There are plenty of great boats to like out there. But when you start talking love, over the period of a lifetime there are very few. The new Cabo 35 Express captured my heart without even breaking a sweat.
In close quarters, the boat stays where you put it, turns when you tell it, and incremental adjustments measured by the inch.
The twin 3208TA Caterpillar diesels churning out 35 horse-power each gets the 35 going quickly.
The effect is much like watching the star ship enterprise engage warp drives. Put the throttles to the wall from a stop and the Cabo moves forward mildly while you listen to the diesels " wind up." No sooner do the turbos kick in than the Cabo is on plane. You almost expect a flash of light.
Turns are executed as tightly as you like: just keep turning the wheel harder, and boat turns tighter and tighter. A hard-over turn at wide-open throttles carved a three-boat length circle. At the same time, the Cabo slides through the water with very little resistance, taking all of seven boat lengths to settle to a stop from cruising speed. You'll appreciate this seemingly inconsequential characteristic when you pull up to a fuel pump.
We drifted the Cabo for almost an hour in seas of almost 3 to 4 feet. The boat sets right angles to the ways, slow, rolling motion. The wide, refers double shine meets the role, checks it and stabilize is the fall.
Hooked up, the Cabo backs down slow but in total control. But when the fish heads to the corner, the 35 pivots like the phonograph turntable at 78 rpm.
Those who live-bait for such an active species as sailfish or kingfish probably want to opt for trolling valves on your Cats. Getting the Cabo 35 to go slow is like asking your two-year-old to sit still.
You'll find everything aboard the Cabo that you'd ever expect to find in the cockpit of a top-flight 50-foot sportfishing convertible: bait prep station, bait freezer, live well, tackle storage center and rod storage for 19 rods are all standard fare.
The two in-deck fish boxes in the cockpit are big enough for bluefin. Our test boat had refrigerated the port-side fish box, though were it left to my choice, sacrificing a third of box width to a cold plate isn't worth it. I'd opt for an Eskimo 600 icemaker. Both insulated fish boxes are fitted with 1.25-inch drains and macerators the keep those juices flowing freely. Here's an experiment I suggest you try when you go aboard a Cabo 35. Lift one of the big lids to a fish box in the cockpit, then do something you know you shouldn't -- let it fall shut. The hatches fit into their gasketed and drained lips so well that rather than slamming shut, the lid goes "boompf."
Touch a button at the threshold to the helmdeck and the entire deck rises on electrically activated hydraulic arms, revealing the impressive power center -- impressive mainly for its organization. Every single hose, wire, pipe and fitting in the engine room is run and labeled individually. All functions are segregated with the plumbing on one side, everything electrical on the other side, and all fuel lines, filters (with pressure gauges so you can tell if they need changing), ect., on center line. The 7.6 kW generator is neatly tucked under the aft lip.
Close the engine access and move to the helm, and you'll notice perfect visibility in every direction. And although the environment can get warm with the curtains snapped on, a centerline vent in the windscreen provides ventilation way out of proportion to its size -- it's quite an air scoop under way.
Designers have created an atmosphere of warmth below through light teak woodwork and rich fabrics. The head with stand-up shower is immediately port at the foot of the stairs; dripping, salty anglers won't track water throughout the cabin. An adjacent galley features a stainless-steel sink, single countertop electric burner, convection oven and Corian countertop. The queen-berth state room is forward-most. The starboard side is taken up with a convertible dinette.
No boat, no matter how beautiful, is worth the effort if it isn't durable. Only the finest ingredients go into a Cabo: vinylester resin for greater osmotic blistering protection, biaxial non-woven fiberglass roving and balsa core from chine up offer strength with light weight in the hull, while the bottom is solid glass. The helm deck is Airex foam-core for additional strength and excellent sound-proofing quality. All hidden areas, like bilges and inside cabinets, are ground down and then gelcoated for a smooth, flawless finish. Put your face right against the hull of a Cabo: look for indentations, bumps and finish flaws. You won't find any. Cabo's molds are exceptional.
Few first-timers will appreciate the Cabo 35 express for what it is. But those who've spent their lives on boats will fall for this boat just a sure as ebb follows flood.