Cabo 40 HTX Boat Test

Cabo’s popular 40 Express has been tweaked with a few new refinements for 2013, including a new hardtop and its weather-tight surrounds, as Warren Steptoe discovered. With the addition of poles and a tower, this very sweet machine would make a formidable gameboat.

CABO 40 HTX Boat Test

Author and photography: Warren Steptoe

This boat test ran in ISSUE 99 of BlueWater magazine –  SEPT-OCT 2013

For the complete feature, including all photos and information captions, you can purchase back-issues here

We’ve been lucky to test a couple of different versions of Cabo’s fabulous 40 in BlueWaterover the past couple of years, so a full on-water test of their new HTX model is practically unnecessary. The boat seen here is very similar to Zeus, a particularly nice Cabo 40 Express complete with a C-Fab tower, Rupp outriggers and a Release Marine fighting chair that we tested back in issue 82. For the dedicated bluewater gamefisherman, Zeus was something of a dream machine.

Although unlike Zeus, this boat had just been imported by Graham McCloy’s Game & Leisure Boats on the Gold Coast, and while she came with a beautifully finished timber Release Marine chair already mounted in the cockpit, as you can see, she was yet to be fitted out with the accoutrements she will carry once a new owner sets her up for fishing. There are similarities to Zeus nevertheless; she was powered by twin 600hp Cummins QSC 8.3 engines delivering power to the water through Mercury Marine’s industry-leading Zeus pod drives.

Trying our best not to become confused between the name Zeus written across the boat’s transom and the Zeus drives hidden away below the waterline of both boats, the boat seen here ran out to the impressive top speed of 68.5km/h (37kt) – without the aerodynamic drag provided by Zeus’ tower, which knocked a not-inconsiderable couple of kilometres off her top speed. Shows how much drag a tower produces doesn’t it?

Still; I doubt many readers would argue the Cabo 40 seen here does look somewhat naked without a tower and ’riggers. A fishing boat of this breeding just doesn’t look right somehow without being set up to go fishing.

Favored By Pros

Cabos are generally built for a life of hard fishing. On that point, it’s notable that Zeus sat in her pen near this new boat looking very much the same as she did three years ago. That so many professional gamefishing skippers speak so highly of Cabo boats says equal amounts about the hull design’s widely renowned seakindliness, and the way Cabos are engineered to facilitate regular maintenance – which is the other reason pro crews love the brand.

Obviously, people who spend significant parts of their life washing off salt spray, changing oils and filters and so on, don’t tend to speak so kindly about boats that are unnecessarily difficult to maintain, or to track down a recalcitrant circuit breaker or one of the other myriad of minor hassles that go with all boats!

So this is a 2013-model Cabo, and while a new hardtop is certainly the most remarkable thing about it, that sleek moulding is far from the only refinement 2013 brings. Although the changes seen in this boat compared to Zeus are relatively minor, some of them are pretty important nonetheless.

Suits All Uses

I must admit that seeing this boat not set up as the kind of ultimate fishing machine other Cabo 40s of my experience have been does make the point that you could use a Cabo 40 HTX for normal boating and the all important social duties most boats of this size endure.

As it stands (sans tower, etc), this vessel could be a pretty effective cruiser and social platform – standard duties of most bluewater sportfishing boats – if only because the new hardtop and its weather-tight surrounds do a damn fine job of sheltering the helm-deck from the elements. Clears and an aftermarket hardtop need to be fitted to a standard Cabo 40 Express with a normal windscreen, so the helm-comfort offered by this new HTX option is in itself a reason for someone to approach this new hardtop.

BlueWater’s time aboard coincided with one of those brief cold snaps southern Queensland winters are known for. Air temperatures were failing to reach double figures as we departed Runaway Bay Marina, so the solid-moulded top and armoured glass windows sealing the boat’s leading edge and sides were much appreciated.

Select Refinements

Other refinements for the 2013 model include a new one-piece hatch in the cockpit to facilitate servicing the pod drives. It’s one of those small changes, but a very worthy one.

Another worthy alteration is the new mezzanine lounge set across the aft end of the bridge-deck. This, coincidentally, provides an excellent view aft over the transom, or even as a spectator area while a fish is being fought. As a pure fishing boat, the new seat is so well-placed it must surely be worth the investment in itself!

The new lounge lifts to expose a full-length refrigerated locker. The rigging station remains little changed apart from the addition of a built-in drinks cooler in the tackle centre below. I was yet again impressed with the available tackle stowage.

What’s not apparent about the new hardtop, until you start opening hatches, is that the roof contains PFD storage in an easy-to-access yet hidden-away compartment, while smaller hatches open to reveal teaser-reel mountings set right where the skipper can reach them to retrieve teasers without moving from the controls.

Finally, more teak has been installed downstairs in the salon. I thought this definitely lifted the decor a step above Zeus’ comparatively austere interior.

The single stateroom was chosen for the HTX seen here, but there are two options available for the Cabo 40 Express model. This option has a roomy dinette-cum-lounge along the entire starboard side of the salon that can, if owners prefer, be replaced by a second cabin, separated from the salon with a solid bulkhead, equipped with two bunk-beds.

In either case, the bow stateroom is separated from the salon by another solid bulkhead, ensuring privacy for what most owners would adopt as their own space. The bathroom is the same in both versions, being set at the aft end of the salon beside the stairs down from the helm-deck.

Marina Manoeuvre

On return from the test we found our berth cramped by new arrivals, providing a perfect opportunity to demonstrate just how simple Zeus drives make docking in tight spaces, spaces which would require a high degree of skill with the old lever-style engine and gearbox controls.

Our skipper simply spun the boat stern to the berth 50m away from it (in front of the fuel dock where there was more room to move), then drove the boat bodily sideways along the marina until it reached its berth. There he tweaked the joystick from sideways to backwards, slotting the boat into a fairly tight situation without any difficulty whatsoever. As a demonstration of the pod drive’s capabilities, it doesn’t get much better than that!

CABO 40 HTX Boat Test

Author and photography: Warren Steptoe
Supplied by: Game & Leisure Boats

This boat test ran in ISSUE 99 of BlueWater magazine – SEPT-OCT 2013

For the complete feature, including all photos and information captions, you can purchase back-issues here

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