By Matt Gurnsey
Cabo 35: Western anglers still love this exceptional sportfisher.
You’ve just sold your sailboat manufacturing business, which had been named one of the 100 best American manufacturers by Fortune magazine. Now what are you going to do?
While the temptation might be to have an outrageously expensive and decadent weekend at some magic kingdom, Pacific Seacraft founders Henry Mohrschladt and Michael Howarth took on a different challenge.
With the sale of Pacific Seacraft Corp. came a non-compete clause, preventing Mohrschladt and Howarth from building a new line of sailboats. Fascinated by high-end sportfishing machines by Rybovich, Merritt and others — but thinking that they could do even better — they formed Cat Harbor Boats. They had only two goals: Build a quality product, and do it without compromises.
The irony, of course, is that all boat designs are compromises. Despite this, the Cabo 35 — when introduced in 1992 as Cat Harbor Boats’ first design — became a study in uncompromising quality and design choices that work.
In lesser hands, these choices might have resulted in a lesser boat. Instead, Cabo found the right balance in performance, style and comfort, making this model one of the most sought-after boats in its class.
The Hull Thing
When presented with a blank sheet of paper to begin a new design, the builder must decide on the shape of the hull. Mohrschladt and Howarth turned to noted West Coast naval architect Bill Crealock.
While many boats in this class have true deep-V hulls, the Cabo 35 was intended to be a fishing machine, so stability while trolling was important. To address this, the boat was designed with a modified-V hull, with 17 degrees of transom deadrise.
For even more stability, and added lift for planing speeds, wide flat sections are incorporated into each chine, in addition to the usual planing strakes. The 16-foot-long keel that runs nearly to the boat’s transom adds further stability.
Superior tooling assures a true hull shape, and expensive materials add to the overall quality construction. Vinylester resin is used throughout to combat blistering, and bi-directional cloth is used for added strength.
The hull is constructed of thick fiberglass from the waterline down. Vacuum-bagged Airex core is used from the waterline up, to stiffen the hull while providing lighter weight. The deck is cored with endgrain balsa, for additional strength and weight savings.
Through-hull fittings and struts are faired into the hull for a smoother look, and less turbulence under way. While the bottom is made to be more slippery, topsides are covered with an aggressive non-slip surface for safety that is effective, without being hard on knees that may kneel on it.
Welded stainless steel rails are through-bolted into backing plates, and run well aft — providing a safe passage forward, with high rails providing a handhold. Precision-tooled hatches fit extremely well in their positions.
Inside the hull, the Cabo 35 is fully gelcoated (not just where you can see it). Bulkheads are tabbed in place and grommets are used for wire runs through them. While wiring, plumbing and other systems are ?out of sight, out of mind,” the grommets will prevent chafe and damage to these seldom-inspected systems.
Additionally, all the wiring is neat and tidy — a sign of the care taken in its installation. While inspecting the bilge, you’ll also notice that all hoses are double-clamped for extra security.
Room to Maneuver
The large cockpit allows plenty of room for fishing, and the transom door makes bringing in the catch easier — and it makes boarding easier, with the swimstep installed.
Two large fishboxes are provided under the cockpit sole, equipped with sumps, pumps, gasketed hatches and anti-rattle latches. Tackle drawers are fitted on the cabin bulkhead, and should provide plenty of storage for gear.
Up the steps, on the flybridge, are two helm chairs behind a tournament-style bridge. Here, visibility is excellent — both forward and to the cockpit.
Additional seating is provided forward of the console. One drawback is the flat arrangement of the helm console, making flush-mounted electronics harder to view while seated.
When seen in profile, the Cabo 35 is taller than some of the other boats it competes against. The interior is divided into a saloon and galley, with two staterooms and a head belowdecks.
While many boats have the engines installed under the saloon, the Cabo 35 instead mounts them aft of the bulkhead, and has them in boxes — something it shares in common with Bertram and Blackfin designs. So, while the Cabo 35 is big and roomy, the center of gravity is kept down, further reducing tenderness at trolling speeds.
The saloon features a small L-shaped settee to port, and a large U-shaped dinette to starboard. The aft sections of these units cover the forward ends of the engine boxes, cleverly disguising them and allowing the cabin bulkhead to be placed farther aft.
The galley is an efficient design in the forward portside corner, with an average size refrigerator, a two-burner cooktop, a microwave oven and teak-trimmed drawers and cabinets for storage. Corian countertops and exceptional joinerwork provide an upscale feel.
Models without the forward windows have slightly more cabinet space — although Western boaters typically don’t care much for that option. Halogen interior lighting lets fish stories carry on into the night. No lower helm station is offered.
Down three steps from the saloon are the staterooms. A walk-around queen-size berth sits on the centerline, forward. Hanging lockers, to port and starboard, and shelves provide ample storage for the weekend. In fact, storage abounds in this boat, with seemingly every nook and cranny used to its fullest — including room for 8 foot rod storage, out of sight.
A second stateroom is tucked under the galley, with bunk-style berths. It’s a great setup for anglers intent on the catch of the day.
The roomy head, to starboard, has a shower. With 100 gallons of fresh water on board, there will be plenty of water for long, after-fishing showers.
An alternate layout moves the galley down two steps, and gives up some of the dinette to make room for a stall shower in the head. This layout may be more popular with the cruising couple than a bunch of anglers.
Whatever the weather, the Cabo 35 can pound through where other boats of this size will be turning back.
Power to Spare
While gasoline engines are standard, most Western boats are equipped with twin 375 hp Caterpillar 3208 diesels. With these engines, the 21,000 pound Cabo 35 can cruise in the mid-20 knot range, and top out at just over 30 knots.
Uncompromising quality combined with the right design choices provided success for this model, and Cat Harbor went on to produce an extensive line of Cabo Yachts.
For many, the combination of size, agility and toughness makes the 35 an especially desirable boat for fishing and cruising. In fact, in some circles, it may be considered an offshore angler’s own personal magic kingdom.
Cabo 35 Specifications
|Fuel capacity||400 gallons|
|Water capacity||100 gallons|
|Standard power||twin 330-hp engines|
Prices (preowned models)
From 225,000 to $500,000
Years of production
For More Information
9780 Rancho Road
Adelanto, CA 92301