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October 26, 2001

Cabo 45

"There's never been such a thing as 'the perfect boat.' But the Cabo 45 (and its family) comes as close as you can probably get."

Why has Cabo Yachts expanded its plant and staff numerous times while some other boat companies have cut back? Obviously, Cabo's line reaches out and grabs discerning boat owners by the heart. And the new Cabo 45 is sure to inspire both love and lust in any knowledgeable boater.

When not in gear, the 45 tends to stay where you put it rather than being blown around in the breeze. As we headed down Miami's Biscayne Bay in a 20-mph crosswind, boats ahead and behind had to steer crab angles to compensate for the wind, while the Cabo forged straight ahead.

The new Caterpillar 3196s develop 660 hp each at 2,300 rpm. A 10-knot trolling speed comes at 1,500 rpm. Wide-open throttle on our test boat hit 2,250 rpm, produced 32.5 knots and burned 65 gph - actually quite economical compared to many other 45-footers. That also considers full fuel and water tanks, loads of extra tools (on this day, four Cat technicians were aboard doing their testing for this shakedown cruise) and 10 passengers - quite a load. Normal load and crew should eke out a couple more knots. The most efficient cruising speed was 25 knots at 2,000 rpm, using 50 gph.

The new electronic Cats' "slow-vessel mode" drops idle speed down to 550, still too fast for live-baiting. However, trolling valves can adjust the Cabo 45 to whatever slow speed you could want.

This boat had new Mathers MicroCommander electronic controls that have very little resistance. Combined with a turbo that develops boost extremely quickly, backing down or spinning on a fish requires a delicate touch with the throttles. At cruising speed, the 45 will reverse course in about three boat lengths. The only performance-related aspect I'd like to see changed would increase the 750-gallon fuel capacity to at least 1,000 gallons.

Test day proved to be pretty nasty with a 6-foot short-interval sea. Despite the conditions, the broad chines attenuated any extreme roll, making the cockpit comfortable to work. The 45's down-sea performance also shines. Even in a quartering sea, taking the hands off the wheel resulted in almost a minute's wait before the bow drifted off course. Designer Lou Codega has provided two significant features in the bow design: First, loads of interior living space fill the master cabin, and, second (thanks to that space), the bow has exceptional buoyancy. This causes it to lift as soon as it reaches the next wave when running down sea, rather than digging in and swerving. Engines didn't lag and speed didn't drop appreciably when overtaking large waves.

As you can imagine, fishing with all those people aboard could have posed some problems. But the large cockpit remained clear, and four or five anglers could fish it easily at one time.