Caribbean 2300 Boat Test

Built with an emphasis on function over frills, Caribbean’s trailerable 2300 Hardtop Runabout enables you to chase the action with affordable ease. At its heart is a proven offshore hull with the finest of pedigrees, delivering ocean performance comparable with much larger vessels.

Caribbean 2300 Boat Test

Boat Test Caribbean 2300: BORN TO ROAM
Author: Barry Barbar

This boat test ran in ISSUE 103 of BlueWater magazine – MAY-JUNE 2014

For the complete feature, including all photos and information captions, you can purchase back-issues here

There’s an age old saying that goes “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it”, and it’s never been truer than when talking about Australia’s Caribbean range of boats built by International Marine. For over 50 years the Spooner family has built a no-nonsense, honest, down-to-earth boat, designed with the fisherman and family in mind. Their philosophy is a simple one: build it strong, build it simple and build it to last. The amount of Caribbeans that we see in tournaments these days – along with the Spooner’s earlier Australian-built Bertrams – is testament to this.

The Caribbean 2300 is the newest member of the family, produced to fill the gap between the trailerable 21-foot Reefrunner and the oversize 24 and 2400. The 24 and 2400 are both proven bluewater performers, but with their beam measuring 2.70m, towing in built-up areas or on main roads is restricted in some Australian states. Although permits can still be obtained subject to the installation of flashing lights and wide load signs, such restrictions had proven off putting for some and tow limits still apply during certain hours even with a permit.

Born For Towing

The answer was quite simple, International Marine needed to build a trailerable boat to fill the gap, and so the new 2300 was born. In fact, they already had the perfect hull in the retired mould for the Bertram 23, a winning design that has been used on our waters and loved for close to 30 years. What the previous design needed, however, was a makeover to take it from its former incarnations as a flybridge sportfisher or softtop runabout to a modern-looking, no-nonsense, outboard-powered fishing rig.

The test boat was supplied by Sylvania Marina in Sydney, Australia’s largest Caribbean dealer. We were met by Nathan Ghosn, who long-term readers may remember for his many features in the early years of BlueWater. Nathan has a real passion for anything fishing and boating and has built up a reputation as one of the country’s leaders in gameboat fitouts and makeovers. His work can be seen on a number of tournament-winning vessels, including many of his own.

Roomy Cockpit

As we stepped aboard the new 2300, the first thing I noticed was the size of the cockpit. Like all Caribbeans, it features a no-nonsense design – just a flat, uncluttered work area. And for a 7-metre (23-foot) boat, it’s huge. The gunnels sit 800mm from the cockpit floor, giving acomfortable and safe feel while standing in the cockpit. Padding around the gunnels, as was intended for this boat, would make fighting fish even more comfortable.

The test boat was fitted with outdoor-style marine carpet, which is easy on the feet and stops glare, but can still be easily removed when fishing. In the centre of the cockpit a hinged opening hatch exposes the underfloor fishbox, which is well-suited to those taking fish home for dinner. Forward of that is another hinged opening hatch that covers an underfloor storage area ideal for ropes, accessories, sea anchors and so on. The long range 425-litre fuel tank is also situated under the floor from approximately mid-ship to the transom, giving the 2300 great weight distribution below water line.

On the stern you are met by two 150hp Mercury 4-stroke outboards that strike a stunning pose on the back of this boat. The twin batteries and battery switches have been neatly installed out of the way under the transom. At the transom you have a moulded circular livebait tank on the starboard side, with a small transom door on the port. Located under the transom is the fully automatic Rule 1500GPH bilge pump that makes short work of any water that finds its way aboard.

Space Storage

The driver’s and companion seats are located under the beautifully moulded hardtop and sit on top of fibreglass boxes. Both seats are comfortable, bucket-style seats that swivel as well as slide backwards and forwards. The companion seat-box contains a large insulated icebox ideal for the day’s food and drinks, while the driver’s seat-box has an opening rear door making it ideal for storage. As Nathan was contemplating keeping this boat for himself, he mentioned that he would fit a flush mounted tackle locker, the type that carries four or five large trays, to the forward section of this box.

The dash, like the cockpit, is massive for a boat of this size. The test boat was fitted with two colour Raymarine screens, compass, SmartCraft engine display, switching, anchor winch circuitbreaker and switch, with still loads of room to spare. It would be easy to install a 35 or 40cm display if needed, or two larger screens. The driving position is well suited to the boat, with an easy view of the forward area, as well as both sides and the dash.

Sleeping For Two

The vee-berth in the forward cabin has a centre infill that allows two people to sleep comfortably, and a marine toilet in the forward section will keep the ladies happy. In addition to the port and starboard storage shelves, there’s a huge amount of storage situated under the
cushions. Once again, International Marine has made use of all the available space and has even been able to add underfloor storage as you step into the vee-berth.

Nathan was thinking seriously about campaigning this boat in a few gamefishing tournaments, but said that regardless of what his plans were for it, the boat needed to be fitted with the right equipment. “I speak to so many people who tell me how much cheaper otherboats are, but when they do the sums and fit the right electronics and options the price blows out. At least with our boats you know exactly what you are getting,” he said.

The test boat was fitted with a custom stainless steel rocket launcher rod rack, side clears that were by far the neatest I have ever seen on a boat, cockpit carpet, Reelax outriggers and rodholders, VHF and 27mg radios, Raymarine electronics and more. When we went out for our test run I was confident we were testing a boat under real fishing conditions: full of water, and complete with 300 litres of fuel and all the options.

The Right Engines

The twin 150hp Mercury 4-strokes started as soon as we hit the key. These engines are another testament to Nathan’s attitude regarding buying the right boat, not the cheapest boat. He commented that although twin Merc’ 4-strokes were perhaps $15,000 more expensive than a single large 2-stroke, the selection gave far more torque and gave the boat far better performance.

As we pulled away from the wharf I was amazed at the tight turning circle of the boat, made easier by the aftermarket polished wheel with quick-turning knob. It made manoeuvring a breeze.

Heading out through Botany Bay, the revs were lifted to 2800, giving us a quiet and comfortable speed of 18 knots, with the SmartCraft display showing total fuel usage of25L/h. With the revs moved up to 3500, the boat picked up the pace to 24 knots at a total burn of 34L/h before we stepped it up to 4000rpm and cruised through the bay at a brisk 30 knots using 51L/h. At this speed the 2300 was nimble through the water, skipping effortlessly over the bay chop and taking every turn of the wheel with ease.

It was around this time I remembered what hull I was riding in, and realised once again why they are so respected throughout the world. We cleared the heads and the revs were pulled back as we sliced our way through a 1-metre easterly swell with chop from about 10 knots of southeast breeze on top.

As we cruised offshore at 20 knots it seemed we were in a much larger vessel, effortlessly climbing the swells and gently cutting down the back of them. Then, when we pulled the boat back to trolling speed, I noticed that its fuel usage was a measly 15L/h total.

Great Stability

The hull is very stable and performed just as well as that of its larger predecessors. It felt safe at any angle to the sea, and due to the high sides and low cockpit liner you also feel very safe while walking around, even at high speed.

However, the down side to the low cockpit liner is that it’s not self-draining. It was pointed out to us that none of the boats in the Caribbean range are self-draining until you get to their 9-metre Flybridge Cruiser. The reasoning behind this is that if you lift the floor liner higher so that the boat self-drains, you also raise its centre of gravity, creating an unstable boat.

While the boat is travelling there are numerous handholds available for those who are standing in the cockpit, although I did notice the lack of anything for the companion seat. This could be easily fixed, however, with a stainless grabrail fitted to the dash.

Ready For Fishing

The test boat was fitted with Reelax ‘Reef’ outrigger bases and 5.5m Reelax poles. Reef ’riggers are one of the simplest yet most effective bases on the market. You simply pull out the locking pin and lay the ’rigger over – which can be easily performed from the cockpit of the 2300.

The four Reelax rodholders are spaced well on the gunnels and the angles chosen to suit trolling, bottom-fishing or drifting. There is a freshwater handheld shower at the transom that personally I would convert to saltwater so it could be used as a deckwash, with the fitment of a skin fitting and a three-way valve.

The front deck can be accessed via the large opening front hatch in the vee-berth. On the front deck you will find a split stainless-steel bowrail, dual rope and chain lockers and the remotely operated Muir rope/chain winch. The forward windscreen is made of toughened glass and has two heavy duty wipers to make easy work of the spray or rain.

Function, Not Frills

Although simple, this boat has been built using a method proven over 50 years. It is extremely workable and leaves you wanting for nothing. Sure, it might not be as fancy as some competitors, but what it lacks in frills it makes up for in function. Nathan probably summed it up best by saying that this boat can keep the family happy cruising or skiing down the river, while also keeping up with the big boys in tournaments. From yellowtail to yellowfin and mackerel to marlin, Caribbean’s trailerable 2300 Hardtop Runabout enables you to chase the action with affordable ease.

Highlights

  • Trailerable without any special permits necessary.
  • A great bluewater hull, proven over 30 years.
  • Long range, with a 425-litre fuel capacity.
  • Huge cockpit with underfloor fishbox and lots of storage.
  • Marine toilet plus sleeping space for two.
  • Large dash for serious electronics.
  • Large sidepockets take gaffs, tagpoles and other gear.
  • Good value and resale from the Caribbean range.

Capacities

  • People: 7
  • Maximum Rated Power: 300hp
  • Fuel: 425 litres
  • Water: 80 litres

General

  • Type: monohull
  • Material: fibreglass
  • Length (overall): 7.05m (23.2ft)
  • Beam: 2.5m
  • Beam at transom: 2.34m
  • Weight: 1550kg (boat only)
  • Deadrise: 24°

Engines

  • Make/model:Mercury EFI
  • Type:4-stroke outboard
  • Fitted hp: 2 x 150

SPECIFICATIONS: Caribbean 2300 Hardtop Runabout
Options fitted: Side curtains, cockpit storm cover, bunk fill-in cushions, hardtop-mounted rocket launcher rod rack, six Reelax rodholders, Reelax ‘Reef’ outriggers with 4.5m poles, cockpit carpet, 12-volt cockpit spotlights, Raymarine C95 and C97 colour displays with GPS chart plotter and sounder.  

Caribbean 2300 Boat Test

Boat Test Caribbean 2300: BORN TO ROAM
Author: Barry Barbar
Supplied by: Sylvania Marina

This boat test ran in ISSUE 103 of BlueWater magazine – MAY-JUNE 2014

For the complete feature, including all photos and information captions, you can purchase back-issues here

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