BOAT REVIEW Caribbean 2300 Hardtop

October 2023 Trailer Boat Reviews
Words by Andrew Howard. Photography & Video by Roger Mills.
OUR RATING
4 STARS
Performance
Economy
Handling
Value
Build Quality
Specification
MODEL DETAILS
MODEL Caribbean 2300 Hardtop
DESIGNER Caribbean Boats/International Marine
BUILDER International Marine
CONSTRUCTION Solid hand laid GRP
PRICE AS TESTED $252,000
SPECIFICATIONS
LOA 7.84M
LENGTH (Waterline) 7.0M
BEAM 2.5M
DRAFT 0.4M
ENGINE Yamaha 300hp V6 outboard
FUEL CAPACITY 450L
WATER CAPACITY 80L
Weight on Trailer 2900 kg
Height on Trailer 3.37M
Passenger Capacity 6 people
HIGHLIGHTS
  • Hull performance
  • Trailering package
OBSERVATIONS
  • Value for money
  • Solid construction

Many boat manufacturers try to do it all – cater to every need under the sun with a single vessel. It’s a challenging feat, and while it can yield excellent results, this approach often involves trade-offs. That’s not Caribbean’s way.


Having recently arrived in New Zealand, the latest Caribbean 2300 is a good-looking boat on and off the trailer. Amidst a plethora of new designs on our waterways, the timeless essence of Caribbean Boats shines through, and this model is no exception. It’s a boat that knows its purpose and its customers, offering an uncompromising solution and no apologies.

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Hailing from Australia, Caribbean boats are products of International Marine, one of Australia’s oldest and most significant boat makers. The company’s roots trace back to 1958, and since then, International Marine has produced over 60,000 boats under different brand names, including the classic Bertram, designed in the USA. In the late 1980s, the company took its own path, becoming Caribbean, and the legacy continues. The model lineup ranges from a 16-foot offshore runabout to a serious 49-foot flybridge cruiser.
Caribbean boats have earned their stripes as serious, long-distance fishing vessels, with wide beams and a sturdy hulls that instil confidence, even on extended voyages many miles offshore.

Impressive dimensions
Loaded to the brim, this boat tips the scales with a wet weight of 3.5 tonnes, right on the towing limit. Like any sizeable trailer boat, it demands a tow vehicle capable of towing up to 3.5 tonnes – a requirement met by many models in New Zealand’s motor vehicle fleet.
The ‘Easy-Tow’ premium trailer package – complete with dual axles, alloy wheels, a spare wheel, walk-board, and electric brakes – is a top-shelf option. Electrically activated brakes elevate safety levels and outperform other braking systems. This high-quality Australian-built trailer is thoughtfully designed, packed with intelligent features, and visually appealing.


With a beam of 2.5 metres, transporting this 7.84-metre vessel across New Zealand’s roading network should be relatively straightforward for competent drivers. It’s a big rig to tow, but any minor on-road challenges are quickly forgotten once the boat’s in the water ahead of another fishing adventure.

Performance
The Caribbean 2300 has been designed to accommodate a single outboard. Our test boat was set up with a Yamaha 300hp outboard, in white to better match the hull.
Yamaha’s 4.2-litre V6 outboards have been offshore favourites for over a decade with a reputation for reliability few others can match. These trusted outboards now have integrated digital electric steering, making them very responsive and resulting in a cleaner, less cluttered transom and bilge area with no pumps, hoses, hydraulic lines or connections.


Yamaha’s Variable Camshaft Timing system advances and retards the angle of the intake camshaft to increase power and throttle response in the low to mid-RPM range. This feature helps Yamaha’s new 4.2-litre big-bore V6 outboards deliver good hole-shot performance and excellent mid-range acceleration.
This engine configuration is ready for Yamaha’s HelmMaster joystick docking system, and autopilot controls can be added easily. The autopilot option would be on my ‘immediate’ list of additions.


With a fuel capacity of 425 litres, this long-range trailer boat is poised to track fish anywhere in New Zealand waters. Adding game poles and associated big game fishing gear would likely be at the top of the extras list for many, along with solar panels on the roof to power house systems on those long escapades.
The fuel efficiency was impressive at 11.1 litres per hour at trolling speed (6-8 knots) and around 22.6 litres per hour at just on planing speed (12.9 knots). At 18 knots we saw 26.1 litres per hour with 77.5 litres per hour at 34.5 knots. Maximum speed with this engine is 39 knots. Conditions didn’t allow us to chase that target, but I have little doubt the boat can achieve that speed if desired.

A trusty companion
We didn’t wrestle with west coast bars or navigate a following sea on our test day. Instead, we opted for Hauraki Gulf’s ferry wake and the good old ‘wind against tide’ chop. Performing mid-speed turns, the hull’s prowess shone. With its 20° deadrise, it gripped the water, providing stability and a smooth helming experience. This hull is a master of its domain, even when really pushing it along. In fact, the more the hull was pressed, the smoother and quieter the ride became.


Caribbeans are renowned for their consistency of construction because they are hand-laid, with all the materials carefully weighed before being laid up. The hulls also stay longer in the moulds than is true for many builders, ensuring a thorough cure. And Caribbean’s models have very long production runs – the company prefers to tweak successful designs along the way rather than launching completely new ones.
I found the visibility from the helm station is excellent all around the boat. The spacious cockpit makes trolling and landing fish a breeze – there’s no hint of instability, as is sometimes found in vessels of this size, and the solid nature of the boat elevates user confidence levels, encouraging the desire to explore somewhere new. This sport fisher knows its game.

Options and space
Straight from the factory, the Caribbean 2300 is ready for fishing action. Armoured glass front windscreens with dual wipers, an electric anchor winch, 80 litres of fresh water servicing a deck wash/shower, and a roomy lockup cabin with a V-berth, exemplify its rugged, no-nonsense design. Sliding bulkhead doors secure the cabin, while the through-hull, manual-pump marine toilet makes longer trips that much more comfortable.


A fishing-focussed approach extends to deluxe helmsman and companion seats with insulated bases for under-seat ice storage. A large underfloor wet locker is ready to hold fish, ensuring the catch is well taken care of.
Our test boat showcased factory extras like a road cover, cabin side-clears, stainless steel handles, and the skipper-pleaser – a Maxwell drum winch with 150 metres of warp and chain tipped with a Vulcan anchor.


Custom add-ons elevated the experience further. The 16-inch Simrad NSS Evo3-S electronics display and TM275 transducer should prove indispensable for fishing-oriented outings. Zipwake electronic trim tabs enhance the ride while U-DEK cockpit decking, a premium bait station, the moulded bait-well in the transom, and US-made Perco rod holders add finesse.

Past, present and future
The Caribbean brand’s reputation for robust construction and excellent seakeeping is recognised globally.
In New Zealand, Scott and Paul White have represented the brand for over a decade, guiding each model’s introduction and offering tailored advice and post-sale support. ‘Boaties’ themselves, the brothers have honed the importation and commissioning of Caribbean boats, from runabouts to the largest flybridge models, to a fine art. Their passion shines through.


The White brothers have made Caribbeans a staple for the boating community in New Zealand – the fact that they sell out of stock every year is testament to their streamlined processes and the continuing appeal of the Caribbean Boats’ range.
The latest models, like the 2300, maintain Caribbean’s proven hull principles, while incorporating modern equipment and updated thinking. They provide an ageless package that delivers value today and down the line. Buying a Caribbean, says Scott, is not just about the boat, it’s also about a legacy of classic sportfishing.

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