Cabo 45: Altitude with an attitude. 

Five years ago, at the Norwalk Boat Show, I saw my first Cabo-the 35 Flybridge, built by Cat Harbor Boats of Southern California. A walk-through quickly turned into a lovefest. Here was one of the most intriguing sportfishing ingénues ever to charm the East. A virtual unknown, with no pedigree or reputation, it was so supremely built and engineered that the top-marque fish fighters in nearby ships looked positively nervous.

Compelling details were everywhere. Stuff like stainless-steal locking clasps on the cockpit consoles, high-end Aeroquip fuel hose and labels on virtually every wire, valve and pump.

Cabo 45 Express Review Boating MagazineBut the real shirt-collar grabber was the boat's overall perfection. Its construction and hard-candy finish were crème de la crème. And its upper-middle-class ancillary arsenal was installed with the precision of a Silicon Valley circuit board.

Celestial cabinetry and artful glasswork make this beauty a "10". Top end: 36.6 mph.

Of course, a lot of water has slipped under the keel since that Norwalk show, and Cat Harbor has since become Cabo Yachts and brought out other serious sportfishing machines. But the levels of finish, construction and engineering haven't changed a bit. I base this opinion on a recent test of the company's latest and largest offering to date: the vast Cabo 45 Express.

Zoom Room

When wringing out big diesel boats, my first impression is often formed in the machinery spaces where I typically spend an hour or three discombobulating fuel lines and dropping wrenches into the bilge. This latter eventuality, by the way, I've got covered with a giant magnet on a stick powerful enough to extract a Chevy Nova from the La Brea tar pits.

At any rate, my obligatory engine-room time onboard the new Cabo docked in a slip at Miami Beach Marina, was a veritable dance of mechanical delight. For starters, the engine mounts undergirding the boat's twin 640-hp Caterpillar 3196 diesels are massive. While the stringers that strengthen the Cabo's solid-glass bottom are generally of thick, molded fiberglass filled with high-density polyurethane foam, the portions that serve as engine bearers are cored with blocks of fir. Long, engine-length L-shaped aluminum angles and slabs of bar stock cap each stringer and are through-bolted sideways, with isolation mounts on top. A totally awesome job.

Then there's what I call the "Super-Sucker Scenario". In addition to a total of four 2,000-gph Rule bilge pumps with automatic float switches-three in separate compartments and one serving the shower sump-the Cabo's engine room is equipped with two, giant engine-driven Y-valve extractors for emergencies, each with a strainer that inhales water at a claimed rate of approximately 150 gallons per minute. Whoa!

The Cabo's two centerline fuel tanks are pure hydrocarbon nirvana. The gloriousness begins with all-glass construction and a top-dollar vinylester laminate 3/8" thick. I once examined a comparable slab of glass that somebody had tried to kill with a Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum. The slab won, stalling the slug halfway.

Tank fittings are equally impressive. Screwed into single, tapped aluminum plates bolted and gasketed onto the top of each tank, they are ultra-fine, stainless steel, 90-degree street elbows. A far cry from the cheaper, rougher, more corrosion-prone "red brass" elbows I normally see.

The only thing I could find fault with in the 45's engine room was Cabo installs the fiberglass deck. While positioned well above the bilge and surfaced with a precise, molded-in nonslip, it is secondarily bonded into the bottom and therefore not removable for cleaning. Why not secure the thing with detaching chocks?

Power Trip

Later that sunblasted afternoon, I drove the brand-new Cabo in washboardy four-footers up and down the sandy length of Miami Beach. Top speed: 36.6 mph. The ride was smooth and thunderous, but had one foible.

Cabo 45 Express Performance DataAlthough the running angles I recorded were not extreme, I found that to see over the enormous bow while getting the boat on plane I had to stand on the footrest the Cabo's pricey Stidd helmseat. Kink of uncomfortable. Moreover, once the boat was up and running, I needed the Stidd jacked pretty high to maintain visibility. Also kind of uncomfortable.

As I see it, there are a couple of reasons for the phenomenon. First, forward visibility is not a strong suit of express-type sportfishing boats in general. Their bows are typically long and expansive and their helms low. Second, the Cabo's aft fuel tank is heavy and shoved well astern-it affects running angle much like a weight-challenged kid overbalances one end of a teeter-totter. Using the 45's trim tabs to best advantage diminishes the effect, of course, as does burning fuel out of the aft tank before switching to the midship tank.

On the dockside-handling front, however, things were much rosier. Courtesy of the Cabo's Mathers electronic engine controls and excellent visibility astern, I backed the 45 into its slip with just a couple of throttle changeups. Groovier than a bell-bottom leisure suit!

Superior Interior

I hate to admit this but I've become something of a pinky-hoisting sybarite in my old age, a bill the Cabo's sumptuous interior fills with a vengeance.

Check out the huge standard-equipment list here. All of the amenities and ancillaries are present, from a Sealand Vacuflush electric MSD to a Bose stereo system with settee-stashed subwoofer. And everything is installed with an attention to detail worthy of a Campbell's bean counter. Drawer faces and sides belowdecks are joined with complicated "rabbeted off-set" joints, stainless-steel screws and wood plugs. The electrical panel in the salon features Swiss-watchy buss bars and wires that are bundled, labeled and color-coded in accordance with ABYC specs. And the hull-to-deck joint, visible at various spots inside the boat, is a veritable objet d'art. Seal outboard-turning flanges with 3M 5200 (or a comparable polyurethane adhesive/sealant), silicon-bronze bolts on 4" centers and two thicknesses of mat and bi-directional fabric and you've got the best joint I know of-bar none.

With the standard engine package, our test boat sells for $535,000. Prime competition comes from Viking Yachts and its 43 Open; a slightly shorter and narrower vessel that sells for $516,000 comparably powered. Chalk up the price disparity to differences in dimensions, and in the standard equipment lists. The Viking does not have a pricey Stidd helmseat, for instance, or a big 24v windlass.

At day's end, as I dragged my test gear off into the sunset, I paused to look back while a low red light slanted along the 45's hull in a revelatory way.

I could see not one single bump, dimple or wave. The sophisticated mix of vinylester resins, gold-plated ISO/NPG gelcoat, biaxial fabric and Valtek balsa core that comprise the Cabo's hullsides looked utterly perfect. Norwalk all over again.

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

This review/article originally appeared in Boating Magazine, April 1998 and was written by Bill Pike. For more great yacht reviews, visit their website and subscribe at: http://subscriptions.boatingmag.com

  • 45' CABO 45 EXPRESS (1999) "BAD TO THE BONE"
    Available

    45' CABO 45 EXPRESS (1999) "BAD TO THE BONE"

    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

    Bad to the Bone has been updated and upgraded to provide a functional fishing platform....

    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...

    $449,000.00
    View
  • 40' CABO YACHTS 40 FLYBRIDGE (2008)
    New! Available

    40' CABO YACHTS 40 FLYBRIDGE (2005)

    The Cabo 40 Flybridge benefits from the uncanny ability of Cabo engineers to give a boat the ride of a much larger boat with the agility of a smaller vessel. Built on a hull designed by Michael Peters for the Cabo 40 Express, the 40 Flybridge is destined to be the fastest in the fleet of current sportfishermen in the 40-foot range  [displayForm id=9] Photos and description courtesy: Cabo Yachts

    The Cabo 40 Flybridge benefits from the uncanny ability of Cabo engineers to give a...

    The Cabo 40 Flybridge benefits from the uncanny ability of Cabo engineers to give a boat the ride of a much larger boat with the agility of a smaller vessel. Built on a hull...

    $445,000.00
    View
  • 32' CABO 32 EXPRESS (2005) "MOCHA TE" *LLC*
    Available

    32' CABO 32 EXPRESS (2006)

    The CABO Yachts 32 Express represents the finest in hull design from Michael Peters Yacht Design, coupled with the renowned CABO execution of overall yacht design, engineering and construction. The hull is remarkably balanced to provide a dry, smooth and fast ride. A balanced hull is the most difficult design aspect of any sportfisher under 35 feet. The proper balance allows the CABO 32 Express to ride high in waves, kick up less spray and...

    The CABO Yachts 32 Express represents the finest in hull design from Michael Peters...

    The CABO Yachts 32 Express represents the finest in hull design from Michael Peters Yacht Design, coupled with the renowned CABO execution of overall yacht design, engineering...

    $219,900.00
    View
  • CABO 31 EXPRESS (2002)
    Available

    31' CABO 31 EXPRESS (2003)

    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...

    Any boat rides smoothly inside the jetties. Picture perfect days with glass-calm seas...

    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...

    $139,000.00
    View
  • CABO 31 EXPRESS (2002)
    Available

    31' CABO 31 EXPRESS (2000) "NO REMORSE"

    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...

    Any boat rides smoothly inside the jetties. Picture perfect days with glass-calm seas...

    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...

    $139,500.00
    View
  • CABO 31 EXPRESS (2002)
    Available

    31' CABO 31 EXPRESS (1998) "BANK NOTE"

    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...

    Any boat rides smoothly inside the jetties. Picture perfect days with glass-calm seas...

    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...

    $99,000.00
    View