Caribbean Tiara Review

International Marine have been building boats in Australia since 1958 and a more “true blue” Aussie company would be hard to find. The company was founded by A. W. Spooner, known as the father of Australian boating, who also happened to be the first person in this country to pursue fibreglass marine technology. Then in 1960, AW negotiated and secured the licence to build the UK Dorset range of fibreglass boats in Australia. It was about this time the ‘Caribbean’ brand name was introduced to International’s runabout range.

Today Caribbean build everything from a 16′ runabout to massive 45′ flybridge cruisers, but it didn’t have a bowrider model in the current range. Bowriders have gained enormous popularity in this country in the last few years and it was a slice of the market that Caribbean needed to fill. In 1999, Caribbean released the Cougar runabout, which proved itself to be a top riding hull. It was this hull the company chose as the base for its new Tiara bowrider. While the under side of the hull needed no work, the transom was given a sweeping down-turned look, the sides were redesigned and obviously a new deck was needed to accommodate the bowrider cockpit. The result is the Caribbean Tiara bowrider.

The Caribbean Tiara bowrider is 5.83m long, has a beam of 2.33m, a deadrise of 19 degrees and has a total on trailer weight of 1010kg. There were no blemishes in the gelcoat finish and the vinyl upholstery was all heavy-duty marine grade and made to last. Starting at the bow, the bowsprit set up was excellent. It was wide and featured an in-built bow roller, heavy-duty mooring bollard and low profile bowrail running up either side. The anchor locker was deep and would hold more than enough rope and chain, but the hatch was a little too narrow for my liking and it would be difficult to get a large sand anchor, or reef pick into the locker.

There was seating in the forward cockpit for three people or two adults stretched out on each side. This area was heavily padded, carpeted and featured under-cushion storage. Also, there was a five-piece curved windscreen with centre opening section that combines with a fibreglass hatch to provide walk through access to the foredeck and anchor. The skipper and navigator’s seats can be either twin bucket or back-to-back seats. Instrumentation included tacho, speedo, trim gauge, temperature gauge and fuel, but there was no volts meter, depth sounder, compass, or CD/cassette stereo at this stage.

All the instruments were clearly visible behind the standard steering wheel and the height of the windscreen in front of the driver and navigator ensured wind was deflected above their heads. There was also a moulded, self-draining glove box with a hinged lid in front of the navigator’s seat. The main cockpit was quite spacious, fully carpeted and featured padded side pockets, a rear folding lounge, under-floor 144lt-fuel tank and large in-floor ski locker. At the transom was a moulded bait well with hinged lid/bait board and the self-draining engine well. Other features of the package were: a Brooker 1617B multi-roller canopy; bow cover; CQR anchor with chain and 50m of rope; five PFDs; mooring rope; water separating filter; battery and battery box; ski hooks; cleats; two paddles; stainless steel propeller; and, most importantly, hydraulic steering.

Caribbean’s Tiara 5.83m is rated to a maximum 175hp engine, but the carburetted 2lt, 135hp Mercury mounted on the test boat was ample and capable of punching her along at 50mph. The bowrider climbed out of the hole quickly with the motor trimmed in and while trimming the motor out increased speed it made the bow ride a little high. I found the hull rode best with the engine trimmed almost fully in.

The boat held the plane at 2800rpm and other mph to rpm readings were 23mph @ 300rpm; 35mph @ 4000rpm; 50mph @ 5000rpm; and 52mp@ WOT. Hydraulic steering made tight turns easy and the hull demonstrated little tail slippage, or cavitation, when turned quickly at high speed.

An important, but often overlooked feature of the Mercury is its 40am high-output alternator, which is a must when running all of today’s onboard electronics. The new Mercury also featured a freshwater flushing adapter, which makes cleaning up at the end of the day easier. The Caribbean 5.83m Tiara Bowrider showed that once she’s configured correctly she’s a stylish, user friendly vessel. Correctly trimmed the boat maintained a soft, stable and dry ride. While there was only a little wind chop on the day of the test, it was obvious after criss-crossing wakes the 19-degree deadrise hull sliced through the water efficiently.

At rest, with three adults on board, the hull maintained a level attitude even when everyone moved to one side, without any excessive lean. At the time of writing, the complete package being offered by Sydney’s Andrew Short Marine represented excellent value for money at $35,000. Obviously, this price will fluctuate slightly, but it will remain very competitive.

There are many bowriders on the market these days, but few are built around a hull thats history dates back to circuit racing. So, if your thinking of buying a bowrider be sure to have a good look at the Caribbean Tiara and give a true blue Aussie a go.

Story & Photos by Ian Macrae