Review: Caribbean 420 Express

By: John Ford, Photography by: John Ford

Presented by
  • Trade-A-Boat

Caribbean 420 Express in Sydney Caribbean 420 Express in Sydney
Caribbean 420 Express bow Caribbean 420 Express bow
Caribbean 420 Express on the water Caribbean 420 Express on the water
Caribbean 420 Express rear deck Caribbean 420 Express rear deck
Driving a Caribbean 420 Express boat Driving a Caribbean 420 Express boat
Floor hatch on Caribbean 420 Express Floor hatch on Caribbean 420 Express
Galley of Caribbean 420 Galley of Caribbean 420
Interior of Caribbean 420 Express Interior of Caribbean 420 Express

Caribbean boats has brought a new dimension to its venerable 40ft hull with the Caribbean 420 Express. It’s a smart and versatile luxury boat with a modern and very attractive interior that should appeal to a range of savvy owners.

The Caribbean 420 Express hull is from the same mould as the highly successful Caribbean 40, but the new low-profile roofline gives the Caribbean 420 a longer, leaner image than the flybridge variant. The lines are so well-executed you will be left with the impression the 420 has been conceived as a new boat from top to bottom.

Caribbean boats is hoping the single-level layout will appeal to both young families and older folk alike by doing away with a ladder and bringing everyone together for a more social experience. No need to worry where the kids are or climbing steps with failing knees.

In retaining the layout of the 40, the designers have taken advantage of a generous 10.3m2 cockpit, a very usable saloon with one of the largest galleys in its class and twin-cabin accommodation forward, including a fully equipped head.

Boarding is across a wide platform with a stainless steel rail to assist passage to the outward-opening starboard door. A sturdy swimladder is secreted underneath to keep things neat and safe. There is room here for lazing around and space for a couple of deck chairs or a rail barbecue, so it adds to the outdoor experience of the boat. I could easily imagine half a dozen deckchairs easily fitting around the spacious cockpit and there’s loads of room in the lazarette for that many and more.


Caribbean 420 layout

Caribbean 420 Express

Genuine teak decking on the platform and in the cockpit looks the goods and offers a soft and secure feel underfoot. In the centre of the transom is a large moulded tank that could serve for livebait or a cooler for your drinks. You might say Caribbean has provided for both the G&T crowd as well as the GT set.

A portside unit against the saloon houses a eutectic fridge-freezer – big enough for extended cruising – as well as a sink, drawers and cupboard, while in the other corner is a wide lounge covered in blue and white waterproof material. There is storage under the cushion and in lockers along the sidedecks. The roof extends over the cockpit to cover the door but an optional awning on the test boat came back another metre or so and, along with side clears, added an extra area of shade and weather protection.



Caribbean 420 Express interior

Entry to the saloon is via a sliding glass door, where windows either side allow light in and a good view out, especially through the large hopper window to port. This is a new feature for Caribbean and allows better interaction between guests in the cockpit and saloon as well as offering a good flow of fresh air.

This new interior has modern touches everywhere – squared high-gloss timber furniture, grey mullions and edge trim, black anodised window frames, electric minimal blinds, thick marine carpet, gloss teak galley floor, textured pelmets with double stitching and funky leather lounges.

There’s also the familiar layout of a Caribbean 40, but one that looks like it has been hit by a talented stylist’s magic wand. Craddock’s partner Mary Ash, an interior designer, has added her modern touch to the interior and brought this ever-conservative builder to a new level of contemporary style which initially will be exclusive to the Express range.

Retaining the 40’s layout makes sense, as it is a proven design that maximises the available space. It translates well to the more relaxed persona of the Express even if there are those who might prefer the more social lifestyle offered by a rear galley. As it is, the layout suits both liveaboard and day use with a U-shaped dinette to port at the rear of the saloon, opposite a lounge that converts to a Pullman berth. All up I’d estimate seating here for up to twelve and comfortable dining for half a dozen.

Cockpit on Caribbean 420 Express

Windows wrapping around the saloon admit lots of light and offer panoramic views, and with a large sliding panel each side also allow good airflow. A 16,000 BTU air-conditioner in the saloon and a 12,000 capacity unit in the main cabin will cool or heat extreme temperatures if the natural ventilation can’t cope.

The U-shaped galley is a step down forward of the dinette and is equipped for parties or travel. The stone-look moulded-glass benchtop has a safety lip on the outside edge and its single-piece construction along with high metallic splashbacks should make cleaning easy.

Downstairs are twin cabins and a large bathroom, with access from both the master and the hallway. The forward cabin has an island queen, leaving changing room at the foot of the bed where head height is about 1.9m. Storage is provided in a hanging locker to the side, two large drawers and a big space under the bed, as well as shelves along the side of the bed.

Caribbean 420 Express galley

A Bomar roof hatch beams in natural light and a flow of fresh air and keeps the cabin from feeling confined. Gloss teak doors accentuate the contemporary colour and fabric combination of a textured platinum bedhead, chartreuse cover and white roof with a charcoal vinyl hull lining. The portside bunkroom has generous changing space and two large berths, the lower one almost a double. Again there’s a roof hatch and hanging robe as well as under-bed storage.

A completely moulded white fibreglass liner gives the bathroom a clean, bright and airy feel. It’s big for a 40-footer and benefits from a full-sized shower recess with a clear acrylic glass door and splashguard. A circular basin floats on a reconstituted stone vanity top where a deluxe flick mixer lends a touch of elegance. Other special touches include Clipsal 2000 power points, designer towel rack, metallic cupboard doors and an Amtico vinyl floor. There’s an overhead hatch but no extractor fan and the Vacuflush toilet connects to a 140lt holding tank.


Engines, handling and ride

Twin Cummins QSC8.3 marine engines

Suitably underlining the Caribbean 420’s serious seagoing capability, an impressive Navigator chair takes pride of place at the new helm station which has been installed to starboard of the galley. It has everything needed for both long-distance voyaging and easy manoeuvring at the dock.

The test boat has been fully kitted with features including Side-Power bowthruster, Insta-Trim trim tabs, Raymarine autopilot, Muir anchor winch and AA150 chain counter, Raymarine 48nm radar, and 12in E series Raymarine GPS and sounder. All controls are handily located in a well-crafted teak dash with DTS controls and twin VesselView screens to keep an eye on engine systems.

Caribbean 420 Express on the water

Powering the 420 are twin 500hp Cummins QSC diesels. These new-generation turbocharged common-rail engines pack a punch while delivering efficient fuel economy. Performance was impressive, and with 600kg less weight should be slightly improved over the 40 Flybridge. We achieved a top-end of 32kts and a comfortable cruise of 25kts just over 2100rpm.

Handling is predictably smooth and the ride from this 12 ton vessel was soft and shudder-free over some substantial harbour chop. At 18kts, the engines should use 71lt/h, for a range near 450nm (with 10 per cent reserve) from the 2000lt tank, putting the boat in the serious coastal cruising ranks. Anywhere through the range to the mid- 20kts, the 420 feels like it will run all day without a breath and that’s where the pedigree of the Caribbean shines through.


The Trade-a-Boat verdict

Dash controls of Caribbean 420 Express

Caribbean has brought a new dimension to its venerable 40ft hull with the 420 Express. It’s a smart and versatile boat with a modern and very attractive interior that should appeal to a range of savvy owners.

The Caribbean 420 Express price starts at $687,260, or you can trick it up with options as tested like teak trim, an electrical accessories pack, cockpit awning, extended swimplatform and bowthruster. That brings the price up to $792,516 including electronics. There are a variety of decor and finish packages to add your own touch to what is a stylish and timeless design.



• Stylish interior and single-level living

• Superb seaworthiness and proven cruising ability

• Versatile design



• The skipper could use a twin helm seat for company


Caribbean 420 Express sea trials

Twin 500hp Cummins QSC8.3 turbo-diesels.































* Sea-trial data supplied by the manufacturer. Fuel burn is per engine.


Caribbean 420 Express specs

Caribbean 420 Express price: $792,516

Price as tested



Electronics, teak decks, swimplatform, cockpit awning, clears, bowthruster, bedding and decor package, icemaker, antifouling, front air-conditioning, and more...







TYPE Monohull fishing boat

LENGTH 13.2m

BEAM 4.3m

DRAFT 1.15m

WEIGHT 11,200kg





REC. ENGINE HP 2 x 500

FUEL 2000lt

WATER 650lt



MAKE/MODEL 2 x Cummins QSC8.3

TYPE Inline six-cylinder turbo-diesel

RATED HP 500 (each)

DISPLACEMENT 8300cc (each)

WEIGHT 896kg (each)


PROPELLER 25 x 29in four-blade



Marina Boat Sales

Marina Adelaide,

1-25 George Robertson Drive,

Largs North, 5016, SA

Phone (08) 8449 7777; 0418 818 232


See the full version of this review in Trade-A-Boat #470, on sale October 1, 2015. Why not subscribe today?


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