Caravelle 196 Bowrider Review

This imported bowrider is roomier than the average 18-footer

Recently the Modern Boating team got to put this new American-built Caravelle 196 bowrider through her paces. And while the Caravelle 196 waterline keeps her in the 18-footer category, her wide beam and ‘oversized’ interior produce a craft with much more room than an average 18-footer.

The team took the Caravelle out in a sloppy, building swell off Port Hacking and it didn’t take long to establish that her hull could deliver a smooth ride across the rising chop. The boat’s hull is designed to take waves with its forward sections, but she doesn’t ride ‘bow high’, a consequence of the aft section and transom design.

Essentially, the leg trim pivots around a point forward of the end of the hull’s waterline. The effect is that trimming the leg doesn’t lift the bow and the hull sections that extend behind the leg act like fixed trim tabs, so the bow stays down and chop is taken well forward, softening the ride. She’s fast out of the hole and handles rough water well.

During our trials the 220hp MerCruiser hit a top speed of 41 knots spinning an aluminium prop.
The helm station is comfortable, has a good choice of instruments and features a hefty four speaker sound system ready to take an iPod.

It’s also worth noting that the Caravelle’s sense of ‘beaminess’ is achieved partly through her interior design, so her 2.4m-width should still fit in an average garage. At 1224kg the boat can be towed behind the average family 4WD with a single-axle trailer.

Caravelle’s standout features include her 100 per cent wood-free construction. Caravelle also uses vacuum infusion during construction to reduce weight and produce smooth finished surfaces.

The Caravelle 196 bowrider is a well-built, American bowrider that delivers predictably good performance from her lightweight,  rot-proof construction.