Cobalt’s take on the deckboat will make heads turn and mouths drool.
Author: Alan Jones
For some, the thought of buying a deckboat conjures up the horrifying image of settling for a faux wood-paneled minivan — would-be owners’ egos can’t take the hit to their sporty and hip image. But Cobalt takes this genre and injects it with a heavy dose of luxury and panache. Following last year’s introduction of Cobalt’s first-ever deckboat, the 26SD, comes the new-for-2013 mid-sized 24SD.
Pretty much everywhere you look on the 24SD you are going to find something you haven’t seen on other brands, and if you’ve seen it, Cobalt designers have found a way to improve on it. A good example is the aft flip-flop backrest, which looks easy to design; more often than not, however, they’re just not quite right. Pushed forward, the one on the 24SD creates a great rearward-facing sunpad lounger for watching the kids splash around. In the middle position, it creates a stern bench with plenty of backrest recline for comfort. But push it all the way back, and you create a forward-facing lounger that you can use under way, although taller people’s feet and calves get some air dangling off the cushion’s end. There’s another flip-flop seatback on the port side that creates a rearward-facing chaise lounge or flips backward for more traditional co-pilot seating.
Cobalt’s newest signature design element — introduced in 2012 — is its patented Swim Step, which not only creates an easy way for humans to reboard after a swim, but it’s one of the few boarding systems that’s also dog friendly. Its wide step makes it a cool place to sit for your semi-submerged lounging pleasure. It’s incredibly easy to deploy: You pull the plunger lock, flip it down and push it until it clicks into position.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Cobalt without luxurious touches everywhere you look, including at the helm: a leather-wrapped wheel, a top-stitched dash and an oiled-wood dash panel. Even the optional entertainment center behind the double-wide captain’s seat has a padded bolster that matches the top of the dash.
Our test boat is equipped with the MerCruiser 350 MPIC, which harnesses 300 horses, putting it closer to the bottom of the available power range. Given that this is a 4,800-pound hull with 21 degrees of deadrise, the 300 hp MerCruiser is the smallest engine I would recommend for this model, so resist the temptation to save a few bucks with the 260 hp 5.0L model. But if you are a penny-pincher, Cobalt is probably not going to be your choice anyway. Go big or go elsewhere. Engineers gave the 24SD hull’s multiple lifting surfaces, which allowed 300 hp to put it on plane in 3.4 seconds. It reached 30 mph in 9.3 seconds, with a respectable top speed of 48.6 mph. This boat is rated for up to 435 hp, if you are perpetually in a hurry.
Many deckboats feature a flatter deadrise to create more stability, but Cobalt uses a deep V with 21 degrees of deadrise for better sliceability through the chop. While this usually makes a hull more tender, this Cobalt’s ride is anything but. It has an extended running surface to keep more hull in the water, it rides very level and uses the sharper part of the hull to cleave the water. Normally, this would make it slow out of the hole and burn lots of gas to push it, but the 24SD has very pronounced reverse chines and other lifting surfaces to get it on plane quickly. The hard chines are high enough to be mostly out of the water when running at cruise speeds for less drag, but when you throw the 24SD into a hard turn, they “push back” and keep it from heeling way over, which can freak some people out.
Cobalt’s stout layup is more than 2 inches thick where the rubber meets the road and even uses expensive Kevlar in the layup for strength. The 24SD weighs in at 4,800 pounds dry, and the combination of a one-piece-feeling hull and some heft contributes to its cushy ride.
Our test boat is equipped with the optional entertainment center behind the captain’s seat, complete with a 12v refrigerator and a large Corian working surface. Our only beef is that it could use cupholders for beverage assembly and maybe a fiddle rail to keep items from sliding off. There’s a stainless steel sink and plenty of storage below. The standard boat configuration has a seat here to maximize passenger lounging space.
The 24SD is well set up for watersports with a standard ski pylon and a centerline ski locker. There’s more ski-worthy storage in the driver’s console, with easy access from the front thanks to a flip-up bowrider seat cushion. At the transom there is a large wet locker with drainage for tow ropes and damp ski jackets. It would also make a good high-capacity cooler when you’re packing the 13-person max. The sunpad makes a comfortable place to sit while booting up, and a wide swim platform gives you plenty of room to maneuver.
The expanded space up front — created by carrying the beam forward — makes this more than a place where kids go to hide from adults. Traditional bowriders can pinch passenger space, making it tough for four adults to sit without getting their legs tangled, but that’s not a problem here. The starboard seat allows riders, whether facing forward or aft, to have both legs on the deck, but they can also bridge the gap if they want to stretch out.
Cobalt is a high-end boat, so for starters you are going to be well supplied with luxury. Items such as 40-ounce snap-in carpeting with neoprene backing come standard. And you have an adult-sized head compartment complete with a Corian-topped vanity and sink along with a Porta Potti that can be upgraded to a pumpout model. The standard stereo comes with six speakers and an MP3 jack, but bumping it to the Premium Package, which includes a subwoofer, increases the party vibe. The only things missing from the standard list that you would expect gratis on a boat with an $84,888 list price tag (with the Merc 350 MPIC) are the Bimini top and a side-mounted table, which can be placed in the cockpit or bow section.
Ski enthusiasts will no doubt get the optional arch along with Perfect Pass GPS-based cruise control and will consider bumping up the power to MerCruiser’s 435 hp 8.2L or the Volvo Penta 6.0L 380 hp motor, based on GM’s new-gen Vortec, which is far lighter than its previous 8.1L V-8 that sported the same horsepower.