Issue: October 2003
In September’s Modern Boating we published the first test of the all-new Honda designed, Haines Hunter built, Honda 2000 Deluxe Cuddy. In this edition we put her sister ship, the Honda 1600 Deluxe Cuddy, through her paces. The boats were the brainchild of the massive Melbourne-based New World Honda organisation ‘ a division of the Patterson Cheney car dealership. At New World Honda if Honda builds it, it’s on display and you can buy it. It truly is the world’s first one stop Honda shop. So, when the New World team began selling Honda outboards they figured they should have Honda boats to go with the motors. It was a logical step and a deal was struck with Haines Hunter to build the fibreglass boats under licence.
Like the Honda 2000 Deluxe Cuddy, this boat is built on a tried and true Haines Hunter hull, but that’s where any resemblance to a Haines Hunter boat finishes. The boat boasts a totally new upper deck and interior layout. Plus, during this test she proved to be quite a pocket rocket, once she was out of the hole and planing ‘ she’s an extremely seaworthy little 16 footer. Anyone who has been boating on Melbourne’s Port Phillip Bay will know just how fickled and down right dangerous this shallow body of water can become ‘ all in the blink of an eye. And it was under these conditions that this test was carried out.
The calm seas and blue skies of the morning rapidly deteriorated to a wind driven, multi-directional chop, slopping around under greying skies. Not the kind of place you would normally want to be in a 16 footer. But the little Honda’s sharp-bow entry, deep-vee keel and wide chines tamed the rising conditions easily, without soaking the two of us onboard. But as the conditions worsened, we thought it prudent to head back inside the Patterson River. And there were plenty of big wind waves rolling into the river mouth to make crossing the bar back into the river interesting, but at no time did this little boat skew off track or show any tendencies to broach.
I had no problem positioning her on the back of a wave for a free ride in. However, I did have a bit of a problem with the Honda 75LRTD four-stroke, not that there was anything wrong with the motor, but it lacked a bit of power getting the hull out of the hole. ‘Lacked power’ are probably the wrong words to use. To be more correct the 16-foot hull didn’t seem to have a long enough planing surface to support the weight of the motor, which forced the donk to work hard to get her over the hump. However, once she was up and planing, as I said earlier, this boat was a little pocket rocket that delivered quite spritely performance.
Under the deteriorating conditions the Honda 1600 Deluxe Cuddy and Honda 75hp four-stroke combination produced the following speed-to-rpm readings: 6.5 knots at 2500rpm; 7.5 knots at 3000rpm; 15 knots at 3500rpm; 18.6 knots at 4000rpm; and 26 knots at 4500rpm. After that it was impossible to write or read the GPS ‘ lovely weather really. Once safely back inside, it was time to give this new Honda the once over. The first noticeable difference between this and any standard Haines Hunter around the traps, was the higher cabin roof. This higher roof made what normally in a 16-foot cuddy cabin is merely storage space into a usable cabin with good sitting head height.
The cabin features under-bunk storage, ample side shelves and a wide hatch for bow access when anchoring. To maximise cabin space there is no dedicated anchor locker and the ground tackle stows in the cabin. However, the 1600 Deluxe does have a neat, fully-moulded bowsprit, which does add to the visual appeal of this boat. The entry to the cabin is extremely wide making access simple and you don’t go scraping your bits getting in or out. There is also a long stainless steel grab rail that not only aids passenger security, but it acts as a support strut for the helm station dash.
The helm station is tucked away behind the high, racked, toughened-glass windscreen, which offers good protection from the elements. Instrumentation is adequate and the sounder is in-dash mounted directly in front of the skipper’s line of sight for easy viewing. The boat was fitted with a sports steering wheel, but one notable exclusion was a compass, although one can be easily added as an extra ex-showroom. Also, the 27 Meg radio was mounted on the dash behind the screen and while it didn’t get wet during our test, mounting it in the cabin would be a better idea.
The helm and navigator’s seats were pedestalmounted buckets with an underfloor locker between the seats. Also on the test boat was a large underfloor locker further aft, which is used to house an optional 95lt fuel tank. Under the transom there is also a well that holds a 25lt portable fuel tank securely in place. The battery sits on the floor next to this well, but we would prefer to see it off the floor on a shelf, or at least on a small raised platform. Honda has made good use of the under-gunwale space to build three separate side pockets into each side. And yes, you can get your toes in under the bottom side pocket when fishing.
There were also bait wells, with lids, on each side of the transom, four stainless steel rod holders, removable aft quarter seats and recessed cleats that don’t snag fishing lines or flesh. The engine tilts back into the outboard well, but care needs to be taken when raising the bigger fourstroke engine as it can be tilted back until it hits the wall of the outboard well. Above the helm station was a small bimini cover, something the team consider a necessity for Aussie boating conditions. And while the bimini didn’t intrude over the aft cockpit at all ‘ this would cause problems when fishing ‘ we thought it could have been slightly longer to give greater protection to the back of the necks of the driver and navigator.
New World Honda offer the 1600 Deluxe Cuddy in two turnkey packages, both include boat, motor, excellent fully-rollered Dunbier trailer, safety equipment and registration. For $29,950, buyers get deluxe upholstery; bimini top; bilge pump; spare wheel and bracket; in-floor storage; navigation lights; switch panel; swing-up jockey wheel; bowsprit; and aft quarter seats. The ‘deluxe’ deluxe cuddy cost $32,950 and also includes: tonneau cover; cockpit carpet; moulded cockpit liner; underfloor fuel tank; full cabin lining; split bow rail; and two x boarding platforms.
Considering the boats are fitted with four-stroke outboards, New World Honda has come up with two highly competitive boating packages. As with their new car sales, after-sale service ranks highly on New World Honda’s agenda. They even have a purpose-build boat ramp and pool where they teach new boat buyers how to launch, retrieve and operate their new boats. It’s an excellent service that will go a long way in helping relieve the boat ramp rage generated by a new-chum stuffing around at the ramp trying to launch his boat. Fit this 16 footer with a transom bait board come spreader rod rack and you have an ideal vessel for a couple of mates who like to target Port Phillip Bay’s annual run of snapper. The Honda 1600 Deluxe Cuddy really was a surprisingly spacious small boat.
Words by Ian Macrae