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Caribbean Reef Runner

MIKE BROWN
The West Australian Saturday, June 4, 2005

Caribbean Reef Runner

One of the most enduring model names in Australian boating is the Caribbean Reef Runner. There have been changes to its moulds over the years but not enough to stop it being instantly recognizable.

It is still a benchmark boat and has a resale value well in front of everything else. Small wonder Boat City are glad they are agents.

The test boat they supplied was fitted with a hardtop - a closed one in the sense that there was no gap above the windscreen but open enough at the sides for ventilation once the clears were removed.

It was powered by a 140hp Johnson four - stroke. Plenty of power there, although the boat can take another 60hp and make good use of it.

The Reef Runner used to be thought as of a big trailer boat but with a hull length of about 6m, it is dwarfed by a lot of the new - generation vessels.

On the other hand, there is no shortage of room and it has the presence and solidity to give confidence when going offshore.

Reef Runner is an odd choice of name for a boat whose reputation was made far beyond the reef. It has always been an offshore fisher par excellence and, although there are plenty of civilized features, so it remains.

Getting offshore can be done at greater speed than almost any other 6m boat. No boat is perfect and the Caribbean gets caught by the occasional lump or hole in the water, but it remains unfussed.

Creak-free and apparently bullet-proof, it holds a good natural stance and chews through the kilometres with a high level of comfort, its 21deg. deadrise soaking up the corrugations.

The windscreen wipers and the standard hydraulic steering add ease to the experience, and as always, good seats enhance the ride. Reef Runner's are very good, or at least the ones at the windscreen are- deep buckets with plenty of grip and support. Behind them are dicky seats, and aft are the traditional seats either side of the motor as well.

These lift out to give better access to the rail when fishing and, if you are really into space, the hardtop is easily removed and left at home.

As you would expect the Reef Runner is well tricked out for fishing, including rod racks under the rail and sockets in the gunwale. There is a pair of bait tanks in the transom with bait-board lids and there are two under floor compartments.

Any or all of these could be used for dry stowage or ice. Although there is already an ice box under the navigator's seat, there is no shortage of places to stow things.

There is a locker behind the other seat and soft pockets behind them both, full-length side pockets and expansive cabin space. The lock-up cabin has been give just enough length to house bunks, promising uncramped sleep, with space between them to take a toilet.

There is good sitting headroom and plenty of ventilation on offer from the very big fore hatch. The lining has a neat velcroed patch that removes to give access to the back of the cockpit instrumental panel.

The Reef Runner has linings just about everywhere - inside the side pockets, under the hardtop - and the cockpit carpet probably counts as a lining of sort. It is as plush a fishing boat as you are likely to find. The deep cockpit that gives security to standing anglers providers even more to small children and the steadiness at rest is just as welcome.

For Rottnest weekends, the infill between bunks would accommodate three children and the cockpit could take the parents on air beds.

The Reef Runner is one of those boats that says you are serious about your boating - it is a boat that delivers the goods and not just the image.

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