By Go Boating
Caravelle 237LS Bowrider Review
Caravelle 237LS Bowrider is a svelte runabout boasting versatility and dock appeal.
The brand-new Caravelle 237LS Bowrider (LS stands for Luxury Series) was designed to fill the gap between Caravelle’s larger 242LS Bowrider and smaller 207LS Bowrider. While this boat was made to round out Caravelle’s line of luxury bowriders, the company didn’t miss the opportunity to do things better by incorporating new design elements and features into the build of the 237LS. This boat takes the idea of “new and improved” to a whole new level.
Caravelle began with the 207LS and lengthened the hull to get the 237LS to the size it wanted, in this case 23 feet, 5 inches. In the process, designers added an integrated swim platform, which is one of the smartest moves they could have made, in our opinion. Designers also widened the shoulder up toward the bow so the chines come out a littler farther to make the craft more stable, which will minimize rolling in tight turns. All this, together with Caravelle’s XPV hull design, makes for a sound hull that delivers solid performance.
One thing you’ll hear in conversations about Caravelle boats is that no wood is used in their construction. Wood is a popular construction material with most boat manufacturers because it is strong, lightweight and relatively inexpensive. The one big drawback to wood is its tendency to rot if it becomes exposed to water.
Caravelle uses a synthetic honeycomb material called Nida-Core to reinforce its hulls and decks (Nida-Core is used in the construction of automobiles, surfboards and even satellite dishes). It’s probably safe to assume Nida-Core costs more than wood.
While many builders successfully use wood in the construction of their boats, especially if it’s fully encapsulated in fiberglass and resin, there is still a certain amount of value attached to saying a boat is made without any wood, even if it drives up the cost a little.
Inside the 237LS we quickly learned what Caravelle is going for in terms of more room to move. The 237LS boasts one of the nicest cockpits we’ve seen in a boat this size. A deep walk-through transom makes entering from the rear a snap, and a wide passageway in the center of the cockpit will keep you from bumping into the rest of your crew.
There’s a large L-shaped bench seat along the transom and port side of the cockpit. A small single seat is built into the rear of the starboard refreshment center (sink and pressurized water), which is directly behind the driver’s bucket seat. Both driver and passenger bucket seats feature shock-absorbing suspension as well as flip-up bolsters that really get your eyes up and over the windshield. There’s another small console behind the passenger bucket seat — this one houses a trash receptacle. Both of these consoles have twin stainless steel cupholders and large stainless steel grab handles.
Back at the stern is the integrated swim platform, one of the largest we’ve seen on a craft this size. On the starboard side there’s a foldaway telescoping boarding ladder and on the port side there is a deep storage area with a drain, making it useful as a cooler. If you need more cooler capacity there’s dedicated space for a small carry-on cooler in a compartment in the deck of the walk-through.
Watersports enthusiasts will be stoked on all the room the swim platform offers for strapping on wakeboards and skis, not to mention the stainless steel ski tow ring. When it’s time to go for a cruise there’s plenty of room for all your watersports gear in a ski locker in the sole (with an expanded rubber mat to protect your toys and the inside of the locker).
Our test of the 237LS took place in the waters just off Sarasota, Florida. Conditions were breezy with at least 1 to 2 feet of chop — definitely less than ideal conditions for a test, but you can’t control the water or the weather. We had two people aboard and a third of a tank of fuel (about 18 gallons or 113 pounds). For power we had a 280 hp 5.7 Gi Volvo Penta with an SX drive spinning a three-blade stainless steel prop.
Time to plane was a quick 3.7 seconds and 0-to-30-mph time was 8.1 seconds. With the throttle wide open and the drive trimmed up as much as we felt comfortable with in the rough waters we posted a peak speed of 52 mph at 4,700 rpm. Settling down to a cruising speed of about 29 miles at 3,000 rpm gave us a fuel consumption rate of 3.92 mpg, which will yield about 187 miles in range on a full tank of fuel. Sound readings were consistent with this size of craft with stern drive power, and read 95 dBa at peak speed and a comfortable 85 dBa at cruising speed.
The 20-degree deep-V at the transom sliced well through the chop — cruising at 30 mph through the rough stuff was plenty comfortable. We could only push it into the corners so much due to the rough conditions, but we didn’t have any problem taking hard-over turns at moderate speed and a good measure of nose-down trim.
Caravelle certainly accomplished its mission of filling what it felt was a gap in its lineup of luxury bowriders with the 237LS. In doing so, it also gave us a possible look at the future for Caravelle, which seems to include large, integrated swim platforms and more stability built into the hull.
Even though Nida-Core might cost Caravelle more than wood in the construction of its boats, our test boat equipped with the 280 ho Volvo Penta lists for only $37,964, which is a competitive price for this size of bowrider. In the end you get a new boat with brand-new innovations designed to give you more comfort and performance, while allowing you even more watersports enjoyment.
P.O. Box 1185
Americus, GA 31709