CARIBBEAN BUYER'S GUIDE

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There is no denying the facts that as a boatbuilder, Melbourne’s International Marine is without peer in Australia

CARIBBEAN BUYER'S GUIDE
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More than fifty years in the trade and more than 50,000 boats launched speak for themselves. All the while earning the undiminished respect of a loyal, cult-status following. As one boater was overheard remarking on the marque: "If it’s a Caribbean, you’ll need a decent depthsounder." A pithy reference to the lashings of fibregrass used to produce a hull that’s so thick you can’t see the bottom through it. Many boaters, if not all, regard the sturdy Caribbean as a fair dinkum seaboat, inspiring confidence offshore in the toughest conditions for a safe return home. We at Trade-a-Boat take pride in presenting our in-depth Buyer’s Guide into this wonderful Australian icon.

HISTORY - LORE OF THE SEA
STORY JOHN ZAMMIT PHOTOS ELLEN DEWAR; INTERNATIONAL MARINE

When Arch Spooner, the forefather of our modern-day boatbuilding industry, first began building boats in 1958 he was one of the pioneers of fibreglass manufacturing in Australia. His business was called International Plastics and boatbuilding wasn’t the only thing Arch turned his hand to. In fact it was the by-product of his search for a clever use for the new wonder material.

Arch first saw fibreglass at work in the UK and was fascinated the moment he watched as a part came out of a mould. Thereafter he tried his hand at building caravans and various industrial items, eventually the perceived glamour
of boats took his fancy. He wasn’t even a boatbuilder, however that didn’t stop him. He just went out and found someone who had the knowledge. The rest, as they say, is history!

Today, more than 50 years on, the International Marine business that Spooner founded is still in operation, building the iconic Caribbean brand of boats, with 18 different flybridge and runabout models from 19ft to 49ft. So there’s a Caribbean for just about every budget and bent. Additionally, the business is still owned by the Spooner family and currently run by Arch’s grandson, Richard, on the very same site the first boat was moulded.

CARIBBEAN GARDENS
Arch purchased the original 121-hectare site at Scoresby in Melbourne’s southeastern suburbs in 1945. By the 1960s, with production in full swing, he decided he needed a lake on which to test the boats he was building. There began Lake Caribbean, complete with islands and more than 40 hectares of gardens.

The lake was subsequently opened to the public and for years featured waterski shows and amusement rides.

Today, Lake Caribbean has a permanent marketplace where the public can still enjoy this stunning setting, the free barbecues, chairlift, and jungle boat rides before a menagerie of (fibreglass) jungle animals on the islands of Caribbean Gardens, as it is now known.

But Arch was not a man to stand still and he decided it would be good for business if he could offer customers a boat and a mooring. So in 1969, he developed a marshy swamp in the beachside suburb of St Kilda into what we now know as St Kilda Marina. It remains one of Melbourne’s best boating amenities. Situated less than 9km from the CBD, it is still owned by the Spooner family.

50,000 BOATS LATER
In 2007, International Marine celebrated 50 years and 50,000 boats built — quite an achievement by any standards. When I asked senior manager John Barbar the reason for the company’s longevity and success, he put it down to a number of factors, not the least is that they build a good, solid boat proven by the test of time.

"It’s not unusual to see Bertrams (which Caribbean built under licence) dating back to the ’60s that are still floating proud today," said John.

These days, Caribbean boats are still occasionally referred to as Bertrams — a legacy that had its roots in the early ’60s when Arch began building the Miami-based boats.

THE BERTIES
International Marine utilised the marque’s well-regarded hull designs and eagle badge. As its expertise grew, it continually modified the designs to the extent that, by the early 1980s, they were no longer manufacturing any of the original Bertram designs.

Rather than continue to pay royalties for the Bertram name, they promoted their own Caribbean brand. For 15 years, starting in the 1970s, Caribbean even built yachts after the purchase of Columbia Yachts moulds from the USA. But sailboats were given the chop when it was decided that the greater financial rewards lay in building powerboats.

PEOPLE POWER
All of the structural elements of the boats are manufactured on site. The hulls are laid-up by hand using a pre-determined amount of product, measured by weight. This ensures that the quality and integrity of each hull is consistent. Richard Spooner says this is the method they’ve been using for years, he believes in the old adage: "If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it."

Great emphasis is placed on the quality and integrity of Caribbean boats, which have exceptionally long model runs, resulting in good resale value. And the yard makes an effort to maintain the affordability of their boats.

Production-wise, Caribbean is all about tried-and-trusted. The boats evolve from drums and rolls of raw materials, down a production line, which, in the interest of cost control, the yard tries not to vary much.

Pricewise, on a per-foot or per-metre basis, Caribbean’s faithful fibreglass cruisers are more competitive than any other boat built in Australia, we’re told.

And while more and more boatbuilders are going offshore these days, it has never been a consideration to the company because "there are many aspects involved in building a boat, including some 3000 components… labour is just one small part of the whole equation".

THE CHALLENGES
The Spooners are proud of the fact they have retained all staff without having to lay-off a soul when the Global Financial Crisis rocked boating in 2008 — yet another great achievement compared with the fate of most other big boatbuilders.

Where to from now? The Spooner family business is well and truly diversified. But for all that’s grounded in bricks and mortar, land and lakes, it’s fibreglass that runs through the veins of the Spooner family and boatbuilding is dear to their hearts. International Marine plans to keep on doing what it does best.


Inside Melbourne’s International Marine workshops.


Richard Spooner currently manages his family-run International Marine empire.


The man who started the Caribbean legacy, Arch Spooner.


An International Marine test tank.


Under construction, Caribbean’s flagship 49.

CARIBBEAN ALL-STARS
International Marine officially began building Caribbean boats in 1989, the humble flybridge cruiser remaining a stalwart of the local boating scene to this very day. Trade-a-Boat reveals its five best Caribbeans of all time…

CARIBBEAN 35
STORY DAVID LOCKWOOD PUBLISHED JULY 2000

An Australian classic, the Caribbean 35 was first tested by Trade-a-Boat in early 1998, and the revamped flybridge cruiser again two years later.



Like a tub of long-forgotten leftovers, the Caribbean 35 was lost in cold storage for too long. Now, the classic of classics has been defrosted, remodelled, and relaunched, serving-up a better standard of living.

The new model’s interior is most welcome, gone are many of the dated furnishings and fossilised fittings.

While the new-look 35 is in many ways more Riviera-esque, Caribbean has managed to retain its identity and its celebrity as a marque of a terrific seaboat.

THE ALL-ROUNDER
Of all the models, the 35 is probably the best all-rounder. With the new changes it’s just got better. There now is a better flybridge, optional entertainment centre, new mouldings, lights and roof lining, smarter taps in the bathroom and galley, circuit-breakers instead of fuses, and a CD stacker. New-model 35s also feature larger doors in the transom, where a livebait tank is inbuilt.

The smarter changes start in the forepeak cabin, with an offset double berth it’s now lined with plush marine vinyl. Similar enhancements were made to the portside cabin. Opposite is the one and only bathroom. But it gets full marks for having a separate shower stall and electric loo.

Three steps up the galley is a workable space, and all-up there’s room to store enough provisions for a week or two away. In the saloon, a U-shaped lounge and dinette to port converts to a berth, while a lounge and pullman opposite can form another double. All-up, it’s possible to sleep eight.

The Caribbean 35’s cockpit has been improved. There’s a deep lazarette, sidepockets and room to climb down into the bilge. The module that harbours the eutectic fridge/freezer to starboard also looks better, as does the sink unit to port.

Deck hardware included rodholders, pop-up cleats and chic stainless steel rubbing rails. Recessed steps in the cockpit provide better access to the sidedecks. Back aft, an old-style ladder leads to the flybridge.

International Marine is to be commended for its makeover of the bridge. When there’s just one station, it has to feel like home.

Fitted with single-lever controls, the new 35 was an easy boat to command. Without touching the tabs, the smooth 330hp Cummins motors had little trouble propelling the deep-vee hull to planing speeds.

As with the many, many 35s that have been launched before it, the hull trims well, turns well and accelerates well. It’s still the same boat that works so well trolling for giant gamefish, but the new-look 35 is at last a better social boat.

QuickSpecs
CARIBBEAN 35

MATERIAL: GRP
TYPE: Deep-vee monohull
LENGTH OVERALL: 10.67m
BEAM: 4.03m
WEIGHT: 8500kg
FUEL: 1350lt
WATER: 405lt
ENGINE: 2 X Cummins 330B turbo-diesel

CARIBBEAN 49
STORY DAVID LOCKWOOD PHOTOS ELLEN DEWAR PUBLISHED APRIL 2011

International Marine replaced the flagship 47 with the Caribbean 49 for a step in the right direction.

The flagship of the range, the Caribbean 49 follows in the footsteps and footprint of her predecessor the 47. Only the hull and cockpit have been extended, leading to a huge outdoor play-station for anglers and cruising clans.

The supersized cockpit at 170ft² or 15.8m² is the largest on any boat in her class, boasts Caribbean. Meantime, the increased waterline length, as well as lower shaft angles, has also led to performance gains from the modest 715hp Caterpillar C12 engines.

Our test day was wild and woolly, plenty of spray was tossed about, but there wasn’t a hard thump to worry us. And the wipers ensured clear vision in the enclosed flying bridge.

NEW HEIGHTS
International Marine has succeeded in creating a second saloon or living station within her flybridge, accessed via a traditional cockpit ladder.

The quality of the mouldings and general fit were commensurate with a million-dollar boat. Among the comforts are a portside lounge and L-shaped dinette, fridge and a sink. There are opening side windows, roof hatches and carpet. A separate sound system lets you party up top and air-con is fitted to the flybridge.

Twin Raymarine widescreens, bowthruster, autopilot and good views inspire you to cast the lines and go cruising. Vision back over the cockpit was similarly clear when reversing to chase a fish. The upgraded high-backed helm seats provide terrific support underway.

Like all good cruising boats, the Caribbean 49 has oodles of dry storage — the lazarette is just huge.
There are twin bait tanks and a big eutectic cockpit fridge-freezer, while the cockpit is also traced by covered sidepockets.

The moulded steps to the sidedecks are a boon, the high and long trailing bowrail adds to the safety factor, and the foredeck has room for tender, davit and cradle.

Engineroom access is via a hatch in the saloon, and the engines have servicing room all sides.

Inside, is a big U-shaped lounge and settee opposite that converts to spare berths via the Pullman method. New LED lights let you light things up without fear of flattening the batteries.

Accommodation is forward in three cabins that includes a portside double bed, a starboard cabin with twin singles, and a stateroom ahead with queen bed and en suite. The second bathroom includes another oversized shower.

The boat doesn’t so much bend to fashion as set out to provide extended service and timeless lines for its owner.

(QuickSpecs)
CARIBBEAN 49


MATERIAL: Handlaid GRP hull and deck
TYPE: Monohull
LENGTH: 14.77m
BEAM: 4.88m
DRAFT: Approx 1.37m
WEIGHT: 20,500kg (dry)
FUEL: 2700lt
WATER: 900lt
ENGINE: 2 x Caterpillar C12 electronic turbo-diesels

CARIBBEAN 24 FLYBRIDGE SPORTS FISHERMAN
STORY GEOFF MIDDLETON PHOTOS ELLEN DEWAR PUBLISHED NOVEMBER 2007

One of the smallest flybridge cruisers on the Australian market.

There is no doubting the genealogy of the new Caribbean 24 Flybridge Sports Fisherman. The company has produced one of the most recognisable powerboats on the Australian market in the Bertram 25, not to mention the 23, 28 and more recently the Caribbean 26.

Although the new 24 bears a startling resemblance to its forebears, we are informed it is an entirely new hull and shares little with any of the previous models. What it does share is a similar layout with a cosy dinette, galley, double berth forward and enough of the comforts of home for a leisurely weekend away.

But the big news for this Caribbean is that it’s trailerable. You will, however, need a pretty big 4WD wagon to tow the Caribbean as it tips the scales at a hefty 3250kg and with a beam of 2.69m you also need to check local road rules.

STEP ABOARD
Our test boat was a fully-optioned version put together by St Kilda Boat Sales in Melbourne. The package includes all you need for a drive-away fishing or family cruising outfit — trailer, electronics, VHF, Clarion CD stereo and a stack more.

The first thing I noted was the size of the cockpit. It’s huge for a trailerable boat measuring 4.5m² and offers storage compartments plus a deck shower. The engine box sits aft, flanked by two removable seats, and folds forward to reveal a 260hp 5.0lt MerCruiser V8 MPI sterndrive.

Under the cockpit is the big 300lt fuel tank but no killtanks or any bait tanks — a curious omission for a boat with the Sports Fisherman moniker.

It’s worth noting the lower helm can be deleted with a cost saving. Personally, I wouldn’t bother. I’d keep the lower station for when the weather turns nasty.

UP ON TOP
The flybridge is obviously the main helm and the view is great, with bow and foredeck as well as the aft extremities all visible. The cable steering is light and the controls easy to use.

Short work was made of the chop by the Caribbean as we glided effortlessly onto the plane. Although we didn’t achieve it on the day, we were informed the top speed on flat water is 31kts at 4600rpm.

As the chop increased, I noted little spray coming aboard, no doubt due to the nicely flared bow and the chines. Into the breeze and slop the boat performed admirably, with hardly any slamming and a nice, smooth ride.

Overall, I liked the Caribbean 24. It has plenty of room for up to six or seven adults and it is certainly big enough for a weekend away.

(QuickSpecs)
CARIBBEAN 24F SF

MATERIAL: Fibreglass
TYPE: Planing monohull
LENGTH OVERALL: 7.32m
BEAM: 2.69m
WEIGHT: 3250kg (on trailer)
FUEL: 300lt
WATER: 100lt
ENGINE: 260hp 5lt MerCruiser V8 MPI sterndrive

CARIBBEAN 26 RUNABOUT
STORY & PHOTOS DAVID LOCKWOOD PUBLISHED DECEMBER 1998

Simple yet stylish and long a favourite with Aussie dayboaters.

Having seen more summers than Alan Border or Bondi Beach, the timeless Caribbean 26 Runabout is the boat that helped define the Australian dayboating tradition.

A big, open, commodious and powerful dayboat, the 26 Runabout can run a crowd around to that quiet cove, protected bay or secluded anchorage. It can even run offshore with exceptional seaworthiness.

First and foremost, the Caribbean is a dayboat with few bells and whistles, but lots of open space to pack in your friends and their eskies, picnic baskets, wakeboards and fishing rods.

For all its years of faithful service, the 26 Runabout still looks good to me. It has the same hull as the company’s 26ft flybridge boats and essentially the same foredeck.

First thing you’ll notice is the boarding platform, it’s mounted mid-transom and is wide enough to lie across. There’s a small lounge mounted against the transom and atop the engine box, accommodating up to three adults. Wide gunwales flow to the bow and have big, full-length, lined sidepockets.

Deck gear includes twin aft cleats and a pair of rodholders. You can walk around the sidedecks to the bow, with plenty of room on the foredeck to sunbake.

The deep sides make the 26 Runabout a particularly safe boat for kiddies. For this reason alone, it’s worth a place on the shortlist of boaties with young families.

The decor on the demo boat was custom fitted. There was carpet in the cockpit and upholstery fitted by local upholsterers, who also did the canopy and storm covers. Traditional teak was used for the bulkhead into the cabin, the dinette and dashboard.

Step down from the cockpit and under the canopy and you will find a dinette with two bench seats to port. Four adults can do lunch here. There are storage pockets built-in everywhere. Opposite the dinette are stove and sink, with some bench space and storage below. The helm seat just forward of this has an ice box underneath.

The cute little cabin isn’t for show. Included is a big vee-berth that converts to a double when you add the infill. And there’s a manual toilet rather than one of those whiffy portable loos.

Fitted with twin 210hp MerCruiser EFI
V6 petrol engines, 4.3lt aside and with Alpha One legs, the 26 Runabout gets up and boogies. The view is nice and clear from behind the high windscreen, while the wheel is set quite flat.

In short, Caribbean’s 26 Runabout is your quintessential, archetypal Aussie dayboat. There are no frills but it’s strong and seaworthy.

(QuickSpecs)
CARIBBEAN 26 RUNABOUT

MATERIAL: GRP
TYPE: C. Raymond Hunt deep-vee monohull
LENGTH: 7.29m
BEAM: 3.02m
WEIGHT: 2400kg (dry)
FUEL: 500lt
WATER: 132lt
ENGINE: 2 x 210hp MerCruiser EFI
V6 petrol


CARIBBEAN 27 FLYBRIDGE SPORT FISHERMAN

STORY & PHOTOS DAVID LOCKWOOD PUBLISHED MAY 2009


A 27-foot flybridge cruiser replaces the popular 26-footer and better caters for the budget-conscious boater.

This Caribbean voyage saw me bobbing about on the new 27 Flybridge Sport Fisherman that replaces the popular 26 FBSF, which I first tested 20 years earlier. As though it were yesterday, I can still remember that test and see the images I shot as clear as day.

In 1989, the 26 FBSF was released to replace the 25 FBSF, a true classic and one of the most popular flybridge cruisers on the Australian seascape. From 1964 to 1989, more than 1200 of the venerable 25s were built, with many still tied to marinas today.

The 26 was a huge hit, too, with hundreds upon hundreds sold around the country. It was a wider boat designed to accommodate twin MerCruiser V6 petrol engines. The new 27 is wider again, with more fuel and water, and greater head height in the saloon.

With that and other refinements, the new 27 FBSF is a better boat than the 26 and it runs really well through the water.

A 3.21m beam means a lot more floor space and headroom for hanging out or hardcore fishing on the new 27. The flybridge gains in stature, including L-shaped seating. While there is still a lower helm, the bridge station has been upgraded, the dash larger to better accommodate big-screen electronics. And with a bimini and clears you gain a bigger and better enclosure.

Looking forward, the foredeck is noticeably bigger, with plenty of flare in the topsides to shed water, yet a nice fine entry at water level all the same. Whereas the 26 has just one anchor locker the 27 has two.

The whopping great cockpit measures 7.3m² and is perfect for fishing or staging lunch. While the 26 has scant little room alongside the engine box, the 27 is spacious enough to stand and fight a big fish. Storage exists in sidepockets and the floor carpeted. The swimplatform is high enough off the water that it doesn’t affect the boat when reversing. Last but not least, there’s a good sense of freeboard to keep the water out and crew safely aboard.

The 27’s layout remains virtually unchanged, there’s a dinette to port and a galley opposite with sink, cold water, stove and storage space, plus a vee-berth in the cabin.

As ever, it’s performance that attracts prospective Caribbean owners to the fold. To this end, the new 27 has plenty of get up and go.

After the weekend, a clean-up shouldn’t take more than an hour. That’s another advantage of a no-frills Caribbean over a flash import. There’s not too much that can go wrong and the skipper can take comfort from the fact the boatbuilder has been around more than 50 years.

(QuickSpecs)
CARIBBEAN 27F SF

MATERIAL: Handlaid GRP hull
TYPE: Hard-chine deep-vee monohull
LENGTH OVERALL: 8.23m
BEAM: 3.21m
WEIGHT: 3100kg (dry)
DRAFT: Approx 0.5m
FUEL: 550lt
WATER: 160lt
ENGINE: 2 X 220hp MerCruiser 4.3MPI V6 petrol


CARIBBEAN REPOWERED - Fly like an Eagle
STORY ANDREW NORTON PHOTOS BARRY ASHENHURST; SUPPLIED


A Caribbean 26 gains a new lease on life with twin Mercury Diesel TDI 265 sterndrives.


My sea legs are pretty good, but when Bruce Vaughan opened the throttles of his repowered Caribbean 26 I found myself being thrown rapidly across the cockpit. Fortunately there wasn’t far to travel before meeting the engine box, but it happened a couple of times.

Bruce had owned the 26 for a couple of years, when one of its existing 4.3lt MerCruiser V6 petrols dropped a valve, so he contacted David and Philip Bailey of Cove Marine on Port Stephens about opting for diesel power. Bruce wanted engine longevity and considered various options before settling on the Mercury TDI, not only because of its impressive torque and reasonably light weight, but also because they could be shoehorned into the existing engine space.

Philip had to modify the engine bearers and box to accommodate the longer engines. The transom was strengthened to handle up to 1000Nm per engine and the box was raised aft and extended forward, the cockpit floor ahead cut and moved forward.

Bruce told me the engines cost around $70K and the total conversion coming in at just under $100K. The 26 could be described as over-capitalised, but as Bruce intends keeping the boat for several years — and the new engines perform way better than the old units — owning the revitalised Caribbean 26 is more about enjoyment than expenditure.

DRIVING THE 26
Like most current electronically-managed automotive diesels the TDI 265 starts instantly hot or cold, with no grey or black smoke appearing at any time. The idling vibration levels are similar to the 4.3, with slightly higher mechanical noise, but none of the traditional diesel rattle. Up to around 3000rpm the engines were slightly noisier than the 4.3s but not loud enough to be annoying.

The single-lever Mercury control boxes, with drive-by-wire DTS (Digital Throttle and Shift) made manoeuvring way easier than the absurd twin lever controls of the 4.3s.

Even when accelerated quickly onto the plane the 265 engines didn’t blow any black smoke and minimum clean-planing speed in the Caribbean 26 corresponded directly to where peak torque is developed. At higher speeds the TDI engines were no louder than the 4.3s, with the whine of the two sterndrive gear sets being noisier than the turbochargers.

As with all Mercury sterndrives I’ve tested, the power steering was direct but not overly light.

According to Bruce the maximum speed the 26 could achieve with the 4.3s was 32kts at 4500rpm, the engines sucking down around 120lt/h combined. But at 3000rpm the TDI 265s returned 29.8kts sipping a mere 58lt/h combined and pushing seven adults!

Increasing the rpm to 3500 returned a 35.6kts average using 80.5lt/h combined, so it’s not hard to see just how fuel efficient the 265 engines are compared to the old 4.3s. Over the total of three hours testing, covering 36.2nm and averaging 12kts, the engines consumed 69.1lt combined averaging just 23lt/h. Not bad for such a performance increase over the 4.3s!

THE NITTY GRITTY
Why the turbo-intercooled TDI 265 accelerates so rapidly is its shallow torque curve giving plenty of grunt down low. The massive torque only starts to drop significantly above 3000rpm, but even at the maximum rpm of 4200 it’s still 80 per cent of peak output.

The electronically-managed TDI 265 is based on the Audi Q7 diesel made by Volkswagen and has a 3lt 90-degree V6 powerhead.

Compare the above figures to the 4.3lt 90-degree V6 MPI petrol sterndrives originally fitted to Bruce’s Caribbean. Each developed 220hp at 4400 to 4800rpm and drove through Alpha legs, amazingly not fitted with counter-rotation.

The dry weight of the TDI 265 is around 350kg with the Bravo 3 driving 25in counter-rotating props, while on an Alpha leg the 4.3 is 352kg dry. So not only do you get a lot more torque and power with the former, but it doesn’t adversely affect fore and aft hull trim.

SERVICING
Servicing intervals are every 100 hours after the initial checkup at 20 and the TDI 265 is rated to a maximum of 500 hours per year, with one in every eight hours allowed at WOT.

The technology apparent in the Mercury Diesel TDI 265 engines is light-years ahead of the 4.3s. Don’t get me wrong, I still like petrol sterndrives for some applications, but Volkswagen is one clever manufacturer and combining with Cummins and Mercury Marine with its proven sterndrive technology has been a smart move.

* The Caribbean 26 was supplied by Bruce and Donna Vaughan, with the repower conversion by David and Philip Bailey of Cove Marine, Oyster Cove, NSW, phone (02) 4982 4832 or email: mail@covemarine.com.au

(QuickSpecs)
MERCURY DIESEL TDI 265

TYPE: Electronic V6 turbo-diesel
DISPLACEMENT: 3lt
WEIGHT: 325KG
RATED HP: 265 at 4200rpm
MAX TORQUE: 566NM AT 2000RPM


New carbon-fibre dash with new gauges and controls, and one very happy owner.


Standard engine bearers before modification.



Engine bay wired and plumbed ready for engine installation.



The finished installation.

RENOVATED CARIBBEAN
- Finding Bertie
STORY & PHOTOS GLEN BOOTH

A Port Macquarie owner buys a second-hand International Marine classic Bertram 35 found between these pages and tricks her out for hardcore fishing.


Port Macquarie-based Terry Nocelli is like a lot of owners in that he found a particular marque and became a lifelong fan. His first Bertram 35 Shotgun was a perfect example.

Originally an auto electrician, Terry concentrated on marine electronics with Shotgun Marine Services around 10 years ago. Sometime later, after 20 years in business, he figured he was due some R&R and North Queensland beckoned.

The faithful Bertie would be a little cramped for extended liveaboard cruises with the family, so it was reluctantly replaced with a Riviera 48 that was more suited to coastal cruising as well as fishing.

Watching the weigh-in at the 2009 Port Macquarie Golden Lure Tournament, Terry’s teenage son Kurt expressed a renewed interest in blue-water fishing, so the quest for a genuine fishing boat began. Terry favoured a do-upperer that he could fit-out himself rather than a turnkey package.

Whether a Bertram or of the locally built Caribbean lineage the 35 is a real multi-tasker, which is why examples of any vintage remain in such demand.

BETWIXT THESE PAGES
Ideally, Terry wanted another Bertie, but the right combination of boat and motors were hard to find. Then one day, flicking through the pages of Trade-a-Boat, he spotted his old boat for sale. The asking price was a bit rich but it had been repowered with Volvo Penta D6-330s, which were a step-up from the originals. Three months later the price dropped to $160,000 and it was time to act. He made an offer of $145,000 and his old pride-and-joy was soon on its way back to Port Mac.

Needless to say, at that price the old girl needed a bit of work, but Terry also wanted to change a few things. The boat spent the next nine months on the hard, completely stripped back to virtually a bare shell.

The hull had osmosis and the fibreglass fuel tank was also a mess. The tank was pressure washed, bigger baffles were installed and Lloyds-approved fuel lines replaced the existing ones.

The downstairs helm was done away with freeing-up plenty of storage and is also now home to a flatscreen that disappears beneath a flap in the dash.

A new 5kVa Northern Lights generator supplies AC power and running the air-conditioning away from shorepower, as well as a 1500W inverter. The wiring is immaculate, as you’d expect.

The props were replaced with four-bladers resulting in improved fuel efficiency and around 3kts of extra top-end speed. In a full day’s gamefishing, including running to the grounds at 20kts, Shotgun uses about 230lt, which is reasonably economical. At trolling speed of 8kts the motors burn 7lt/h per side.

LOCAL TRADIES
All the timberw.ork, upholstery, carpeting and clears were done locally in Port Macquarie, with just the Corian bench top made out of town.

While later-model Bertrams/Caribbeans have a reduced flare to create more space in the cabin, Terry’s is the original shape so he gets the legendary seakeeping abilities. The bed-and-a-half in the bow is still generous enough for two.

GAME COCKPIT
In the cockpit are new custom-built rodholders and a Flexiteek deck, which is relatively maintenance free and far cheaper than the real deal. The heavy-tackle gamechair is a custom design and its high-gloss finish complements the look of this beautifully restored gamefisher.

A plumbed bait tank, while only the width of the transom, has a surprisingly large volume. The divided icebox-freezer to starboard is also a custom job. There’s also another massive icebox under a hatch in the floor, just before the cabin doors.

FISHING CRED
Terry’s rekindled enthusiasm for gamefishing got off to a flying start. The boat is a proven fish-raiser as evidenced by the successful release of a 220kg blue marlin on a Stella 20000 reel no less!

It’s fair to say that the rebuild of this classic has been a labour of love, but plenty of thought has gone into every aspect of it. It will certainly have gamefishers and Bertram gamefishers in particular, drooling with envy.

[ELECTRONIC BANK]
Being a marine electrician you’d expect Terry’s boat to be kitted out with all the latest electronics. The Simrad BSM-2 broadband sounder and Simrad GPS fitted with Navionics Platinum chart cards running through two NSE 12S head units were this expert’s choice.

Terry deep-drops the continental shelf and beyond with electric reels and at these sorts of depths if you miss the spot it’s a long and boring wind-up with nothing to show for it. Factoring in wind speed and current direction, the incredible on-screen clarity provided by the BSM-2 makes bottom fishing in water hundreds of fathoms deep much more productive.
Otherwise the sounder’s role in highlighting where deep reefs, dropoffs and canyon walls lie equates to more gamefish bites when trolling or drifting.

A 6kW open array radar is perched on the hardtop, so this boat is equipped to go and fish anywhere, under a variety of conditions.

(FastFacts)
BERTRAM 35

PURCHASE PRICE: $145,000
RESTO COST: Approx $140,000
YEAR BUILT: 1983
MATERIAL: Fibreglass
TYPE: Deep-vee monohull
LENGTH: 10.67m
BEAM: 4.03m
FUEL: 1350lt
WATER: 400lt
ENGINE: 2 x 330hp Volvo Penta D6 turbo-diesel


Who’s a happy chappy? Terry Nocelli is, back behind the wheel of his beloved Bertram 35.


Fishing is the name-of-the-game on Shotgun, the stylish, custom-built gamefishing throne taking pride of place in the cockpit.


As you would expect Terry, being a marine electrician, has decked out the helm with some of the best electronics available. Nothing escaped the rebuild, the standard Betram U-shape dinette showing the benefit of some meticulous TLC.

From Trade-a-Boat Issue 433, Nov-Dec 2012.






 


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