Singing the praises of the Haines Signature 580C.
Buying a new family boat is always something of a compromise. Dad wants a thoroughbred fishing platform, mum wants a comfortable cruiser and the kids… well, they don’t care as long as it’s got a loo and they can ride behind it. And while one boat can’t possible get a tick in all the boxes, the Haines Signature 580C is a good base to build a top all-rounder on.
In the last edition we tested the Haines Signature 580F, which has the same hull and deck as the 580C, but with plenty of optional extras added to transform her into an excellent fishing platform. So it stands to reason that by using the 580C as a base, this boat could also be transformed to suit many applications.
The secret behind this boat’s versatility is the amount of open cockpit space it has, even though it can still boast a usable cabin. The fully lined cabin has excellent head height, so mum and the kids can shelter there in comfort. The kids can lie down for an afternoon nap, or at a pinch, two burly fishos could curl up in their sleeping bags and spend the night on the “grounds”, so they get an early start at the big ones in the morning.
Access to the anchor is gained through the large hatch in the foredeck. There’s no walkway around the outside of the cabin, so the hatch gets plenty of use. It’s wide and opens easily, but it does mean that people have to stand on the upholstery to drop or retrieve the anchor. An anchor winch is an option and after using the one fitted to the 580F, it’s an option I’d be taking up. Besides, on a family all-rounder, getting the wife to haul in 150ft of anchor rope is a sure way of shattering matrimonial harmony. Push the button and up she comes, that’s the way to go.
Because all anchoring is done via the hatch, the low split bowrail doesn’t concern me from a safety aspect. Its inclusion is mainly for aesthetics, but I suppose it’s also good for tying fenders off.
Infill cushions transform the bunks into one large bunk, the Porta Loo is under the bunks and the lockable bi-fold cabin door allows you to secure your gear and provides some privacy when the loo is in operation.
A bimini shades the helm and passenger seats, but not the removable transom lounge. A stainless steel extending bimini is available but you’d better bring your bank manger along if you order one because they don’t come cheap.
The heavily upholstered driver’s seat is on a pedestal, but the passenger’s is on a box mount. This is hinged and folds forward to reveal a tap and sink unit. Everyone can wash up before lunch when you’re out cruising, or your mates can wash the bait off their hands before biting into their sandwiches.
The rear lounge is the best place to sit when cruising and seats three adults comfortably, but when the boys go fishing, out she comes, so they can brace against the transom when fighting big fish. There’s also flush mounted grab rails in the gunwales (so they won’t snag fishing lines), you can get your toes in under the deep side pockets when fishing and the clip-in carpet is easily removed for cleaning, or so it doesn’t get bloodstained during fishing expeditions.
There are two rod holders mounted in the gunwale of the 580C and room for more towards the transom. And because we are talking about this boat as an all-rounder, I’d include a rocket-launcher styled rod rack in the bimini design, to keep the rods up and out of the way when they’re not in use. Another ‘must have’ is a good set of “opening” clears. These can be left open for flow-through ventilation, or zipped shut to keep the elements out when things get a bit rough.
Performance and handling
The Haines Signature 580C is designed around John Haines, Senior’s patented Signature Variable Deadrise Hull (SVDH). These hulls are renowned for the soft, dry ride they give. There are swim platforms on each side of the outboard motor. Both have a stainless steel grab rail to aid boarding from the water and, because they are integrated into the hull, act as a form of hull extensions, which can improve rough water ride.
‘How?’ I hear some readers ask. Because they extend past the transom, if the boat comes off the top of a wave the weight of the engine makes the hull land almost on its transom (the aft section of the hull may be a better way of describing it). The swim platforms strike the water first and, as the boat moves forward, force the bow down quickly, which allows the sharp bow entry to cleanly slice into the next swell.
The sharp bow entry, a deep-vee (30-21 degrees), aggressive chines and well-defined strakes make the hull slice through chop cleanly, remain stable at rest and ensure she tracks straight in a following sea.
An extremely compact 140hp Suzuki four-stroke powers the 580C. This engine is lighter, much more fuel-efficient and accelerates almost as fast as the two-stroke DT140 to a top speed of 44mph at 5800rpm. Other speed-to-rpm figures were: 14mph at 2500rpm; 15mph at 3000rpm; 28mph at 4000rpm; and 38mph at 5000rpm.
Factory tests have confirmed that the four-stroke DF140 consumes more than 30 per cent less fuel than the DT140 two-stroke. Plus, being lighter, it cuts down on towing weight, so there are some tow vehicle savings.
If you’re in the market for an honest, 5.8m cuddy-cabin cruiser, then take a closer look at the Haines Signature 580C. Straight from the factory she’s fully rigged and ready to go, but spend a few extra bob and option her up even further with a cockpit table, anchor winch etc., and you’ll get yourself one of the best small all-round cruisers on the market.
WORDS : IAN MACRAE