The newest hybrid to hit the market, the CaraBoat is designed to keep you high and dry on land and in water.
Ordinarily, to travel around the country, be self-sufficient in accommodation and supplies – as well as have the ability to get out onto the water – most people would pack their touring vehicle, hook up their van and throw a tinny onto the roof.
The team at CaraBoat, however, has spent the last four years designing and creating a new hybrid. As its name suggests, the CaraBoat is a caravan and boat in one.
By no means the first in this style to hit the market, the CaraBoat does bring its own design and uniqueness, which is sure to be of interest to anyone in the market for a new touring vehicle, particularly as it opens up so many travel opportunities.
Travelling flexibility is key here. The CaraBoat would sit comfortably among a row of vans at any caravan park in the country, while it could just as easily pull up alongside a riverbank on some of our wonderful and spectacular inland waterways.
Working from the inside out
Stepping into the vehicle through the rear doors opens up a surprisingly large and well thought out design. Internal ceiling height is 1.9m, with a 2.0m version also available. Large tinted windows right around the vehicle provide great natural lighting, while opening and closing these also directs airflow throughout the entire unit.
A comfortable rear L-shaped lounge area boasts a foldable table as well as an optional 64-litre chest-style fridge/freezer which is perfect for cold beverages in fridge mode (or freezing the day’s catch in freezer mode). The rear lounge can also be easily dropped down into a standard double bed.
Moving forward takes you past the foldable helm which tucks away neatly for caravan mode and flips back up easily for boat mode.
Twin stainless steel sinks, a three-burner Smev gas cooktop and oven, range hood and a 118-litre fridge/freezer round out the kitchen area, with plenty of bench space to knead that fresh damper.
There’s actually plenty of cupboard space including overhead cupboards along the length of the galley area. The kitchen window also opens right up allowing easy access to pass food and drinks from the kitchen to the outside world.
Opposite the kitchen area is a fully-functional Dometic cassette toilet and shower recess and a 14-litre gas hot water system – as well as a full-height pantry cupboard.
Beyond the kitchen and towards the front (or should that be the bow?) of the vehicle is another lounge area by day (or bedroom by night) with a converting double bed which effortlessly folds to the side when not in use. An extra large front window opens up, helping to bring the outside in and ensuring air flows right throughout the interior. All internal lights are LED; as is the standard 19-inch TV.
The CaraBoat comes with two 100-litre water tanks and a 75-litre grey water tank for keeping the environment clean. Up to 80 litres in fuel can be accommodated for lengthy cruising.
On the outside, there’s two 30hp Tohatsu four-stroke outboard engines either side of the small transom. The twin engine controls allow the CaraBoat to turn on the spot or at full tilt. The outboards propel the CaraBoat along at a cruisy 17 knots. It is by no means meant to be any sort of speed boat, but the option to upsize the outboards to twin 50hp units is something I would consider.
An outdoor deck shower also comes as standard and the rear landing can also be expanded in boat mode with an optional floating platform that attaches to the rear, providing a great perch to sit and enjoy the sun or have a glass of wine with cheese and crackers outside.
Down the left side (port side) there’s a 3.5m Fiamma awning. Two 80-watt solar panels adorn the roof and charge the three AGM internal batteries. Up the front, the anchor is operated electrically and there’s a large lockable and watertight storage compartment which contains the on-board gas bottles, anchor and any other items you choose…life jackets, ropes, etc.
Underneath, the CaraBoat is supported by a purpose-built hot-dipped galvanised twin-axle trailer which comes as standard with four-wheel disc brakes and a breakaway safety system. An off-road trailer is in the planning stages too, which may interest long-distance tourers. The trailer wheel arches are set into the hull, reducing the overall height allowing for easier access and reduced fuel consumption when towing.
Access to the CaraBoat whilst on dry land is built into the trailer design, with a large galvanised step and smaller drop-down rear step allowing access through the rear door.
All up, the CaraBoat is 7.5m long and 2.5m wide and has an overall trailer length of 9.2m. It weighs in at a reasonable 1,700kg unladen, thanks to the composite fibreglass design with a focus on strength and weight.
We took the CaraBoat out for a day on Port Stephens on the mid-north coast of New South Wales. I have to say we were really surprised and impressed with this sleek and stylish hybrid design. Given it was no higher than a normal off-road van, it certainly seemed easy to tow. Pulling up at the boat ramp, we had it launched in no time.
On the water, the CaraBoat was more than stable – thanks to the triple-hull design (which, incidentally, has a draft of just 180mm allowing access to very shallow waterways). It climbed up onto the plane with four people aboard and turned effortlessly.
Fully stocked, I’ve no doubt the CaraBoat could quite easily be a comfy touring caravan with the ability to get away to places that only a boat could take you. If you’re considering your options with a boating and caravan touring theme, perhaps consider a CaraBoat. It could be just what you’ve always needed to explore this fantastic country – on road and water.
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