Haines Traveller TF185

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Haines Traveller TF185

Author : Barry Tyler

Travelling In Style!

Well documented is/was the damage the global financial crisis has inflicted on the Australian Marine Industry in particular so it is encouraging to see that with the ‘thawing’ of the situation, industry heavyweights such as the Haines Group are fast out of the blocks with new models to entice boaters to buy new boats again. The Haines Traveller TF185 is one new model that is sure to get the juices flowing.

 Perhaps the most gratifying aspect following the launch of this new model was the news it was all new from the trailer rollers up. So ‘new’ is this model in fact, that the hull was a complete new design shape rather than a reincarnation of an old hull or hull shape. The rear deadrise is now 22.5-degrees, and it has a full length inner and a half length outer strake to provide the necessary lift and directional stability.

Many would deduce from the ‘TF’ tag the model enjoys, that this boat was an out and out unashamed fishing boat but in fact nothing could be further from reality. Yes it had a big cockpit perfect for you and three fellow fishermen, and yes it was fitted with a fairly meaningful Traveller bait station, kill tank and live-well, but the bottom line is this boat was a cross-over model that was very much capable of also addressing the expectations and needs of a family situation.

For me, presentation was the key aspect which stood out the most, for there was a fresh, clean approach to everything, an accuracy that ensured features were presented properly, and fitted properly. Certainly THG’s (The Haines Group’s) Nexus construction methodology contributes significantly here – this ‘fully moulded’ process where they literally put a boat inside a boat – so the finish was more consistent, stronger and more accurate, thereby ensuring that the hull and the full deck and interior ‘liner’ mouldings all come together as one, bonded together with that modern miracle, polymethyl methacrylate adhesive.

Accuracy as I say, but also all part of a definitive package that with the addition of the foam that is pumped into it after the mouldings are joined, provides buoyancy, maximised strength, and of course the other important inherent by-product (of the foam), good sound-proofing qualities. I can’t emphasis all these attributes enough; this is what sorts the men out from the boys when it comes to boat production for far from a gimmick, it is the security you demand from a boat that will ultimately carry you and your family and/or friends, in some cases many kilometres offshore.

Working Cockpit

The large cockpit was a revelation and it was all made possible by simply reducing the size of the portofino boarding platform, an area quite frankly that is a non-critical area of the boat anyway, in the context of space allocation. The neat little transom gate led you out onto an area that was still large enough to sit on when putting on water-skis or dive gear, so I was more than happy with the trade-off that was this huge ‘working’ cockpit.

Taking pride of place on the transom was the very serious Traveller personalised bait station which came complete with sink, bait board, rod holders, cup holders and knife rack. If you decided you don’t want to fish that particular day then this whole assembly easily lifts out of the two locating sockets in the transom top. The fishing features were rounded off by the live-well or ice-box recessed into the transom top on the starboard side, which in this instance served admirably as an ice-box for the soft drinks.

From this transom beam forward the accent shifted from ‘fishing’ to ‘family’ with a rear lounge and back rest pulling out and down from the cockpit face of the transom beam to provide good seating for three adults. It’s unobtrusive when it is neatly folded back into place. There was most generous storage available in the full length port and starboard side panels and adding yet more creature comfort to the equation, the floor was covered with a domed carpet enabling quick removal for cleaning purposes.

I must admit there were two more perhaps more subtle fishing-friendly aspects within this cockpit though, for with this rear lounge folded into itself, toe-holds were neatly recessed into the transom beam and the two side panels. The other feature, and it was certainly well secreted under the carpet so to not obviate its attraction quite so boldly, was the huge integral underfloor fish bin forward of the underfloor 100-litre (there is an option of a 150-litre version) polypropylene fuel tank.

Great for fishing, as I say, but if you were trying to impress the family it might pay to run with the theory that this aforementioned bin was either a convenient place to store wet clothes, or indeed a really good ‘cold storage’ facility. You would get away with either distraction too, for the very real bonus with this underfloor foam is its insulation properties. With an insulated lid here and of course under the for’ard bunks in the cabin, all three of these bins will maintain ice all day. Boaters in the warmer climates will love this aspect!

In Control

At the forward end of the cockpit was the all-important ‘control’ area, the fun area if you like, with two pedestal-mounted skipper chairs providing the necessary comfort factor. Good solid chairs I must add, for you certainly didn’t have to lean into the turn to counteract the slop you find in some seats. The dash was business-like albeit slightly bare, for while the lower dash would accept a lot larger screen or indeed two side by side GPS/Plotter and sounder combos, in this instance it had a smaller (relatively, in the context of the mounting area) 750S Garmin touch screen GPS plotter mounted in the centre. The Suzuki engine instrumentation was above this again, on a separated level of this dash facia.

At the forward end of the cockpit was the all-important ‘control’ area, the fun area if you like, with two pedestal-mounted skipper chairs providing the necessary comfort factor. Good solid chairs I must add, for you certainly didn’t have to lean into the turn to counteract the slop you find in some seats. The dash was business-like albeit slightly bare, for while the lower dash would accept a lot larger screen or indeed two side by side GPS/Plotter and sounder combos, in this instance it had a smaller (relatively, in the context of the mounting area) 750S Garmin touch screen GPS plotter mounted in the centre. The Suzuki engine instrumentation was above this again, on a separated level of this dash facia.

The ‘cabin’ area was well presented; I must say it was nice to see a fully lined cabin, as well as fabric trim on the shoulder-height back rests cum parcel shelf storage features. The typical layout is a twin-berth configuration but in this instance an insert and associated cushion had been added, which had the net effect of transforming these two bunk berths into one great big double berth. So whether it’s two singles for you and a mate or a double for you and the lovely wife, you can certainly stretch out and have a kip. Lifting this insert out, along with another one forward of that again, I also discovered the one family-orientated feature all the ladies will adore, a Porta Potti. Hang a curtain up on the bulkhead and you would have had maximum privacy!

The cabin and indeed most of the bulkhead was well protected by a bimini assembly and a full set of front and side clears which were capably supported by an impressive polished aluminium frame. Befitting a ‘fishing’ style of boat, there was a mandatory ‘rocket-launcher’ rod-holder rack atop the bimini frame.

Safety…. and Good Looks

Around on the foredeck an aesthetically pleasing THG-designed and built ‘Lexan’ (polycarbonate) front deck hatch offered good access out to the appropriate-sized anchor locker forward of this. Covered and therefore secreted by a hatch that actually looked like it was designed to be there (some don’t, some are a real after-thought), this anchor and rope locker even came complete with a moulded and strengthened shelf that accepts a Maxwell electric winch. They’ve thought of everything!

There was a coaming-top walkway around the cabin sides of the Traveller, albeit a small one, but sensibly and especially so if you were in any kind of sea, the smart move would be to avail yourself of the access through the cabin hatch. Importantly, this hatch was far enough forward so you could comfortably reach the anchoring bollard and fairlead on the moulded bowsprit.

What I did like about this whole frontal area was the sleek and very streamlined look; the way the hull profile ‘married’ to the cabin top profile, the lack of great cabin bulges and the way the hatches fitted so accurately gave this area a fresh, clean, uncluttered look. The final crowning glory though, was the one-piece bowrail which extended from aft of the cabin window, forward then down and under the bowsprit and back up again the other side, to continue back to just aft of the other side window.

Designer Stainless had done a brilliant job with that (and indeed all the stainless work), for it would certainly alleviate any future problems with rails bending, coming undone or indeed ‘working’ on the GRP – it was all tied in together! The other bonus of course was if you had fitted an anchor winch, this rail around and under the bowsprit would also help prevent any damage from the anchor, before it locked into place on the fairlead.

Performance

Standard power, not surprisingly, was Suzuki (THG distributes Suzuki in Australia and New Zealand) 115hp but in this instance THG had itself upgraded from the 115hp to the 140hp, inline 4-cylinder, 2044cc, 4-stroke fuel-injected alternative – because this boat does a lot of bluewater work that at times requires all the power you can muster. In saying that, it is not the maximum engine size, for THG allows up to 150hp on this particular model.

From a standing start the Traveller was most impressive, literally leaping out of the blocks and up to its top speed on the day, of 43 mph. That’s pretty brisk for a cabin boat, but of course we had THG boats’ renowned handling abilities to go with it. Especially so in the gusty conditions we encountered on the Gold Coast’s Broadwater. I don’t think I have seen the seas here so angry; maybe it was the direction of the wind, but I was quite surprised at how steep the ‘chop’ was.

I felt the boat was handling the conditions well for there was no great desire to throttle back. Then I looked at the instrumentation which confirmed we were still doing 30mph through this garbage, and I gained an even healthier respect for this hull’s credentials. The only problem I could find and of course it is inherent when you have a ‘tent’ up like we had in the form of these clears and bimini – was the dreaded lean into the wind, which demanded we both sit on the one side to counteract this phenomenon.

That we could counteract this windage just by moving bodies around, was surely further testament to the prowess of this hull, as was its ability to track well down hill, and to get the job done efficiently well in a turn. Final confirmation of its abilities came when we discovered a reasonable wake hidden in the chop; it went through it like a hot knife through butter, all but rising completely out of the water yes, but more importantly remaining at a level attitude so as to be ready for the next wave coming through.

Conclusion

The Traveller TF185 was a bonafide ‘fishing’ as well as ‘family’ boat, with general presentation that was praiseworthy in every facet. I did especially like the fact the white moulded plastic fittings, so prevalent on earlier Traveller models, have now been replaced by stainless steel and chrome-plated brass hinges and hardware. Even the navigation lights are now LED so as to not only be more efficient, but also a hell of a lot more reliable. The boat went well, it handled well, it was predictable and it did everything expected of it – what more could you ask for in a 6m trailerboat? I look forward to the next new Traveller model which will be released in Australia and New Zealand, prior to Christmas.

Specifications

  • Model: Haines Traveller TF185
  • Price: $46,775
  • Price as tested: $62,030
  • Designer: John Haines
  • Type: Cabin
  • Hull construction: GRP
  • LOA: 6.14m
  • LOH: 5.85m
  • Beam: 2.16m
  • Deadrise:  20 degrees
  • Hull Configuration:  Deep V
  • Trailerable Weight:   1500kg
  • Height on Trailer:   2.3m
  • Engine Capacity: 100hp-150hp
  • Power Options: Outboard only
  • Fuel Capacity: 100 litres
  • Engine: Suzuki DF140

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