Cabo 32 Express Review

The Cabo 32 embodies the qualities many traditionalists want in a boat: small, agile and absolutely seaworthy. Running into a wave, the bow drops in cushioned fashion. A hard-over turn at cruising speed results in a 180-degree course change in about two boat lengths.

August 26, 2005
Cabo 32

Cabo 32

The quintessential Northeast summer morning: Light fog slowly broke up as the sun warmed. The heady perfume of blooming privet hedges wafted along the shorefront where it mixed with the cold-salty smell of the north Atlantic. The inlet at Brielle, New Jersey, bustled with small boats fishing both inside and outside the jetty – most targeting schools of menhaden that held big striped bass beneath them. I idled the Cabo 32 out onto the slick-calm seas – well past the harbor zone – just inhaling the memories the sights and smells elicited.

Performance The Cabo 32 embodies the qualities many traditionalists want in a boat: small, agile and absolutely seaworthy. Running into a wave, the bow drops in cushioned fashion. A hard-over turn at cruising speed results in a 180-degree course change in about two boat lengths. In the slick calm, the only way to test this boat’s stability was to kick up as big a wake as possible, then lay abeam of it. The 3-foot swells showed the 32 to have a rather short roll moment but with relatively gentle transitions. When taken aside, the dealer’s delivery captain, who had run the boat from Cape May to Brielle in 5- to 6-foot following seas, said she ran with hands-off straightness and proved to be dry as a bone down-sea.

The Cabo backed down at over 6 knots, though I feel it would be more controllable with a shift lever on either side of the wheel rather than the two together. Oh, and I’ve never seen one pivot faster. It might just spin right out from under you.


The twin Caterpillar C-7 diesels took five seconds to boost the 32 onto plane. Once the engines build boost, the acceleration really snaps your head back. They pushed us to a top speed   of 32.2 knots at 2,800 rpm. Amazingly, the engines used but 49.6 gph total at wide-open throttle. Caterpillar suggests a more judicious cruising speed of 29.8 knots at 2,500 rpm.

Cabo has placed the props and rudders in pronounced pockets for shallower draft, as well as improved fuel economy from a straighter shaft angle.

Electric controls from Caterpillar provide short throttle levers and a face full of buttons for synchro, trolling gears and more. I found my hand inadvertently pushing the buttons. I also suggest that you spring for the LCD engine displays rather than the analog readouts (which don’t provide half the information you need). When seated the helmsman will find  at his right knee manual backups for the electronic throttle and shift.


The 32 has all the same fishing features as its older and larger siblings. If you wish, the transom baitwell augments the large athwartship fish box in the cockpit. Cabo puts strong stainless-steel rams on its hatches to hold them open. But slam the hatch forcefully and you still get the signature Cabo whoosh connoting a tight-fitting, gasketed hatch lid. Cockpit modules contain a 46-gallon baitwell and a complete tackle/rigging station abutted by a saltwater washdown.

Pipe Towers in Avalon, New Jersey, designed and built the half-tower, and it’s perfect. Using the hardtop as the floor, Pipe Towers provides enough access space so you needn’t kneel down to climb in or out. The tower lines match the rakes of the boat beautifully.

At 5 to 7 knots, the wake remained perfectly clear. Above that to about 15 knots, the tunnels channel subsurface turbulence, keeping it confined to two distinct lines. Outside these you get clear trolling alleys.
  This boat is a stand-up fisherman’s dream. You’ll find three rod holders under and two in each gunwale. The rails meet midthigh, the cockpit provides plenty of space for three anglers and a mate to operate simultaneously, and a sailfish rocket launcher mounted on the chair pedestal is the only way to go. I believe that a chair would simply take up too much room.


Design and Construction
I don’t ever remember seeing a wider 32-footer. In fact, put it across the dock from a Cabo 35 and you wonder, Where’s the difference?

A centerline stairway leads down to the portside head with stand-up shower, and the compact but very complete galley just forward of that. The double berth in the bow seemed somewhat smaller than the one on the original Cabo 31. But that’s a good thing since the new 32 boasts much better head-sea capability. Nothing spells compromise like the balance between interior living space and how fine a bow entry a boat has. The starboard-side dinette has seat backs that lift up and a table that drops, creating over/under single berths.

I love the distinctive Cabo teak cabinetry with crosshatched ventilation strips hiding not only regular storage, but also additional rod storage on either side of the forward berth. Other belowdecks appointments include Corian counters, a two-burner cooktop, and half-height refrigerator and freezer units below the counter, as well as the other usual appliances.


Cabo enjoys a reputation for about the best wiring in the industry. All its distribution panels and engine compartments qualify as works of art in the engineering realm. And Cabos are fish-raising machines! What more could you want?

LOA: 35 ft.
BEAM: 13 ft. 3 in.
DRAFT: 2 ft. 8 in.
WEIGHT: 19,000 lb.
FUEL: 350 gal.
MAX POWER (2): 461-hp Cat C-7 diesels
MSRP: $347,880 (base boat)

Cabo Yachts
Adelanto, California

Caterpillar 461-HP
C-7 Diesel
TYPE In-line 6
DISPL. 442 cid
MAX RPM 2,800
ASPIRATION Turbo, aftercooler 
WEIGHT 1,788 lb.
ALT. OUTPUT 105 amps
MSRP Price on request

Notable Standard Equipment
* Recessed trim tabs
* 40-gallon baitwell
* Crash valve on engine
* 5-kW generator
* Teak joinerwork belowdecks
* Dripless stuffing boxes
* Copious tackle storage

Though now the smallest Cabo in the line, it gives away nothing to its larger siblings in performance and luxury.


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