Cabo 45 Review

"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."

October 26, 2001

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.

Innovations abound in the cockpit area. The 45 provides 26 cubic feet of fish box (available with optional ice machine) and a unique Lucite tray in the 4-cubic-foot cockpit refrigerator on which you can lay rigged baits. In the transom, a large live well sports a broad, Lucite front so you can see the bait swimming as if in an aquarium, and provides internal lighting. This makes dipping baits easier at night – and several informal studies have shown that survival of baits improves when they have steady light rather than total darkness with bursts of brightness whenever the top is opened.

Five rod holders around the cockpit and six rocket launchers along the back of the hardtop augment the enclosed storage for 26 rods and reels, assuring that enough tackle can be stowed on this Cabo 45 to pay for an Ivy League education.


Everywhere you look belowdecks you see flawless, book-matched woods and blemish-free finishes gleaming under the custom-designed lighting. Standard leather upholstery and the signature Cabo rod storage cabinetry with the cross-hatch ventilation panels in the bow all elevate the Cabo 45 to the pinnacle of elegance.

A queen-size berth running fore and aft in the forward cabin allows plenty of room on each side to tuck in the sheets. Children or guests can make use of the extra-large settee on the salon’s port side.

The galley and full head with shower take up the starboard side. Both have Corian countertops, Moen fixtures and loads of dry storage. There’s even a built-in vacuum system to keep clean any fine carpet you add (for those who want to cover a beautiful teak and holly cabin sole).


The bridgedeck, easily large enough for a baker’s dozen, reserves adequate space and elevation for the helmsman to function unobstructed. The dash panel offers more than enough flush-mounting room for the most comprehensive electronics suite. However, until Caterpillar redesigns its LCD engine displays, I’d replace them with aircraft tachs and real mechanical gauges. Cat’s displays are impossible to see with polarized sunglasses, and the letters are way too small to easily view from the distance of the wheel.

Cabo Yachts should hold symposiums at the annual marine industry technical show (IBEX) on how to lay out an engine room. Nobody does it better. Each pipe and wire is run individually and labeled clearly.

Cabo Yachts uses only vinylester resin throughout for greater durability and biaxial fiberglass for multidirectional strength. The bottom lay-up contains solid laminate, while the topsides and decks get Baltek coring. The stringer system consists of fiberglass-encapsulated high-density foam.

One rather unusual construction feature can be found in the bridgedeck. Most boats use structural beams beneath the deck to support the weight and give rigidity. Cabo Yachts’ 45 contains a 3-inch Baltek foam core in lieu of beams, accomplishing several things: It makes the deck relatively lightweight, eliminates the cross-members that always take up valuable engine room space and gives excellent sound insulation.

Many consider Cabo Yachts’ boats expensive. But boat buyers should compare boats full-up, with all the gear and options. If you do, I think you’ll find that a Cabo holds its own very well – price-wise – against other 45-footers.


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