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This Crealock designed world cruiser is rugged and well equipped and ready to carry you away from the chaos. Cabo Ricos are built to the most rugged specifications and standards and are truly go-anywhere word cruisers. With her ample solar power, battery bank, and newer engine, you can be entirely self-sufficient. She has ample storage, classic good looks, and can be your own little universe at sea.
So much more! Call today, sail away tomorrow!
Melanie Sunshine Neale
Sunshine Cruising Yachts strives to educate and empower both buyers and sellers of fine seagoing sailing and power yachts, combining integrity and passion in order to give our clients a memorable and positive experience.
In a 1993 review, SAILING's Chris Caswell declared, "The 38 has not succumbed to the fickleness of style and remains just as pretty today as when it was first introduced." Well, I will back up Caswell's claim. Eleven years after his review the boat still is awfully darn pretty. It has a timeless quality. The sweep of the hull includes a clipper-style bow with a sprit and handsome teak carved trailboards and a fair bit of overhang. The counter stern is narrow and no doubt seakindly in a following sea. If you appreciate traditional boats you'll find the Cabo Rico's sheerline a thing of beauty. The cabintrunk is relatively low profile and blends nicely into the cockpit coamings.
Below the waterline the hull is slack in the bilges and the full keel is slightly cutaway in the bow. The rudder is attached to the trailing edge of the keel and the propeller is an aperture and completely protected. And while this keel shape may seem obsolete to some, it sure produces a nice ride at sea. The 38 may pitch a bit in a seaway but it will never pound, and a soft motion is the most underrated design feature on any boat. The rig was intended as a cutter, not a modified sloop, so the spar is a bit farther aft than a typical sloop. The mast is keel stepped. The working sail area of 778 square feet translates into a sail area/displacement ratio of 16.3, which is more moderate than you might suspect.
Naturally, a 25-year production run will result in many construction details that have changed, evolved and improved as materials and processes become better. However, one thing has remained constant, the boat is solidly built for the purpose of ocean sailing. The hull layup is interesting. Although sometimes it's reported that the hull is balsa cored, that is a bit misleading. A layer of balsa coring is added to what is essentially a solid fiberglass hull and then covered with a thin skin. The balsa is not necessarily a structural part of the hull, instead it is for thermal and sound insulation. Fiberglass floors stiffen the hull and support a fiberglass subfloor-there is no wood to rot in the bilge. The teak-and-holly sole is laid over the subfloor, making it very solid. The lead ballast is internal and placed into the keel cavity in several sections. Earlier boats had internal iron ballast, it has been reported that the change occurred around hull No. 40.
The deck is balsa cored in the traditional sense. A shoebox joint, incorporating the raised bulwark and teak caprail join the hull and deck. Most boats had teak decks although it is not uncommon for owners to have removed them. Recent models likely have omitted this once de riguer option. Only a few molded liners are used during the build, for the most part the bulkheads and furniture facings are plywood with teak veneers or solid hardwoods and securely laminated to the hull. Speaking of teak, it is one of the hallmarks of the Cabo Rico 38. The boat is finished with locally grown teak with a light honey color and used liberally both on deck and down below.
What to look for
Warren and Marti Fritz of Kalamazoo, Michigan, recently purchased a 1984 model in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and then shipped it home to Lake Michigan. While the survey revealed typical age-related issues, it had a few serious recommendations. One item that turned up was blisters on the hull, and although it wasn't serious, the Fritz's are planning to do an epoxy bottom job this winter. Another issue to look for are teak deck troubles. If there are many missing bunks, cracked caulk, and some of the planks seem to be proud, be wary of subdeck delamination. While teak decks provide terrific nonskid and look lovely, they are expensive to repair or replace.
Other common problems include leaks, especially around the scuppers on deck and at the chainplates. These leaks usually reveal themselves down below. Also check for evidence of mast boot leaks. Fortunately, the mast step, which is directly below the table, is a fiberglass bridge spanning a couple of floors.
The original engine was the venerable Perkins 4108, and as these workhorse engines age, they usually start to burn oil. The front and rear seals are also prone to leaking as they age, so don't be horrified if the bilge reveals some dark mysterious fluids. The 4108 is imminently repairable, and surprisingly, will also usually run just fine even if the seals are not in great condition.
Be sure to check the status of the standing rigging. Swage terminals were used on the shrouds and stays, and if they haven't been changed out recently, factor that job into your purchase price. Also, pay careful attention to the bobstay fittings, the lower one is actually below the waterline and prone to corrosion.
Headsails on cutters don't age as well as those on sloops as they need to be dragged around the staysail stay on every tack, so check the conditions of the headsails. Also, very early boats had a plywood cockpit sole that was prone to rot. One other note, Cabo Rico built a pilothouse model 38, although it is rarely seen on the used boat market.
The Cabo Rico is a big 38-footer, at least on deck. This sounds silly, but the LOA is actually 41 feet when you include the bowsprit and raised bulwarks, and the wide side decks give it a big boat feel. The cockpit can happily accommodate four, and still includes a bridgedeck, decent-sized lockers and a large lazarette and aft deck. Most boats have Edson pedestal steering with a stainless wheel rim and teak spokes. The seat backs are a bit abrupt, at least by today's standards, but the cockpit is very secure, especially when a spray dodger and bimini are in place. Some boats have aft facing portlights that make it uncomfortable to lean back against the cabintrunk.
Sail controls may be led aft. The mainsheet traveler is forward of the companionway, with a midboom sheeting arrangement that frees up cockpit space in exchange for less leverage on the main. Most boats have a club jib boom for the staysail, which clutters the foredeck, although it allows the staysail to be self-tending. Some owners have converted the staysail to roller furling, and in the process, have eliminated the boom and rigged staysail sheet leads instead. Cabo Rico used Isomat spars, and while these spars are not the most robust, they seem to hold up very well.
The side decks are easy to navigate, even when it is blowing, and the stanchions are tied into the bulwark for additional support. While most boats on the used market will have teak decks, those that don't will have various forms of nonskid. There are plenty of teak handrails, including clever athwartship mounted rails on the aft end of the cabintrunk. All the way forward there is an extremely useful storage space beneath a teak grate. The bowsprit hosts twin stainless anchor rollers and the windlass is usually sandwiched between the staysail stay and boom.
The Cabo Rico 38 interior is stunning. The joinerwork is completely captivating. While the most recent 38s have actually cut back on teak, most boats on the used market will be bathed in honey-colored teak with a high-gloss varnish finish. You really have to search to find a bare fiberglass surface. Ventilation is supplied through several overhead hatches and opening portlights.
Although there are many varieties when it comes to the interior plan, the two most common arrangements are the A and B plans. The B plan, which seems to be the most desirable, includes an offset double berth forward. This is followed by a head with a separate shower stall and a hanging locker opposite. The B plan also includes a small L-shaped settee to port with a table hinged on the main bulkhead. The locker behind the teak table is a work of art. Opposite is a straight settee.
The U-shaped galley is to port and includes double sinks, a two or three burner stove outboard and a huge refrigeration/icebox compartment. In fact, you need to be tall just to bend over and reach down to the bottom of the box. The galley is compact but filled with clever storage spaces, and most boats have removable panels for the sinks and stove top to increase counter space. The nav station, such as it is, is opposite the galley and there is a large quarterberth aft to starboard, although it is a stretch to call it a double. The A plan is almost identical except that it includes a standard V-berth and straight settees and a fold-up table in the saloon. Don't be surprised to encounter variations on either of these plans as some owners opted for custom interiors.
Several different diesels have been used during the 38's long production run. Early boats had the workhorse Perkins 4108, while others had the comparable Westerbeke 46-horsepower model. Later boats have four-cylinder Yanmars and it should be noted that the most recent 38s have moved the engine forward under the galley sink. Most boats on the used market have the engine beneath the companionway steps. Access is decent, although it is much improved in the newer boats. The 56-gallon fuel tank is fiberglass. One owner highly recommended a feathering prop to help control the boat in reverse.
The Cabo Rico 38 wasn't designed or built to win races, or even for casual daysailing, she was meant for bluewater cruising. However, with a generous sailplan its performance is better than many suspect. According to Fritz, who sails Jubilate on Lake Michigan, as soon as the wind reaches 10 knots the boat accelerates to 6 knots. "It's uncanny," he said.
The cutter rig is not wildly efficient sailing up wind. It is, however, made for reaching. Most boats are set up with a high-cut yankee forward to fill the foretriangle with the staysail. The yankee not only offers better visibility than a genoa, it is easier to tack. The cutter rig also balances easily and adapts to self-steering. One advantage of a "non-swim step transom" is that it is better suited for mounting a windvane self-steering device.
Fritz really likes the motion, or lack there of. "We were used to sailing lighter boats," he said. "It came as a pleasant surprise to realize that Jubilate never pounds, not even in the worst Lake Michigan chop, and that's saying something."
That soft ride is a major reason why the 38 is popular with many long-distance voyagers. The 38 stands up well when the breeze pipes up and most owners note that they don't reef until the wind reaches 20-knots-plus. The ability to carry sail in a fresh tradewind is vital for a cruising boat, that's when you rack up the miles. And when it is time to shorten up, the 38 will press on with a reefed main and staysail, which incidentally, is an ideal sailplan for heaving-to.
The Cabo Rico 38 is an exceptional cruising boat. With prices for older boats in the low 80s, this lovely cutter is now a viable option for most cruisers. Besides, it might be worth a few extra bucks just for the compliments.
Designer: W.I.B Crealock
Official ship number: 687535
Hull number: CQB38090M84J
Hailing Port: Annapolis, Maryland
Beam: 11’ 6”
Displacement: 21500 lbs
Beta 43: (2017)
Engine Hours: 725 Hrs
Propeller: 3 blade
Pss Dripless: (2017)
Cutless Bearing and Shaft: (2017)
Dual Racor Fuel Filter 10 and 2 Micron
Fresh Water: 150 Gallons (2 tanks)
Holding: 20 Gallons
Diesel: 45 Gallons
Head: 1 Lavac Toilet (2018)
Batteries: Four 6-volt golf cart (430 Ah)
Battery Charger Xantrex 20amp
Inverter Xantrex 2000 WATT
Solar Panels 2, 140 WATT
Solar Controller Morning Star 45 amp MPPT
Balmar 120 amp Alternator
Balmar 612 External Regulator
Shore Power 1, 30 amp Plug with Cord
Adler Barber ColdMachine 12V (2020)
Seaward Hotwater Heater (engine & 120v ac)
Force 10 Oven with 2 burner propane stove
2, 20 gallon propane tanks
200 Feet 5/16 Chain
Manson 45 lb and Bruce 35 lb anchors
Maxwell Electric Windlass
Depth Sounder: 2 Sitex Bow, Raymarine Midships (2019)
Chartplotter/GPS : Garmin GPSMAP 840x (2016)
Radar: Garmin HF (2016)
Ritchie Compass (2016)
Standard Horizon VHF
Garmin AutoPilot (2020)
Sony car stereo with Boze speakers
Fully battened main Mack Sails (2012)
Head sail Mack Sails (2011)
Roller Furling Furlex 300 (2018)
Main Sailpack Cover and Lazy Jacks
Rigging inspection (2018)
Main and head sail halyards (2018)
Awlgrip oyster white paint on hull with jade green stripe (2014)
Awlgrip oyster white paint with non-skid on topsides (2015)
Hardtop Bimini (2018)
Full Erin Green Sunbrella and glass cockpit enclosure
Full beige Coolaroo shade cockpit enclosure
Sunbrella bow awning and rain awning with poles
Sunbrella covers for windlass, anchor grate, hatches, grab rails, fuel jugs, dorade vents
Interior cushions with basil linen Sunbrella upholstery (2012)
Foam for upholstery (2019)
AC Air Conditioner hatch mounted for boat yard storage
Sunbrella cap rail covers for boat yard storage
Full boat shade cloth cover for boat yard storage