Boat Review: Cabo 52 Express

Every great boat company holds constant improvement as a primary goal...

December 2, 2006

Every great boat company holds constant improvement as a primary goal. When Brunswick Corporation – parent of Mercury Marine, MerCruiser, Hatteras, Boston Whaler, Albemarle, Sea Ray and a host of other marine entities -purchased Cabo Yachts, I had misgivings that such a large company could continue the innovation and quality instituted by Cabo’s founders. I guess I needn’t have worried; the 52 shows the same performance and design improvements we’ve come to expect with the debut of each new Cabo.

**Once warmed up, the twin 1,550 hp MAN diesels spooled up and got us on plane in just 10 seconds. An average cruising speed of 30 knots at 1,800 rpm burned 90 gallons per hour.

I’d describe this Cabo’s turning ability as smooth and stately. A hard-over turn to port takes about four boat lengths, while the same maneuver to starboard uses up about three. Roll moment is quite long with relatively gentle transitions.


Overall, the 52’s ride qualifies as remarkably smooth and dry. We never took a drop of spray up on the windscreen despite my best efforts to get messy. Should you want dramatic response while fighting a fish, the 52 won’t disappoint – she backs down at 7.1 knots, but doesn’t like backing straight at that speed. Drop the speed a knot or two, and the 52 backs straight as an arrow.

Engine Room
The hatchway from the cockpit affords easy entry, and once below, I discovered loads of headroom in the engine compartment. Though it got a tad tight passing between the breathers, even my great bulk had no difficulty working 360 degrees around the power plants. My only squeeze proved to be around the huge, owner-mounted tool chest on centerline against the forward bulkhead. I particularly appreciated the location of the crash-pump valves right at the bottom of the stairway to cockpit. Two Onan generators along the aft bulkhead help keep the living quarters quieter, and a freshwater hose in the engine room lets you clean as well as flush out strainers when necessary.

Don’t expect the entire bridge deck to rise on rams revealing the engines on the Cabo 52 Express. Rather, the engine compartment boasts a centerline hatch just like on virtually every other large sport-fishing boat. The cockpit modules flanking the engine hatch include a Kenyon grill and a sink outboard to port with a storage locker below, a deep freeze all the way outboard to port and miscellaneous storage above that. An insulated cooler sits to starboard by the stairway with a storage cabinet below. Molded stairs with a comfortable rise lead to the side decks.


The owner of this particular hull opted to install a separate Eskimo ice maker in each fish box. The third hatch in the cockpit sole affords access to fuel valves, pumps, etc.

Bridge Deck
The owner of this 52 spared no expense outfitting his boat. He regularly ventures out into the middle of the Gulf of Mexico in search of large tuna and marlin and demands the best and latest in navigation as well as safety gear. To that end, he’s mounted a new FLIR (forward-looking infra-red) system that displays via his Raymarine E-Series screen. MAN diesel electronic controls make maneuvering superlatively easy.

In addition to the air-conditioning vents on the bridge deck, Cabo provides opening vent windows port and starboard, as well as another that opens with rams in the base of the windshield for excellent ventilation. Hidden teaser reels overhead and an exceedingly comfortable Stidd helm and companion chairs round out the functional bridge.


**A lighted locker in the port valance opens on rams, revealing more rod storage. Similar storage exists on both sides of the forward stateroom. Access the deep bilge through a centerline hatch in the sole, and you’ll find a mammoth storage area. This compartment also contains the AC compressors and other assorted plumbing.
Something else you rarely see on yachts this size: The exhaust hood over the galley stove actually vents overboard. You can cook anything without smoking up the entire living quarters. The owner wisely added sea rails to the Corian counters to keep things from sliding off while at sea.

The portside guest cabin has over/under single berths, while the master cabin features an island-berth double on centerline. Another private head with a separate shower stall rounds out the owner’s quarters.

Cabo builds each boat using stitched, biaxial fiberglass, Core-cell composite in the hull, ISO/NPG gelcoats and premium vinylester resins for maximum protection against osmotic blistering. Each hull and deck is vacuum-bagged to ensure optimum glass-to-resin ratios and to keep air bubbles out.


Overall, the Cabo 52 Express qualifies as a truly beautiful boat that runs smooth and dry with all the comforts of home.

LOA 52’1″ WEIGHT 55,950 pounds
BEAM 17’9″ FUEL 1,400 gallons
DRAFT 4’11” WATER 200 gallons
POWER T 1,550 hp MAN BASE PRICE On request
Cabo Yachts Adelanto, California 760-246-8917

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