Before your Acme Glitzcraft was trucked to the showroom floor, did the builders run the boat with the steering disconnected? Did they add and remove running strakes? Or change chine angles? Get real-the majority of builders don't bother. Instead, they mass produce a new model for a year or two, then tweak the hull and systems as they catch flack from customers. "Feedback;' they call it. But you and I know better. So does Cabo.Before the first 40 Express ever hit the water, a scale model was tank tested. What did the engineers find? That the 40 Express ran a little faster with more strakes. So Cabo added strakes. They discovered that the least amount of spray hit the topsides when the chines were molded at a 10-degree down- ward angle. So they altered the chines. And when the first hull was ready for testing, Cabo disconnected the steering at sea and allowed the rudders to set themselves-the best way to determine just how much toe-in or toe-out they need to achieve perfectly straight tracking. Net result? When I took the helm of the new 40 Express, I hit 42 mph, stayed dry and comfortable, and kept going in a straight line when I let go of the wheel.

CABO BUNGA, DUDE! Yes, you read that number correctly: I hit 42 mph. Good luck finding another production boat of this size that can break 40 mph. Pursuit's 40'11" 3800 Express ($400,000 with twin 485-bhp Volvo Penta diesel inboards) tops out at 37.2 mph. Jarrett Bay's 43'0" 43 Express ($900,000 with twin 660-bhp diesel inboards) inches closer to the 40 Express with a 39.2-mph top end. Note, though, that both of these competitors use smaller powerplants, which not only cost less but also bum less fuel: For the Pursuit, that number equals about 20 gph less fuel at WOT and 15 gph less at cruise. And for the Jarrett Bay, 14 gph less at WOT and 6 gph less at cruise.

All three boats are at the top of the ladder when it comes to fit-and-finish. However, there are a few touches on this new the 40 Express that you won't find on most competitors. Check out the wiring. It's labeled, color coded, and more tightly loomed and rigidly organized than the wiring on any other boat I've seen. In fact, the 40 Express' wiring is the best of any production fishing boat on the water today. Look behind the dash on several different boats when you do the boat show circuit this year, and I'll bet dollars to doughnuts you won't find a better setup.

Also note the 40 Express' slick transom-mounted livewell. It has 16 separate water inlets going up the sides to eliminate dead spots. The dump valve is 2" and drains the well in a matter of seconds. And, of course, it's lighted. There are, however, two ways Cabo could make it even better. First, change the lights from white to red (since you use the lights in a livewell when it's dark out, red lights maintain your night vision). Second, instead of molding the bottom of the unit flush with the deck, it should have a recess around the bottom to allow anglers to stand with their toes tucked underneath and their legs flush against the transom. In fact, I'd like to see the same recess around the inwales on either side of the cockpit. Yes, it makes for tougher mold work in the factory, but even if it meant losing the stowage boxes in the inwales, the superior comfort and maneuverability offered by toe kicks would be worth the trade.


One good trade Cabo already made is the height of the bridge deck. It's 8" above the original design, which gives the captain good visibility as the boat comes onto plane. I've complained about the bow blocking the view on some Cabo Express models in the past, and this extra elevation eliminates the issue. So where's the trade? The extra height requires one more step from the cockpit to helm deck, so you'll have three to climb, instead of two, if you care.

BITS 'N PIECES. There are a zillion other details that push the 40 Express ahead of the average fishboat. The locking pins securing the engine room ladder are triple the normal size. The helm flat can accommodate the electronics found in nuclear subs. The standard oil exchange system and all washdowns are fitted with quick disconnects. The bridgedeck tackle station has eight massive locking drawers, so that even I could find room for all of my offshore gear. Same goes for rod stowage: Six fit above the berth, three stow inside the port gunwale box, and six slide into a locking box that runs underneath the bridgedeck. Need a gaping hole to hold those bent-butt 130s? No problem-four fit into the cabin sole rodbox. Raw-water intakes for the livewell and washdown have sea strainers. The custom-made fiberglass fuel tank, built with fire-retardant resin, is glassed to the hull and deck. (I found some metal filings on top of it, though. These should have been cleaned up before the boat left the factory.) Shafts are 21/2" in diameter, the size usually found on 45' to 50' boats. The stovetop is recessed an inch, so sliding pots won't end up on the galley sole. Crash pumps fitted to the iron horses can evacuate up to 6,540 gph.

Meanwhile, the list of complaints with this boat is extraordinarily short. In fact, aside from those changes to the livewell, I have just this one gripe. The switches for the livewell and fishbox macerators are located up underneath the port gunwale. To find and use them, you must crouch down and look up, which is awkward. A more visible spot, such as next to the dump valve handle on the outside of the livewell, would be better.

IRON FIST. What about construction? As you'd expect, the hull is solid glass. But it's also vacuum bagged-that means it has the best resin-to-fiberglass ration possible. Note that the 40 Express weighs 3,500 pounds less than the Jarrett Bay, which is a cold-molded boat Generally speaking, cold-molded boats weigh less than molded fiberglass boats. Not in this case. Hullsides from the waterline up on the 40 Express are foam cored as are the stringers. In the engine room, however, the stringers are cored with marine plywood. And Y2" steel plates are laminated in at the motor mounts. The hull-to-deck joint is another strong point, sealed with 3M's 5200 adhesive/sealant, through-bolted every 3" with silica-bronze bolts, and fiberglassed shut all the way around. Twice. 

Check out the hatches throughout this boat, too. Notice how they're light, strong, and well finished inside and out? Those are the benefits of resin-transfer molding, an infusion process in which resin is injected into the mold. It's another method of attaining that near-perfect resin-to-glass ratio, and like everything else Cabo did on the 40 Express, it shows the company's desire to make a boat that's as close to perfect as possible. Cabo did its homework, and then some. Examine the 40 Express and it seems like you're on a boat that's benefited from years of tweaking and refinement, one that's been through trial and error. That's because it has. Cabo just managed to accomplish all that before even hull number one was sold.

EXTRA POINT
Why does the dump valve in the livewell have a 2"-diameter? That's how large it needs to be to allow live mullet to swim through it without getting stuck.