When Cabo co-founder Mike Howarth set out to build the Cabo 40 Express, his goal was to build the best Cabo ever. He may well have succeeded.
We got the opportunity to test the boat on Nantucket Sound on a perfect New England day. According to the National Weather Service, it was blowing northeast at 25 to 35 knots, with gusts to 45. I'm not sure I ever saw a 45-knot gust, but it wasn't pretty out there - not the kind of weather a sane person would ever leave the dock in, but the kind of weather you might inadvertently get caught at sea in. In other words, an ideal day for a boat test. Just to make it a little more fun, the wind and the tide were going in opposite directions, creating a malevolent, churning sea with tightly packed waves.
The new Cabo has a hull length of 40' 2" with a 15' 9" beam, and our test boat was powered by twin MAN D2876LE401 700-hp diesels with 1.5:1 ZF gears swinging 26" by 36" four-blade Nibral wheels with a No. 3 cup. Even with a transom deadrise of 20.5 degrees we weren't going to see all of those engines or gears in those seas, but what we did witness was remarkable. We ran dead into the slop at 1500 rpm at a steady 21 knots. Very occasionally the hull would slap a little hard, but never anything you would call "pound." We were loaded with full fuel, water and a full tower, bringing the weight in at around 32,000 pounds. You need to know that this was a nasty piece of ocean, and at every point of sea we ran this boat it just plain ate it up. Perhaps the next most impressive thing was how dry it was. It tracked well down-sea, rode the beam beautifully and sat like a duck when we stopped dead in the trough. Big, deep propeller pockets not only provide a shallow draft of 3' 5" and a more efficient running angle, they offer incredible stability at rest.
I'm five feet, seven inches tall, and with a little down tab at 1500 rpm I had a good view over the bow. I raised the Stidd helm chair a little and could see more than I needed. On our way into the harbor we found a little piece of decent water and ran it at a normal 1900 rpm cruise of 31.5 knots. The 40 flattened right out and offered great visibility. This is one terrific sea boat.
It's maintenance-friendly, too. A full-lift hatch provides ready access to the engine room, which is simple and straightforward. The wiring is magnificent, and accessibility around the big MANs is first-rate. The boat carries 600 gallons of diesel in a single tank and has an 80-gallon water tank.
The cockpit is 105 square feet and features a pair of five-foot-long, 34-gallon, in-deck fishboxes, both plumbed with macerators. The transom live well holds 45 gallons and has some interesting plumbing that feeds salt water from the sides. It looks very efficient. The port gunwale locker has tubes leading forward for storing gaffs, mop handles and boat hooks. A 3.8-cubic-foot bait freezer and 17.5-gallon storage/drink box run athwart-ships at the forward part of the cockpit. A six-rod locker is tucked under the cockpit rigging sink and extends forward under the helm deck.
The helm deck is 100 square feet and properly laid out for comfortable living and running. Four large, deep tackle drawers are located next to an icemaker to starboard. An engine-room access hatch and rod storage are located under the L-shaped lounge. The helm console is brilliantly designed. The dealer, Oyster Harbors Marine in Osterville, Massachusetts, did the electronics installation, and it's as good as any I've ever seen.
Cabo has become one of the leading innovators of belowdecks design in the express-boat world, and the 40 bears this out. The large forward stateroom features an island-style double berth, along with anchor-locker access, a foredeck hatch complete with retractable shade, cedar-lined hanging locker and a below-bunk storage compartment and drawers. There are two rod lockers on each side and a 15-inch, flat-screen TV. Moving aft into the salon, the 15' 9" beam comes into play, and one is struck by the extent of space. A big galley features separate refrigerator and freezer, Corian counters, ceramic cooktop with cool top storage setup, microwave/convection oven, excellent lighting and lots of storage. The designer salon features a sofa that converts into upper and lower berths, along with 10,000 Btu air conditioning/heat. The spacious head has a separate shower stall, Corian counters, all the normal niceties and even standup storage for three rods.
One more note, in case you happen to see the 40 at this winter's round of boat shows. The boat we ran is hull Number 1, and hull Number 3 will have some noticeable changes and additions. For example, there will be a very large rod locker built into the salon deck, and the cabinetry in the galley will feature increased storage capacity. As of this writing, the base price is $595,000, and Cabo is planning on building two a month. If you're in this price range and looking for an express boat, you better get to a dealer soon. There's going to be a waiting list for this one.
Cabo Yachts, Adelanto, CA; (760) 246-8917;