Caribbean 40 Review

Issue: March 1999

The boating fraternity has been expecting the Caribbean 40 for some time. So long, in fact, that many began to question if the stories surrounding its development were fact or fiction! But it finally happened, with the first of the new Caribbean 40s being delivered to owners in the latter half of last year.

It’s inevitable that the performance, space and facilities of the 40 are going to be directly compared with both its 35 and 45 foot stablemates. The decision may simply come down to whether you’re able to afford, or whether you need, that extra length from one model to the next. I suspect, though, that the styling and moulding improvements, plus some of the interior upgrades, will make the 40 a visual favourite. On that basis alone, it’s a welcome addition to the Caribbean range. Builders International Marine, always deliberate about making any change, have done much in the moulding and finishing of this new boat, to the betterment of the product. The distinctive Caribbean (Bertram) lines are still there, but there has been considerable refinement of cockpit, deck and superstructure detailing. Lines are sleeker and more raked, corners and edges are softly rounded, and there is greater use of mouldings and flush-fitting of components. The result is a boat that looks a lot cleaner and smarter.

The cockpit does not appear that much different to the models either side, with only marginal differences in dimensions. It is neater, with flush fittings, integrally moulded sidesteps, storage bins, etc. There’s a sink and bait prep storage locker to starboard, and an insulated stainless steel-lined icebox (converted to a eutectic fridge/freezer on the test boat) to port.

The interior follows conventional lines. The main cabin encloses the saloon and lower helm station with a step-down galley to the port side. This main saloon area is quite spacious with a galley that is generous in work area, bench space and facilities. The saloon seating arrangement has a lounge and dinette that both convert to accommodate up to four more adults. The main forward cabin, with its island berth, is a good size and the second cabin has twin bunks, each of these almost three quarters in width. I noted that the corridor below decks was fairly narrow, but this wasn’t inconvenient. Indeed it’s only very short and this enabled a bit of extra space to be squeezed into both the bathroom and second cabin, where that space is far more useable. Power options are available, but with a boat that weighs in excess of 15 tonnes on the water, nothing short of twin 350 to 400hp inboard diesels are needed for optimum performance. Our test boat from Sydney’s Sylvania Marina was powered by a pair of 420hp Cats, and we touched just on 30.4 knots in a high speed run offshore. Given that the test boat still lacked full fitout (ie. a lot of personal gear) and was newly antifouled, I’d expect that this top speed would more sensibly be around the 28 to 29 knot mark.

Ideal cruising performance is in the 2000 to 2200rpm range, producing 20 to 22.5 knots. At this speed the hull runs nice and clean with noise levels reasonably low. The hull tracks quite true with good visibility from either the lower or upper station. I don’t know what it is with me and big boat tests, but rarely do I seem to find the sea conditions bumpy enough to give a new hull design a thorough workout. Thus was the case on this occasion. Nothing larger than a goose bump as far as the eye could see, so any revelations on how the Caribbean 40 handles a sea will have to wait for another time. The upper station is set up as the main helm, with space for all the instruments and controls plus the capacity to recess either in the console or overhead (if a hard top is fitted), a range of optional electronics and navigational aids. The lower helm station is really a ‘social’ station. It is only sparsely equipped, with little capacity to build in much more than that which is supplied as standard. Electronics can be mounted on top of the bulkhead but that’s about it. Our test boat had a TV and video up there (and obviously these can be an obstruction to lower helm driving) but with a variety of options available in the saloon fitout, the cabin and helm station can be fairly well customised to individual needs and taste.

Our test boat had no specific seat for this lower station she’s a stand up and drive job from here although there was a rather curious looking seat (at least I assumed it was that) over the top of the cocktail bar and icemaker. This is shown on the brochure as the standard layout, but again this can be customised. For all those who were having doubts about this boat’s launch, the wait has been worth it. Driven by dealer pressure, International have started the ball rolling in getting a more stylish, better finished, and more comfortable boat on the water. I think personal tastes, plus the size of the budget, will help buyers decide between a 35, 40 or 45 Caribbean, though my preference is for this new model. It looks better, certainly is superior in finish and fit-out, and has a nicer-running hull that seems to trim, ride and handle to a slightly higher standard.

Story & Photos by David Toyer.