REVIEW: CARIBBEAN 2300 OUTBOARD

By: JACK MURPHY, Photography by: JACK MURPHY


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Jack Murphy gets a bit nostalgic with the Caribbean brand and finds the 2300 Outboard much like his old boat. Only better.

Immediately upon being handed the wheel of the Caribbean 2300 Outboard by Sylvania Marine’s Nathan Ghosn, I pointed the vessel in the direction of Sydney’s Botany Bay heads. It was blowing upwards of 15 knots from the northwest and you could see lumps of swell rolling on the distant horizon. As we hit the first patch of swell, the 2300 effortlessly pushed the water down and away as if it were brushing off a fly. With wide-eyed excitement, I turned to Nathan with a big smile. "Wow, this is fun," I said. "Let’s take her to the shelf!" Clearly unsure if I was joking or not, Nathan nervously nodded and gave me an uncertain grin. After a couple of minutes of fun, I swung the boat back around and retreated to the safety of the bay. Nathan looked relieved.

For me, this was no ordinary test. My first ever boat was an 18ft Caribbean runabout. She was soft riding, extra stable and a pleasure to fish from — all traits of which the Caribbean brand can still boast today. The 2300 Outboard is the latest addition to the fleet and although she looks a lot different to my old 18-footer, the nostalgia was running high.



 

CARIBBEAN 2300 HULL

Caribbean 2300 fishing boat

Caribbean is one of the best known boating brands in Australia. It’s been on the scene for more than 50 years and it was the first builder Down Under to feature fibreglass hulls. It’s built a solid reputation within fishing circles and for good reason — its products are legendary.

The hull of this Caribbean 2300 Outboard is based on the famous Bertram 23, so when it comes to hull performance there really aren’t any surprises. Just like her predecessor, she’s super predictable and she grips the water like a Rapala X-Rap being trolled at six knots. This is particularly noticeable when you throw her into a sharp hook turn at speed. Instead of rolling and lumbering into the turn, she remains glued to water without any noticeable cavitation, even when trimmed out.

I really feel like this is a boat you’d want to be in when a storm comes rolling through. I’d just tuck myself into the driver’s seat and punch on home without too much worry.

So, if I had to pick a game boat in which I’d have to travel around Australia competing in billfish tournaments, this would be it. Oh, and I forgot to mention — this behemoth can be legally towed, too.



 

FISHING BOAT APPEAL

Caribbean 2300 outboard boat

From the outside, the Caribbean 2300 Outboard doesn’t radically differ from its bigger brother, the 2400. Aesthetically speaking they’re not huge head-turners on the water but they’ll definitely catch the eye of the wily old salts sipping a beer at the boat ramp. And anyone who has fished from a Caribbean knows their conservative appearance is merely a disguise for a boat that will out-fish and out-perform the best of them.

External appearances aside, once you’ve jump aboard the 2300 Outboard I challenge you not to be impressed. It’s a real manly man’s boat — everything is built solid and strong to support even the most curvaceous Aussie blokes.

Although the standard features list is quite extensive, the boat is still something of a blank canvas, and that’s definitely not a negative. I mean, who wants to spend money on features you’ll never use or — even worse — have to replace completely? Instead, the guys at Sylvania Marina can help you customise your dream.



 

CARIBBEAN 2300 LAYOUT

Caribbean 2300 outboard layout

Although the layout of the Caribbean 2300 Outboard is straightforward, it works really well. Starting from the aft deck you’ve got a relatively small transom door on the port side that gives great access to the transom well. Next you’ll notice the folding back seat that can be removed for bare-bones fishing missions. Also, instead of covering the entire length of the transom, it stops at the three-quarter mark. This means you can poke your head into the bilge without having to lift the foldout seat every time.

The man-sized side pockets grabbed my attention next and wow — they boast some serious room. They essentially run all the way from the transom to the forward bulkhead, so no matter where you go in this boat there’s ample storage space. Atop the gunwale there’s a cutaway segment where an extra strong handrail (that you can actually get a hand around) sits flush. This feature works really well as it doesn’t impede or protrude on your fishing space and it gives your crew something to hang onto when steaming.

The walkaround is also practical, as you can easily fit your feet between the cabin and the bowrail — there’s also a grab rail on the hardtop so it doesn’t feel like you’re walking a tight rope.

Moving underneath the hardtop, you’ll find two comfy seats that feature storage boxes below. The hardtop itself is actually quite impressive on its own — there’s heaps of headroom. They’ve really done well to make the hardtop so roomy without looking out of place or eating away at the open deck space. It features a fully enclosed armourplate windscreen with fully removable clears on each side.

The configurations of the helm station is also superb. Your 27MHz and VHF radios sit neatly above the windscreen, keeping the dash clean and minimal. In this particular boat the throttles could be better positioned, as they lie flush on the dash when wide open and are a bit tricky to pull back when you’re bumping around at sea. However, the boat has great visibility and is comfy to drive either sitting or standing.

Opening up the lockable forward door reveals a fully carpet-lined cabin with spacious sleeping quarters equivalent to a double bed. Underneath the removable cushions you’ll find a manual flush marine toilet and yep — you guessed it — more storage. There’s also great bow access via a large starboard-opening forward hatch.

The only thing that needs changing in the cabin department would have to be the lockable forward door. It opens outwards to the port side and has no catch to keep it open, thus meaning it swings wildly in the swell. Nathan says he plans to replace all these with bi-folding doors in the future. Other than that, they’ve really gone out of their way to make the cabin fit for a king. When the marlin aren’t on the chew, I could easily just see myself heading out for a mulloway session underneath the full moon. I’d cast out a few lines, turn on the ratchets and get some shut-eye while waiting for a bite — heaven!



 

FISHING BOAT

When it comes to fishability, I can gladly report that the Caribbean 2300 Outboard rocked my world.

The first thing I noticed was the expansive deck space. For a 23-footer, it’s phenomenal — I’ve seen smaller dance floors! You could have a small army of blokes fishing (or dancing) out the back without any problem. The big-ticket standard fishing features include a self-draining bait tank, underfloor killtank and freshwater deck wash. The boat I tested was optioned out with hardtop-mounted rocket launchers and Reelax reef riggers with 4.5m poles, which together would set you back a further $4150. The dash has loads of space for almost any kind of electronics kit and the 2300 Outboard I was testing also had twin (optional) Raymarine MFDs.

With regard to the fishing set-up, I could only offer a couple of small criticisms. Firstly, the bait tank feels a bit small for such a serious game boat although it would definitely suffice. Secondly, the extra-high gunwales and relatively small transom door would make boating large fish a little tricky. Realistically, who wants blood and guts all over the their gleaming new Caribbean? Tag and release, I say!

You might be tempted to write off the Caribbean 2300 as simply a fishing boat but, in all honesty, this boat is extremely versatile. A sizeable cabin, manual flush toilet and freshwater tanks offer all the creature comforts of home, just with more storage. The large deck space would be great for setting up a foldaway table for lunch; the high gunwales would keep the kids safe at sea; and the folding rear bench seat would keep the ladies happy. With the gaffs at home, this could easily become a family overnighter.



 

TWIN OUTBOARDS

Caribbean 2300 twin outboards

The twin 150hp Mercury EFI four-stroke outboards that sexily straddle the transom of the 2300 Outboard are hard to beat. They’re extra responsive, have heaps of torque and, for the size of the boat they’re pushing, offer outstanding efficiency. At 4000rpm the boat sits on 30kts (55.6kmh) and burns a miniscule 50lt an hour. That means with a full tank of fuel you could travel for 8.5 hours at 30kts. Think of the possibilities!

When it comes to a twin outboard set-up (as opposed to a single outboard set-up), the twin is always going to cost you more. But with its 425lt fuel tank, the Caribbean 2300 Outboard is a long-range offshore fishing boat. I’d definitely feel safer with two engines when I’m trolling for tuna or marlin 50nm off the coast. However, if you’re not planning on driving halfway to New Zealand to catch a fish, you could always opt for a single 250hp Verado and save yourself around $10,000. As Nathan says, "Your only limitations are your wallet and your imagination."



 

THE VERDICT

Although the Caribbean 2300 Outboard is pretty much the ultimate bluewater package, it will still suit a variety of other fishing and family boating applications. She’s towable, manageable for small crews, inexpensive to run and has that little hint of luxury. A bare-bones boat with a strong history, the 2300 Outboard will ensure the Caribbean name will continue to be held in high esteem.





ON THE PLANE...

· Amazing handling and stability

· Huge gunwales with plenty of sidepocket storage

· Great dash configuration

· A cabin fit for a king



DRAGGING THE CHAIN...

· The design of the hinged cabin door

· Livebait tank is little small for such a serious game boat

· Throttle set-up needs a rethink



 

CARIBBEAN 2300 OUTBOARD SPECIFICATIONS

 

HOW MUCH?

Price as tested: $115,505 (not including Raymarine electronics)

Options fitted: Side curtains, cockpit storm cover, bunk fill-in cushions, hardtop-mounted rocket launcher, six Reelax rod holders, Reelax reef riggers with 4.5m poles, cockpit carpet, 12V cockpit spotlights and transport.

Priced from: $63,600 (hull only)



GENERAL

Type: Monohull

Material: Fibreglass

Length: 7.05m (overall)

Beam Max: 2.5m

Beam Transom: 2.34m

Weight: 1550kg (boat only)

Deadrise: 24°



CAPACITIES

People: 7

Fuel: 425lt

Water: 80lt



ENGINE

Make/Model: Mercury EFI

Type: Four-stroke petrol outboard

Fitted HP: Twin 150hp

Max HP: 300hp



MANUFACTURED BY

International Marine

1278 Ferntree Gully Road

Scoresby, VIC, 3179

Tel: (03) 9763 7233

www.caribbeanboats.com

 

SUPPLIED BY

Sylvania Marine

25 Harrow Street

Sylvania, NSW, 2224

Tel: (02) 9522 6335

www.caribbeanboats.com.au

 

Originally published in TrailerBoat #301, November / December 2013

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