The high desert of Adelanto, California, is the last place you might expect to find a builder of tournament-level open and convertible sportfishing boats. Adelanto, however, has been home to Cabo Yachts since the company was founded in 1991. In its 12 years, Cabo has carved a well-defined niche in the market, delivering a level of quality a notch above ordinary production standards. With the new 48 Flybridge, its largest offering to date, Cabo has again challenged the norm.
The company builds 148 boats annually, and 95 percent fish the waters stretching from South Florida to New England. Serious East Coast anglers are the builder's target market, and the 48 has the conservative lines to satisfy them. Her sheer rises aggressively forward, and the flair and flam of her bow are distinct but not overpowering. Crisp lines define her house and flying bridge, and though she is a bit more rakish and curved than earlier Cabo offerings, her features are not mushy or overbaked. In my opinion, she is the best-looking convertible design the company has offered to date.
Like all of Cabo's models, the 48's design is centered around her cockpit. The molded finish has soft corners that won't snag lines and hearty nonslip that provides sure footing in the heat of action. At 144 square feet, the cockpit has room for a full-size fighting chair with a pedestal reinforcement molded into the sole. Tackle drawers and a sink make up the bait-prep center, which can be fitted with a top-loading freezer-a worthwhile option at $3,680. A cabinet to starboard has additional stowage and can be fitted with a cockpit control center. There is bin-style stowage in the bulkhead, and lockers are under the coaming. A transom gate/door, transom live well and two in-sole fishboxes with macerators are standard. Refrigeration for one fishbox is $4,380, an option useful for those who fish for food. The fishbox also can be plumbed with an Eskimo Ice machine ($11,000). There are fresh- and saltwater wash-down systems and, for cockpit accessories, a sub-panel with switching positioned thoughtfully in a bulkhead cabinet (and out of the spray).
The flying bridge has a tournament-style helm and companion seating, with bench seating adjacent to and forward of the helm console. Instrumentation for the pod-style control station is under glass framed by a polished stainless-steel bezel. Single-lever tournament controls are interfaced with a Glendinning electronic control system that is smooth as butter. Conventional Glendinning controls also are available. Polished stainless-steel wheel and engine start/stop panels add the finishing touches to a custom-level presentation. The electronics console accommodates four large displays, a covered recess with an electronics sub-panel and space for accessories. A cabinet within reach of the helm has drawers ideal for stowing charts and electronics manuals.
Those who brandish rod and reel may be surprised to learn that many of Cabo's craftsmen entered the business by constructing sailing yachts. While stick-boats are no longer part of the company's repertoire, a hint of sailing heritage remains in the detail of the 48's joinery. The simple, satin-finished teak, accented with lattice-style venting on cabinet doors, is flawless.
The saloon is arranged with L-shape seating, and a built-in 42-inch flat-screen television is positioned forward. A teak-and-holly sole is optional. The galley has under-counter refrigeration, and the dinette is an arm's length away. The master stateroom has a queen berth and a private head with a stall shower. The forward stateroom has a queen berth and shares a second head/day head with the third stateroom, which has upper-and-lower berths and a washer/dryer. Every inch of space on the 48 is put to good use, as seen in rod stowage under the saloon settee and cabinets in the forward stateroom. There is room for at least five 30-pound-, four 50-pound- and four 80-pound-class rods.
During our sea trial, the wind off Miami Beach, Florida, was out of the north-northwest, and seas near shore were less than 2 feet. I recorded a top speed of 37.6 knots and a cruising speed of 32.7 knots at 2100 rpm. This performance was the result of plentiful horsepower and an efficient hull form with 11.5 degrees of deadrise at the transom. From full stop, the 48's pair of 1,050 hp MAN engines jumped to full speed in just 20 seconds, which was impressive. There was a bit of smoke under extreme load, but it cleared once the 48 was on a plane. This is perhaps the trade-off for the boat's quick throttle response, though Cabo and MAN are still tweaking the setup. Cabo also offers 1,000 hp Caterpillar C18s, which should deliver similar speed. Also available are 800 hp MANs, which should provide a top speed of 32 knots and a top cruising speed of 29 knots.
After collecting data, I ran offshore and found steep 3- to 5-foot seas. The 48's wide chine ledge and flared topsides kept things on the bridge relatively dry. Her Teleflex power steering is easy on the arms, and she cuts tight turns with dispatch. Applying a bit of tab in a head sea engages her forward sections and improves the ride.
Cabo's systems design and installation are second to none. The wire looming on the backside of her electrical panels is the finest I have seen on a vessel in her class. Considering how packed she is with horsepower, engineroom access is reasonably good. While a 10kW generator is standard, I would opt for the 15kW unit installed on our test boat. It is fitted with a custom sound shield, and gaining access requires removing two quick-release pins that secure the engineroom's access ladder.
Cabo's desert production facility is high and dry, and the low humidity is ideal for fiberglass lamination. The 48 is built with a handlaid blend of stitched multi-directional reinforcements and vinylester resin. A foam-cored fiberglass stringer system, fiberglass web frames and plywood bulkheads provide support. Her topsides and exterior decks are cored with Core-Cell vacuum-bagged in place. Balsa coring stiffens her flying bridge deck. She carries 900 gallons of fuel in two fiberglass tanks-one forward of the engineroom bulkhead and the other beneath the cockpit. In addition to a conventional fuel fill, a large screw cap on top of the cockpit tank allows you to fill the tank with a high-speed pump or from a cockpit fuel bladder or drum. You also can sound the tank for accurate readings. Those intending to cruise the islands will want to supplement her 100-gallon freshwater capacity with a watermaker.
The 48's base price, which includes the 1,050 hp MAN engine package, is $1,019,340. Our test boat, loaded with options, electronics and a half-tower, totaled $1,163,335. This is a good chunk of change for a 48-foot convertible, but in the case of the Cabo 48 Flybridge, you get what you pay for.
Contact: Cabo Yachts, (760) 246-8917; fax (760) 246-8970; www.caboyachts.com.