In the world of production sportfishers, there are many legendary builders, but one stands apart from the crowd - both literally and figuratively. Offering express and convertible models from 31 to 47 feet, Cabo Yachts has developed an enviable reputation for quality and performance. Its boats are so well engineered that they often are used as benchmarks for comparison. Cabo breaks the mold in other areas, too. The company builds its boats in the Southwest, not the East - and in the Mojave Desert , not on the coast. Recently, we enjoyed the opportunity to sea trial a 2001 model 47 Flybridge Sportfisher that the company claims is the most tricked-out Cabo ever built.
Commissioned last fall in Newport Beach, California, for owner George Mahr, 'Bout Time is possibly the most lavishly equipped sportfisher in this size range. Our test coincided with the boat's last shakedown trials before Mahr takes the boat down the Pacific Coast into Mexico and Central America, and ultimately through the Panama Canal to St. George Island on Florida's west coast. The owner's plans also include cruising the Mississippi River, the Great Lakes, Nova Scotia, and south to the Bahamas .
Capt. Peter Tinkham served as liaison for our test, and will accompany Mahr on the boat's passage from California to Florida. Tinkham is an independent facilitator who may represent either a boatbuilder or the customer. In this instance, he was hired by Mahr to oversee the project from construction through commissioning.
TOWER OF POWER
Among the many custom touches that Mahr wanted was a foredeck davit, an air conditioner for the flying bridge, and a list of electronics so extensive that you might think this was a 65-footer, when actually it's only 50 feet, 7 inches in length (including pulpit). This knowledge allowed Tinkham to work with the factory to custom-rig during production. For example, he was able to incorporate wiring for accessories into the boat's main wiring harness; in fact, he estimates an additional 700 pounds of wire were pulled for the boat's electronics alone.
Sporting a 15-foot, 8-inch beam, our test boat was fitted with a full Pipewelders tower. The tuna tower bristles with controls that rival the bridges on many smaller sportfishers - including engine stop and start buttons, trim tabs, autopilot, and an ACR remote-control spotlight. Tower instrumentation includes tachometers, Furuno GPI85OF GPS/plotter/fishfinder, and a B&G depth and speed indicator. For comfort and convenience while searching for fish, the tower is fitted with its own stereo, intercom and a Horizon Intrepid VHF.
The flying bridge has the console offset to the starboard side. Two helm chairs by Release Marine of Savannah, Georgia, complement the Release Marine fighting chair in the cockpit. Each is through bolted into aluminum plates which are glassed into the bridge and cockpit soles. A bench seat forms the forward section of the helm console, and under the cushion is a 3000psi air compressor to fill Mahr's scuba tanks. A second bench seat (with rod storage underneath) lines the port side. The hardtop conceals a hidden panel for the boat's computer controlled teaser reels.
The bridge air conditioner has vents to cool the bench-seat passengers, with additional vents at the console to cool the captain and mate. Many may wonder about the practicality of air-conditioning on an open air bridge; however, the system is capable of moving a
lot of cold air, and will be appreciated when fishing
in sultry southern seas.
The console houses a multitude of electronics that were installed by Crew West Electronics in Costa Mesa, California. This includes a 25 kW Furuno 7252 radar, Northstar 961D GPS/ chartplotter, B&G wind, depth and speed indicator, a 2000watt Furuno 292 depthfinder, Horizon Intrepid VHF, Tiayo auto-direction finder, ACR spotlight control, and a Robertson AP 20 autopilot. The boat also features Furuno's new CH-250 a color LCD side-scanning sonar with a transducer nod that retracts automatically when boat speed surpasses 9 knots.
In addition, there is an overhead console with a Northstar 952 GPS, FlowScan fuel monitoring system, and another Horizon, Intrepid VHF. A Sea Hailer intercom, Panasonic stereo system, Dy-Tek sea temp gauge, and a 300-watt SEAsingle sideband (SSB) radio auxiliary station round out the electronics package. Recessed red lighting helps keep visibility sharp for night time navigation.
The helmsman commands power steering and single lever Glendinning electronic controls (with cable backups), The controls feature electronic synchronization and interlocks to prevent excessive throttle from damaging the transmissions when the trolling valves are in use. The trolling valves allow speeds of 1 knot or less. Our only comment about the bridge layout concerns the spacing between the helm seats and the aft rail. They are much too close, making it virtually impossible to get to the mate's seat without disturbing the captain. It would be better if the console were moved slightly forward to improve access behind the seats.
Vision from the helm is good - and that's also true with the canvas up, thanks to the Barrett polycarbonate enclosure made by Nautical Intex of San Pedro, California. Considerably heavier and stiffer than conventional isinglass, the windows have better optical properties. The downside is that they are too stiff to roll up. 'Bout Time's forward window hinges up and straps in place under the hardtop roof, although this proved to be a hassle even in moderate seas. The best storage for these panels is under a mattress.
WHERE'S THE WINE CELLAR?
The Cabo 47 Flybridge is a galley up design, with the galley on the port side and the dining area to starboard. An L-shaped lounge wraps around the aft end of the saloon. Entering from the cockpit, you'll find an icemaker, followed by a tilt-out electrical panel. The system features l2- and 24volt DC power to feed navigation, communication and sonar equipment. There's also an optional 15 kW Westerbeke generator that provides 120 and 220 volt AC current for the air-conditioning, refrigeration, water pumps, battery charging and the ship's convenience outlets. The wiring is color coded and individually labeled, and the workmanship is impeccable.
In the stock boat, there is some lost space under the gunwales and behind the galley paneling. Tinkham has utilized the area behind the settee and dinette seatbacks for storage, and created additional shelving for the galley. A full roster of owner's manuals, plus a complete list of wiring color codes is bound in several loose-leaf booklets and stored behind the dinette. Storage under the aft settee is reserved for rods, tackle and scuba tanks.
The galley countertops are Corian, and feature a recessed Princess electric stove and a Sharp microwave oven. Two Subzero refrigerators and two freezers pull out, drawer style, from under the counter. A lazarette hatch in the galley floor leads to customized storage belowdecks including a large chest freezer, racks for basket storage, and a 36-bottle wine rack to accommodate Mahr's connoisseur tastes. In fact, this is the only 47-foot sportfisher we know of with its own temperature-controlled wine cellar.
The saloon and staterooms feature Cabo's optional teak-and-holly sole, which is covered by a removable tan carpet. An acrylic finished dining table shrugs off marks and spills, and two ottomans in the lounge area can serve as footrests, extra seating, or with the addition of a removable acrylic "coffee-table" top - as a spot to place an evening cocktail. The boat's upholstery was upgraded to soft, tan leather. For entertainment; the saloon features a 27-inch JVC color TV, mounted behind the dinette, and a Bose Lifestyle audio system. The TV is hooked to a Sea-Tel Satellite TV antenna and receiver. The TV display also can be coupled to the chartplotter to show the boat's position, or interfaced with the scanning sonar, so you can watch for fish while kicking back in the saloon. Additional electronic gear in the saloon includes a satellite phone/fax/data system, the master station for the SEA SSB, an intrusion alarm, and another Horizon Intrepid VHF radio. A central vacuum system eases cleaning chores.
Take three steps down the companionway, and you'll find a guest stateroom on the starboard side. The stateroom is efficient, as it manages to sandwich sleeping accommodations for four into a relatively small space. Stacked single bunks are fitted against the starboard side, with drawers below. A double berth at floor level fits athwartships, and is tucked under the companionway stairs. Owing to the 'Bout Time's extended cruising itinerary, Tinkham has fitted custom storage below the athwartship berth to house the boat's $8000 inventory of spare parts.
Directly opposite, the day head features a modernistic circular shower, with a clear acrylic shower door. The companionway also has a closet for an automatic washer and dryer.
The master stateroom is located in the bow, and has a queen sized island berth with storage underneath. There is a cedar lined hanging locker to starboard and a vanity with drawers. A stereo and Sony TV/VCR provide entertainment. Additional electronics include a remote Ram mic controlling the Horizon Intrepid VHF, a hailer/intercom station, C-phone and a B&G wind indicator. Flanking either side of the berth are covered lockers, capable of storing up to four big-game outfits apiece.
The master head is on the port side. A vacuum-system outlet and a built-in safe round out the master stateroom's amenities. Wide catwalks and a bow rail fashioned from 1½-inch-diameter aluminum provide secure passage when traveling to or from the foredeck. A 12-foot rigid-bottom inflatable with a 25 hp Honda outboard sits in a cradle on the bow, and a powered davit makes easy work of launching the tender. Tinkham claims this is the first Cabo built with a foredeck davit, and now that it's been successfully done, he feels it soon will become a factory option instead of a one-of-a-kind upgrade. A six-man canister life raft also is situated forward.
READY IN THE 'PIT
Measuring 10 by 11½ feet (at its narrowest), the Cabo 47's cockpit is spacious and well planned. The transom door is secured with heavy-duty hardware, and opens out to reduce the possibility of it being knocked open by a following sea. A 62-gallon bait tank is molded into the transom. Gaffs and deck brushes can be secured in lockers under the covering boards. A lazarette in the rear center holds dock lines and fenders, while also providing access to the running gear.
Two large fishboxes run port and starboard, and are served by macerator pumps. The owner also had 'Bout Time plumbed with an Eskimo ice-machine that feeds directly into the port fishbox. Both fishboxes have split lids with gas spring actuators. This provides easy access, and the lids won't fall on unsuspecting fingers or toes. The cockpit features hot and cold shower and washdown systems, plus a separate saltwater washdown. At the leading edge of the cockpit is the engine-room door, flanked to port by a rigging station/tackle locker, and a fridge/freezer unit. Opposite, you'll find a convenience center with a built-in cooler, storage and switches for cockpit pumps. 'Bout Time also is equipped with low-voltage, high-intensity underwater lights for nighttime fishing and diving.
MORE POWER, SCOTTY
The engine room has what we call "crouching headroom," and is finished with white gelcoat for improved visibility and easy cleanup. Our test boat was equipped with twin MAN 2848LE 403, 800 hp mains, and fitted with optional instrumentation for easy checks directly from the engine room. Standard power is a pair of MAN 680 hp diesels, while maximum power is twin 1050 hp MANs. Our boat's massive V-8 diesels displace 892 cubic inches (14.6L). Each has full access on both sides. Servicing is simplified by an oil change system for the mains, transmissions and generator.
The upgraded l5kW generator (10 kW is standard) also has good service access, and is equipped with a sound shield. All through-hulls and seacocks are bronze, plainly labeled and bonded. Double hose clamps are used on all fittings where possible. A Y diverter valve allows the engine seawater pump to serve as a bilge pump in an emergency. Standard fuel capacity is 960 gallons in two fiberglass tanks.
Each engine is coupled to a ZF transmission with a 2:1 gear reduction, and drives a Hytorq 28x45-inch four-blade nibral prop, mounted on a 2½-inch-diameter stainless shaft. Dripless stuffing boxes keep water out of the bilge. We measured top speed at 41.6 mph (or 36.2 knots) at 2375rpm. This is 2 ½ knots slower than Cabo's projected top end, due primarily to the weight of the boat's many accessories. Based on its present waterline, engineers calculate 'Bout Time's displacement at 55,000 pounds, which is about 3500 pounds heavier than any previous Cabo 47s. Weight equals lost speed, but a better ride. Still, this 47 maintains stellar performance. Nevertheless, the owner has five-blade props on order, which are expected to better carry the extra weight, and help reclaim some of the lost speed. Tinkham also believes the five-blades will provide smoother, quieter operation although from a smoothness standpoint, the fourblades seem most satisfactory.
A conservative cruise of 26.5 mph is achieved at a leisurely 1800 rpm, and the hull can be pushed to 39 mph at 2200 rpm without sacrificing fuel economy. Although water conditions for testing were relatively smooth, we were able to find some wakes and dig some holes to get a feel for the ride and handling. Both were superb. At planing speeds, spray is turned down and well back from the bow. At rest, the boat has a comfortable motion in a beam sea and, again, wakes did not produce a snap roll or appreciable discomfort. Steering is quick and precise, and features four-and-a-half turns from lock to lock. Acceleration from a dead stop is surprisingly strong, even before the turbos spool up. The Cabo 47 went from 0 to 30 mph in 19.0 seconds. Filling the 62-gallon bait tank added 3 seconds to the 0-to30 mph times.
Transom deadrise is 10 degrees, which is partially responsible for the hull's easy planing characteristics. Once on plane, the boat assumes a very flat angle that results in a modest wake, and improves passenger comfort.
In conclusion, Cabo's 47 Flybridge Sportfisher is the nicest 47-footer I have had the pleasure of being aboard. With the proven performance of a stock hull and the amenities of this boat's extensive customizing, the queen of Cabo's fleet offers a unique blend of fishability and comfort that makes her stand out in any crowd.