Optioning-up' is the go here and the boys at Gameboats are the ones to do just that. With their help you will end up with the perfect customised sportfishing platform.
Looking for the perfect sportfishing platform Visit the Caribbean.It's my opinion that if you're not near the water, then Sydney's just another big city. So, the decision to take the scenic back roads from Terry Hills, down through Akuna Bay and around to Church Point for this test seemed the way to go. The route boasts stunning water views and beautiful eucalyptus forests ? the only problem is that the road is narrow, very narrow.
As I rounded the last tight bend before the township of Church Point, I encountered a couple out for their morning walk half on, half off the bitumen. The couple just happened to be actors Anne Tenney and husband Shane Withington, (most famous for their roles as husband and wife team Molly and Brendan in Aussie drama A Country Practice).
Luckily I was travelling slowly, and avoided running them down. But as I skirted past them, I remembered the flood of tears that flowed around the country when Molly (Anne) died on the TV show all those years ago. I imagined angry villagers with pitchforks pursuing me if I'd even scratched them. I didn't dwell on the thought, but it did make for a conversation starter when I met the team from Gameboats for the first time.
Gameboats, operated by brothers Jan and Finn Crutch out of Church Point in Pittwater, sells and outfits game fishing boats, both large and small. It's a business built on customer service. The brothers' dedication and attention to detail mean that buying or selling a boat through them is easy. They offer a complete service to customers, which includes marine surveys, engineer reports, finance, insurance, registration, even boat driving and maintenance tips.
If you're into sport fishing, Gameboats can organise custom fit-outs to suit your needs. With their extensive personal experience in the sport, coupled with their network of contacts in the industry, they can ensure a professional sports fishing set-up anywhere in Australia.
Caribbean is another name synonymous with game fishing boats in this country and the guys have been using these boats (from 21ft to 47ft) as a firm base for their business since 1989.
The latest Caribbean 2400 is a great 'base boat', because it's a solid hull designed to be optioned up into a perfect fishing platform. This tried and true hull has been around for quite a few years, but its sea-keeping capabilities border on legendary. In this new model the top deck and cabin are all that have been changed.
In her standard format, the 2400 features a huge self-draining (small scuppers) cockpit (11.2sq m) with high gunwales and a padded transom to brace against when fighting a big fish, deep upholstered side pockets (that you can get your toes in under), a folding transom lounge, deck wash/transom shower, in-floor kill tank, underfloor storage and a moulded self-draining bait tank. The outboard version also has a 460lt underfloor fuel tank.
The transom door is a little narrow (if you intend trying to drag a big yellowfin through it), but it makes boarding from the swim platform easy. Once in the cockpit there are recessed grab rails built into the gunwales, so the crew have somewhere to hang onto when things get a bit rough. The well-supported hardtop is standard and offers good sun protection for those in the helm area.
The test boats had some options already added, including a set of clears and a rocket launcher rod rack. On the portside the single navigator's seat has been replaced with a dual lounge along the cabin side. It has ample storage beneath accessed by three hatches two at the front and one at the aft end that conceals handy tackle trays.
The helm seat is a deluxe folding arrangement. It's heavily padded, wide and has a high back and two armrests. The moulded unit it sits on can be fitted with a sink and storage locker, but the test boat had a simple ice box here. The helm seat isn't a bolster seat, or forward/aft adjustable, but it does have a footrest and offers a good high driving position.
The ample dash has plenty of room for all the electronics modern game fishos tend to accumulate and all instrumentation is positioned in the driver's line-of-sight. Windscreen wipers keep the screen clear when things get rough and the standard anchor windlass means no one has to go up onto the bow to raise or lower the anchor. But there is a sturdy bowrail for security if you need to venture onto the foredeck.
While the cockpit and helm station takes up most of this boat's usable areas, the cabin remains a useful size. Two burly fishos in sleeping bags could curl up in here for the night. There's also a pump-out toilet to keep the wife and kids happy if the boat is to be used for a bit of weekend cruising. There's a deep side pocket around the cabin walls and the main hatch opens for ventilation, but the side windows are fixed.
As you can see, this 'almost standard' Caribbean 2400 comes with enough goodies to get most fishos started, including some things I haven't mentioned like the rod holders in the gunwales and recessed cleats that are less likely to snag fishing lines. But, now for the wish list.
How about an Autopilot, Raymarine E120 Chartplotter/Sounder and radar? The Yamaha digital gauges are fine for route planning and fuel consumption, but a manual Fluxgate compass is a must. Next comes a set of outrigger poles and maybe a small tuna tower, bearing in mind that it must be low, so it doesn't upset hull stability.
A chain counter is always handy for anchoring from the helm and there are numerous other electronics that may come in handy, but really aren't necessary.
If this were my boat, the storage under the passenger's lounge would become a freezer and I'd need some form of stove fitted. I might even add some teak decking if I were to get carried away, but the non-slip fibreglass deck is much easier to keep clean, especially on a fishing boat. The clip-in carpets will do.
A small removable game chair could be fitted, which could be replaced by a table at dinner time or when the boat is used in cruising mode.
Out On the Water
Although there wasn't much sea about on the day of this test, crossing other boat's wakes and throwing the hull around like a ski boat showed this hull could clearly handle the rough. While the 2400's chines aren't as aggressive as some of the newer hulls on the market, her deep-vee, sharp entry, heavily-flared bow, pronounced strakes, wide 2.7m beam and excellent power-to-weight ratio, ensure she remains both stable when underway and at rest even when everyone is standing on one side when landing a fish.
The flare in the bow throws all wash and spray down and away from the hull and no water is sucked or thrown into the main cockpit even in rough conditions. Her pronounced strakes also help her track straight in a following sea.
Wrap it up
As a fisherman, I find the Caribbean 2400 to be an ideal fishing platform for four anglers (skipper, fisherman, trace man and gaff man). Obviously, out for a day cruising on the Harbour, she'll probably carry double that, but getting somewhere to sit might be a problem. A couple of fold-up deck chairs and a card table might offer a solution.
As I stated earlier, 'optioning-up' is the go here and the boys at Gameboats are the ones to do just that. With their help you will end up with the perfect customised sportfishing platform, at a price that will leave many of the opposition floundering. Just watch out for well-loved TV soap stars on your drive up to the boys at Church Point.