Birth of a Dream Boat

Avid Texas tournament angler Paul Veale faced a conundrum. After concluding that his center-console no longer fit his fishing style, he decided to buy another diesel-powered sport-fisher for better range and more comfort. At his marina on South Padre Island though, draft was restricted to 41/2 feet, limiting his choices. So he turned to a longtime friend for help.

Jim Greene was one of the original partners in the Marine Group in Orange Beach, Alabama, and a boat broker for the past four decades. He has also owned a marine service company for 35 years, so he was well-suited to assist his former client. In addition to several Bertrams, Veale counted a Cabo 47 Flybridge among his prior boats, so he was familiar with the brand.

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“After I sold the 47, I got into the center-console to simplify things,” Veale explains. “It took me a while to figure out there weren’t many places to hide from the elements though, so I wanted to get back into something larger. From my previous ownership, I knew the Cabos were well-built, and another one seemed like a good fit for the constraints I had to work with. But I couldn’t find the perfect boat, so I called Jim. We’ve been friends since the 1970s, and nobody knows the market better. He had sold this particular 45 new to another client, so the history was well-documented. It wasn’t quite in the ultimate condition I wanted though, so after getting it surveyed and some negotiation, I bought it, thinking we’d bring it up to speed.” The 45 was moved to Orange Beach in February 2017, and Greene’s company, Gulfstream Services, started the restoration process.

The Heart of the Boat

Capt. Leif Woolverton has been working for Veale for eight years. He briefly inspected the 45 Cabo and then made several trips from Texas to Orange Beach to check on the work as it progressed. Fortunately, the existing MAN engines did not need to be replaced.

“The engines were in good shape,” Woolverton says. “The boat never saw blue water until we got it — it was only used for snapper fishing and coastal family cruises. I talked to the captain who ran the boat for 19 years from when it was new, and they kept up a rigorous maintenance schedule. One engine had a fairly minor issue, but the owner insisted on totally rebuilding it, so it was really fresh. But the engine room itself wasn’t up to par. So that was a major focus of our attention.”

“We kept the engines, but everything else in the engine room was either replaced or upgraded,” Greene says. “We started by pulling all the original wiring out of the boat. That takes longer and costs a little more, but that’s the way it should be done. We added a fuel-polishing purification system so when the front tank is filled the fuel is filtered as it’s transferred to the rear tank. A state-of-the-art watermaker that can be controlled from the helm was installed between the engines. The original ice bin was removed from the hot engine room and replaced by a custom one on the helm bridge, supplied by a new Eskimo ice maker. It now produces pounds of ice, enough for all the fish boxes and plenty of cold drinks. We organized everything and painted the spaces a bright-white Awlgrip finish, so it really looks good. It’s the ultimate MAN cave,” he says with a laugh.

“I don’t know what we didn’t replace besides the engines. It looks like a hospital room down there, it’s so clean and bright.”

“I don’t know what we didn’t replace besides the engines,” Veale adds. “It looks like a hospital room down there, it’s so clean and bright.”

To ensure safety while hundreds of miles offshore, all through-hull fittings were replaced and a high-water alarm system was also added while the boat was in the yard.

The Meat Locker and Data Center

In another comfort concession, three air-conditioning units were configured for the helm bridge, which quickly earned the nickname “the Meat Locker.”

“In the middle of July, you almost need a blanket to keep warm,” Veale explains. “When you get those AC units cranked down, it’s chilly in there.”

Veale also insisted on replacing the boat’s electronics, opting for an integrated Garmin 8600-series system including side-scanning sonar. That enhancement is already paying big dividends, Woolverton says.

“The new electronics have been a game changer for us,” he says. “We get a lot of strong thunderstorms during the season, and they can produce winds up to 45 miles per hour or more. With the multiple displays, I can select the precipitation map on one and radar on another and be able to maneuver around or through the storms. The precipitation app is on the money. It’s so accurate, I’ve found it’s often easier to go through a storm when the rains aren’t too heavy.”

A new higher-profile windshield was added to improve visibility at the helm, and EZ2CY curtains were installed to eliminate spray while running between spots.

Achieving the Proper Attitude

One of the goals of the restoration was improved performance. To accomplish this, the technicians custom-fabricated and installed lifting and spray rails for the hull. Both sets were made with laminated mahogany strips glued and screwed together in multiple layers until the desired shape was achieved. The spray rails were added on the front of the bow, while the lifting rails were mounted aft of the boat’s sling points.

“We’ve had really good success with this modification,” Greene says. “They are very functional, and also sacrificial. If you do hit something, it won’t destroy the glass and can be easily repaired. We played with the shaping a bit, and by adding the rails it really improved the overall ride of the boat. It lifts up out of the water and stays on top with less rpm. There is way less bow rise, and the boat is also faster.”

After trying a few options, the search for propellers ended when a set of production-built Michigan five-blade wheels was installed. That turned out to be the ideal combination, and the boat will now do more than 35 knots while carrying 1,000 gallons of fuel.

“I’m very happy with the performance,” Woolverton says. “This 45 rides better than the previous 47 because there is less weight on top. We fish in a lot of rough, choppy water, so typically we could only do 20 knots. Now we’re able to run 26, and the fuel economy is really good. On our last trip, I was doing 31 to 32 knots at 1,800 rpm. The boat is fast and still a comfortable ride. Very rarely do I have to use the trim tabs.”

The Look

For the revamped decor, a Western motif was natural since Veale spends a great deal of time at his ranch in San Manuel, Texas. In place of the standard Cabo logo, the ranch brand was incorporated into the design. The helm and cabin salon lounge feature buckskin upholstery with a matching chair at the helm. Mezzanine cushion seats on the cockpit tackle center were adorned with Southwest colors of rust, tans and brown. The hardtop overhead and nonskid were also given a fresh finish.

A new coat of bottom paint was critical since the water around South Padre Island is the saltiest in North America. The hull and topsides were given a fresh coat as well, along with the outriggers in matching colors.

Although the original bow pulpit was retained, the owner wanted a custom look. That started with removing the original bow rail and cutting it shorter in steps until the right profile was achieved. A new bow rail was then fabricated to match the modified template. To set it off, a toe rail using composite Air Teak was built and finished with epoxy clear coating and 10 coats of AwlCraft 2000. The transom also got a similar treatment using Air Teak and multiple finish coats.

“Look at both closely, and you can see a grain design just like real teak, but there’s zero maintenance,” Greene explains.

In another concession to the boat’s cool factor, a complete LED lighting package was added, including flood lights and two sets of underwater lights. The entire array takes less than 3 hp to illuminate the whole boat. A FLIR night-vision system was another key upgrade.

“Some of these add-ons were toys, without a doubt,” Greene explains. “But they really do enhance the overall classic look of the boat.”

Where It Counts

Veale, his longtime fishing buddy Troy Giles, Woolverton and mate Harley Hardwick are regular competitors in the South Texas Big Game Fishing Club’s twice-monthly billfish tournaments. Veale prefers to troll artificial lures, and normally runs a spread of five lines, two daisy-chain squid teasers and one squid dredge off a Lindgren-Pitman electric reel. Besides two manual teaser reels in the helm overhead and hardtop-mounted outriggers, the retrofit included a new Release Marine Trillion Series fighting chair in the cockpit.

“This boat really raises fish,” Woolverton says. “The five-blade props are in tune with the hum of the engines. We fish the club tournaments every other weekend during the summer, and we did well our first season. We caught five billfish in one day, including a doubleheader on blue marlin, and had two grand slams for the year.

“I really appreciate the range we now have too,” he adds. “We have a favorite rig that’s 130 miles from the island, and another that is 147 miles to the north, with plenty of prime areas in between. I’m looking forward to fishing both legs in a single trip sometime. We definitely have the range and fuel economy to do that now.”

The Bottom Line

After hundreds of hours of labor, dozens of replacement parts, systems and components, plus gallons of paint, epoxy and clear coat, Woolverton ran the restored Cabo 45 back to South Padre Island last June after a 16-month hiatus. Like its predecessors, this one was also christened Bottom Line, in deference to Veale’s early career as a certified public accountant. Which raises the question: Was Bottom Line worth the bottom line?

“All boat owners are delusional from time to time,” Veale says with a laugh. “I busted the budget pretty early in this process, but I don’t regret what I did. It was kind of like wanting to paint one room and you end up remodeling the whole house. But now it looks complete. It’s as close to new as you can get in comparison to brand-new builds. I had a survey done before I bought it and another one halfway through the restoration for insurance purposes. The third one was done when it was completed, and the surveyor noted in the remarks about the finished condition, ‘Bristol, better than new.’

“I’m amazed at how elegant and beautiful it turned out, although I have to confess I’ve never seen a boat I didn’t like. It’s basically a Palm Beach-style package.”
Greene was pleased with the end result too.

“Whatever people do to their boats, they need to do it right,” he says. “And Paul did it right. He took a production boat and elevated it to the next level at a fraction of the cost it would take to build a new one.”

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Veale is quick to share the credit, however.

“This whole project was a collaborative effort from the beginning. Without my friendship with Jim, it may have been impossible to complete. There’s a personal process, a give-and-take exchange that develops as you go along. I wouldn’t have attempted it in any other environment. Gulfstream Services is a team of exceptional technicians. So was it worth the expense? Yes, it was. I’m absolutely happy with the results. For what this is, in its class, Bottom Line is pretty high up there on the food chain.”


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