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Caribbean Reef Runner 110 hours - a review


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We have now had out Reef Runner for four months, and have been lucky enough to be able to clock up 110 engine hours. Fitted with a 175 Suzuki four stroke with a 15 1/4 x 20 4 blade Solas prop, dual batteries, plumbed bait tank, deck wash, NMEA2000 backbone, Garmin GPS750S, rocket launchers rod holders, bait board, anchor winch, radios and full safety gear including EPIRB.

DSC_0227.jpgIn this time we have experienced a range of conditions and found the boat to be confidence inspiring in adverse conditions. The hardtop and wipers are a real bonus for south coast NSW, and with the clears fitted, you have a sheltered and dry ride. Into a 20 knot southerly with a lot of water coming over the bow, we traveled steadily and stayed warm and dry for the 25km trip home. It would be nice to have auto park on the wipers, as it becomes distracting trying to stop them so they are not in your line of vision.

The hull holds plane at 16 knots, and returns 0.5l/km consistently at 21 knots, increasing to 0.6 with a headwind. Off the plane at 13 knots, consumption rises to 0.9l/km. At the top end, 6000 rpm buys you about 37 knots, and it comes out of the hole quickly. The Suzuki engine is very civilised, with only the slightest vibration just off idle. We considered the 200hp engine, but decided to fit the 175 as it is 45kg lighter. We are glad we did, as I think the 200 would make the hull sit bum down" when at rest. The fuel tank holds 205 litres so range is more than acceptable for a good days trolling out on the shelf.

Engine instrumentation is presented via the GPS, and means that there are no gauges mounted in the dash. The Suzuki/Garmin combination provides accurate real time fuel consumption and overall usage is within 1% for more than 100 litres used. Anyone setting up a new boat should consider NMEA 2000 and GPS/Fuel usage interface as a must have, it makes all the difference to how you drive and trim the engine, you can see how correct trim can reduce fuel consumption by 20%. It doesn't take long to give a return on the investment.

The ride is soft and smooth, and the 4 blade prop provides extra "bite" over the initial 3 blade, and there is no hint of broaching in a following sea. The Hardtop does have one minor disadvantage, with wind list being experienced in a crosswind. We intend to fit trim tabs to address this, however we should have had these fitted when the boat was being built. Ideally the Volvo QL tabs, but we may end up with Bennets or Lencos to avoid cutting holes in the floor.

The cabin has a generous double berth, and it is fitted with a full flush marine toilet to allow the girls some modesty when they need to pee. There is a canvas door in the bulkhead (we chose to have the larger opening as we are all over six feet) to provide privacy. There are three large storage tubs moulded under the seats, with a shelf on either side.


The cockpit is very roomy, however I would recommend fitting flush mount controls (were ordered but dealer forgot and fitted standard controls) to provide sufficient clearance for knuckles when turning the wheel. If not careful, you hit the trim button on the controls. The stainless wheel is a nice touch and the hydraulic steering means you don't have to wrestle it into a turn. The steering wheel is at a height where you can stand if you choose to, and the hardtop accommodates my 6'1" frame comfortably. Grab rails and foot rests are well positioned and allow you to brace yourself in the rough stuff. There are no drink holders or glove box, which is annoying.

The factory rocket launchers are solid and do not flex or move, and the handrails on the hardtop allow walking around to the foredeck with confidence, very handy when launching or retrieving. The factory bow rails could be 150mm higher, but it may just be that I am tall.

There is enough room to fish four adults with relative comfort. The back seats lift out and allow good access right along the side of the boat. The lip molded into the hull to support the seats is a real pain, just waiting to carve some skin off your shins. We have covered the lip with a pool noodle. There is plenty of "toe" space, allowing you to brace yourself against the gunnels when you're on a decent fish. The built in bait tanks are very functional and if both are plumbed, keeping 40 Yakkas alive is not an issue, or live squid in one tank instead.

The seat box under the passenger seat adds to the generous storage, and we intend to line the tub at the rear with expanding foam to enable it to be used as an esky. There is a large amount of under seat storage in the cabin, and generous sidepockets along each side.

We find it a comfortable and functional fishing platform.

That said, there are a number of things that could make a really good boat into a fantastic fishing platform. An alternative method for supporting the rear seats is high on the list. The gussets under the gunnels are poorly placed, interfering with the fitting of rod holders, as are the "conduit" sections for running the wiring. The "rod holders" in the side pockets are impractical, and there is an opportunity to utilise a fibreglass molding allowing the attachment of brackets for gaffs or more effective rod holders. The side pockets do not have dividers, so they tend to become quite untidy. I have built a caddy out of 10mm white plastic as a test, and it works quiet nicely, making lip grips, pliers etc easy to find. The use of a fibreglass liner panel with molded pockets would almost double the usability of the side pockets. The current setup is not conducive to mounting vertical rod holders for storing rods while travelling.

The hatches in the floor for the factory kill tanks are not heavy duty enough, flexing when stood on. It is hard not to stand on them when moving around the boat in ordinary conditions. I am looking at trying to put some reinforcing under the hatches to remedy this, but it really isn't good enough. The hatches are handy for storing an extra set of fenders, sea anchor

I have spoken with the builder and suggested that the wiring to the hardtop could be run during the build to facilitate easier fitting of the radios, they are considering this. There is no facility to run wiring to the port side of the boat discreetly, a small annoyance that could have been easily accommodated.

Another item that needs attention is the quality/fit of the foredeck hatch, which leaks when you have a wave break over the front, resulting in passengers/clothes stored in the cabin getting wet. I will build a "drip channel" and run the water into the anchor well to sort this.

Where the forward bulkhead meets the dash it is higher than it needs to be, limiting where it is practical to cut holes in the dash. The factory wiring for the cabin light is also run across "prime" dash real estate, requiring relocation when fitting switches to the lower panel. Not a hard issue to resolve at build time, but it adds significantly to the effort required to fit out.

The anchor well is designed to accept a gypsy style winch, however the divider in the anchor well prevents the installation of a drum winch unless it is cut out and the bulkhead braced to the foredeck. That said, the anchor well is quite large and would accommodate a couple of hundred metres of anchor rope. The anchor securing system on the foredeck is fantastic, and the bow sprite is fitted with a nylon roller, and did not require modification to use an anchor winch.

The Easytow trailer is a breeze to drive off/on, and it tows very well. The rear roller setup makes it easy to line the boat up straight, even in a cross wind, and if your approach is a bit off, everything that could come in contact with the hull is coated in nylon.

Overall we are very happy with the whole outfit. By the time I get around to fitting the trim tabs and a set of outriggers with fold out mounts we will still be just under $80k making it a relatively affordable practical fishing platform.

Hope this helps those who may be considering one of these boats.

Edited by Thylacene
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What a fabulous post. it is always refreshing to get the low down on a boat straight from the user. thanks for posting the detail and i would be interested to hear the progress.


Mick :thumbup::thumbup:

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You should write for a magazine that's some awesome stuff mate :thumbup:

Don't know how many they would let me have for that long at a time :biggrin2:

Mind you, the idea of doing one test a month that involved a hundred engine hours would be a great way to make a living. A true seachange.

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