- Solid construction
- Good performance and economy
- Nicely finished
- Has the right fishing credentials
- Comfortable over-nighter
- Tow vehicle must rated to 3500kg
At 7.2m LOA with a towing weight a touch over three tonnes, the Caribbean 2400 is a serious towing proposition – but that’s quickly forgotten when she slides into the water.
International Marine is one of Australia’s oldest and largest manufacturers of fibreglass boats, but is better known as Caribbean Boats. Based in Melbourne, it has been manufacturing boats since 1958 under several brands including the USA-designed Bertram.
In the late 1980s International Marine went its own way and re-branded as Caribbean and has now built more than 60,000 boats. The range is extensive – from a 16-foot (4.88m) offshore runabout to the massive 49-foot (14.77m) flybridge cruiser.
In New Zealand the brand is perhaps best known for the mid-range sportfishers and cruisers – it has a reputation for luxurious and well-constructed boats.
The 2400 hardtop sits right in the middle of that range and has been in production since 2000. This hull has achieved considerable success in Australia with the Mercruiser petrol-powered sterndrive option. The alternative propulsion option – single or twin outboards – has also proved very popular.
But the new Volkswagen/Audi-based Mercruiser TDi diesel option, with a V6 common-rail engine developing 260hp, is more suited to the New Zealand market. Scott White, co-owner of Caribbean Boats NZ, says the company’s had great success with the 24 Flybridge Sportsfisher with the same engine package, so this powerplant was a ‘must’ when they were spec’ing the hardtop configuration.
The greater range this provides, and our favourable pump prices, both make diesel power the preferred option for Kiwis who are serious about their fishing and cruising. This also contributes to better resale value.
At 7.2m LOA (about 8.4m with bowsprit and swim platform) the 2400 is a viable towing proposition, with the 2.7m beam allowing daytime towing with the appropriate flags. Although the towing weight is a touch over three tonnes, the Mackay sensor-braked tandem trailer handles this with ease. We organised to have a play in the waters off Raglan, and White had no trouble towing her over the hills from Hamilton.
Down at the historic Raglan wharf, the beautiful finish of the brilliant white hull was immediately apparent. Black pinstripes along the waterline add a classy touch, and the gleaming stainless work offsets the black drop-down sides.
Somewhat unusually in this size boat was a bow thruster tucked below the waterline, but with the tide ripping past the wharf this proved very helpful in bringing her into the wharf without problems.
Out the back the big Bravo II sterndrive is tucked under the wide, moulded fibreglass swim platform, creating an unimpeded stern area for fishing or watersports. A pair of the state-of-the-art dynamic trim tabs from Zipwake are fitted either side on the hull.
At the bow a split bowrail guards the Manson anchor and automatic winch. The Mackay trailer has a very useful step-on platform which, combined with the split bow rail, means single-handled launching is possible by climbing on board from the trailer directly onto the bow.
A large, lined cockpit combines with the integrated swim platform – and it means around half the boat length is open for fishing or other activities. A transom walk-through on the port side provides a seamless flow between the cockpit and the water, and the transom itself makes a very comfortable seat for two or more people while at rest.
The platform extends most of the way over the Bravo II sternleg, so tangles with the prop will be minimised. A hinged baitboard set in the transom swings up to reveal a moulded livebait tank.
As is normal with an inboard, the engine cover intrudes slightly into the cockpit space, although not as much as one might expect. But a comfortable squab on top makes this a great outwards-facing seat for fishing, while movable seats on either side turn the engine cover into part of the rear bench seat when required. The engine hatch lifts easily to reveal the V6 Mercury TDi diesel engine, with all service items easily accessible at the front of the engine.
Although this Caribbean serves double duty as a cruiser or a sport fisher, the boat under review is the company demonstrator and has clearly been set up for game fishing. A pair of game poles either side of the hardtop, a six-way rocket launcher along the roof’s trailing edge, and four other rod-holders scattered around the gunwales and transom remove any doubt!
A pair of seats nestle under the hardtop. The skipper’s seat is a single, forward-facing unit while the passenger side includes a rear-facing bench seat. The passenger seat swings up to reveal a plumbed sink, while the helm seat contains an icebox below. Several, spacious underfloor storage lockers are located around the boat. It’s a carpeted cabin, and a cockpit wash down eases cleaning duties.
Although the hardtop has an armourplate windscreen and side windows, it is open at the back. A very smart set of floor-to-ceiling clears had been installed, and these provide complete protection in all conditions.
The central ‘door’ section can be left off if only partial protection is required – you can also opt for deploying just the side fills. White demonstrated how easily the entire system unzips, and it took only a few minutes to stow everything away.
I found the helm position very comfortable, with the stainless steel wheel light and easy. The Mercury TDi’s digital throttle is similarly super-light and easy to use. Thanks to the wonders of electronics, the display is uncluttered, with a large Simrad NSS16 Evo 3 touchscreen display handling the chartplotting and fishfinding duties as well as providing primary engine parameters such as speed and fuel economy.
A Mercury VesselView colour LCD screen displays all the other engine data, and the Zipwake trim tab control system also has a colour LCD screen. Crisp, white switch panels and stainless cup holders in Talon system mounts contribute to the ‘Star Wars’ feel of the helm station. Tucked up in the hardtop are a Fusion marine stereo system and a Simrad VHF.
The fully-lined forward cabin has a sliding, lockable door which also offers maximum headroom. The black squabs are generous in size and thickness, and an infill turns the separate bunks into a huge double bed.
Hidden under the centre is a plumbed manual toilet, while under-bunk stowage lockers either side provide yet more storage. A large central hatch provides light and air if needed, plus access to the bow area.
Having completed our inspection I turned my attention to photos, and we took the aptly-named White Knight out for a play. With school holidays having just started, White’s two sons had come along for the ride. Having passengers on board illustrated the scale of the boat, with heaps of space for fishing and activities whether in the cabin, cockpit or sitting out on the transom.
The Mercury TDi V6 is a proven performer, and with it the Caribbean 2400 Stern Drive is no slouch. She accelerates very well indeed, and despite the hull weight of over two and a half tonnes fully loaded we soon had her at over 30 knots.
With the electronic instrumentation we had accurate consumption figures, and even at 30 knots she was drinking a miserly 1.62 litres per nautical mile. At this rate her 350-litre fuel tank would let her run flat-out for about seven hours and cover close to 200 nautical miles, allowing a small safety margin. A more sensible cruising speed of around 20 knots will extend her range to around 270 nautical miles and almost 14 hours of running.
The gyro-controlled Zipwake dynamic trim tabs are almost disappointingly good. Gone are the days of tweaking trim tabs almost constantly – the control systems on these are such that you turn them on to ‘Auto’ and then forget they are there. The boat maintained an even keel while underway, no matter how we moved about, and we were hardly aware of them.
One of the reasons we came to Raglan was to get photos in the famous ‘joggle’ at the harbour mouth, but conditions on the day were very flat. The big Caribbean powered through the relatively small surf, and although the bigger waves generated impressive amounts of spray, which the chines kept well clear of the boat, she hardly lifted. So we were unable to get any good airtime.
Overall the Caribbean 2400 Stern Drive is a very impressive boat. White calls her a “king-sized trailerable sports fisher”, and that pretty much sums her up, although we would probably also add the word “luxury” somewhere in there.
She will be economical to run, thanks to that V6 diesel, but has performance where it matters. She is known to handle big seas, although we could not really test this on the day, and has space to spare.
She will require a reasonably serious towing vehicle, and while boats her size and with her level of finish are not cheap, she represents great value in a well-built and reliable package. Price as tested $245,000, with packages starting from $164,000 with 250hp V6 Mercruiser MPI petrol motor.