47 — By Capt. Chris Kelly
— September 2000
The Last Fishboat
|An 80-year-old angler is the first in line for the new Cabo 47 Sportfisherman.|
Fred Smith’s boating career started out like thousands of others’. He took to the water at age 10 aboard his father’s rowboat and with rod in hand set out to see what he could catch. Over the years the boats got bigger, the fishing grounds expanded, and the cruising activities took him and his wife Mary up and down the Intracoastal Waterway between Florida and Annapolis, Maryland, and oftentimes out to the Bahamas.
The difference between Smith and most other boaters, however, is that he’s been at it for 70 years, and the boats he’s owned were built by some of the great names in wooden boatbuilding, Wheeler and Matthews among them. Even though these were followed by a 20-year flirtation with sailing, he returned to the powerboat fold with a 42-foot Uniflite, a 38-foot Blackfin, and then a 27-foot Boston Whaler.
If you look at this downsizing trend, you might think this energetic octogenarian was ready to pick up another rowboat and return to his roots. But not Smith. Given his and his wife’s penchant for cruising and fishing the Bahamas, Smith realized he needed to upsize again. In November 1998 he purchased his first Cabo, a 35-foot Convertible. He was impressed with the boat’s quality and dry ride but needed more room for guests. So when Doc Austin, president of HMY Yacht Sales in Dania, Florida, told him about the new 47 Cabo coming down the ways, Smith was first in line. And the rest, as they say, is history.
According to Cabo sales manager Greg Borque, the yard spent two years developing the 47. "We built a hull and deck with no interior and filled it with 55-gallon drums to create a life-size tank test. We pumped water between the drums, ran the boat, and found the optimum center of gravity and horsepower combination. We didn’t go any further until we had this nailed down." Borque says Cabo then finished the job by designing an innovative interior with a watchful eye on weight. The hull bottom is solid FRP, but the hull sides and decks are of Corecell foam sandwiched between layers of FRP and bonded using vacuum bagging. The result is a strong 50-footer with a dry weight of just 42,000 pounds.
The 47 sports the usual fishing accoutrements but with several innovations. For example, the seven-foot-long in-sole fishboxes on either side of the cockpit have split hatches with gas-assisted struts so they’re easy to open when you’re boating smaller quarry like dolphin and kingfish. But if you need to stow a big one, you can easily remove the entire hatch. The 50-gallon livewell on the transom is waist high for easy access and lit for nighttime use. There’s thick inwale padding on all three sides and good nonskid decking. Forward and to port, the 47 has the typical bait-prep center with sink and freezer next to the centerline engine room door. Decidedly atypical is the electrical console to starboard. Here, just beneath a stowage box are all the switches you need to run the cockpit–fresh- and raw-water pumps, livewell pump, cockpit lights, and even macerator pumps for the fishboxes–all clearly labeled.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.