It's always tough for the younger sibling of a star athlete or scholar to live up to the standards set by the older brother or sister. So it is with Cat Harbor's new Cabo 31. The fishing world generally accepts the notion of the Cabo 35 as one of the top 35-foot inboard fishing boats - big shoes to fill.

We left the Holiday Isle docks in Islamorada, Florida, as the early-morning sun broke through the clouds. Northwest winds at 20 mph had little effect on the calm seas inside the reef.

Performance

With our bait well fuIl of live ballyhoo, we powered up and headed offshore to the edge of the Gulf Stream. With no tab adjustment, the 31 experiences considerable bow rise in the half-dozen seconds it takes to get up on plane with the heaviest iron Cabo has put in a 31 to date - twin 3126 Caterpillar turbo diesels rated at 420 hp each. An optimum cruise speed of 30 knots turning 2,500 rpn can be expected with a full load of fuel and water, a full tower with enclosure and five people aboard. Our GPS-registered top speed was 36 knots at the maximum 2,800 rpm -not too shabby.

While the speed of twin 420 hp engines might be nice, I'd select the 320 hp 32O8T or 375 hp 32O8TA package instead and here's why, Though each boasts less horsepower there's no question that the 3208 V-8 runs smoother quieter and uses less fuel than the In-line 6. And though top-end speed will be less, who runs at top speed for any length of time7 Cruising speed shouldn't be too much less and economy measurably greater

Out at the edge of the Gulf Stream, we discovered a northerly wind at odds with the Southerly stream - what conditions for a boat test. The seas picked straight up to 4 to 6 feet. I also soon discovered that on the Cabo, as on virtually all expresses, you'll definitely want the enclosure if you plan to run offshore in all kinds of weather.

Once on-site, we set out the live baits. We slow-trolled using one idling engine and moved along at 3 to 4 mph - a bit too fast for my taste. Consequently I'd order the trolling valves from Twin Disc to be installed during construction, though they can also be retrofitted.

The Cabo 31 makes high-speed turns like ln outboard boat, banking into the turn and carving a tight arc, though with very little centrifugal force. Fighting a fish, the Cabo proves to be extremely nimble - pivoting quickly and backing down with total control. And drifting, the boat falls off to directly beam-to-the seas with a gentle, though noticeable rolling motion.

Fishing

Cabo's optional live well, at the aft end of the bridgedeck, replaces the standard tackle storage center. This location leaves space below the cockpit deck for an 8-cubic-foot fish box that augments another in the transom.

Five people can fish this boat easily, The gunwale hits your leg at mid-thigh, and seating allows two people to face aft while trolling. And anglers on the bridgedeck are never more than three or four steps from the rods. Access is tight for anglers who fish from the bow and they will be grateful for the good handholds as they lean outboard around the tower legs.

One drawback came in the form of a wet neck. The 31 needs a lip along the trailing edge of the upper station floor so that water running aft gets channeled to the legs and down to the cockpit or gunwale instead of dripping onto the heads of anglers watching their trolling pattems.

The tower on our test boat, built by Atkinson, needs a bit of rethinking when it comes to the non-skid plate you stand on while in the tower When wet, the "nonskid" turns to "skid." Rod storage will never be a problem aboard this 31. Specially designed cabinets on either side of the forward berth accommodate a half-dozen stored rods each, Cabo provides room for three more rods stored upright in the head and two more rods under each gunwale as well as space for tag sticks, mops, boat hooks and the like. Add to those the four rod holders in the gunwales and the four launchers on tower and your rod storage grand total is 27 rods - and that's without considering the storage under seats and elsewhere.

Construction

Elegance and style belowdecks distinguishes a mere boat from a true yacht, The quality of the finished hatches, bilges and cabinets; the dogs on the hatches which pull hatch and frame together preventing any vibration noise; and the fine fabrics that can be upgraded to full-grain leather all present a flawless, sophisticated package.

Vinylester resins, stitched biaxial fiberglass mats, Baltek core in the hull and deck and a solid glass bottom make this hull a functional showpiece - no flaws, dimples or bumps to be found.

The quickie tour finds the full head to port against the aft bulkhead. The galley sits just forward portside with a single-bumer hot top and microwave, polished stainless sink and all Corian counters. A dinette to starboard with a settee doubles as over/under berths, which combined with the double-sized forward berth accounts for sleeping space for four.

Cat Harbor's new Cabo 31 more than holds its own against its older 35-foot sibling. In fact, other than a slight bit less interior volume and cockpit space, I'd be hard-pressed to not choose the 31 as the new all-star.

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

This review/article originally appeared in Sportfishing Magazine, April 1996 and was written by Dean Travis Clarke. For more great yacht reviews, visit their website and subscribe to their magazine at: https://www.sportfishingmag.com/subscribe-to-sport-fishing-magazine

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