A versatile all rounder that’s at home both in the creeks and offshore.
Perhaps the most useable fishing boat in this country is a good 5m centre console. They’re big enough and comfortable enough to venture offshore, and not too big to fish estuaries or impoundments. Up north, where a day’s fishing is likely to entail a mix of creek fishing with some inshore stuff and a trip a few kilometres along the coast, a 5m centre console is about perfect. That said, Sea Jay’s 5m Haven is about as good as 5m centre consoles get!
The hull is your standard moderate deadrise tinny. There are no flared bows and variable deadrises, but it’s a well-built hull with an interior layout near enough to perfect for fishing. Sea Jay’s options list is brief, but add the folding lounge across the aft bulkhead in our test boat and you’ve got a neat vessel quite capable of family use in sheltered estuaries.
So let’s get into detail, starting with the hull. Sea Jay calls it the ‘Ultimate Edge’. It features turned-down chines and a full height aft bulkhead. On the water, Ultimate Edge trims flat at low planing speeds, allowing the bows to soften the ride. The hull sits steadily at rest, and at sea that full height bulkhead is reassuring.
Centre consoles literally revolve around the console and this one’s a delight. The height and angle of the wheel are spot-on for running the boat comfortably in rough water, and there’s a substantial grab bar over a small windscreen for passengers to hold onto for safety.
A folding top section on the console is great when height on the trailer is an issue, and the instrument panel is set high where you can see it. The sounder and GPS can be mounted on top of that, where you need them, and there’s an inset in one side to keep a marine radio away from spray.
The only aspect of this console that’s not great is the mounting for a masthead light atop the grab bar. Put a light here and it’ll effectively blind you when it’s switched on. A masthead light will either have to go way up on a stalk, where it’ll whiplash itself to death during the first rough trip home, or two separate lights sectored fore and aft will have to be fitted.
While talking things that aren’t perfect, let’s deal with the targa/bimini arch. Call it what you will, while agreeing it provides necessary shade plus stowage for five rigged rods, I can’t see the point in having a centre console, for its all-round fishing access, and then mounting something like this which cuts the whole idea in halves. Apparently all the centre console owners who fit these things to their boats disagree with me…
Inside the 5m Haven is neat and uncluttered. Stowage is a perennial issue in centre consoles and this one provides more than most: in side pockets, a two-tiered set up inside the console, under a raised section in the deck forward of the console, and in an upholstered box serving as the only seat in the boat, if you haven’t optioned the aft lounge. I imagine lots of 5m Havens will use an icebox as a helm seat instead.
Up front, the bow rail is low enough to fish around and is divided over the fairlead. The anchor well in the foredeck is sensibly sized. Underneath that, a second locker sits right up under the foredeck where extra rope could be stored.
Inside the aft bulkhead there’s a shelf to mount the battery up out of any water on the deck and room on the other side for an oil reservoir if your choice of motor requires it. Our test boat was optioned with a small livewell in the portside of the bulkhead and a neat workstation in the centre. Padded coamings add a nice finishing touch to our test boat’s cockpit area.
The 5m Haven’s hull alone weighs 420kg, an indication of how well it’s built, this is no lightweight tinnie. The hull matched well with the 80hp four-stroke Yamaha powering our test boat. Its top speed measured out at over 30kts (60kph) but it was in the mid range around 3000-4000rpm, where fishing boats spend most of their time, that the Yammie impressed with smooth, quiet, and I expect economical running.
You could knock a big slice of bucks off a 5m Haven by choosing a traditional two-stroke in the 75-90hp range and maybe even pick up some top speed. Still, the Yammie four-stroke rounded one of the neatest little fishing boats I’ve ever tested.