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Mag Bay 42 Express

With their sights set on October 2019 for the world-wide debut, Mag Bay has put all their years of experience developing the original Cabo Yachts into this new 42 Express.

Mag Bay 42 Express

Mag Bay 42 Express

Before streaming platforms ushered in the golden age of television, there was The O.C., a moody, modern soap opera depicting life in Newport Beach, California, in the early aughts. Like any good drama, it made use of a catchy theme song: an up-tempo power ballad cut through by a piano riff and a refrain that hammered home the melancholy. California here we come, right back where we started from.

For boatbuilder Mike Howarth, formerly of Cabo Yachts, and his Newport Beach family, the cyclical, homegrown lyrics ring true: They, too, are right back where they started, with an entirely new company. The story, if you’re unfamiliar: Right before the economy took a nosedive, Howarth and his partners sold Cabo to Brunswick. Looking back, the deal feels especially prescient, given how many boatbuilders went belly up or were forced to weather hard times during the recession. But that also meant relinquishing an iconic brand associated with, and popularized by, beefy, express-style sportfishermen from 31 to 52 feet. Everyone knows Cabo; a new brand would require some serious work.

The timing, once again, seems right. This time, to unveil the Mag Bay 42 and soon-to-expand yard in the California high desert—only 15 miles from the old Cabo facility—that will quadruple the space and bolster production. Building off the popularity of a 33-foot center console that debuted in 2015, the new company, Mag Bay Yachts, is named after Magdalena Bay, a tranquil cove northwest of Cabo San Lucas on Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. A place maybe another guy would retire to.

Not Howarth. Though the names share the same landmass of origin, that’s where Mag Bay hopes the comparisons will end with its product-turned-rival. (Cabo is now built by Hatteras in New Bern, North Carolina.) While the Mag Bay 42 is loosely based on the 2004 Cabo 40 Express, a boat the Howarth family designed and put over 2,400 hours into as their personal vessel, “we’ve taken everything that we know from building that boat originally and we’ve tried to improve on it,” said Howarth’s son, Co-Founder and Vice President Barrett Howarth. That means incorporating a lift-up helm deck like the Cabos of old—an innovation they say they created—a lift-up helm console for easy access to electrical and systems like a bow thruster, generator and a Seakeeper 6 that all come standard.

“We’ve really tried hard to think through every square inch of this boat,” said the younger Howarth. “We’re not out to build another boat, we’re out to build a boat that sets the bar yet again for quality, amenities, fishability, speed, comfort—you name it.”

At press time, twin diesel configurations will include either 1,200-hp MANs or 1,000-hp Volvo D13s, and will be exclusively straight-shaft. Howarth hopes to have the boat ready for the Ft. Lauderdale boat show in October, with options for a hardtop and tuna tower available down the road. He’s already received interest from members of the Cabo faithful who have followed them through the years, and from current Mag Bay owners looking to upgrade to twin diesels.

When asked how it will stack up against the new Cabo 41, Howarth doesn’t pull any punches. “We’re intentionally trying to build a different boat than them,” he said. “The 42 is a completely fresh design with some out-of-the-box thinking.”

Added Howarth, “my guns are out and they’re pointed right at them.”

This article originally appeared in the June 2019 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.