A co-founder of Cabo Yachts, Mike Howarth, and his 27-year-old son, Barrett, have teamed with renowned designer Michael Peters to build a 55-mph, twin-stepped center console — the Mag Bay 33.
Not only that, the Howarths are using 16 former Cabo employees to construct the $278,000 twin-outboard 33-footer in a shop only two blocks from the former Cabo plant in Adelanto, Calif.
Mag Bay Yachts recently opened a dealership for the Gulf Coast region and displayed the 33 at the April 15-17 Suncoast Boat Show in Sarasota, Fla.
Peters, owner of Michael Peters Yacht Design, also in Sarasota, designed the last four Cabos under the ownership of Mike Howarth and Henry Mohrschladt and has remained a family friend of the Howarths.
From 1990 to 2006 Howarth and Mohrschladt produced a series of diesel-powered express and flybridge fishboats from 31 to 52 feet known for their quality construction, fit and finish and meticulous electrical and plumbing installations. After a 16-year run they sold Cabo to Brunswick.
“It devastated my son, who grew up at my side as Cabo grew,” said Mike Howarth, 64, president of Mag Bay Yachts. “This kid caught the boating and fishing bug early on, and he took it hard.”
Barrett Howarth remembers the day of the sale. He was a 17-year-old junior in high school. “10:17 a.m., February 15, 2006,” said Barrett Howarth, 27, Mag Bay Yachts vice president. “I actually told my teachers some important family business was going on, and I might have to step out of class. I remember getting the message — “the deal was done” — and I broke down in the middle of class.”
Ten years later Barrett Howarth and his father are back in business with a new company and expert stepped-hull designer, poised for growth. Peters and Mike Howarth built boats in Southern California in the 1970s. “Without knowing it, in our early 20s, we were doing the same thing. We were part of the boatbuilding industry,” Peters said.
Peters began designing for Cabo in the early 2000s and went on to pen Cabos from 32 to 52 feet. Peters, whose other recent projects include the Hinckley 34R and the new 35- and 58-foot Bertrams, kept in touch with the Howarths after Cabo was sold.
“I was taking summer vacations on Catalina Island [in California] for the past eight to 10 years, and Mike and Barrett would periodically bring their Cabo over so we could go boating,” said Peters, who spent summers on Catalina as a youth. During this time Barrett expressed his strong desire to build boats.
“When I work with Mike and Barrett, for me, it’s kind of like going home,” said Peters. “It’s a reconnection with that part of my life. Barrett reminds me of myself at that age, so it’s special to work with someone who really loves this stuff. It reminds me of why I got into this business. A lot of what we do is just ‘business,’ but sometimes it gets personal, and that’s nice.”
The father and son and Peters decided to jump into the popular center console market. First they came up with drawings for a 29-foot single-diesel inboard center console, but discovered that there was much more market demand for outboard-powered vessels. They followed up with drawings of a 32-foot outboard-powered cuddy, “but there was not enough appeal to go forward, so we went to the center console with outboards,” said Barrett Howarth.
I took a ride on the new Mag Bay 33 earlier this week. Mag Bay vice president of sales and marketing Phil Bourque — the son of former Cabo sales manager Greg Bourque — set up the demo ride.
The Howarths have built a vessel with the same level of craftsmanship and attention to detail as their Cabos. The sheer line slopes gently, with a subtle drop amidships, transitioning to a distinct transom with tumblehome in the outboard corners.
“We wanted to build a gentleman’s center console, with a modern running surface,” said Barrett Howarth. “We wanted a boat that we could completely unbadge and put it in a crowd and it would stand out. We did not want to reinvent the wheel, but bring a lot of the big-boat aspects into the center console world.”
Mag Bay is building hull Nos. 8 and 9, said Barrett Howarth.
The company plans to build larger center consoles, and eventually sportfish-style express and flybridge boats, said Mike Howarth.
“Every one of the employees I now have used to work for Cabo,” said Howarth. “I’ve kept in touch with these people. And almost daily people are coming by here applying for jobs. If we are fortunate enough to do well I would love to hire more of these guys.”