Bow rider boats are a huge success in Australia, but the question remains, are they suited to fishing?
The answer depends on the style of fishing you and your family like, and which bow rider you decide to buy. The Australian-built Caribbean Tiara offers the great benefits of seating and lounging space, as well as a hull perfectly suited to water sports and to punching through the rough stuff.
With a bit of customisation there’s no reason this package cannot deliver excellent family fun and some serious fishing.
Caribbean has always built quality, robust fibreglass boats with great sea handling and safety.
To answer the call for a safe, comfortable and stable family fun boat, Caribbean chose a tried and proven hull used on a range of their other craft, yet the stylish deck and spacious cockpit treatment is definitely 21st Century.
Fitted with a 150hp EFI Mercury two-stroke, hydraulic steering and a 17” stainless prop, the top speed was a brisk 34.5 knots (64kmh). The EFI two-stroke was fast off the mark, packed with torque, albeit thirstier, noisier and smellier than more modern outboard options.
With a 144L underfloor fuel tank you can expect hours of fun but if considering long-distance runs, it would be more economical to fit a DFI two-stroke such as the Mercury OptiMax or a four-stroke outboard.
Although the test conditions were less than challenging, there is no doubt that the hull is capable of serious Harbour rough stuff and offshore work. Perhaps the only limiting factor when heading offshore would be the helm angle and height with the low windscreen and seat position.
This package gets off the mark seriously quickly and stays on the plane at surprisingly low revs. This boat is designed for use with numerous passengers but with only me aboard, it was a little prone to porpoising.
However, the responsiveness to hard turns at high speed was excellent and the ride was confident and even with the outboard trimmed out, there was little sign of propeller slip.
At 6.22m long with a beam of 2.33m, a deadrise of 19° and a dry hull-only weight around 670kg, this is a big bow rider.
The build quality is excellent and the interior should withstand the rigors of regular family fun and the harsh marine environment. Heavy-duty upholstery, 316 grade stainless rails and fittings and quality marine carpet maintain the quality.
Moulded decking and floor liners are clean and clear of any sharp edges, making them safe for all members of the family to go barefoot.
The first standout not seen on imported bow riders is the long bowsprit with built-in roller for a proper anchor, along with a heavy-duty bollard with capture pin and a sizeable anchor well.
These really go a long way to making this bow rider a serious option for fishing families. The easily accessible anchor well is capable of holding enough rope and chain to securely anchor in the deep, giving the family the ability to duck out and do some serious fishing when the opportunity presents.
The comfortably padded lounge is laid out to accommodate three seated passengers, or space for two to recline and relax.
The five-piece glass windscreen is a suitable height to get the driver and passenger out of the airflow when seated.
The raked angle and lower height could make the going a little wet when offshore in average conditions, although this boat does seem to deliver a dry ride.
The centre glass panel hinges for a roomy access to the bow lounges. Aluminium struts provide ample support, but keep in mind the windscreen is not for hanging onto.
The moulded dash is simple and well laid out, but will require some customisation to provide suitable space for large screen marine electronics. A RAM mount or Johnny Ray pedestal would go a long way to providing the solution.
A moulded, draining glove box on the passenger side can be used for ice and drinks or you could purchase an esky to fit under the transom lounge.
While seated there is good visibility, although standing up proves to be a little difficult due to the steering wheel height and position.
The dash houses a tacho, speedo, trim gauge and outboard temp, fuel and engine hours gauges. The test boat was fitted with a pumping stereo and four speakers.
Cockpit seating arrangements can be either single swivel/pedestal bucket seats, or back-to-back, depending on your preferences.
The main cockpit area is spacious and perfectly suited for entertaining or lounging about, while the rear lounge armrests are a nice touch.
Storage under the bow lounge seats is enough to take towels, day packs and snorkelling gear.
Storage for skis, wake boards, tow ropes, vests and wetsuits is in a floor locker between the skipper and navigator seats.
Side pockets will house paddles and other gear, whilst PFDs and anything else can be stowed under the rear lounge, which is the largest of the storage areas.
In the transom just behind the lounge, a hinged lid/bait board provides access to a moulded removable tray that would be suitable as a bait tray.
To turn the cockpit into a serious fishing platform, add four or possibly six gunwale-mounted rod holders.
Also worth considering are the Tallon Marine products which enable you to have a set of removable upright rod racks, bait boards, drink holders and other accessories that can be added or removed, depending on what you have planned for the day (www.tallonsystems.com/browse/marine).
An aftermarket bait tank fitted into the port transom would also be a great asset for the fishing addict.
Delivered on a Dunbier Supa Rolla braked tandem-axle trailer, the base package is a seriously competitive $52,995. This is a great Australian boat at a great price, perfect for days living it up on the water with the family.
And with some forethought and additions, this is a very suitable design for fishing the estuaries, rivers, lakes and inshore.
|BMT height||2.0m to windscreen top|
Hull warranty: 1 year
Price as tested $52,995 with 150hp XL Mercury EFI on Dunbier Supa Rolla tandem trailer with brakes.
Options fitted: CD player & speakers, inshore safety equipment for 6, anchor, rope, chain, navigation lights, bilge pump, outboard flusher, trailer tie-down.
Test boat courtesy of A & J Outboard & Boating Services, 1/66 Hassall St, Wetherill Park, NSW 2164. Phone 02 9609 1027, fax 02 9604 1400, web www.ajoutboards.com.au.