CARIBBEAN 24 FLYBRIDGE SPORTSFISHERMAN

By: JOHN PANOZZO, Photography by: JOHN PANOZZO

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  • Trade-A-Boat

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Melbourne’s International Marine is the first Australian production boatbuilder to factory-fit Mercury Diesel’s TDI engines, reports John Panozzo.

CARIBBEAN 24 FLYBRIDGE SPORTSFISHERMAN
CARIBBEAN 24 FLYBRIDGE SPORTSFISHERMAN

It’s a perfect Melbourne winter’s day and we're off St Kilda Beach on the millpond that is Port Phillip Bay. In barely perceptible breezes, yachts from nearby Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron silently ghost past us in their weekday club race – everybody absorbing the unseasonably bright sunshine and warmish conditions.

Out of the blue, a white flybridge emerges. Suddenly the tranquil calm of the afternoon is replaced by a classic vee-note rumble and turbo whine as a new Caribbean 24 Flybridge Sportsfisherman dashes by.

Racing at more than 34kts, the sparkling Caribbean then weaves hard to port, then hard to starboard and back again. With no obvious signs of sliding out or cavitation, this boat has passed its final sea trial of the day. Gear ratio and prop size agreed upon.

Returning to St Kilda Marina, Caribbean’s heartland, the skipper is clearly pleased with the engine setup and his hull’s performance. He is no other than Richard Spooner, the hands-on boss of International Marine, and he has just approved Mercury Diesel’s 265hp 3lt V6 TDI turbo-diesel and Bravo 2 leg for factory installation on the 24 FBSF. The motor created by Volkswagen Marine is derived from the automobile version fitted to the VW Touareg SUV.

"I’m very happy," says Spooner. "This motor is pretty much right on the money with a petrol V8."

A perfect end to a perfect day for the company. "Ideal conditions," Spooner says. Actually, testing a boat on a day that most powerboat people, particularly fishos, would be lured to the water on, is a commen sense approach. And further to replicating authenticity, Spooner has weighted the boat with three-quarter fuel (225lt), full water (100lt), six adults – including Mercury men David Meehan (MerCruiser director), Mark Barrow (sales and application manager) and Simon Bugeja (diesel technical support) – and 100kg of ballast in the form of four 25kg salt bags full of sand.

"Think of all the stuff people carry on their boats and you get an idea of what we’re doing," explains Spooner.

Earlier, Trade-a-Boat hitched a ride aboard the TDI-powered Caribbean 24. Spooner hit full throttle and without missing a beat the TDI engine roared into life, the boat rocketing out of the hole and to WOT in some 23 seconds. "It’s all to do with the variable geometry turbo," Barrow reveals, "… it hasn’t got that lag."

International Marine’s senior manager John Barber says his company’s decision to supply the 24FBSF with a factory-fitted TDI 265.6 diesel was through customer demand.

"Normally, we would ship a blank boat to our dealers and they would fit the engine," said Barber. "But customers are after more diesels these days, and fitting at the factory level saves time and money all round."

Barber added that Cummins and Yanmar diesels, both inline four-cylinders, were also looked at for the Caribbean 24, but the Mercury Diesel TDI being a V6 closely matched the horse power rating of the MerCruiser 5lt V8 petrol equivalent, as well as both being near identical in weight.

And a quick comparison revealed some smart returns for the fuel-efficient TDI diesel compared to the thirsty petrol V8. The latter produced a cruise speed of 21.5kts at 3500rpm with a fuel burn of 47.5lt/h. The TDI diesel at 21.3kts and 2800rpm sipped only 27lt/h – a significant difference for fuel-conscious boaters.

"It was quite pleasing to see that the efficiencies we designed into the C24 hull (which was based off the C23 FBSF hull), were proven with the final results," said Barber. "We were able to compare our data with that of the C23 FBSF, which was repowered with the same TDI V6, and the C24 FBSF although being a larger and heavier boat outperformed it."

Caribbean quotes a recommended retail price (inc. GST) ex-factory for a standard 24 FBSF (as tested) is $144,636 for the diesel-powered variant and $115,063 for the same hull with a 5lt V8. That’s almost a $30,000 difference to have
the privilege of diesel power, and some would argue buys a lot of unleaded.

Remember, though, the Caribbean 24 FBSF is a fishing orientated boat built to handle conditions offshore, and at a cruising speed should return a distance range of some 250nm with 10 per cent fuel in reserve. Compare that to the petrol engine with almost double the fuel burn and you can expect almost half that range. A fact that has obviously not been lost on the rising ranks of the marque’s buyers now demanding diesel power.

For further information, visit caribbeanboats.com; mercurymarine.com.au



SEA TRIALS

Single 265hp Mercury Diesel TDI 265.6 diesel, Bravo II leg (1.81:1), 19¾ x 19in three-blade prop, ¾ fuel, full water and six adults

 

RPM SPEED FUEL BURN
1000 5.1kts 2.2lt/h
1200 6.1kts 4.5lt/h
1400 6.7kts 7.3lt/h
1600 7.3kts 9.1lt/h
2000 9.4kts 17lt/h
2200 12.6kts 19.7lt/h
2400 16kts 21.5lt/h
2800 21.3kts 27lt/h
3200 25.3kts 36.5lt/h
3400 27.3kts 40.5lt/h
3800 30.2kts 48.1lt/h
4000 WOT 31.6kts 54.4lt/h
4250 WOT (trim out) 34.5kts 57.3lt/h

* Sea-trial data supplied by the manufacturer.

 

CARIBBEAN 24 FBSF SPECIFICATIONS
MATERIAL GRP|
TYPE Planing monohull
PEOPLE (NIGHT) 2+1
FUEL 300lt
WATER 100lt
WEIGHT 2400kg (hull)
ENGINE 265hp Mercury Diesel TDI 265.5 turbo-diesel

Originally published in Trade-a-Boat #442, July/August 2013.

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