As I wandered through the Cabo (Cat Harbor Boats) plant in Adelanto, California I was confused. When confronted with the hulls for the 35 and the 31, I kept having to ask owner Henry Mohrschladt which was which. But I got the hang of it after Mohrschladt pointed out that the 31 is higher at the bow than the 35. He explained that this tremendous freeboard forward, with the deep forefoot, would afford unprecedented head-sea performance, while allowing for exceptional interior accommodations usually found in larger boats.

After running the new 31 Express in four- to six-foot seas at over 28 knots, I came away with two distinct impressions of the boat. First, this is the biggest 31-foot boat I've driven yet, and second, it's the most sea-kindly to boot. The 46-degree deadrise at the bow accounts for terrific head-sea-eating capability, and the flatter stern section with reverse chines explains why it doesn't roll in the trough.

The Cabo Story

Cabos are premium boats, and the quality is reflected in the prices. The 31 sells for around $195,000, depending on the choice of engines. Since the company's inception in 1991, partners Mohrschladt and Mike Howarth's only objective was to build the best quality sport fishing boat money could buy. They were in the enviable position of having just sold their very successful sailboat company, and were under a non-complete clause to build sailboats. So what do you do in a situation where you're too young to quit and what you do best is build boats? Build power boats!

They started by asking a lot of questions, made a list of best and worst features, and went from there. If you haven't been aboard a Cabo, you can expect some delightful surprises that will fully explain why every fishing and boating magazine in the world has lauded this company with superlatives. Howarth's goal was to build a quality product from exceptional tooling and allow no compromises, and he has succeeded.

Convenience is another Cabo quality, and one of the neatest things about the 31 Express is that entire helm deck lifts on electric hydraulic rams, allowing extraordinary access to the engines. The gelcoat, wiring, and plumbing immediately hit you as incomparable. Full-length piano hinges replace the more usual two hinges on hatches. Where you normally see self-tapping screws on a boat, Cabo through-bolts. Gaskets and lock-down latches eliminate rattles. Below decks, there is gelcoat where you've never seen gelcoat before. Where you expect carpet covering plywood you find Rybovich/Merrit-quality jointer work with teak and holly burnished to a perfect coat. Corian replaces Formica, chrome-plated brass and positive latches and locks replace plastic catches, and electrical and plumbing access is designed in, something some of the top boat manufacturers in the industry could take a lesson from. Cabo is one of the very few companies that actually considers the future repair of the boat and people who will have to perform it.

High-Tech Hull

When Mohrschladt and Howarth were manufacturing sailboats, they built their reputation on hull construction. Pacific SeaCraft, their sailboat company, was listed by Fortune Magazine as one of the 100 best manufacturers in America. They brought that expertise to the powerboat world, starting with hull materials. Cabo is one of the few boat builders using vinylester resins and stitched bi-directional fiberglass cloth. A vacuum-bagged Baltek core affords lightweight strength above the waterline, while hull is solid glass below. The deck is cored with end-grained balsa for the greatest strength available. Below the waterline, the exceptions continue, with all running gear faired into the hull for a clean-running, fast, and fuel-efficient bottom. Cabo's running gear is heavier than most of the competition's, and moderate propeller pockets decrease the 31's draft to 3'2".

The new Cabo 31 has all the fishing amenities expected today, and many more than boats 10 to 20 feet longer. Ample rod storage is built in, as are cockpit rigging stations, fresh and salt water washdown, copious tackle storage, and two fishboxes, one above the waterline and one below. Below decks, it has better accommodations than almost any boat in its size range. It features a big head with shower, extraordinary wood- and joinerwork, and all the goodies for living aboard, including built-in TV with pre-wired cable connections.

Choice of Power

The 31 comes with a variety of engine options, many of which are the new high-speed, lightweight, in-line, six-cylinder diesels with more horsepower per pound, thrust, and fancy electronic fuel systems than you can shake a stick at. Many of these engines incorporate great technological advances, and I've run this hull with quite a few different power options. Personally, I like the Caterpillar 3208s at 375 hp. They are noticeably quieter than the in-line sixes, are smooth-running, and are proven engines with a reputation for being bulletproof. With the 375s, the 31 will cruise at around 29 knots and will top out at between 32 and 34 knots with tower and a good load aboard. The 3208s do add weight, which in this boat seems to make performance even better. Thanks to the exceptionally deep forefoot, this is one of the best-running head-sea boats ever built. Several owners of the new Cabo 31 Express have stated that this boat is "built like a tank, and a good-looking one at that."

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ALL CABO YACHTS CURRENTLY FOR SALE IN CALIFORNIA

This review/article originally appeared in Saltwater Sportsman Magazine, November 1996 and was written by Spider Anderson. For more great yacht reviews, visit their website and subscribe at: http://subscriptions.saltwatersportsman.com/

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    Bad to the Bone has been updated and upgraded to provide a functional fishing platform. With her tower and sonar she is ready to fish. Able to sleep six, Bad to the Bone is a great value in a popular, well built Express Sportfisher. Contact Hank White for more information (949) 322-2090

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    Any boat rides smoothly inside the jetties. Picture perfect days with glass-calm seas are great equalizers. But those conditions don't challenge any boat. One hundred miles offshore at the East Coast canyons or running deep into Mexico for blue water and big fish, you commonly see 50-footers and larger -- but you also see Cabos leading the way, fishing confidently in waters no other comparably sized boats dare to fish. Virtually every boating...

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