REVIEW: CARIBBEAN C2300

By: JOHN FORD, Photography by: JOHN FORD

Presented by
  • Trade-A-Boat

Straight out of the factory, the Caribbean 2300 is a legendary sea boat with a solid pedigree. so how good can it be with maximum power and a dream list of options? We sent John Ford to find out.

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HIGHS

  • Plenty of room for a full crew to move in the cockpit
  • Cabin and hardtop offer year-round weather protection
  • Finely finished gelcoat and mouldings
  • Sturdy traditional build with lots of weight to push through seas.

LOWS

  • Cabin door should slide, even if it loses some space inside the cabin
  • Could use a roof hatch
  • Needs rear grab bar

REVIEW: CARIBBEAN C2300 priced as $158,000

It’s all about the buzz of the new these days, where the latest idea is so yesterday in no time. And while there might have been some groundbreaking ideas to come out of 2017, the offerings from International Marine weren’t among them.

IF IT AIN’T BROKE ...

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Based in the same giant industrial complex in Melbourne for the last 72 years, the builders of Caribbean boats seem entirely happy to forego newfangled ideas as they go about the task of building traditional fibreglass boats based on designs that were born from the C Raymond Hunt designs of 1958. Hunt revolutionised boating by taking a deep-V right back to the transom and adding planing strakes for lift and stability.

Keeping up with the in-crowd isn’t part of the Caribbean philosophy, even though the company prides itself as one of the early innovators of fibreglass construction. Its now conservative approach seems based on a trust in the quality of methods and fittings that have offered reliable service for generations of boat ownership. Why change something that works just for the sake of it?

A couple of years back, International Marine noticed competitors’ trailerboats growing in size and sporting grunty, lightweight and efficient engines destined for distant fishing grounds, so they started searching for a roomy trailerable hull to meet that demand. They didn’t have to go far. Out on the back lot, they found the venerable Bertram 23 sterndrive flybridge moulds that had last seen service in 1998.

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The hull met the desire for bigger boats and bigger outboards and slotted in their range between the 6.4m Reef Runner with a 200hp maximum and the C2400, which had a road restrictive 2.7m beam and needed big tow rigs.

After dusting off the moulds, modifying the transom to suit twin outboards, then changing to a more modern dash layout and a new interior liner – no small task by the way – the all-new singing and dancing 2300 was born. Recycling at its best and a tribute to the hoarder’s adage of never throwing anything away.

The marriage of a proven hull and an updated interior was a master stroke, bringing a more modern look and feel to the onboard experience while delivering the confidence of one of the best-handling seaboats around with the Hunt-designed substructure.

THE OWNER

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Adam Barba found his way to his 2300 after owning a variety of smaller boats for fishing the estuaries and bays around Sydney’s north. He decided on the Caribbean after working through his options with Nathan Goshen at Sylvania Marina. The big Caribbean fitted his wish list as a large-volume Australian-made trailerboat he could share with his family for cruising and overnighting and which he could still safely tow from his Hills District home up and down the steep climb to Berowra ramp. Its 2.5m beam kept it legal and the overall weight around three tonnes meant his Ford Ranger could tow it safely.

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He also liked the idea of the Caribbean coming as a well-equipped package to which he could add his options list for his ideal fishing weapon. And although Sylvania Marina has a solid reputation for custom work, the fitout was handed to Spiro Demopoulos at Blue Bottle Marine because that Dural workshop is handy to where Barba lives and he wanted to be involved with the outcome as much as possible.

Fresh from the factory the C2300 is equipped with desirable features, like an upholstered V-berth and marine toilet in the carpet-lined cabin, underfloor kill tank, livebait tank, remote winch with 50m of chain and 80lt of pressurised freshwater, removable rear lounge and adjustable seats on fibreglass boxes with inbuilt esky and storage.

ELECTRONICS SUITE

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It’s a great base to establish a gameboat to the customer’s desires, and Adam has turned it into something extraordinary with the addition of a ute-load of Simrad electronics and more. A 16in NSS evo3 screen connects through Airmar xSonic SS175H-W and SS175L high and low CHIRP 1W transducers for sounding and a GS25 antenna for an accurate GPS fix. Matched also to a 4G Radar and an AP44 VRF Medium Capacity Autopilot pack and the crew should know precisely where they are and what’s around them, even at night.

Communication is through a Simrad RS20 VHF radio and the music system is a fully featured JL Audio package of an MM100 marine head unit with LCD display, a mix of 196mm and 185mm waterproof speakers and subwoofer, powered by a 100W M600 Marine amp. That’s an impressive setup.

FISH READY

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Enough of the nerdy stuff, what about the fishing setup? The factory included the optional six-hole stainless steel rocket launcher, and Blue Bottle Marine plumbed the bait tank and fitted a set of 4.5m Reelax poles on 450 bases.

Demopoulos also tidied up the electrical switches, replacing the old-style standard toggles with touch panels at the dash and adding a set for pumps and hoses at the transom. Then he stuck it on an Easy Tow alloy trailer to help keep weight down and installed a set of Lenco trim tabs to steady the ride.

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Launching from Berowra means a 15nm run to the ocean at Barrenjoey, so a maximum allowable 300hp Evinrude E-TEC Gen 2 was strapped on the back to make the trip as fast as possible. The two-stroke won it for Barba because of its torquey power, extended servicing times and the five-year warranty.

Conservative as it is, the C2300 looks stunning courtesy of its classic lines and beautifully integrated narrow-profile hardtop combined with the soft flowing lines of all mouldings highlighted by a superb gelcoat.

RUNNING HARD

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The long run to the ocean gave us the opportunity to experience the speed and economy of the engine, and once we were out of the slow lanes, I opened the throttles to an immediate blast of acceleration.

Interestingly, Barba’s mate has a C2300 with almost the same setup, which was along for the test as the photo boat. But he had installed a four-blade 15in x 18in RX4 prop to get better performance than our test boat with the same size three-blade Rebel. From rest, he had about a boat length start, from there, however, it was neck and neck to an exact maximum speed of 43.4kts but with marginally worse fuel economy in the higher rev range from the four-blader.

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At the mouth of the Hawkesbury, a decent 1.5m swell hitting the bar was enough to appreciate the hull’s soft ride as we made a steady 20kts progress into the sea. With the boat trimmed down, the bow sent most of the spray well away, and although the wipers cleared the mist covering the glass screen, I think washers would be an excellent addition.

In the open sea, the C2300 shone as it threw its weight around with glee. It has a big, strong and weighty feel but handles precisely with no cavitation into full-blooded turns. The E-TEC is a great match and has ample power to tackle swells and keep up with the hull’s ability in the ocean. Sightlines are excellent, and the helm position is comfortable and well-braced against the moulded footrest.

The co-pilot has a sturdy grabrail, but I’m critical of the lack of handholds for anyone standing in the central position behind the seats. To my mind, an overhead bar should be a standard safety feature.

THE WRAP

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The C2300 shows it’s hard to beat good design and proven building techniques. There’s no reason not to expect the boat, just like many of the 55,000 previous Bertram and Caribbean examples before it, to last generations of owners.

A base model from the factory will set you back $70,700 and from there the sky’s the limit. It will take a single or twin engines up to 300hp and will work well down to a 225hp setup. As tested with the options list ticked on everything but the kitchen sink, that price will grow to around $150,000.

SPECIFICATIONS

PRICE AS TESTED

$158,000

OPTIONS FITTED

300hp Evinrude E-TEC G2, Simrad electronics, trailer, Reelax game poles, Lenco tabs, plumbed tank, upgraded switches, Easytow trailer, JL Audio, Hella lighting, L&R boat latch, and more

PRICED FROM

$70,700 (hull)

GENERAL

MATERIAL GRP

TYPE Planing monohull

LENGTH 7.05m

BEAM 2.5m

WEIGHT 1550kg (hull)

CAPACITIES

PEOPLE 7

FUEL 425lt

WATER 80lt

ENGINE

MAKE/MODEL Evinrude E-TEC G2 300

TYPE Two-stroke direct fuel injected V6

RATED HP 300

DISPLACEMENT 3441cc

WEIGHT 258kg (25in shaft)

GEAR RATIO 1.85:1

PROPELLER 15in x 18in three-blade Rebel

SUPPLIED BY

SYLVANIA MARINA

25 Harrow Steet, Sylvania, NSW, 2224

PHONE (02) 9522 7430

WEB caribbeanboats.com.au

EMAIL nathan@caribbeanboats.com.au

Check out the full review in issue #500 of Trade-a-Boat magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration.

 


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