2003 Caribbean 32 Sports Boat Review

If the proof is in the pudding, then look no further than this custom-rigged Caribbean 32 Sports. First visited by BlueWater almost a year ago, the new model was judged to have plenty of unrealised fishing potential. All that was needed was a boatyard blitz and a deft bit of handiwork to create a canyon-running Cabo-style fishing machine.

Enter Sydney-based Caribbean dealers Sylvania Marine and its resident gamefishing enthusiast/proprietor, Nathan Ghosn. Just short of a year after Caribbean 32 Sports numero uno hit the water, he has sold a half dozen other 32s. None, however, is quite like the first.

The owner of the testboat, Jim Tsouglis, stepped out of a trailerboat into this 32. A new member of Botany Bay GFC, he wasted no time in testing the rodholders on his fish-ready boat late last year.

On his first day out, trolling somewhere wide of Sydney’s Botany Heads, Captain Jim managed two nice striped marlin. Suffice to say he is hooked. Yet much to his family’s pleasure, the 32 Sports retains its dual purpose, which is but one reason it is a smart boat for the modern angler.

Capt Jim always wanted a fishing boat that could double as a family boat. To this end it had to have a good cockpit as well as comforts. When the boat arrived a year ago, the only option it had was a 12V cockpit fridge, a targa top and covers that have since been replaced.

Jim and Nathan developed a mental master plan early in the piece. Heading the list of must-haves were things like teak coamings and cockpit and a remodelled targa arch and covers. But a lot of other stuff happened along the way, some of it because they were delving into new territory with a boat not customised before.

John Zac from Tailored Marine Accessories created a new stainless targa arch with a nice bit of rake to tie into the hull lines, a rear rocket launcher for toting nine outfits, and mounting points for outrigger bases. The targa now also sports two 12V spotlights, nav lights and aerials for the mobile phone and television.

ABC Covers cut the canvas and made the bows to keep the top looking taut and terrific. While the new top has more height and is longer than the original, it isn’t boxy like the old factory-fitted “chicken coop”. The clears also follow the windscreen line.

Next came padded coamings for serious stand-up fishing, teak-topped gunwales that create impromptu seating and provide protection to the ‘glasswork, and teaked steps in the cockpit leading to the sidedecks.

However, the little things make some of the biggest differences. For example, polished stainless steel welds conceal the through-bolts for the deck hardware and every screw head on the boat’s hinges. There are four heavy-duty Tailored Marine rodholders, spigots on opposing cockpit sides for the removable bait cutting board and barbecue, and pop-up cleats for hanging fenders or a sea anchor to slow your drift.

The boat also bears a new stainless steel rubbing strip and protectors in the aft corners where stainless steel hawsepipes lead to below-deck cleats. Basically, there’s not a sharp edge to foul bodies and tight lines.

Next, Tailored Marine was called on to produce a better marlin board.Serious stainless steel framework and teak slats team to provide a practical swim platform for the family, but also something that isn’t too obtrusive for fishing. The platform doesn’t dig in when reversing, nor does it hold water at sea.

Included in the marlin board are built-in spigots for attaching the boat’s stow-away swim ladder and a concealed berley pot that is deep enough to take half a dozen mullet. The rubber scuppers were changed to stainless steel numbers, but the most amazing change is yet to come.

The previously upright and blocky bowrail has been reshaped and extended for more rake and way better looks. But it’s impossible to see where the joins have been made such is the incredible workmanship.

Already, compared with the old boat, this one looks way better and functions better with family or fishos.

With the new hardware in place, the duo turned their attention to other fishing features. One of the two unplumbed in-transom bins was turned into a livebait tank with a viewing window. A Jabsco continuous-supply pump was added along with a raw-water pump for a new recessed deckwash. Tinted perspex lids replace the heavy-moulded ‘glass lids atop the livebait tank. The remaining transom bin was left as a baitbox, icebox or cube dispenser for tuna fishing.

The standard outward opening two-stage marlin door needed no adjustment. It’s proven a good door that helps keep kiddies contained, allows a fish be brought aboard and doesn’t let in too much water when reversing.

Perko stainless steel outrigger bases and 20ft Reelax poles hit the deck. Capt Jim prefers lure trolling, so running rigging, tag lines and returns were threaded in place.

Up front, the anchor was changed to a heavier 45lb Manson plough and a stainless steel bowroller was added for deploying a reef pick for those occasions when you want to swing on the anchor and nail an old man snapper.

At the time of writing, moves were being made in the direction of creating some dedicated gaff racks and tagpole holders in the sidepockets. Clips were added under sidepockets for stowing the boathook out of the way.

Incidentally, the teak decks have been topped with 5/8in timber. Due to the extra weight of the deck hatches, strongbacks were added to prevent them from sagging. Piano hinges replace the standard hinges on the hatch lids.

The boat’s big lazarette holds a barbecue, cutting board, swim ladder and so on. This way, the Caribbean 32 can cater for family and fishing duties in a matter of minutes. But when it comes to creature comforts both parties get to enjoy them all day long.

A moulded amenities centre on the portside creates a division between the cockpit and helm area. It comes standard with a 160lt icebox to which the Boatyard Blitz team added a 12/240V fridge unit with thermostat that can be cranked up to create a bait and/or catch freezer.

Alongside is a sink with hot/cold water and handheld shower nozzle. Though it’s a small thing, a cute built in soap-dispenser has been added for those post-fishing welcome-aboard-darling moments. A grabrail was added for security at sea.

Engineroom access is available through an opening door at the end of the amenities centre. No changes there. But a padded top turns the moulded unit into the best seat in the house, allowing a couple of anglers to find shade while watching the lures work in the wake.

The mouldings to starboard were also crying out for customisation. Nathan added a five-tray tackle locker intended to keep rubber bands for the outriggers, tag cards, spare dacron and so on. A bigger recessed five-tray tackle box was added behind the helm bench seat for holding tackle and rigging gear.

Between these areas is a moulding that harbours the optional 12V fridge. There is sufficient flat space above this for pouring a mixer. It might be turned into a rigging centre if the owner decides to get into the wonderful world of switchbaiting.

The bridgedeck has an accommodating L-shaped lounge for passengers to port. In addition to the dinette table down below, a second removable table was added for doing lunch under the covers. The stainless steel pedestal and timber tabletop were nicely done. Nearby are moulded recesses for the EPIRB and fire extinguisher where they easy to grab in an emergency. A clip-in carpet was added. But the biggest change is to the dash, which was redesigned for a more symmetrical look and ease of operation.

The addition of oversized matching carbon-fibre dash panels provides a mounting place for two recessed 10in Simrad EQ42 electronic Sunview screens linked to a GPS plotter and depthsounding unit. Not many 32-footers can claim such mounting room.

Included in the electronics pack is a Simrad autopilot, 27MHz and VHF marine radios and cool Cummins engine gauges with chrome bezels that look the goods. All the rubber-booted switches have been grouped together and the dash rewired from top to bottom. A sporty new wheel and single controls make for an easy boat to drive.

On the engineering front, the boat has a standard-issue 2.5kva inverter and no genset. Instead, the boys added two additional 200amp batteries (three 150amp models are supplied) to more than meet power supply demands on those long weekends away.

Other hidden extras include a second engineroom bilge pump, extra engineroom lights and four-blade Teinbridge props in place of standard-issue three-bladers.

Despite all the extra gear, the boat does the same speed with the four-bladers than it did when I first stepped aboard the bare boat spinning three-bladers a year ago.

Jim added a Fisheye camera in the bimini corner that, on slow record, lets you capture the entire day’s fishing action. You can play the action on the boat’s television/VCR player down below. Aside from that, the interior is pretty standard.

Under the steps down is the boat’s control panel. Descend further and you’ll gain headroom in a generously sized open-plan interior. The big teak facia to starboard houses the Clarion sound system and the television is nearby.

There is a small galley to port with moulded Granicoat benchtops and sink, Engel 12V fridge, two-burner electric stove with fiddle rail, NEC microwave oven, three storage lockers, a dedicated cutlery drawer, and a pantry-style shelf.

A U-shaped lounge can seat three around the compact dinette. Priority has been given to the head, which is perfect for entertaining and doing overnighters. The big moulded insert has a full shower stall, electric Jabsco loo, extractor fan and slick bathroom fittings.

No doubt Jim and his wife sleep well on the offset double berth in the bow topped with a butterscotch-coloured bedspread. There is a small dressing lounge nearby, storage lockers, a big hold under the mattress, hanging locker and sidepockets.

There are plans to improve the quality of onboard life for the family. To this end, the carpet headliner may be changed to vinyl and high-gloss teak drawers and cupboards could be added some time down the track.

After a quick blast last time I tested this boat, I said the Caribbean 32 Sports wasn’t a rocket ship out of the blocks. Modest Cummins 220B straight-six turbo-diesel engines rated at 220hp at 2600rpm gave cruise speeds of around 20kt at 2200rpm and a 27-28kt top speed.

Almost a year later, four-blade props and the addition of trim tabs let you do so much more. Top speed is still 27-28kt, but cruising is more efficient and smoother. I recorded a gentlemanly 20.6kt at 2100rpm while offshore – fast enough to go places but not so fast that you can’t spot fish signs along the way.

In the Caribbean 32 Sports, Botany Bay to Port Stephens could have been a mere five-hour trip and, importantly, one that wouldn’t burn a hole in the pocket. According to Cummins, fuel consumption is around 35-40lt/h at cruise revs.

A 30lt hot water system and 200lt of water in a tank on the centreline between the motors will cater for weekends away. On the fishing front, trolling speed of 7.5kt at 1100rpm sees the hull travel with a nice, slightly bow-up attitude to keep you dry in a headsea.

Using the trim tabs I could hold a handy low-speed cruise of 15kt at 1800rpm if the weather got really nasty. As it was, the boat felt comfortable dealing with a 10-15kt south-easterly and metre or more of sea. Manoeuvrability was really quite good.

Originally, I wrote that the 32 Sports was a practical overnighter for two people, a neat social boat for six or more and a potential canyon runner in which you could nail a trophy fish. With the custom-touches seen here, the boat has proven to be these things and more. It is a great example of how sensible aftermarket work by a dealer and owner can produce a result.

While the obvious thing missing is a half tower, if you do the sums you will see why it’s not there. You probably won’t get the $20,000-plus back when it comes time to upgrade. As it is, the boat is catching fish.

From a starting price of $257,000, the Caribbean 32 Sports now owes Capt Jim $320,000 including almost $40,000 of electronics. But in a climate when fuel prices are sky high, the family is calling and fishing time is precious, this is a smart boat indeed.


Price as tested: $320,000
Options fitted
Simrad electronics, teak deck and coamings, teak and stainless steel marlin board, trim tabs, Tailored Marine heavy-duty rodholders, custom targa top with rocket launcher, four-blade Teinbridge props, extra batteries, modified dash and switch panels, modified bowrails, built-in tackle boxes and more
Priced from $257,000
Material: Solid GRP with ‘glass encapsulated timber stringers
Type: Moderate-to-deep vee planing hull
LOA: 9.76m (32′)
Beam: 3.56m (11’8″)
Draft: 0.9m (2’11”)
Deadrise : 16°
Weight: 5300kg (11686lb)
Berths: 2
Fuel capacity: 855lt (226gal)
Water capacity: 200lt (1120gal)
Make/Model: Cummins 220B
Type: Inline 6-cyl turbo-diesel
Rated hp (ea): 220
Displacement (ea) : 5.9lt
Weight (ea): 508kg (plus gearbox)
Gearbox (make/ratio): ZF/1.56:1
Propellers: Four-blade bronze
SUPPLIED BY Sylvania Marina, Sylvania, NSW, Tel (02) 9522 7430
All figures supplied as per manufacturers specifications. Prices in Australian dollars for Australian delivered boats unless otherwise stated.

**Review written 2003