Cabo 52 – Boat Review

The 52 Flybridge represents both Cabo's newest and largest boat to date.

November 9, 2009


When the going gets tough, some companies pull in their wings and cut spending to skeletal levels, eschewing advertising, research and development, marketing and the introduction of new models. Historically, the companies that exit a recession in the strongest shape take the opposite tack. Such will be the case with Cabo Yachts. The 52 Flybridge represents both Cabo’s newest and largest boat to date.

Cabo has come a long way since hull number one back in 1991. Performance hull-design expert Michael Peters drew the running surface for this new 52-footer, resulting in a smooth, dry ride. Running into three- to four-foot seas off Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the biggest Cabo in the fleet ran comfortably on every point of the sea, rising onto plane quickly with very little bow rise and even handling a straight-on head sea with aplomb.

In the troughs, I managed a top speed of 47.7 mph at 2,325 rpm, pouring 177 gph through the twin Caterpillar 1,675 hp C32 ACERT diesels. Thankfully, most skippers I know don’t run wide open for more than a minute at a time, and then only in flat-calm water – a situation not frequently encountered. A more mature cruising speed of 31 mph proved the most economical, giving the boat a range of 500 nautical miles while burning 73.5 gph. For those who like a little adventure in their lives, fill your tanks and then head east at displacement speed; you can make it all the way to Bermuda strictly on integral fuel capacity.


The Cabo 52 responds to wheel input instantly for small course changes but scribes a fairly wide arc for 180-degree turns. One thing I would love to see changed, however, is the placement of the engine on/off switches. Since they’re located directly beneath the crossbars of the steering wheel, you can inadvertently shut down an engine while turning the steering wheel with a finger through the spokes.

The Cabo 52 provides exceptionally facile handling while fighting fish and docking. You can back down at 7 mph in total control and spin with or without using the rudders.

You and your guests will also be perfectly comfortable while drifting beam-to the seas. The 52 exhibits a relatively long roll moment but with gentle transitions – no snap rolls. Overall, this 52 combines all the best performance features of Cabo’s most recent models into a bigger and more luxurious vessel.


No angler of good conscience could possibly take enough fish to fill all the fish boxes aboard this 52. The 75-gallon transom livewell with Cabo’s signature aquarium window also doubles as a fish box. Add the two huge in-deck boxes, and you can easily store your limit with plenty of room to spare. At night, while entertaining back at the dock, leave your baits in the lighted well for that elegant aquarium effect.

The Cabo 52’s Tournament Package includes a PipeWelders tower and outriggers, Miya Epoch electric teaser reels recessed above the helm and a bait freezer built into the cockpit mezzanine. And when you read the corporate records detailing all the wins, places and shows that Cabo owners scored in various fishing tournaments around the world, you’ll instantly realize that all Cabos have earned a reputation for raising fish.

At 5 to 7 knots the wake remained clear enough to keep the lures in perfect view, and when you bump it up to about 15 knots, the prop tunnels channeled the subsurface turbulence, keeping it confined to two distinct alleys.


I am a low-maintenance guy but not easily impressed. One feature that has always given me a thrill aboard every Cabo is the hatch construction. For example, when you open one of the huge fish-box hatches and then let it slam close, the only sound you’ll hear is a tight whoosh as the door comes gently to rest.

Cabo offers enough rod storage aboard the 52 to accommodate a full spectrum of offshore weaponry, from spinners up to 130s. In addition to the open-air holders around the cockpit, the spacious under-deck pantry in the galley also comes with rod-storage racks inside. Additionally, most Cabos provide rod storage in teak cabinetry on either side of the forward berth.

You’ll find the most impressive rod repository, however, in the companionway belowdecks. A beautiful glass-door closet with architectural lighting, black-velvet lining and handsome teak trim showcases your boat’s most handsome fishing assets. High-quality tackle is – after all – art!


Design and Construction

Though the running surface may have changed substantially, some things about Cabo yachts remain the same. For example, you can tell a Cabo simply by looking at the interior teak cabinetry, with its renowned crosshatched ventilation strips hiding copious storage. Another signature Cabo feature that will never change requires you to peek into hidden spaces. When you open the electrical distribution panel or check out the engine room, you’ll find some of the best-engineered wiring and plumbing in the world.

Other interior appointments include Corian counters, a four-burner cooktop, Sub-Zero refrigerator and freezer drawers, and of course, that huge under-galley pantry that opens by lifting the galley sole on electric rams.

This hull consists of ISO/NPG gelcoat, vinylester resins and stitched biaxial fiberglass sandwiching Core-Cell – all vacuum-bagged for a perfect laminate. The flybridge deck is constructed of end-grain balsa coring and polyester resins. The skeleton of the 52 boasts foam-cored fiberglass stringers combined with fiberglass web framing. And finally, marine-plywood bulkheads covered with satin-finish teak veneers provide the vertical structural support.

It’s not hard to see which American corporations will be strong when we come out of this financial trauma. They’re the ones introducing new products even now. In a time when boat companies are suffering, Cabo is doing just fine.

DEADRISE……16 degrees
WEIGHT……50,000 pounds
FUEL……1,400 gallons
MAX POWER……T 1,675 hp Cat C32 ACERT diesels**

Cabo Yachts / Adelanto, California / 760-246-8917 /


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