Cabo 38 Convertible Review

Cabo still represents a benchmark, but now you get more for your money

May 12, 2008

Those of you who may have been concerned that the loss of the visionary founders of Cabo Yachts when Brunswick purchased the company might affect quality, style or performance can rest easy.

Sea conditions during the Miami International Boat Show inevitably tested the mettle of all the in-water boats undergoing sea trials. When I ran the Cabo 38, the 15-knot easterly wind pushing against the outgoing tide in Miami’s Government Cut made for an especially “sporty” passage. Close-together seas stacked up 4- to 6-feet high slowed everyone down till they passed the jetties. Nonetheless, dropping speed back to 15 knots in the worst of it made for a terrific feeling of security.
In a drift, the 38 sits directly beam-to the seas but with such a stable and  gentle roll moment that it was of no consequence. At 25 knots, a hard-over turn generates a 180-degree course change in about five boat lengths. Port turns take a tad more time. However, emergency avoidance turns of small angles happen instantaneously.
A skittish sailfish angling off the corner during our outing presented no challenge to the Cabo’s maneuverability. In fact, I defy any fish to out-spin this 38! Overtaking waves while running down-sea, the Cabo’s reaction was totally predictable with no swerving and the spray channeling down and out. The ZF electronic transmission not only provides optional trolling valves, but helm-based emergency backups for both throttle and shift.
Twin 800 hp MAN common-rail diesels make for an exceptionally quiet ride. And the Volvo QL trim tab system works   great, but I’d add two options: Auto-retract, so that as soon as you shift into neutral the tabs retract, and the “A” button that automatically sets the tabs into “stabilizer” mode.
Idling along at 7 knots, the Cabo 38 displays moderate whitewater on the surface and remarkably little subsurface turbulence. Jam the throttles forward suddenly and the 38 takes 11 seconds to plane. Interestingly, if you bring the throttles forward slowly, it planes in only 8  seconds – a testament to the advantages of not overloading the injectors with fuel.

From the helmseat, you can see the after-half of the cockpit as well as three-quarters of the foredeck. However, this visibility comes with a small price: It makes for a tight squeeze behind the helmseat to reach the companion chair. The hatch over the bridge ladder lifts to outboard, assuring nobody accidentally and unexpectedly accesses the cockpit from the flybridge.
Outboard of the centerline engine hatch in the cockpit, Cabo includes a sink with cutting board and a deep freeze. To starboard is an insulated drink box with tackle drawer below. One of the features I particularly like that Cabo can lay claim to introducing to the market many years ago is the transom livewell with an optional window. It sports internal lighting as well so that at night you can entertain guests with an aquarium.
Although our test boat had an optional rocket-launcher pod in the cockpit, a metal backing plate glassed under the deck supports a fighting chair should you so choose.
Three rod racks under each gunwale, two holders in each caprail and one   more in the transom complement six more across the back of the flybridge railing. And, of course, insulated, in-deck fish boxes flank the pod.


Design and Construction
When it comes to engineering, the marketplace refers to Cabo as the benchmark. One look at the wiring and plumbing systems makes it clear why.
You don’t even realize that this is only a 38-footer until you reach the engine compartment, where admittedly, you’ll find it a tight squeeze between the engines. Thankfully, Cabo doesn’t locate any equipment outboard of the engines because even Olive Oyl couldn’t get there. But it’s no matter, as all systems are right where they belong. For example, find the raw-water intakes immediately at the bottom of the ladder. Should you ever need to reach the crash-pump valve, it’s the first thing you come upon in the compartment. The optional Reverso oil-change system abuts the forward bulkhead, and the generator hides aft under the forward cockpit sole.
Belowdecks, a portside guest cabin with over/under singles boasts one of my favorite features: A “showcase” locker with dark background and artistic lighting for vertical rod storage. I consider quality tackle to be a work of art and love how it looks when presented well. Put a clear, Lucite door on the locker with black-velvet interior, and that will surely set off your gold-anodized reels and colorful rod wraps.
Throughout the Cabo, each cabin has the company’s signature cabinet facing with latticework ventilation.
This 38 shares a head between the two cabins. With just one head, Cabo can afford to make it larger and more deluxe with a larger-than-average shower stall and molded seat.
In the saloon, a C-shaped settee to port sports a gorgeous birdseye maple and teak, hi-lo table. When lowered, it accepts a filler cushion and makes into yet another double berth. The amazingly complete starboard-side galley runs almost the full length of the saloon.
As to the overall picture, today’s Cabos continue their high-quality ways, but you now get even more bang for your bucks.
LOA……40 ft. 8 in.
Beam……15 ft. 1 in.
Hull Draft……3 ft. 9 in.
Deadrise……17 deg.
Weight……28,000 lb.
Fuel……475 gal.
Water……95 gal.
Max HP……T800 hp MAN common-rail diesels
MSRP……$757,960 (base boat/std. power)
$806,775 (as tested w/MANs)

Cabo Yachts / Adelanto, California / 760-246-8917 /


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