Some boats kind of slip beneath the radar. There are around 10 Nimbus 305 Coupés already in the hands of satisfied Kiwi owners and importer Sports Marine has another five on order from the Sweden factory, but this one is the first we’ve had the opportunity to review.
- Spacious interior
- 50-knot performance
- Solid construction
- Impeccable build quality
- Upgrades make a good boat better
The Haines Hunter SS660 (Sport Sedan) debuted in 2006, quickly becoming a sought-after model that’s maintained a strong sales record ever since. But the folk at Haines Hunter haven’t been sitting on their hands: the SS660’s received a makeover.
The SS660 is available in two versions: the one featured here and the same boat (SS660C) with a cooker in the dash and a lockable teak cabin door. There is also a soft-top SF (Sport Fisher) version.
The hardtop is popular for good reason. It offers excellent protection from the elements and there’s heaps of space inside. Indeed, space is something the 660 offers in spades. This is a large-volume boat that manages to combine a generous-sized cockpit with a spacious hardtop and a large forward cabin. High sides make the cockpit feel secure and offer useful safety advantages, especially with children aboard, and a backdrop is available to enclose the cockpit.
The most significant upgrade to the 660 is to the floor, which is no longer fabricated from marine plywood. Instead, like several other models in the Haines Hunter range, it’s manufactured from foam-cored composite that’s bonded to the hull, turning the floor into a structural element. Smart-looking Ultralon U-Dek on the cockpit sole and elsewhere is not only great underfoot, it makes the boat’s interior look even larger. Domed-in marine carpet is an option.
Haines Hunter boats are robustly built in a modern, temperature- and humidity-controlled factory. Hand-laid using multiple layers of chop-strand fibreglass, woven rovings and high-quality resins and gelcoats, the boats have a reputation for fine build quality and excellent seakeeping.
The upgraded SS660 is no exception, but our experience with an older SS660 (Boating NZ’s photography boat) includes a few rattles and squeaks from the floor area. I can report these are eliminated with the new floor, even when pushing the boat into a decent chop at 40 knots.
The composite material is light, strong and very stiff. Bonding it to the hull creates a sealed floor with watertight underfloor compartments, which was impossible with the old floor, and the boat seems quieter in general.
The second major change is to the helm console, which is a completely new moulding designed to accommodate today’s large-screen multi-function displays, up to 16-inch. There’s sufficient room left over for an array of other instruments, controls and 12V/USB outlets. The hull can also accommodate a through-hull installation for a Simrad TotalScan transducer, as was fitted to this boat.
The SS660 weighs-in on the road at well under 2.5-tonnes, which means it can be offered on a trailer with hydraulic override brakes, in this case a DMW Premier Series Heavy Duty model. The tandem-axle trailer has a central walkway for easy launching and retrieving and a manual winch. Factory options include dual-ratio and power winches, cab-controlled brake systems and Balex Automatic Boat Loader systems.
The review boat was well-equipped, including Bell Marine Viper outrigger bases and poles, a Delta anchor, Lewmar automatic capstan and Hella marine LED lighting throughout. Windows are all toughened glass, including the side-sliders, and there is a single windscreen wiper.
All the boat’s metal fittings are stainless steel or chromed bronze, but it would be nice to see cleats amidships on a boat of this size. I liked the number and position of grab rails around the boat and roof rails on the hardtop are a useful feature, ideal for securing an inflatable dinghy, paddle boards or even a kayak. The judicious use of teak trim, including the gunwale covering boards and transom locker door, adds a touch of class that sets Haines Hunter apart.
This model is available with pedestal seats, king and queen seats or a combination of the two. The review boat had a pair of king and queen seats, which provide lots of dry storage underneath. An under-seat fridge/freezer is a popular option. The cockpit is large enough that the seats don’t impact too much on floor space.
A pair of corner seat-bins can be removed if more space is required, but with the backrests built into the transom, they are comfortable places to sit while underway. On the starboard side the backrest is hinged to provide access to the battery and isolation switch.
There’s a lot of storage aboard this boat, from the underfloor locker between the seats, to shelves and cubby holes in the cockpit, hardtop and forward cabin. Full-length cockpit shelves have rod/pole racks and there are shorter shelves inside the hardtop.
The forward cabin also boasts shelves, as well as storage space under the vee-berths. There’s room enough to sleep three with the infill fitted and the electric toilet in the sump, into which the cockpit drains. It’s easily reached by removing a moulded panel. Under the floor a 195-litre stainless steel tank supplies the fuel and a 50-litre freshwater tank is an option.
Four through-coaming rodholders take care of trolling duties and rod storage/fishing positions provided by a pair of Railblaza receptacles on the bait station and a six-position folding stainless steel rocket launcher.
The back-to-back seating arrangement of this SS660 works well. The supportive seats, while not adjustable like pedestal models, are positioned so driving is comfortable whether sitting down or standing up. The seats and trim panels feature high quality vinyl upholstery with plush cloth used for the vee-berth squabs.
The new dash console works well too, with everything easy to see and to reach, while the VHF radio and Fusion stereo head unit are housed overhead, freeing up console space.
This boat has a 12-inch Simrad MFD, featuring high and low Chirp, Total Scan through-hull and Platinum charting, as well as Yamaha’s Command Link digital display. The SS660 models perform best with V6 engines. The soft-top versions are lighter and go well with four-cylinder outboards from 175hp upwards, according to SeaCraft’s Dennis McCorkingdale, but SeaCraft only fits hardtops with V6s. Seacraft is the Auckland and Northland Retail Dealer for Haines Hunter Boats and kindly supplied the test example.
The review boat has a Yamaha 225hp on the transom, a 4.2-litre V6 that shares its block with Yamaha’s 250 and 300hp models. The engine is spinning an 18-inch stainless steel SDS propeller, which is super-smooth whenever the engine is shifted in and out of gear. Effortless Seastar hydraulic steering and electronic throttle and shift controls make the boat a pleasure to helm.
Unsurprisingly, performance is brisk, with a top speed of 50 knots. Acceleration from anywhere in the rev range is impressive, thanks to the big V6’s generous helping of torque, and Lectrotab trim tabs keep things on the level.
Performance to spare makes for a relaxed driving experience and the well-behaved hull easily copes with a range of sea conditions. It certainly wasn’t bothered by a steep Waitemata chop during our review, keeping us comfortable punching into it at 23 knots. It also coped with a 40-knot run into a head sea to check for any rattles. It’s a dry boat, too – the windscreen wiper remained unemployed for the duration and at the end of the day, the cockpit was bone-dry.
Better than ever
Solidly-built and well-finished, the revamped, bluewater-capable SS660 is an even better boat for Haines Hunter’s upgrades. The 660’s helm console can now accommodate the latest electronics and it joins other Haines Hunter models manufactured with modern composite floors which provide superior strength and durability, along with enhanced buoyancy.