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April 04, 2011

Cabo 44 HTX

The Cabo 44 HTX evokes the "always ready" demeanor of an express fish...

Fishability: a term often as elusive as the last threadfin in a big livewell. Conversely, Cabo's 44 HTX represents an embodiment of the term that you can easily grab. Since this boat replaces the venerable 45 Express, of which Cabo sold more than 130, that fishability comes as no surprise.

Performance
The 44 HTX barely winced doing 40 mph into whitecapped 3- to 5-foot seas and topped out north of 42 mph. Powered by twin CAT C18 ACERTs rated at 1,001 hp each, the vessel's optimum cruise proved to be 33 mph, turning 1,860 rpm at 70 percent load.

I was mightily impressed by how well it drifted in the trough. It rocked, to be sure, but with a roll moment and transitions that never challenged my ability to keep my feet. Working a fish, it spun with the authority that comes from excellent balance and big props working in clean water.

Fishing
The 44 HTX's cockpit sports three hatches - two over massive, macerated fish boxes and a third for the lazarette. The box's 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 "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 inhibits your tackle from dumping onto the sole. The washdown, plus tube stowage for gaffs or mops, resides behind a hatch near the tackle locker.

Design and Construction
The hardtop constitutes the ­signature element of the 44 HTX'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, it provides morethanample ventilation.

Sight lines are often limited in express designs. The 44's centerline helm pod - along with Stidd captain and companion chairs - mount on a platform several inches higher than the helm deck, ensuring the skipper's view meets the American Boat and Yacht Council's recommendations regarding visibility

From the wheel, I could easily see both transom corners. Many expresses 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 sixperson, Lshaped settee (with hidden rod stowage) never obstructs your vision while working fish or docking the boat. Other amenities 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 also fits under a hatch at this console's aft end.

Practical as it is, the hardtop also makes the boat's lines pop. Words like "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 seams visible. Of course, Cabo's workmanship and engineering set industry benchmarks. The 44 HTX boasts a laminate schedule consisting of biaxial fabric set in vinylester resin, and vacuum bagged for great strength, ­stiffness and finish throughout.

Belowdecks, Cabo strikes new heights of function and comfort. The galley, arrayed across the aft cabin bulkhead, provides a huge salon with a convertible six-seat settee that doubles as a dinette to port. Additionally, 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 showed me plans for 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 amenity and luxury of dedicated cruising yachts with its teak sole, book-matched cabinetry, solid-surface counters, and copious ambient light thanks to the multitude of skylights and deck hatches overhead.


LOA......47 ft. 7 in.
BEAM......16 ft. 6 in.
DEADRISE......16 deg.
DRAFT......3 ft. 7 in.
WEIGHT......50,000 lb. (Fully loaded)
FUEL......800 gal.
MAX POWER......Twin 1,150 hp CAT C18 ACERT diesels
MSRP......$949,000 (w/ Twin Cummins 715 hp QSM 11 diesels)

Cabo Yachts / New Bern, North Carolina / 252-637-CABO (3226) / www.caboyachts.com