Cabo’s 40 Express is a sweet-sheered monument to fishability. In addition to its refined cockpit and lengthy equipment list, my test proved that the 40 Express is one of the fastest, longest-ranging, most maneuverable fish boats to ever work a weed line.
Attention to detail is oft touted but often hard to see. There’s no missing it aboard the 40 Express. In the cockpit I found everything, from tackle lockers to under-gunwale stowage, under a lid or behind a hatch so blood spatter and salt spray wouldn’t soil gear. The cockpit is crowned and graced with large scuppers for drainage. To test its bailing ability, I backed the 40 Express down hard, covering the nonskid with a foot of water. It drained quickly, and the boat carried the tonnage without a hitch. When I opened the transom door and peered below the waterline, I noted a safety feature rarely seen factory-installed, but one that the ABYC recommends: a boarding step mounted on the transom to allow for solo reboarding. There’s room for a chair in the pit and a backing plate to secure it, and, with 100 square feet of cockpit space, there’s room to swing the chair and allow the wireman space between the footrest and the 48-gallon transom livewell. Leaning against the cockpit bolsters, I felt the firm resistance of high-density foam rather than the squishy softness of pads better suited to calm waters. Two insulated fish boxes, an icebox and a tackle center complete the kit.
It’s three steps up to the helm deck, where an L-shaped settee seats eight to port. Served by a table, this area is perfect for long runs to the fish or simply for enjoying a sundowner dockside. The centerline helm affords a commanding view of the cockpit and, but for a momentary loss of visibility while getting on plane, a great view all around the boat. (Unfortunately, the helm is white: a darker color would reduce reflected glare.) I could find every switch at a glance while running the 40 Express.
Belowdecks, quality pops throughout the single-stateroom, single-head plan. satin-finished teak cabinets feature slotted vents to forestall mold and mildew. The forward stateroom boasts an island queen, surrounded by vented lockers. Additionally, there’s hideaway stowage for 10 big-game outfits. (rods visibly hung from the headliner is quite gauche, don’t you know.) The Corian counter in the galley incorporates a fiddle rail to keep things in place and has breaks in it to facilitate cleanup. Opposite is a six-seat settee, with table that converts to upper and lower berths. The flat-screen TV isn’t just hung: it’s showcased by a finely mitered wood frame. Touring the head, I discovered a Corian-topped vanity with a grab rail suitable to withstand King Kong’s pull, in addition to the VacuFlush commode and generously sized shower stall. A fish boat it is, but the 40 Express will weekend in as grand a style as many cruisers. The luxury, topside and belowdecks, belies any misgivings a boater might have about comfort in hardcore fishing boats.
The 40 Express is almost in a class by itself, by virtue of the pod power option. Luhrs 37 IPS ($467,700, twin ips 600) is the only similar boat using pods that we know of. With twin 593 hp QSC 8.3 diesels turning the propsets, the 40 Express posted nearly 1-mpg efficiency. Traditionally powered boats of this size and type are lucky to net half that. The angling implications for such efficiency are great — you can run farther and troll longer in quest for your trophy catch. And with a top speed exceeding 40 mph, you can barrel back to the weigh-in to beat the bell.
Another angling upshot is the Skyhook feature. Coupled to GPS, the computer-controlled Zeus engines allow you to hold station while waiting for a drawbridge without the need to anchor. Theoretically, Skyhook will hold the boat to within a circle, the diameter of which equals the boat’s length. But in practice, it stays put better. When I tested it, Skyhook held the boat within about 10 feet of position despite a raging 4-knot current.
Skyhook is ancillary to the Zeus joystick control that allows for precision close-quarters maneuvering. The most common use of the joystick is to make the boat move side-to into a tight spot at the dock. But for fishing, you can use it to drift along a weed line or rip, keeping the boat at just the right distance to effectively fish the structure: the length of a well-placed cast. Other Zeus attributes that enhance the 40 Express are the integrated autopilot and cruise control — holding a straight course and an even speed saves fuel — and Vessel View, color LCD displays that help you monitor and control engine and other systems statuses at a glance. Backups are built-in should a fuse blow.
Pop the engine hatch and you’ll find more in-your-face quality, from wiring so neatly run it resembles a circuit board to labeling and accessibility of every service point. Yeah, there’s a lot to see aboard Cabo’s 40 Express. It’s a study in a boat done right.