Cabo 40 Express

With a superb layout for fishing and much more, the Cabo 40 Express gets a maneuverability makeover thanks to Zeus drives.

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The devil's in the details and this especially holds true on a hard-working sportfisherman. The folks at Cabo Yachts seem to understand this, and they sweat the small stuff, so you don't have to. The new Cabo 40 Express shows this attention to detail with solid, proven construction techniques, quality components, excellent rigging, and an all-new Zeus drive system from Cummins MerCruiser Diesel that is turning out to be a great aid for most boat-handling situations.

The Cabo 40 falls near the middle of the company's line of nine hull lengths, ranging from 32 to 52 feet, with many available in both express and flybridge arrangements. The thing that you have got to respect about a Cabo is the systems and rigging detail. The company excels in the practical application and installation of all machinery, including engines, generator, air-conditioning compressors, and oil-change and fuel systems. Plumbing, pumps, fittings, and overall system layouts are all well executed and completed with the best components and installation practices. But the most noticeable detail on a Cabo is the wiring. The only boats that have anything remotely similar are high-end custom builds. This benchmark wiring goes into every boat. Every wire is tightly combed, color-coded, and labeled. And just to be sure you notice it, the folks at Cabo are proud to show it off.

With good reason: When a boat gets used, you end up spending a lot of time in the engineroom and machinery spaces to keep things maintained and in good running order. Without that thoughtful layout and neat and thorough execution, anything from simple maintenance to a critical repair becomes a much larger issue. Spending the time to engineer and thoughtfully organize each system and placement of key components is paramount to reducing maintenance costs and keeping the fun in using the boat.

There is no question that Cabo has mastered the express boat: Just look around any marina and you'll surely find one. The beauty of the express layout is that the bridgedeck feels closer to the cockpit and makes for a very social boat. The center-mounted helm and starboard-side companionway offer a good use of space and keep the helmsman in the thick of the action, whether fishing or socializing. Behind the helm chair to port is the expansive Lshaped lounge with rod storage underneath. To starboard is a longitudinal tackle locker and counter space. A second helm chair is forward on the starboard side.

The cockpit of the 40-footer is spacious, as befits a boat built for fishing. A large bait-prep center with rigging board, a freezer, and heaps of tackle storage make for a great workspace along the forward cockpit. Entrance to the bridgedeck is to starboard with a small locker for cleaning supplies and additional fishing gear all the way outboard. Two large in-deck fishboxes with macerator pumps, under- gunwale stowage racks, fresh- and saltwater washdowns, a molded-in 48-gallon transom live well, and a transom door and gate make this 100-square-foot cockpit a fully fishable and functional work area.

But it's not all about fishing for everyone and the available space and features could also work for those interested in entertaining and cruising. The fishboxes and tackle stowage can keep control of other on-board entertainments, including floats, dive equipment, or anything else you want to bring along.

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Belowdecks, a forward stateroom has an island berth with storage underneath. Full-length rod storage along the outboard walls makes great use of this often wasted space. The expansive galley to port is fitted out with top-notch appliances and aligns with a dinette to starboard, typically fitted with plush soft goods and elegant wood finishes. A full-size head with shower is along the aft bulkhead of the cabin.

The Zeus drives make the 40 Express really shine. As far as maneuvering and boat handling near a dock or on fish, this setup makes a huge difference-they make a poor boat driver decent, a decent one good, and a good helmsman into an excellent one. Offering the ability to crab away or towards the dock, regardless of wind and current, is a huge advantage to those challenged boat handlers that get themselves into trouble when the conditions are less than ideal. Increased efficiency and overall performance improvements that we see on plane are bankable and make running the boat even more pleasurable.

For my money, the final word about the 40 Express Zeus boat is the "skyhook" feature, which offers a reasonable replication of a digital positioning system to hold the boat at station. Push a button and you have basically given control of the boat to the Zeus computers and the drives go to work to keep you on a spot within a tight radius. This feature is very useful for holding over wrecks, bottom structure, or bait schools that tend to remain in the same spot. Now if it's blowing 20 knots and you have a big sea rolling in on you, the boat simply cannot hold position, but in good conditions it will keep you dialed in on the spot.

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Once again Cabo has delivered a fine express boat that is only improved upon by the addition of the remarkable Zeus system. If you like driving boats, get a ride on the 40 Express with Zeus drives-it is sure to impress.

Cabo Yachts, (760) 246-8917; **www.caboyachts.com**