Two or so years ago on a wind-nourished day I put Cabo's then-new 40 Express Sportfisher through its paces in conditions that had me rethinking career choices; the Cabo, however, had found its element and performed flawlessly-a point well recognized as it's still a favorite of the meat-hunting offshore crowd. Now, this California builder introduces another 40—the Flybridge Sportfisher. Same old hull with an add-on Flybridge? No way; new hull, new boat. The Flybridge's flatter aft section ending in a transom deadrise of 16.5 degrees makes it a modified-V rather than the deeper 20.5 degree cut of the Express; other subtler differences in strake design and bow flare promise an even more stable and drier platform. It's also about 4,000 pounds heavier and a couple of knots slower at top end than the Express-like you'll really care when you're comfortably hauling that grander in through the transom door in a five-foot beam sea, while the rest of the fleet are trying to keep their lunches down.
That transom door, incidentally, is indicative of the design and workmanship throughout this boat. Flawlessly finished, perfectly balanced and sealed, it's secured by a positive dog-type locking latch with a spring-loaded pin that prevents any hint of rattle-an issue with this breed. Move forward to the aft deck with its molded-in diamond-cut non-slip surface, where half-a-dozen anglers will not rub elbows while bellying up against a vinyl-padded coaming. A pair of in-deck fish boxes can be equipped with stainless refrigerated chill plates; foot-wide, lipped side decks and railings and handholds are situated so there's no place where you can tread without something secure to lean against or grab. It makes safety feel like second nature.
In other words, this 40 is one properly laid out, top-of-the-line fishing machine. What else is new? Well, for starters, it's a 40-footer in LOA and name only; there are touches here that you expect in boats pushing 50 feet and up. The engine room, for instance, is wired and plumbed to custom-boat standards with all-round access to the engines and commercial quality steel-plated decks. You'll also enter via a walk-through door from the aft deck, big boat style; not the usual crawl-down saloon hatch. And that engine room carries 5'7 headroom at the companionway entrance and almost 5' over the iron—unheard of in a 40-footer.
That bigger boat feel is carried right through into the accommodation, which on first glance makes you wonder if its prime mission is fishing or easy living. You'll know it's the former when you notice the well-camouflaged rod stowage in every nook and cranny, and guess it's the latter at seeing the starboard guest cabin, which shares a spacious head and separate stall shower with the forward master and sports a traditional lower full-size berth and an upper pullout single. The 40's generous 15'9 beam allows an athwart-ship's bunk layout, rather than the usual fore and aft setup, which is ideal for snoozing while under way. Another bigger boat touch is the day head to port (also with shower). For those of us who think two heads in a 40-footer is superfluous, it can be converted into another (small) cabin.
The galley is a tight "U with just enough room for the cook to work and be within easy reach of the fixin's; that snugness and the interior handholds (a real rarity in this breed) means your chef de cuisine can work in peace during that long canyon run. A hatch in the galley sole accesses a below- deck stowage space that's roomier than some crew quarters that I've lived in. As a matter of fact, the interior finished or gel-coated stowage throughout will do justice to plenty of 50-footers.
The very un-fish-boat-like saloon offers enough seating and wandering room for your basic Manhattan apartment-sized cocktail party. The superbly joined and satin-varnished teak interior gives it a nautical flavor, just. Woe be to he who drifts in from aft with fish guts on his boots.
We ran the 40 from Northeast Yacht Sales'-Cabo's northeast dealer-facility in Norwalk, Connecticut, into a short, steep, Long Island Sound chop which it effortlessly flattened. One tell-tale sign of the 40's sensible hull design was the lack of rude gestures as we weaved through the fleet of bottom-fishers and meandering sailboats. Our wake, even when pushing out of the hole (with no bow-rise), was negligible. The Hynautic power-assisted steering is, literally, finger-tip easy at all speeds and maneuvers. You'll drive this boat for hours without tiring; the custom-built J and J Marine molded fiberglass hardtop and full four- sided Stratglass enclosure contributes to that upside comfort level. Downside? The skipper has to move out of the way for shotgun to occupy the adjoining helm seat. Bottom line? Expect to see this 40 blasting out of an inlet near you—Cabo's done it again.
Contact: Cabo Yachts, (760) 246-8917; www.caboyachts.com.