I'm a firm believer that each boat company has its own personality, often developed from the top down. Marketing gurus may call this "brand personality" and attempt to explain to the unaware how to cultivate and develop it to appeal to a target audience. This is all well and good, but I think you either get it or you don't. Some builders simply feed on a culture developed from the day the first hull rolled off the factory floor, and they suck up appreciative owners with every subsequent launch.
Cobalt is such a company, with employees who harbor a down-home sense of commitment to the product and their customers. The dedication is obvious in the new 263.
The 263 is the cuddy-cabin sistership to the recently launched 262 bowrider. Her lines contain a little more zip than her sibling's, and they bear some resemblance to Cobalt's 360 flagship.
This boat's pedigree is also evident in quality construction. Her hull is reinforced with Kevlar, tough stainless-steel windshield braces are installed, and an integrated all-fiberglass stringer system keeps wood out of the boat. The next time you're in a boat yard, take a look at an older Cobalt. You'll likely find a hull and finish that easily weathered the test of time. Nothing less is expected of each 263, and all are shipped with Cobalt's 10-year hull and deck warranty and five-year powertrain warranty.
A rosewood panel dash and Cobalt's signature leather-wrapped wheel set the tone in the cockpit area. L-shape settees on both sides provide seating for guests, and double sliding helm seats keep the driver and mate poised for action. There is no shortage of drink holders, and Cobalt's cushions include quality foam and a breathable mesh material to reduce mildew. Engine gauges and compass are in the captain's line of sight.
Sun lounges are over the engine boxes, which are accessed with actuators. A lift-up locker under the sunpad reveals a handy tool kit and a 12-volt inflator for water toys. A forward raked radar arch and canvas are optional.
The cuddy cabin is sufficient for day-trippers and the occasional weekend jaunt. A V-shape settee dominates the bow and surrounds a removable center table. Take out the table and replace it with a filler, and you have a good-size berth stretching to 6 feet.
Abaft, to port, a compact galley includes a single-burner stove, a sink and an overhead locker. A porta-potti is tucked under the cockpit and slides into the saloon area. A cedar-lined hanging locker is opposite. Two opening ports and a circular overhead hatch provide ventilation.
The standard equipment list is long. Highlights include a CD player with remote, plush carpet, a depth gauge and a boarding ladder. Key options include a gray-water system, a bimini top and an upgraded stereo system. Power options range from 250 to 500 hp from MerCruiser and Volvo.
Cobalt Boats, (316) 325-2653; fax (316) 325-2361; www.cobaltboats.com.