WARREN STEPTOE examines a family cruiser that converts into a capable fishing boat with a few removable options.
A 6m offshore fisher that doubles as a family cruiser is one of the more popular types of boat. They are so common that I’m frequently testing them. Because Modern Fishing concentrates on the fishing side of boating, leaning away from the family side, it is only rarely that a boat like the Haines Signature 600C makes it into these hallowed pages. But the 600C makes it because it not only offers creature comforts that are amazing for a 6m boat, it also somehow manages to be a pretty darn useful fishing boat.
This is largely due to an easily removable aft lounge. If your special lady is firm on a sexy looking boat set up for overnighting for two, and a very comfortable boat for two couples out on the water for a day, this boat will make her happy. Whether or not you point out that it just takes a few moments to slip out the aft lounge and take the full length camper canopy (a popular option fitted to our test boat) off to go fishin’ is up to you. It’s hardly a compromise at all.
With the lounge removed, the 600C’s cockpit is unencumbered and open for (fishing) business. In the aft port corner the ice bin (“drinks cooler, Dear”) keeps your bait cool. It can also be plumbed as a livewell.Huge side pockets along the cockpit have a handy set of rod racks incorporated. Padded bolsters along the topsides are great to brace against when fishing and an extra passenger seat faces aft, the better to watch your trolling pattern.
We’ll come back to the hull, leaving the best until last because Haines’ ‘SVDH’ hull is quite an asset, for both fishing and cruising. As a 6m cruiser, the 600C is an outstanding boat. Its looks speak for themselves so we can move onto other features. Inside the cabin there’s room for a good night’s sleep for two on bunks upholstered in macro suede. And a portable loo is standard equipment.
Back-to-back bucket seating on the passenger side of the helm area looks deceptively like just that, until you lift the seats to reveal a very neat piece of thinking: a sink, ice box, cooktop and pantry are incorporated along the portside beneath those seats. This is what makes the Haines 600C work so well as a cruiser. You can not only sleep aboard, you could live aboard.
A freshwater shower completes the 600C’s creature comforts, if you don’t indulge a transom door and swim/boarding platform that is. Add lighting, a table (which drops into a socket in the deck) to the plush aft lounge in place and if the 600C is sounding somewhat cramped, perhaps the best thing about it in either fishing or cruising mode is that it isn’t!
I’d be happy to take the 600C away for a few days, and that’s what initially endeared it to me. Well, that and the fact it’s easily switched into a useful fishing boat. Maybe not if you’re into fly fishing or tossing lures around oyster racks for bream, no cabin boat’s any good for that. But for snapper and other reefies with bait or plastics, for chasing pelagics on the troll, or drifting live bait, laying out a berley trail; any kind of fishing where you don’t need to stand up and cast 360 degrees around the boat, the 600C will do it well enough.
Lots of other boats do this well too, but very few of them are going to hold a candle to the 600C in terms of approval from significant others. Enough said!
Now, about the hull… Haines’ SVDH hull is one of the most technically advanced small craft hulls in the world. Its variable deadrise makes for an outstanding ride at sea. A sophisticated aft end ensures stability at rest. And a big plank along the keel steps around the usual deep vee hull need for heaps of power at low planing speeds.
The 600C planes effortlessly and is already sitting flat at 6.9 knots and 2400 rpm. Our test boat ran a 150hp Suzuki four-stroke which powered the 600C briskly to a top speed of over 37 knots. You could even tow wake toys behind it on days when you’re not fishin’…