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Posted by on Nov 16, 2010 in Boat Reviews, Express Cruiser, Powerboating, Saltwater Fishing, Sport Fishing, US |

Hard Top Expressions: Cabo 44HT

Cabo Yachts' 45 Express is hard to top, but they did it – literally.

The Cabo Yachts 44HT Express has just been introduced, with a three-sided hard top that makes canyon running a year-round endeavor. We brought you the basics about this boat months ago in our pre-show blog post “Cabo 44 Hard Top Express Launches at Lauderdale,” but finally got to board it at the Fort Lauderdale show and check it out first-hand.

The Cabo 44HT features a full enclosure around the helm deck - and much more.
The Cabo 44HT features a full enclosure around the helm deck – and much more.

Thank goodness they’ve added this sturdy structure to the 44; one of the big problems with expresses is the constantly leaking isinglass, which only has a useful lifetime of a few years in the first place. The problem is exacerbated when standard hart top/tower arrangements flex in heavy seas, not to mention the cracked pipework that can also result. And those who place as much weight on form as on function will also appreciate the look this new hard top gives the boat. Compared to the 45 Express which the 44HT replaces, the design appears far more modern. Not only is it easier on your eyes from the outside, it is from the inside, as well. The huge wrap-around windshield and integrated support structure eliminate the need for pipework supports, clearing the view from the helm.

Beyond the enclosed helm, the 44 offers a few new tweaks and touches you might not expect to see in older model Cabos. The first and most notable is the interior. In the past some Cabos have been considered more or less Spartan, with fiberglass liners and mostly wood-free interiors. But when I got a peek inside the new 44’s cabin, I discovered plush cushions, plenty of finely finished forestry, and eye-warming accents. Looks, of course, are only skin deep. What’s more important is usability, and Cabo has made another significant departure from the norm in the boat’s interior design. Instead of just shoe-horning in a second stateroom, on the starboard side of the cabin and carved out under the helmdeck, Cabo located a dedicated tackle room with enough rodracks and tackle stowage to cover all the bases whether you’re fishing inshore or offshore, from Maine to Miami. You’d rather have an extra stateroom? Okay, Cabo will do it, if you insist.

Another big change belowdecks is the aft galley. I was afraid this design could be a big mistake, but once I had the opportunity to see it, consider the new design a smart move. The galley is the most regularly used part of the cabin throughout a day of fishing; no matter how hard-core an angler you are, snacking is a necessity. By placing the galley aft, the food and reefer are close at hand as soon as you come down the stairs. On top of that, dish and glassware is more secure in the cabinetry since it’s located athwartships, instead of fore and aft.

What about fishing features? I was psyched to find all of the items necessary for serious offshore anglers in the Cabo’s cockpit: standard integrated deck fishboxes, a lighted transom livewell, a rigging station and bait freezer; the 44HT on display at the show even had a fighting chair centered in the ‘pit. Naturally the chair isn’t a standard feature, but the chair’s backing plate, which is pre-tapped and laminated into the deck, is. The port side of the cockpit is taken up with a mini-mezzanine, which does make accessing cockpit stowage tougher but will also raise the comfort level of your anglers. That means everyone onboard will be living in luxury, whether you’re running for Hudson Canyon or trolling the Dry Tortugas.

- Lenny Rudow