2009 Caribbean 40 Boat Review

Caribbean 40 – A fine obsession

The Caribbean 40 has long been a popular choice for gamefishermen along Australia’s eastern states. Now transformed by electronic diesels, David Lockwood tests a spectacular new release after its full customisation by Nathan Ghosn at the specialist gamefishing workshop of Sydney’s Sylvania Marina.

Download the pdf article or read the boat review below.

Author and Photography by David Lockwood

The gamefishing bug has bitten Mark Holmes and his son, Andrew. Only problem, their boat was a modest Stacer tinnie. But from little things, big things grow, right?

Before long, they found them- selves shopping for a second-hand Caribbean 35. This led them to Sydney Caribbean dealer and well- known fishing enthusiast Nathan Ghosn from Sylvania Marina. Next thing, the Holmes’ had a new Caribbean 40 on order from the Melbourne factory.

Although the delivery time for their dream boat was an agonising 12 months, the Holmes put the wait to good use. They trawled marinas virtually every weekend, talked with other boat owners and embarked on a year of intensive fieldwork.

After hundreds of phone calls asking Nathan if this or that was possible, after the chance meeting of minds, and then much custom work by the dealer, the aptly named Obsession was born.

And it is without doubt the best Caribbean 40 for tournament fishing on the water today.

“Friends said I should have called the boat ‘Optioned Up’,” Mark says, as we embark on the tour of his 40, a slick boat that raises the bar for Caribbean. This boat is virtually unrecognisable from the 40 that arrived months earlier, with the only factory options being dripless shaft seals, hardtop and hatch, high-gloss joinery in the cabin, and deleted marlin board.

“Everything happened here,” Mark says, pointing to the Sylvania Marina sign behind him. Nathan’s lifelong experience with the Caribbean brand was put to good use, as were his shipwrights and a stack of top-shelf kit.

Doing your dash

Where to start? Logically, I head to the flybridge and work my way from top to bottom. There’s a pair of 6.5m Reelax outriggers and a centre-rigger, with custom Reelax bases that fall somewhere between the Maxi and Mini models. Then comes the lighting: the usual 240V spotlights, but also 12V spreader lights that let the crew rig-up at dawn en route to the grounds without needing to run the generator for AC lighting.

Communications include Ray-marine VHF, Icom HF and GME 27 Meg radios. There’s Raymarine satellite TV with Foxtel – “We were watching the football while shark fishing last weekend,” Mark says – and an impressive electronics package, including two 12-inch G Series screens, with the remote control panel mounted in the dash where it won’t be lost overboard.

The depthsounding capabilities of the Raymarine G Series were enhanced with the addition of a 3kW transducer, which Nathan mounted in a wet box filled with glycerine. Mark says he can see 1000 fathoms and trace the bottom and find bait while travelling at speed.

The G Series have inputs from the Foxtel (so you can watch the sport while reeling in the passages between tournaments) and CCT cameras in the engineroom and, soon, the flybridge.

The radar is a 48 nautical mile model, with radar overlay, while the cartography is the latest 3D gear. The autopilot is a Raymarine 6002. Nearby is a Cummins control panel for the fully electronic common- rail QC500s that propel Obsession.

Melbourne-based International Marine has built more than 50,000 boats since founder Arch Spooner, regarded as the forefather of fibreglass boatbuilding in Australia, formed his plastics company in 1958. But it’s taken half a century for the boatbuilder to fit electronic diesel engines in a boat.

Like the recipient of a heart transplant, the Caribbean 40, which was released in 1998, has gained a new lease on life. It has a new set of legs, or shafts, as they were, and a whole new level of perky performance.

The boat has been transformed from a workhorse into a wonderfully smooth, quiet and refined gameboat. No smoke, no diesel drum-drum-drum, and much better fuel consumption. We’ll get to that.

Meanwhile, a no-less-significant modification has occurred at the helm station. Sylvania Marina had its shipwrights extend the dash to accommodate the aforesaid Raymarine G Series screens.

They also created a custom pod for the Palm Beach-style single- lever controls, which have a lovely amount of detent going in and out of gear. It’s a great helm set-up and akin to what you find on fully customised battlewagons.

All the fiddly switches were deleted in favour of a much simpler, custom switch panel linked to things like an extra bilge pump in the engineroom, and bilge and high- water alarm. There are stainless steel drink-holders here and there; low-voltage courtesy LED lights; and custom clears, with flip-up panels forward that button to the underside of the hardtop, thereby allowing the skipper to open and shut clears singlehandedly.
Meantime, custom teak-tread steps and better ladder feet enhance the passage to the flybridge. Here, crew seating includes an L-shaped lounge for four, with a second lounge opposite that can be used for passage napping or as a daybed.

The helm seats are the Pompanette type that, despite being low-backed, are comfortable without impinging on your driving room. And I note great sight lines to the bow and transom.

A cockpit for anglers

The standard-issue 10.3sq m of cockpit on the Caribbean 40 plays into the hands of serious anglers. But the cockpit on Obsession goes further; it’s designed to serve shark and marlin fishing from NSW waters to the heavy-tackle season in Cairns.

The custom-made, 316-grade, stainless steel rodholders were fashioned from billet. Padded coamings were added, along with concealed-bolt stainless steel rope guards, teak decking, LED lighting and a plumbed livebait tank.

There is a trick switch panel for the lights and bait pump, 12V outlets for the electric reels (put to good use for deep-water bottom fishing), and tackle drawers under the sink (which doubles as a bait-rigging centre). And across to port is the eutectic bait/drinks fridge.

With removable rodholders on the bowrail – the 40 has good access around the sidedecks, backed by hand and bowrails – and custom clip-in berley bucket, Obsession can morph from marlin to shark boat in minutes. And the boat has been a winner in both fields thus far.

But the centrepiece is unquestionably the high-gloss teak Release fighting chair, worth about $20,000 in today’s market, mounted on a beefed-up base. Another nice touch is the new engine vents courtesy of International Marine. And without the passé black cabin stripe, the all-white 40 has a real tournament profile.

The aft cockpit hatch leads into an underfloor compartment behind the fuel tank, giving access to the steering gear, with a small amount of room for stowing stuff.
But it’s the deck hatch forward of the fuel tank that leads into the lazarette storage hold, in this case fitted with custom gaff and tag- pole racks.

The rocket launcher behind the flybridge can take nine outfits, and there are custom clear-away rodholders in the cabin sides.

Custom LED lights illuminate the white engineroom and straight- six Cummins as though they are mounted outdoors. After swinging the ladder, you can get around the outside of the Cummins engines.

Soft floor panels and wide, double saloon doors let you crane an engine out should the worst eventuate. Extra attention was paid to shaft alignment on Obsession. Underway, she’s one smooth operator.

Download the pdf to read more about the Caribbean-40

**Review written by Bluewater Magazine in 2009.