BOAT REVIEW Caribbean 49 FC Night Hawk II

October 2018 Launch Reviews
Words: John Eichelsheim. Photography: Bryce Taylor
OUR RATING
4 STARS
Performance
Economy
Handling
Value
Build Quality
Specification
MODEL DETAILS
MODEL Caribbean 49 FC
DESIGNER International Marine
BUILDER International Marine
CONSTRUCTION Hand-laid GRP
PRICE AS TESTED $1,383,000
SPECIFICATIONS
LOA 16.55M
BEAM 4.88M
DRAFT 1.37M
ENGINE 2 x Cummins QSM II 715hp
FUEL CAPACITY 3200L
WATER CAPACITY 900L
Maximum Speed 31 knots
Cruise Speed 22 knots
ACCOMMODATION Three cabins (6 persons), plus saloon (3)
HIGHLIGHTS
  • Huge cockpit
  • Social flybridge layout
  • Excellent sea boat
OBSERVATIONS
  • Biggest Caribbean to date
  • Traditional flybridge-cruiser styling
  • Most luxurious Caribbean fit-out yet

There’s no mistaking the new Caribbean 49 for anything other than a Caribbean. And that’s a good thing!


The latest flybridge model from International Marine in Melbourne, Australia maintains company’s tradition of building honest blue-water vessels that take sport-fishing seriously. The latest model might be bigger, but the family resemblance to its smaller siblings is unmistakable.

The new C49 is Caribbean’s flagship model, a development of and successor to the C47, adding a metre to the cockpit and a totally restyled flybridge hard top. Including bowsprit and stern platform, the C49 is almost 55 feet long. The extra waterline length results in a better shaft angle, which gives better fuel efficiency and a drier ride.

Night Hawk II is the first C49 in New Zealand and Caribbean agent Scott White’s demonstrator. Scott and his wife Kim have a 30-year business partnership with Scott’s brother Paul and his wife Donna. They name all their boats Night Hawk 11 after Scott’s late father Bill’s launch, which sunk after he sold it.

Scott has equipped his latest Night Hawk II as he expects most Kiwi customers will specify the C49. Scott might add teak to the cockpit at some point, but it is plain moulded GRP from the factory.

Fishing cockpit

At 165ft2 (15.33m2) the cockpit is vast! It’s a game-fisher’s dream, deep and wide with decent toe-room and three properly positioned rod holders on either side. The rocket launcher can hold 15 rods, Reelax game poles are a factory option while game chairs, tuna tubes, cockpit controls, cockpit electronics can be fitted with ease.

The extra-wide transom door opens outwards, which is what you want backing up on a charging marlin, and the cockpit self-drains through scuppers. The swim platform is standard, but it can be left off by the factory if desired. Underwater lights are optional.

There are two good-sized live bait wells in the transom and the side lockers are a useful size. The cockpit is equipped with a hot and cold freshwater shower, saltwater wash-down and a sink unit with tackle drawers against the saloon bulkhead. To store the catch, or supplies for a multi-day cruise, there’s a large cockpit freezer under the flybridge ladder.

As well as a huge cockpit, the C49 has two lazarettes under the cockpit sole, separated by the 3200-litre fuel tank. The aft laz provides plenty of storage with access to the steering gear and pumps, while the forward space is big enough for bulky items, including deck furniture, dive and fishing gear, a roll-up inflatable dinghy and all the usual gear that needs to find a home aboard a launch. The C49 is well endowed with storage in the saloon, the galley and in the cabins as well.

Tidy engineering

The well-lit engine room is accessed by pulling away the saloon carpet and lifting a section of floor. Twin Cummins QSM 11 715hp diesels fill the engine room nicely, but there’s plenty of room left over for U-TEC refrigeration equipment, an Onan 13.5kVA genset, batteries, inverters, A/C units, water heater, vacuflush toilet system and Salt Away engine flush unit. The vessel is 24 volts.

Everything below decks is tidy and easy to reach, with plenty of room around the outboard side of the engines. There isn’t standing headroom, but nor do you need to crawl around the space. Factory standard high-water alarms in the engine room and aft lazarette make the boat easy to put into survey.

Should the engines ever need to come out, the saloon sole unbolts so the engines can be swung out through the saloon doors.

Upscale interior

Step inside the C49’s saloon and it could be mistaken for a C47 or even a C40, except for the scale. The layout is virtually identical. The extra volume is welcome, though, and the saloon feels quite spacious. International Marine has raised the bar with the C49’s interior, which feels their most luxurious to date. Lashings of lacquered teak adds some shiny highlights and pale leather upholstery works well with the ceilings and wall panels.

In typical Caribbean style, the settee on the starboard side converts into a bunk-style triple berth, the single upper bunk secured from the ceiling by a simple strap. It’s a well proven arrangement that’s quick to set up and put away – a great way to accommodate extra crew overnight.

Opposite, a leather upholstered C-shaped seating area wraps around the shiny polished teak saloon table, while the galley is forward, half a step down.

This C49 has no front window (forward facing saloon windows are a factory option), which allows for a row of galley cabinets at eye level to provide extra storage. All the appliances are electric and include a dish-drawer, full-size under-bench convection/microwave oven, induction hob and two-door U-TEC fridge-freezer. Counter tops are stone-look moulded fibreglass.

Opposite the galley on the port side is the vessel’s entertainment hub, with a large flat-screen TV, integrated satellite TV box, Fusion stereo head unit, wireless VHF handset and the main switch panels, neatly tucked away inside the teak cabinetry. Also tucked away is an ice maker and a washer-drier or bar fridge, depending on which option you choose. Scott has upgraded Night Hawk II’s satellite antenna with an Intellian unit to ensure good reception almost anywhere.

Although the saloon lacks a glass windscreen, which impacts on the amount of natural light available, sliding rear doors and side windows, plus plenty of LED lighting ensure the space doesn’t feel dark. On the contrary, it feels comfortably luxurious, without being ostentatious. The saloon and master cabin are air-conditioned.

Below, the accommodation is split into three large cabins and two bathrooms. A guest cabin to starboard is configured with two large, comfortable bunks suitable for adults, while the port cabin has a queen-sized berth. Both cabins are well served by hanging lockers, drawers and storage under the beds.

The day head, shared between the guest cabins, is on the starboard side. It’s roomy with a separate shower box, moulded vanity and an overhead hatch for ventilation and light. All the Bomar overhead hatches – every cabin has at least one – and sliding windows have insect screens, so you can safely open them at night.

The air-conditioned master cabin features an LCD TV, Fusion sound system, island queen berth, a pair of hanging lockers and plenty of under-bed storage. It’s served by an ensuite bathroom with separate shower.

Flybridge plus

Where you most notice the C49’s extra size, after the cockpit, is up on the flybridge.

Access is via an aluminium tread ladder and hatch in the flybridge floor, which can be closed to reduce noise while the boat’s underway. Again, the bridge layout would be familiar to owners of a Caribbean 40 or a 47, but it benefits from more space.

Scott White.

The helm station is offset to starboard. The moulded GRP helm console has plenty of real estate to accommodate modern electronics – the boat has a single 16-inch Simrad NSS EVO3, but there’s easily room for two. In addition, the console houses Vesselview displays for the Cummins diesels, VHF, Fusion stereo, chain counter, autopilot, Muir winch control, Boat Leveller trim tabs and all the usual switches and gauges.

Electronics were supplied by Advance Trident Ltd.

A pair of substantial leather captain’s chairs provide comfort and good all-round vision. The C49 sports a moulded hardtop supported by aft FRP legs and window frame structures. It’s open to the rear but has sliding glass side-windows and a deep three-pane windscreen. With the clear drop-covers zipped up and the hatch secured, the flybridge is completely enclosed.

There’s plenty of space on the flybridge for the whole crew, or a party, with comfortable seating and a wet bar to accommodate everyone. The flybridge has the vessel’s only helm station, but a second station in the cockpit is an option. Night Hawk II has just the standard single Side Power bow-thruster, but adding a stern-thruster, or else the whole Cummins joystick control system, are factory options.

The ADC electric davit on the foredeck will launch and retrieve Night Hawk II’s Aquapro RIB tender, which hadn’t been delivered at the time of this review.

Strong performer

Weighing in at 25 tonnes fully loaded, the C49 is no lightweight, but it carries the same sea-keeping DNA as all the boats in the Caribbean range: the C49 can claim direct descent from a Raymond C. Hunt design.

Underway, the vessel feels substantial and very capable. I’m guessing it will be the best sea boat in the whole range and, according to White, it’s the also driest, with its extra hull length allowing for a better shaft angle.

Push the throttles forward and the big Caribbean gets up and boogies, but bow lift is minimal and on the plane the hull rides nicely level. It’s planing at 12 knots. In a flat sea, we made little use of the trim tabs, but they are there when you need them.

Cruising at a very serene 21 knots, total fuel burn is 126 litres per hour (both engines combined), climbing to 150lph at 2100rpm and 25 knots. At wide open throttle – 2550rpm and 31 knots – the big QSMs together drink 224lph.

Of more relevance for a boat of this pedigree, trolling at 7 knots Night Hawk II sips a miserly 12lph combined, which rises to 24lph at a fast trolling speed of 9 knots – pretty decent numbers.

Honest value

The Caribbean 49 might not be as flashy or stylistically ground-breaking as some of its competitors, but it is a strongly built flybridge cruiser with timeless styling that will still look good in 20 years. And, like the rest of the Caribbean range, the C49 offers great value for money.

All of those attributes appeal to Kiwi boaters.

 

Share