Clayton McDiarmid says this Haines Hunter V17R hot rocket is his first and last rebuild — but the effort to get his perfect ride was all worth it.



THE CAPTAIN: We’ve never heard of Boyne Island — please explain.

CLAYTON: It’s a small, peaceful coastal town, 22km south of Gladstone, with access to some of the best bits of the southern Great Barrier Reef. When I started out, it was all about spending time in the water spearfishing — no rods required. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot more jigging and bait fishing, usually at the 30m–50m mark.



What’s your boating history leading up to rebuilding this sexy sled?

My first boat was a Cootacraft Little Ram, a great build quality, but just too small. I ran my old man’s Whittley Sea Legend 601 for a while. Also a great boat, but I wanted something I could go harder in that was easy enough to handle solo, but still big enough to run four-up for spearing. That lead me to this Haines Hunter V17R.



They’re like GT Falcons, getting rarer and more expensive, hey?

Yeah, it was a deep dive on Gumtree and after months of searching, I found one. It had been parked up in a shed for more than 10 years. Before that it was used in the Gold Coast canals — hence the four layers of antifoul, which were a nightmare to remove!



We’ve been there before. How was the rest of her?

The exterior had the worst backyard, two-pac paint job you could ask for, and the insides were as you’d expect. The stringers, transom and bulkheads were all waterlogged. I did the full strip and grind-out myself and had the antifoul sandblasted off before sending it away for fibreglassing.



She was parked up for a while?

The build took a little over a year and I was surprised how long the fit-out took. It takes some time to get everything in the right place. I thought one year was pretty good, considering you hear about people taking 10 years to finish a build. And didn’t your Haines Hunter Nub Tub take about four?



Fair call. Did you spend as much as The Captain?

A little over $80,000.



That’s our replacement value estimate — retail value, anyway. Describe your boat in five words

Built like a brick shithouse.



Tell us about the lay-up.

After the hull was ground, we put on two layers of 600g, followed by 600g chop strand. Seydel Craft sell a fibreglass stringer floor kit and we replaced the moulded bulk heads with 25mm Thermo-Lite to gain more fuel capacity. Seydel Craft also supplied the wavebreaker. The transom features two layers of laminated 25mm Thermo-Lite. The painter used two-pac DeBeer white and Wattyl polyurethane for the black. Below the waterline is gelcoat, for more durability and easier repair.



What are your best tips?

Don’t rush. Even a quick rebuild is going to take a shitload of time. And find a boat with half-reasonable paint. The stringers and transom are easy to replace, but if the paint is bad, you’ll spend many long weekends sanding away. Also, be patient. I had a shipwright, thankfully, but still sat for a while biting my nails waiting. This will be my first and last rebuild, but it’s definitely worth it. Finally, I’d say do your rebuild once and do it well.



Wise words, Clayton. Tell us about the donks.

I run a current-model Mercury 150HP Pro XS. It’s the lightest engine in its class and the colours match the boat. They are fed by two aluminium tanks — an 80L in the nose and a 200L in the guts.



Favourite bolt-on?

Good electronics are a game changer. Being able to run at speed and mark good bottom or bait, especially on the long runs out to the reef, is critical. I’m running a Simrad evo3S and S2009 units, with Airmar SS175HW, SS175L and Active Imaging Side-Scan transducers.



Tell us about the other bits.

A JL Audio MM80 HR (hidden receiver), 3in-1 Active Imaging transducer, Plaztek glovebox and tackle draw trays, a custom deep-drop rod holder and stainless board from SCBB Fabrication, Lone Star GX2 anchor winch, Motorguide 80lb 60inch, and Victron lithium 12/24-volt charger.



Back to the fishing — what do you love chasing?

I love chasing big red fish, either in the water or on the line.



Weapons of choice?

I’m running Shimano Saragosas with Terez rods for bottom bashing, Shimano Tranx with Ocea Legacy for jigging, and I’m a big fan of Nomad and Missing at Sea jigs. I’m also running Aimrite carbon roller spearguns.



Tell us about the name — Full send mode.

My two best mates and I entered a fishing comp called Shimano King of Kings run by SCF Fishing. We thought it was a bit of a social gig, but turns out there were some pretty heavy hitters competing. On day one, we punched out, planning on spending two nights on the reef. We stopped halfway out for a Hail Mary. First drop, we landed an 11kg largemouth nannygai, then a 12kg model. On the third drop, we bagged an 80cm coral trout. Three personal best fish in under 10 minutes — as well as two trophies for both species. After that, I really couldn’t call her anything else.


An epic yarn, Clayton, and an epic rebuild. The Captain salutes you!


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