capable of holding any fish you’re likely to catch for the table. These also drain overboard for easy cleaning.

Bill Dwyer opted for paired refrigeration and freezer units set behind the (double) helm seat in Bill D. When these are fitted the bunks and portable toilet need some rearranging, although we do agree with his choice in a boat well capable of being away from ramps and “civilisation” for a few days. Another standard fitting is the power anchor winch and a matched pair of the excellent Navman Fish 4500 and Tracker 5500 fish finder and GPS units.

These integrate into a dash that’s spacious enough to hold the considerable instrumentation involved in twin motor installations, without being overcrowded. A twin-motor-ready transom is also standard and given the safety aspects these offer, in an 8 m boat that’s definitely going to spend much time well off shore, it’s hard to imagine too many people would power this boat any other way.

Nevertheless, structural arrangements for a sterndrive model were under development at the time of our test. We’ve concentrated on the things critical to serious fishing in this report and skimmed over many details, so you can assume that anything not mentioned is present and accounted for such as a self-draining deck, rod holders, toughened glass windscreen, transom door, boarding ladder, transom shower and much more. But there are a couple of items that bare a special mention. The central seating area is raised enough to significantly improve all-round vision from the helm.

The height gain is obviously not as much as a flybridge provides, but it’s a significant improvement just the same. And while on the helm area we noted that this area is completely sheltered from weather when the 800 Patriot is optioned with a hardtop and clears like Bill D. Last but not least, what about storage ? It’s where you’d expect to find it, under the bunks, in cockpit side pockets and so on, but the 800 Patriot has two more cavernous stowage areas; one under the deck beside the helm and another back inside the transom. It’s so big we’re tempted to call it a lazarette.

Twin 200hp Evinrude E-TEC outboards power Bill D and make her a seriously fast fishing boat. Maximum power is a pair of 225s, either two or four-stroke, but we reckon that only the most heavily-laden 800 Patriots will need that much power.

Bill D lifted onto the plane like a ski boat and at a mere 3000rpm, was already pacing along at more than 20 knots. Twin 175s are available and they seem an option worth exploring. By the time this test is on the newsstands, Haines Hunter will have delivered enough 800 Patriots to have the information necessary to make a choice.

The 800 Patriot poses some interesting questions and some even more interesting answers. Can a larger version
of Haines Hunter’s famed 680 Patriot be even better than the famous original off shore fisher ? Apparently!

How big can a trailable fishing boat be and still be genuinely trailable? About this big (8m)!

Can a trailable off shore fishing boat be a realistic alternative to (sub-10m) moored craft in terms of all-weather on-water comfort ? You betcha! 

Twin 200hp Evinrude E-TEC outboards spinning 19in stainless steel props power the 800 Patriot.

In a strong cross wind with three adults onboard the 800 produced the following performance figures.
2.4 ..500
8.3 ..2000
15.1 ..2500
20.4 ..3000
26.3 ..3500
31.6 ..4000
46.8 ..5400
Length: 8.23m
Beam: 2.5m
Hull weight: 1900kg
Fuel: 500lt
Max HP: 450hp
Max Transom weight: 580kg
Transom height: 25in
Price: $146,000 (base)
As tested: $170,000