In Brief


Cabo Rico started building their sturdy boats from a corner of British Leyland’s Rover assembly plant in Costa Rica. Among their success stories has been the Cabo Rico 38 which has won a reputation for legendary soft motion and stout offshore performance. The design came from Bill Crealock who had previously designed the Tiburon 36 for Cabo Rico. Not many 36s were built but the 38 on the other hand found popularity in a time when Taiwanese manufacturers were beginning to dominate the US market.

The lines of the Cabo Rico 38 are timeless with a full keeled underbody which follows the design lineage of Crealock’s Tiburon. She’s configured as a true cutter with a bowsprit mounted foresail. Her sheerline is sweet which swings low (as is often the case for older seaworthy designs), with traditional trailboards and teak trim.

The construction is a balsa cored deck paired with a thick skinned balsa sandwich hull. Ballast is internal and changed from iron to lead at around hull 40. The mast is keel stepped. The Costa Rican craftsmen take tremendous pride in the quality of work, and it shows with the spectacular honey colored teak interiors that define these yachts. In fact on older versions, it is hard to find a single spot of gelcoat down below. While on most engine access is through the companionway, the engine location was moved forward on recent models to underneath the centerline galley.

Costa Rican craftsmen hand laid the first hull in 1977, and from there Cabo Rico Custom Yachts has delivered hulls are a steady clip. In fact for a long time, Cabo Rico was a one-boat manufacturer pumping out the 38 with an incredible variety of configurations. You name it, and a 38 will have a layout to suit: two heads, single cabin, v-berth, and so forth. In 1990, they introduced a popular pilothouse version.

There have been over 200 boats built to date, the last hull was built in 2005. Cabo Rico is currently reorganizing according to legal fillings in the state of Florida, USA.


LOA: 41′ 0″
LOD: 38″ 0″
LWL: 29′ 3″
Beam: 11′ 4″
Draft: 5′ 0″
Bridge Clearance: 50′
Displacement: 20,000 lbs.
Ballast: 7,800 lbs. (lead)
Sail Area: 738 sq.ft.
Year Introduced: 1977
Year Ended: –
Designer: William I. B. Crealock
Builder: Cabo Rico Custom Yachts

Buyers Notes

Teak decks were common on 1980’s and earlier models. As with any screwed down teak decks, these can be prone to leaking.

Similar Boats

Gozzard 36
Shannon 38

Links, References and Further Reading

» Cabo Rico 38, John Kretschmer, Used Boat Notebook
» Cabo Rico 38, Earl R Hinz, Seatrials
» Cabo Rico 38 Review, Richard Jordan, Waves


Cabo Rico 38 Sailboats for Sale

NEW! List your boat for sale right here.
Pricing is $50 per listing until sold.

Please contribute additional information about this boat...

Add your stories, experiences, tidbits, updated information - whatever you think is useful to others.

11 thoughts on “Cabo Rico 38”

  1. SteveM says:

    We just took the sprit off of our 1984 CR38. We cut 1 inch off the bottom using a band saw and laminated a new 1.25 inch board in it’s place. Sanding starts today and we hope to be sailing again next weekend. We used halyards around the bow for additional support for the mast then eased the tension on the backstay and the mast is still standing!

  2. Jan Saxton says:

    I am in the process of registering a Cabo Rico with U.S. Coast Guard. One of the measurements we need is for the Depth, not the Draft of the vessel. How do I find out the actual depth of this yacht? Hull #CQB34003I889
    Would very much appreciate an answer.
    Jan Saxton

  3. Alan says:

    Hello, i have a cabo rico 36 tiburon and i am looking for the ownwers manual,
    can you help me find it…

  4. Ben says:

    I think the LWL is wrong here — I see 29’3″ on other sites.

    1. Rosiemac says:

      Hi Ben, 29’3″ is the correct LWL, have amended the article, thanks for that

  5. Tom Fuhs says:

    As mentioned by Daniel (and he would know), the mast is indeed stepped on the keel.  On my 1987 model, there is a very well thought out construction design for stepping the mast.  The built in fiberglass holding tank is beneath the mast step.  The holding tank has an internal cross grid structure in the area beneath the mast step.  This puts the mast step just below the cabin sole off the bottom of the bilge.  The step stays dry and any water down the inside of the mast drains down and away from the step.  No corrosion issues here.  Actually, there is nothing to corrode or rot in the bilge.  Everything beneath the cabin sole is fiberglass.  Also, although it appears that the hull is balsa cored, I’ve heard from several sources that the balsa is there for insulation only.  The outer hull is solid and stands on its own for hull integrity and strength.  The core and inner skin add sound and temperature insulation as well as some additional strength.   My boat feels very solid and is quiet and comfortable below, even at almost 25 years old.



    1. Anonymous says:

      Cheers for the correction Daniel, have amended the article. Good luck building more of these beautiful boats

    2. Bob Livingston says:

      How was the bow sprit attached on the pre 1990 CR38. Was there a steel insert and not just the wood to support the bow sprit. Thanks

    3. Steve says:

      We just removed and repaired our bow sprit. Epoxied a small place that had rotted. No metal in sprit.

    4. steve says:

      Our sprit has some rot too and will repair or replace soon. Did you leave mast up?

Leave a Reply