What really annoyed me when we arrived at Kinloch on the shores of Lake Taupo was that I didn’t have my longboard. With the occasional 2m sea pounding the beach and the marina entrance, it looked more like a place for a surf carnival than a boat test.
However there we were with three Haines Signature Five 20s, one from Australia with a Suzuki 115 EFI and the two out of the kiwi mould, with a Mariner 90 and Honda 90 respectively.
Donning our trusty Line 7 wet weather gear, we stood in the carpark of the beautiful Kinloch marina deciding what the plan of attack would be. With a bitter cold wind coming from the South East, there was nowhere to run for shelter apart from across to the otherside of the lake. As staying in the marina wasn’t an option, we decided that our best choice would be to head across to Boat Harbour. With Peter Blick of Peter’s PRB Marine at the helm of the Mariner/Haines Signature leading the way, we crossed the ‘Kinloch Bar’ and punched into a head sea towards Boat Harbour and a shoreline that we thought may give us some respite from the 1m – 1.5m close short lake chop. I was right behind him with the Suzuki/Haines Signature proving it had more than enough power in such conditions, followed closely by David Smith of Honda Marine in charge of the Honda/Haines Signature.
Into the head sea, the Five 20 is a flyer and although at first I found the boat a little hard to trim right, once I got the throttle and trim settings sorted out, it was a fun boat to drive. In fact it went better with a little more speed and I am certain that if passenger, Ross Mangin General Manager of Reflex Products and I could have hung on, the boat would have taken a lot more than we were prepared to give it. Afterall this wasn’t a race…or was it!
Yep, we got wet, but that was to be expected and man did my face feel cold after 30 minutes of being splashed by chilling lake water. All three boats handled well at around 3500 – 4000 rpm (about 25 mph) and generally the hull re-entry was soft. As expected not every wave pattern worked in my favour and there were a few ‘hairy’ moments.
When we arrived in the shelter of Boat Harbour there was time for a photo session and enough calm water along the foreshore for speed trials. Before long it was again time to head straight out into the ‘slop’. A rough day on Lake Taupo is unlike coastal conditions and the trip home was a roller coaster ride. The seas are short, sharp, steep and close together and it’s not that comfortable in any boat. The Five 20s, surfed down the waves, dropping into the base of the swells and burying their bow right to the anchor pulpit. While the 2 strokes laboured a little before lifting out, the 4 stroke Honda kept up the power with little hesitation.
After again successfully negotiating the ‘Kinloch Bar’ we arrived back in the marina having given all three boats a good test. All the crew agreed that the Five 20 was a surprisingly soft riding, quiet riding hull, sat very flat, landed level and was very quick to plane even in such bad sea conditions. This is helped by the extended transom pod and variable deadrise bottom that is special feature of all John Haines designed boats. The underwater sections, often described as a distorted gullwing, are based on the very popular Haines Signature Four 92, but is 3” wider on the chine, 7” wider at the gunnel, and has a wider plank.
A FEW CHANGES
The Haines Signature Five 20 was released onto the local market at the New Zealand Boat Show with an Australian version on display. Major difference between that and the current model by Reflex Products in Christchurch is in the windscreen design and transom areas.
The Aussie three piece screen is replaced with a higher fully moulded curved version, the anchor platform is narrower and moulded into the deck, the cockpit floor is higher for better underfloor storage and the transom deck height is lower.
Inside you have three squabs with storage under and an optional infill to make a full double berth. There’s sitting headroom for two adults and the deep sole recess is self draining. The cabin fabric lining is carried up just above the wide side trays, although if you like the feeling of fabric all round you can have it fitted as an option. A rubber bungy cord holds the forward hatch in place which whilst being simple and inexpensive to fit keeps tension on the hatch and stops it rattling. Open the hatch and you have easy access to the deep anchor locker and with no side decks this is the only way forward.
No bulkhead allows the cabin and cockpit areas to flow easily together. The helm splits into distinct areas for mounting bracketed electronics, switch panels and a woodgrain facia houses the necessary instruments. I found the driving position ideal, although in the water conditions we faced I was definitely more comfortable standing up.
Standard seating in the Haines Signature Five 20 is twin buckets on fibreglass storage pedestals with lift-lock swivels. You can also have a combination of back to backs on a large storage base or shock absorber pedestals. With the two removable rear jump seats, there is the option of seating for four to six in the cockpit.
With the rear seats removed you have access to the tote tanks, battery and oil tank. A good feature is a fish bin moulded in between the seats that comes with a Teflon cutting board. There is a cavernous space under the cockpit sole for storage or the optional ($1145) 90 litre fuel tank. Interestingly you can fit five tote tanks (125 litres) in the space and at a cost of around $500 for the lot it’s a cheap option.
According to Peter Blick a number of his customers have favoured the five tote tanks option not only because of the cost but also the flexibility of removable fuel tanks. A three tanks option still allows you enough space for a removable plastic fish bin. Storage elsewhere in the cockpit is available in wide upper and lower side shelves with wooden blocks built-in for rod rack mounting.
FIRST TIME BUYER
While the Haines Signature Four 92 is already established as a great entry-level boat, the Five 20 is the next step up. There is a lot more space all round and although it’s a bigger boat it doesn’t need any more horsepower and you would get away with the same tow car. It’s well finished with much attention to detail and features the Pu.FF polyurethane foam filled under floor buoyancy for added safety, with construction to New Zealand CPC composite construction standards and Maxpro gelcoat resistance to yellowing. This is a great family boat for the first time boat buyer.