On Board: Cabo 44 HTX

The Cabo 44 HTX is an innovative and tough fishing machine.

Cabo 44 HTX Tout

Cabo’s new 44 HTX represents an embodiment of the term fishability, which makes sense, since she is designed to replace the venerable 45 Express, with more than 130 hulls sold. She does that, but the high quality and comfort of the 44 HTX’s living quarters are a bonus that will trump her angling prowess for owners who also like to cruise.

Fishability first: The 44 HTX barely winced doing 34.8 knots into white-capped three- to five-foot seas, and she topped out at 38 knots. Powered by twin 1,001-horsepower Caterpillar C18 ACERTs, the vessel’s optimum cruise proved to be 27 knots, turning 1860 rpm at 70 percent load.

I was mightily impressed by how well the 44 drifted in the trough. She rocked, to be sure, but with a roll moment and transitions that never challenged my ability to keep my feet. Working a fish, she spun with the authority that comes from excellent balance and big props churning in clean water (see the video below, and our complete photo gallery here).

The 44 HTX’s cockpit has three hatches — two above massive macerated fish boxes and a third for the lazarette. The boxes’ cold plates kept our tuna chilled for three hours without any ice. The centerline transom livewell with aquarium window lets you monitor your baits. And when the hatches fall shut, all you hear is a gentle whoosh rather than a slam.

Cabo prepares the deck for a fighting chair and scallops out the mezzanine deck to make space for a mate to pivot the chair from behind. A bait tray or sailfish pod on the chair back might make space tight. The cockpit bails quickly, and reaching the water to release a fish is doable.

The mezzanine seats five spectators while the battle rages, and it’s fitted with a bait freezer and two additional insulated stowage compartments below.

The starboard-side tackle locker features drawers, complete with weep holes and stops. The former inhibits corrosion; the latter keeps the tackle from dumping onto the sole. The washdown, plus tube stowage for gaffs or mops, reside behind a hatch near the tackle locker.

First revealed on the 44 HTX, the hardtop constitutes the signature element of this yacht’s design. Its rigid enclosure provides climate control, obviating the need to struggle with Isinglass. The side windows slide open and, combined with the hatch overhead, deliver more-than-ample ventilation when you want to give the genset and air conditioning a rest.

Sight lines can often be limited in express designs. The 44’s centerline helm pod, along with Stidd captain and companion seats, mount on a platform several inches higher than the helm deck, ensuring the skipper’s lines of sight are clear and unobstructed.

From the wheel, I could easily see both transom corners. Many express boats lack a clear view of the portside corner because the lounge backrest blocks the sight line. However, thanks to the raised centerline helm, the expansive six-person L-shape settee (with hidden rod stowage) never obstructs your vision while working fish or docking the boat. Other pluses include a portside fiberglass module housing a refrigerator and tool/tackle locker. Lay a towel atop this module and it serves as a great place to rig baits out of the weather. An optional electric grill fits under a hatch at this console’s after end.

Practical as it is, the hardtop also makes the boat's lines pop. The words sleek and clean fall short. You'll be pleased by the 44 HTX's aesthetics each time you give it that last glance while tromping down the dock at day's end.

You also won’t be able to see how this aluminum-reinforced composite structure is attached to the boat. There are no visible seams. Of course, Cabo’s workmanship and engineering set industry benchmarks. The laminate schedule consists of biaxial fabric set in vinylester resin that’s vacuum-bagged for great strength, stiffness and finish throughout.

Belowdecks, cruising owners will be thrilled. Cabo reaches new heights of function and comfort with the 44. The galley, arrayed across the aft-cabin bulkhead, provides the huge salon with a convertible six-seat settee, which doubles as a dinette, to port. Since the galley doesn’t take up one side, the head is located between the master, with its island-queen berth, and the guest staterooms. This provides more privacy than when staterooms share a bulkhead.

My test boat featured under/over berths in the guest stateroom, but Cabo offers a revised layout that uses this space as a tackle room, complete with rod racks, a workbench and a leaping billfish etched in backlit glass. Whichever you choose, the 44 HTX’s cabin rivals the luxury of dedicated cruising yachts with its teak sole, book-matched cabinetry, solid-surface counters and ambient light from a multitude of skylights and hatches overhead.

If you’re looking for a boat that is designed to fish, yet has the amenities of a cruiser, put Cabo on your short list.

LOA: 47'7"
BEAM: 16'6"
DRAFT: 3'7"
DISPL.: 50,000 lb.
DEADRISE: 16 degrees
FUEL: 800 gal.
WATER: 100 gal.
TEST POWER: 2 x 1,001 hp CAT C18 ACERT diesels
STANDARD POWER: 2 x 715 hp Cummins QSM 11 diesels
BASE PRICE: $949,000

Test Conditions: Speeds were measured by GPS off Key Largo, Florida, in 3- to 5-foot seas and 15-knot winds, with 600 gallons of fuel, 50 gallons of water and five people aboard. Fuel consumption was calculated by the electronic engine-monitoring system. Sound levels were measured at the helm.

RPM Knots GPH dB(A)
900 10.1 17.4 83
1200 11.6 33.0 87
1500 21.4 49.1 89
1800 28.7 67.4 93
2100 34.4 87.2 95
2282 38.1 107.2 97

Cabo Yachts, 252-637-2226; www.caboyachts.com