TESTED: CABO 40 HTX
Rig your lures and spool your reels, the new Cabo 40 HTX gamefishing boat is all fuelled and knows where to go, says Jack Murphy.
You know you’re in Queensland when schooled-up bream are smashing fleeing prawns right in the marina. And although my head turned and my trigger finger twitched I kept right on walking. With bigger fish to fry, I strode on with a sense of purpose to the sleek machine straining against its lines at the end of the dock. Today was a big-fish day and the pan was smoking hot.
Known and respected in professional big-game circles as builders of one of the industry’s most aggressive battle wagons, Cabo Yachts didn’t just appear on the scene like some Johnny-come-lately. The company has a rich history of performance and an established strong pedigree since its birth in 1988. With its spiritual home in Adelanto, California, Cabo Yachts is now found in every billfish hotspot on the planet; and are often tally toppers, frequently the platform of choice for most competitive captains seeking an edge over their rivals.
Personally, I’ve always had a strong connection to these boats – whether it’s the sleek lines, plush interiors or amazing fishability, I am not sure. Perhaps it is because the company’s first history-making hull, the 35 Flybridge, was born the same year as me – 1991. Whatever it is, as an addicted fish wrangler it is hard to ignore the animal magnetism of these obvious fish attractors.
Having not seen the boat in the flesh I was actually quite surprised when I wandered down the dock to find a Cabo sans the usual adornments of a tower, outriggers and swathe of illuminated electronics. Instead, a modest, yet elegant hull greeted me.
The luxury interior of the 40 Hardtop Express (HTX) suggests champagne, prawns, classical music, monogrammed dock-siders and day cruising. Graham from Game and Leisure Boats even admitted that the Stidd helm chairs are the price of a small car! You can imagine my surprise when we purred away from the dock, jumped to the plane and blasted out of the Gold Coast Seaway at 30 eye-watering knots. This girl had some serious power hidden away.
That was all well and good but as a fisherman, would this boat fit my needs? Absolutely! According to Game and Leisure, the only reason they don’t fit electronics as standard is because every customer has their own personal preferences. The boat I tested had a price tag of just over $940,000.
But if you’re not concerned about cracking the million-dollar mark; throw on a tower, some outriggers and maybe even a pair of underwater lights – anything is possible. If you want to get an idea of what the 40 HTX might look like thus adorned, jump on the Cabo website where you’ll find plenty of examples blasting through the screen.
No matter the configuration, Cabo’s are fishing boats at heart – structurally and aesthetically. They can be spec’d out to the max or left clean and minimalistic, either way it works. Years of fisho feedback hasn’t fallen on deaf ears; everything is where it needs to be and is instantly accessible, as it should be. Now where did I put the flying gaff?
GET A HANDLE ON IT
As luck would have it, whenever I head out on a standard boat test the wind seems non-existent and there’d be more swell in my fish tank. If we were heading out for a proper fish-test you can guarantee the ocean would turn into a scene from The Perfect Storm. So with pristine Gold Coast weather turned on once again and not a fishing rod in sight we headed out through an almost ridiculously benign Broadwater entrance.
It’s a shame really. These boats are capable of a lot and these conditions were no test. That said, judging by the way it effortlessly danced back and forth on the big wake of the camera boat, the 40 HTX at least looked like it would be comfortable in a large swell.
There’s a lot of boat tucked away for a 40-footer, especially down below. Classically styled, the lower decks feature a luxury L-shaped lounge, bedding fit for a king, large kitchen, practical head and lots of storage. No matter where you looked there was a new cupboard, hatch or hidden nook with an abundance of space.
When I first ventured into the cabin I was immediately surprised by its depth. The extra headroom, something which is common to the range, gives the perception of space. No doubt this goes down well in Texas but even here in Queensland, a few larger-than-life gents will appreciate a boat which has made allowances for real-sized people.
The aforementioned luxury L-shaped lounge is the first thing you come across on entry and it’s big enough for all the troops. Double points also for not obstructing your path to the rest of the cabin. Wall-mounted opposite, is a flatscreen TV, perfect for nights onboard.
To be fair, a full complement eating dinner in the cabin would be a tricky proposition, as the table wouldn’t really be suitable for more than two people at a time. The kitchen on the other hand is big enough for four burly blokes to make peanut butter sandwiches side-by-side – or maybe a handful of chefs shucking oysters.
Back out on the deck sore necks from watching lures will be a thing of the past with another winning feature, an aft facing bench seat complete with foldout footrest – and yes, it does have plenty of drinkholders.
And as the pictures hereabouts show, the test boat also boasted a stunning teak gamechair. But without the tower and outriggers to complete the set I’d say it’s just taking up precious deck space.
Particularly importantly, a whopping 181lt bait tank is located slap, bang in the middle of the transom (adjacent to the door). While you may think it will get in the way, it actually doesn’t protrude much and suits the boat nicely. An internal LED light looks pretty swish and it also makes short work of finding your live bait in the dark.
OPEN FOR BUSINESS
As you may have gathered from the name, the Cabo HTX features a fully enclosed hardtop. The big advantage of this configuration over the more conventional Express version is that you’ll be snuggly tucked away when the cold weather comes rolling in.
This option works well with
the rest of the more open layout. You get completely unrestricted access to the aft deck while still retaining the comfort of a fully enclosed wheelhouse. It also means you don’t stomp blood and guts into the cabin every time you need to check the fishfinder or grab another beer.
Speaking of grubby mates/crew, if they’re staying aboard a lot you might want to consider the alternative two stateroom-one head arrangement. This more or less transforms the lounge area into a second cabin. Personally, I think it would be too much of a sacrifice of space, but horses for courses and those planning longer range excursions may find the change easy to justify.
BELLY OF THE BEAST
Although I’m no mechanic, I am a photographer. And one of the worst jobs on any shoot is photographing the engines. Hot, dark, cramped and dirty – they’re no fun at all. That’s why the engineroom of the Cabo 40 HTX quickly became one of my favourite features onboard. The entire helm deck hydraulically lifts allowing easy entry for full-grown hairy mechanics – or slightly less hairy photographers. There’s also an engineroom hatch behind the helm for a quick check at sea. Although in the end the twin 600hp Cummins QSC diesels with Zeus pod drives did steal the show, the access is quite impressive.
I also really liked the Zeus system’s Skyhook feature. It’s the perfect tool for solo missions. By simply pressing a single button the boat holds position irrespective of the wind or tide. Frankly, it’s like having a second set of hands – I wonder if they can install it in my 5.3m fishing boat?
Cool toys aside, it’s the attention to detail that really makes this boat special. The engineroom liner is an excellent example of an extra touch of class with a practical application. The gelcoated surface prevents soot and grime from etching into what would otherwise be a porous wall. This means it can be easily cleaned away with a coat of polish even after years of hard work.
NEW AGE SEADOG
Although I was a little disappointed that this new Cabo 40 HTX wasn’t presented as the usual blinged-out fish-hunting machine, you really can’t complain about its practicality and versatility.
I did get the impression that it would do well as a crossover family/fishing boat, but I don’t think Cabo would ever admit to that. To be fair, the boat can easily be pimped out perfectly for anyone who loves to fish but does have a level of versatility sometimes missing from the hardcore fish fighters.
› Great engineroom access
› Very nimble at speed
› Huge dash space to suit almost any electronics
› Clean layout with ample storage
› Fishing setup was a little basic for a Cabo
[TRADE-A-BOAT SAYS… ]
When it comes to quality, handling, speed and safety – look no farther. Two thumbs up for a boat that’ll appeal to a broader market while still representing the Cabo name with pride. Catching marlin one day and cruising with the family the next has never been so easy.
CABO 40 HTX SPECIFICATIONS
PRICE AS TESTED
LENGTH 12.25m (overall)
WEIGHT 14 tonnes
MAKE/MODEL 2 x Cummins w/ Zeus pod drives
TYPE Common rail diesel
Rated HP 600 (each)
Game and Leisure Boats,
Factory 1, Runaway Bay Marina,
247 Bayview Street,
Runaway Bay, Qld, 4216
Phone: (07) 5577 5811
Originally published in Trade-a-Boat 441, June / July 2013.
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