Fishing or cruising, Cat Harbor's newest launch lets you express yourself with style, substance and good looks

Loaded for bear, there's no mistaking the 31's mission as a serious fishboat. But South Jersey Sales in Cape May provided us with an Express sans tuna tower, and it was like getting hold of a Saab convertible on the first day of spring. The ocean was as flat as Delaware Bay when Capt. Mike Adkins and I slipped through the Cape May Canal. Top speed with twin 340-hp 3116TA Caterpillars and three quarters fuel was 31.5 knots.

The Express has a running surface that puts substance under your feet to shrug off the impact when the green ones come rolling your way. She's hefty, too, weighing in at 18,300 lb., fully loaded. Transom deadrise is 18.5 degrees, deep by today's standards, but the sheared-off prop pockets let the boat plane easily with minimal bow rise. Some express boats have built-in blinders as the bow lifts, but not this ride. Add some tab and she's up on top at around 1475 rpm. Sitting or standing, you can see over the foredeck just fine.

I also liked that the helm seat is high enough to act like a bolster. When the ocean gets sloppy, I prefer to stand at the helm and it felt comfortable parking myself up against the seat. Cabo has a reputation for detail. Fiberglass surfaces are clean and smooth. The hull is laminated with stitched bi-axial glass, solid below the waterline, and cored with end-grain Baltek balsa above the chine. Molded nonslip on walking surfaces is aggressive. Even in the bilge, there's nonslip between the engines.

Mechanical installations are above what you would expect in a 31-footer. Cabo makes its own water-injected dripless shaft seal assemblies with a grease fitting for added protection should you run aground and an upgraded fiberglass engineroom liner squelches diesel clatter. The bridgedeck lifts hydraulically for major work, and a smaller hatch provides access for daily fluid checks. For another example of Cabo's detailing, consider that the foil-faced insulation on the small hatch is precisely cut around the locking hatch clamp and the strut base.

The doctor that rips out your appendix should be this neat. All through-hull fittings have molded-in pads, for re-enforcement, and bronze raw-water strainers. Any complaints? Sure. The batteries are in fiberglass boxes outboard the starboard engine and not easy to reach. In turn, this makes it difficult to service the starboard oil filter and alternator. The helm doesn't tilt. To install and service electronics you have to gain access from behind the console in the cabin. I'd also lower the cockpit coaming bolsters an inch to prevent scuffing the upper edges with dirty boat shoes. Fishermen will find plenty to like aboard the Cabo 31. But cruising enthusiasts may miss the boat if they don't take this Express Sportsfisher for a sea trial.

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

This review/article originally appeared in Yachting Magazine, 1997 and was written by Peter Frederiksen. For more great yacht reviews, visit their website and subscribe to their magazine at: https://yachtingmagazine.com/subscribe-to-yachting-magazine

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