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The Caribbean 24 Open proves that good things come in small packages, especially on a hot summer’s day with the rug rats in tow. DAVID LOCKWOOD reports…

Caribbean 24 Open

It's that time of the year when you drop the top, don the sunnies and terry towelling hat, slap on some zinc cream, and get behind the wheel of a runabout. Stirring the senses, a good runabout keeps you in touch with the elements, gets to where you want to go in quick time, and offers some on-water driving pleasure and thrills as you go.

Feel the wind in your hair, savour the streaming eyes, and taste the occasional lashing of spray before the obligatory barbie or chicken lunch later. Pull watertoys after lunch. Kickback on the decks then hightail it home before the Sunday crowd. And let them eat your wake as you beat it back to the marina.

Enter the Caribbean 24 Open, a dayboat de jour that could be seen to be spearheading something of a runabout revival. Its Seventies-esque lines hark back to less-complicated days. In fact, the boat is a clear case of the styling - if not steering - wheel turning full circle. If you wait long enough, everything comes back in vogue, right?




The 24 Open is a kissing cousin to its Caribbean 26 sister ship and the 25 before that, which dates back decades. All of them are made by Melbourne's International Marine, which has been building boats for more than 50 years, and is the antipathy of a nautical fashionista.

Only now the angular windscreen, square deck lines, and simplified finishes of the 24 Open are de rigueur. So, too, the keen price-tag of $136,000 in well-optioned form. And for that you get a no-fuss runabout with enough comforts to spend a day and even longer aboard. Then comes the drive.

As we arced about Pittwater, we seemingly regained our youth driving this fun runabout. That said, the 24 Open is more than just a point-and-shoot proposition.

Although the deep-vee hull and 260hp 5lt V8 MerCruiser petrol inboard engine ensure plenty of get up and go, in keeping with the basic runabout brief, the interior fitout has been conceived for entertaining, hanging out, and even catching 40 winks post long lunch.




At the blunt end, the Caribbean 24 is traced by a handy boarding platform - topped with optional teak planking - requisite swimladder and, within arm's reach, an albeit cold-only handheld shower. Hot water is an option using a heat exchanger on the inboard engine should you demand it.

You then step over the transom and into the cockpit, also topped in optional teak, and with a generous seating arrangement. The aft quarter seats are fun places for kids or crew to ride, while the portside lunch dinette can accommodate up to four or convert into a daybed. Its seat base also doubles as an icebox.

Opposite is the galley module with alcohol stove. You still need a rail-mounted barbecue, but shade from the canopy, which is otherwise stowed in a sock, comes gratis. There's also plenty of room for stowing watertoys, fishing gear and so on in the big sidepockets.

Walkaround decks lead to the foredeck, but with a windlass provided there's no need to leave the helm to set the anchor. It's also at the helm that I noticed the optional Raymarine A70 chartplotter. The optional upgraded electronic throttle-gearshift rids the boat of her previous clunkiness and adds to the aforesaid driving pleasure.

A digital VesselView readout offers details such as fuel flow and range to go, while the optional bowthruster lets the owner dock with precision. Single-engine boats otherwise tend to steer to port in reverse due to a trait known as prop walking.




The cabin, meanwhile, has enough legroom to stretch out after lunch or even sleepover. There's a simple pump-out head, too, but no holding tank was fitted to the test boat. The grey frontrunner and blue upholstery has been used by Caribbean for years.

Back outdoors, the optional blue hull and LED rope lighting add to the nautical style. And with the stereo blaring and the sunnies in place, we set about for a much-overdue dose of fun running.

Evidently the owner of the boat driven hereabouts is no stranger to boating. We're told he owns a big yacht in the Med' - same blue hull colour - but wanted something turnkey, simple and fun to gad about his local waterways on a whim.

The idea is to hit the beach, do lunch aboard, maybe pull the kids on tubes, and then get home in time to catch the sport on the lounge. Indeed, the simple pleasures are so often the best tonic.



(Facts & Figures)




The Caribbean 24 Open proved willing, jumping out of the blocks to a top speed of 33kts, clocking a fast cruise of 24.5kts, and holding a smooth family cruise of 21kts for 35lt/h.

More importantly, the deep-vee hull makes a whoosh rather than a slam crossing the swells. If the wind and boat wake pipes up on Sunday afternoon, no worries, the Caribbean 24 Open will leave all that trouble floundering behind it.




$136,218 w/ standard MerCruiser 5.0 MPI inboard petrol engines, and options




Bowthruster, blue hull, cockpit teak decks, bimini canvas, Raymarine electronics, and more








Material: Handlaid GRP hull
Type: Hard-chine deep-vee monohull
Length overall: 7.2m (excluding bowsprit and swim platform)
Beam: 2.69m
Weight: 1900kg (dry)




Berths: 2 (+ 2 kids in cockpit)
Fuel: 300lt
Water: 100lt




MAKE/MODEL: MerCruiser 5.0 MPI
TYPE: V8 petrol inboard w/ multipoint fuel injection
RATED HP/KW: 260 /164 at 4400rpm
GEARBOXES: Bravo sterndrive
PROPS: Three-blade alloy




Holmeport Marina,
2a McCarrs Creek Road,
Church Point, NSW, 2015
Phone: (02) 9979 5922
Fax: (02) 9979 5962




International Marine,
1278 Ferntree Gully Road,
Scoresby, Vic, 3179
Phone: (03) 9763 7233
Fax: (03) 9764 1441




The wheel has turned full circle and the angular lines of the Caribbean runabout, first seen decades or so ago, are back in vogue. Meanwhile, the boat and its basic systems are pretty foolproof, having stood the test of time, while the handling from the deep-vee hull is hard to beat. A faithful companion to a hot summer's day and well set-up by the boating-savvy Gameboats, who know how to enjoy themselves afloat and on Pittwater. Just add water.


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