If you can imagine Babe Ruth hitting a home run at every at bat, or Shaq sinking one every time he gets the ball, then you’ll have no problem comprehending the success story that is Cabo Yachts. From the time this California builder splashed its first 35-footer in 1991, it has produced one winner after another. The new Cabo 43 Flybridge is no exception.
As with every good story, there’s a deeper story, and this company’s highlights the lineage that produced this sportfisherman chain. Henry Mohrschladt and Michael Howarth launched Pacific Seacraft in the mid-1970s and quickly built a reputation with a popular line of production cruising sailboats. A dozen years later-after Fortune magazine dubbed the company one of the 100 best manufacturers in America-a conglomerate showed up with a suitcase full of cash. The two entrepreneurs were suddenly unemployed with a non-compete clause that prevented them from building sailboats.
The longtime boating enthusiasts decided to tackle another challenge: building the best sportfishing boats in the world. Step one was to ask the top saltwater fishermen to list good and bad points for all available boats. Step two was to gather the team of skilled craftsmen that built that first 35-footer. Step three was to expand the Cabo line, down to 31 feet and up to 47 feet in express and flying bridge versions. At every step, the builder has received media acclaim and, more important, the checkbook vote of sportfishing enthusiasts on every coast.
With this new 43, Cabo continues to offer what serious saltwater anglers want: a tough, seaworthy, beautifully built boat. The boat fills a gap left by production builders, who often ignore convertibles in this size range, and combines great fishing amenities with a cleverly designed, luxuriously finished interior. That interior may not appeal to squinty-eyed fishermen with little need for designer fabrics, a central vacuum system and a mirrored vanity, but they’re sure to love the big bait prep station, the long legs to range out to offshore canyons and the cockpit big enough to hold a crew of fishing buddies.
As with any good sea boat, the starting point is the hull. Cabo brought in Dave Napier, along with his reputation for most of the legendary Bertram designs, to draw the lines. The strakeless hull with an 18.5-degree deadrise was tank-tested at three displacements and three trim angles, resulting in a hull that is easily driven for speed and economy, is dry at all speeds and is comfortable in a seaway.
It might appear that Cabo, with the hull finished, then drew in the oversized cockpit and built the boat in the remaining space. Whether that’s true or not, the cockpit is big enough to keep anglers happy. The bait prep area under a custom lid to port includes a sink, a cutting area and tackle stowage, and a freezer is to starboard of the saloon door. A 48-gallon bait tank is built into the transom, there are big fishboxes in the sole with macerator pumps (and enough space to install an Eskimo ice maker), and rod/gaff racks are on both sides. The entire coaming is thickly padded, and the transom door has good-size hinges.
Some of the most important cockpit items, however, are likely to go unnoticed, such as the large scuppers that will keep up with drainage while backing down hard in a lumpy sea.
The flying bridge features a comfortable, tournament-style layout with a centerline helm aft overlooking the cockpit. Fully adjustable helm and companion pedestal chairs are standard, and there’s enough room to walk behind the chairs.
Next to the VDO engine gauges is an immense console panel that can handle a full array of flush-mounted electronics within easy reach of the wheel. Palm Beach-style throttles/shifters are on each side of the stainless-steel wheel. Forward of the helm is a forward-facing bench seat with great stowage and a built-in cooler underneath, as well as a portside settee.
The 43’s engineroom, like those on all Cabos, is big and beautifully finished, right down to the gelcoated bilge. With easy access from the cockpit, literally everything is readily accessible from the stuffing boxes to the seacocks. This boat is designed with maintenance in mind.
Power options start with the 660 hp Caterpillar 3196TA diesels, but Stan Miller Yacht Sales fitted our test boat with the high-performance package of twin 800 hp MAN 2848LE diesels. The engineroom remained big enough to allow all-around engine access. Our test boat also had upgraded from the standard 10kW generator to a 15kW Westerbeke.
Under way, this fast, powerful yacht comes strongly out of the hole. With our optional engines, she topped out at more than 35 knots, even with full fuel and water plus the windage of the hardtop. At 2000 rpm, we slid along at 30 knots and consumed only 55 gph, providing enough range for Mexico or island hopping.
You want nimble? Slam the shifters into reverse, and this war wagon backs down straight and hard. Shove one lever into forward, and the 43 pivots like a polo pony under your feet.
When it comes to construction, Cabo earns points for details such as fiberglass fuel tanks, welded and boltless stainless-steel rails, and the superlative fiberglass fit and finish that has distinguished the company since the first launch.
Interior execution is just as good. The saloon is designed for fishermen, with a comfortable L-shape settee and table directly opposite the entry door, providing a raised view of the cockpit through the window in the after bulkhead. Here, in air-conditioned or heated comfort, an angler can be ready for action while avoiding harsh elements. To port is another wraparound settee with hidden rod stowage underneath.
Down a couple of steps is the compact galley, with a Sub-Zero under-counter refrigerator and freezer, a two-burner ceramic cooktop and a surprisingly spacious Corian counter. Under the teak and holly sole in the galley is more stowage, plus a pantry area. A combo washer/dryer is cleverly tucked under the steps from the saloon.
The master stateroom is to starboard. Cabo managed, by stealing half inches here and there, to provide a space far larger than you’d expect in a 43-foot yacht. The raised settee in the saloon, for example, permits a higher ceiling over the master berth, and a flat-screen plasma TV mounted on the bulkhead doesn’t impinge on hanging locker space. The private head has an oversized stall shower large enough to enjoy without banging elbows.
Forward, a clever stacking arrangement allows room for a lower and a pair of upper V-berths, as well as drawers to port and a hanging locker large enough to actually hang clothes. The day head to port serves the forward cabin and includes a curtained shower.
The base boat starts at $767,000 with twin MAN 680s, while our bigger engines added $30,000 to the tab. Options such as the upgraded generator, teak and holly sole, washer/dryer and flat-screen TV add another $16,000, putting a well-equipped boat into the mid-$800s including a solid electronics package.
Contact: Cabo Yachts, Inc., (760) 246-8917; fax (760) 246-8970; www.caboyachts.com.