Nostalgia is a funny thing. When we think of the past, usually it’s rendered in a rosy tint too illustrious to ever have been true. And yet we pine, and reminisce, and stare into the prop wash. We imagine an impossibly large fish that got away, or that unblemished little boat we had to sell. Like such cherished memories, the return of Cabo Yachts owes a debt to nostalgia. Stoked by the forces of consumer research, market share analysis and dealer input, the new 41, which debuted in 2019, is the builder’s first new model in over six years.
In reviving the ineffectual brand, Hatteras Yachts is betting on familiarity and brand loyalty. When the company bought Cabo in 2006, they did so with the goal of continuing the populist appeal and legacy of the California-based builder famous for its line of express-style sportfishermen in the 36- to 52-foot range. And they did, for a time. But after production was moved to New Bern, North Carolina (where then-Brunswick-owned Hatteras Yachts was located), it didn’t take long for it to grind to a halt thanks to the recession and prioritizing the introduction of new Hatteras models.
Pre-recession, most anglers can remember being impressed after owning or seeing a Cabo in action when the brand was white hot, throughout the late ‘90s and early aughts. After its lengthy hiatus, Hatteras conducted discussions with Cabo customers and dealers. They were surprised by what they learned: all these years later, the brand ranked second overall in brand reputation, quality and construction when compared to the competition. In 2017, such feedback led Hatteras Yachts CEO Kelly Grindle to announce “the market conditions are right to bring back the proven Cabo line of hardcore fishing boats.” Shortly thereafter, the design process on the 41 began.
The 41 has been built with the Cabo 40 of old in mind, and the Michael Peters deep-V offshore hull harkens back while also looking forward. Feedback from focus groups centered on wanting a small inboard diesel sportfish with the same dry ride and amenities of a much bigger boat: i.e., air-conditioning, a galley, a large stateroom and full-size head.The lower arrangement layout, helm deck and cockpit were also tweaked, with slight improvements to the riding surface. What has been retained is the small but mighty bluewater ethos and a lift-up helm deck that provides access to the engines: twin 626-hp Volvo Penta D11s that come standard, with upgrades for 670-hp and 725-hp engines, as well as various horsepower options with Cummins QSM11s. The design also includes room for a Seakeeper 6, full custom tower and outriggers.
When I first came across hull number one at the Miami boat show, she had been cruised south by Capt. Scott Nault, an independent captain out of Florida. I asked Nault to describe what the ride had been like. He told me that during the first leg, from Beaufort, North Carolina to Charleston he “was trying to vary the rpm because the engines were so new. So I’d open it up for a little bit and saw 37 knots and some change. Then we’d alter our rpm again.” According to Nault, the ocean was flat; 2200 rpm was close to wide open, and gave them a 33-knot cruise, burning around 55 gph. The second leg from Charleston to St. Augustine, Florida was rougher, with some occasional 8-footers thrown in. “We had to slow down significantly. I brought her back down to 27 knots and she continued to run phenomenal, very dry and solid boat.” —Simon Murray
Displ.: (light) 31,000 lbs.
Fuel: 550 gal.
Water: 95 gal.
Standard Power: 2/625-hp Volvo Penta D11
Cruise Speed: 25 knots
Top Speed: 37 knots