While driving through the heart of America, from Kansas City to Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, I wondered what to expect. Every verse from the radio enhanced my somewhat nervous curiosity as I cruised along Highway 54. One country station blared a song about a girlfriend who loved the singer’s tractor-and his farmer’s tan, too. Not something you hear much over the airwaves around Yachting’s home base in Greenwich, Connecticut.
My expectations were more than exceeded when I pulled into the Lodge of Four Seasons on a cool summer night. Pine tree-lined cliffs led down to water’s edge, where gentle ripples lapped against pristinely maintained boats. The scene had a wholly natural feel, much like the one I found the next morning aboard the new Cobalt 360.
The largest model built by the family-owned company does not break any new ground. It does not take Cobalt into a new market. It is simply a continuation of Cobalt’s three-decade dedication to producing top-quality yachts perfect for a run around Lake of the Ozarks or a fling to Bimini for lunch. When company President Pack St. Clair says, “Our niche is the day-boat market,” he knows the 360 will not disappoint.
A functional day boat requires a well-planned helm deck area. The 360’s U-shape settee to starboard seats four comfortably, or five close friends in a squeeze. A smaller settee is opposite, creating a natural conversation pit. If a few guests wish to bake in the sun, the two aft sunpads are comfortable (and provide stowage underneath). A third settee is opposite the helm, allowing conversations with the skipper and providing a nice perch to view the scenery ahead. Two pairs of speakers and a CD player provide music, with a remote control on the dash.
The 360 has a Corian-topped wet bar with an ice maker, stowage and a stainless-steel sink. Forward, the double helm seat to starboard has a nifty four-way electrically operated feature that controls height and distance from the dash. Screaming across the lake, I found the helm area comfortable while sitting or leaning against the fold-back chair. Cobalt’s trademark leather- and wood-trimmed wheel, and the wood-lined dash, dress up the console. The metallic dash on the horizontal surface reduces glare and looks sharp. Plenty of space is provided for a complete electronics package, and the line of sight forward through the windshield is clear. The trim tab indicators are easy to read, and Cobalt includes an automatic trim tab retracting option. My only criticism is with the throttles and gear levers. The are placed conveniently to the side of the wheel, but the space between the individual controls is minimal. While shifting or pulling back the throttles, you may find yourself looking down to ensure you grab the correct lever.
The center-opening windshield leads to the forward deck, with passage made easier by a fold-down step in the dash. Forward, the anchor locker hides the low-profile Maxwell windlass and anchor roller. The windlass is operated from either the deck or the helm.
The engineroom hatch is abaft the settees and lifts with a hydraulic actuator for easy access. A clever tool kit mounted on the hatch’s underside makes routine adjustments painless. By using Bravo 3 outdrives, Cobalt can push the engines aft, allowing an additional centerline compartment under the helm deck to house the optional 5 kW generator flanked by the two 87-gallon fuel tanks.
Leaving the marina, the 360 caught quite a few envious stares from go-fast boats. The radar arch slopes forward and appears to be one fluid line from the curved transom, flowing nicely over the stainless-steel windshield and ending with the fine entry of the bow. The relatively narrow 10-foot, 6-inch beam adds to the 360’s racy grand prix profile.
We opened her up, and when the turbos on her 300 hp Yanmar diesels kicked in, the 360 leapt onto a plane in less than 10 seconds. We hit a top speed of 27.1 knots at 3400 rpm, and you can expect slightly better performance in salt water. Although the 300 hp Yanmar is the highest horsepower diesel option available, several higher horsepower gasoline packages will provide additional speed. We sliced effortlessly through the water, easily conversing in the cockpit at cruising speed. The lake was calm, so we crossed a few wakes from passing boats and found the entry soft with no pounding, although this was not really sufficient to give the Cobalt a true rough water test. At speed, we turned around in 11/2 boat lengths, gripping the surface like a Hummer.
In addition to comfort and performance, Cobalt paid close attention to construction. The fiberglass stringer system and Kevlar-reinforced, handlaid hull provide impact resistance 10 times greater than that of conventional fiberglass, at less than half the weight. On the deck and hull, AME 1000 vinylester resins provide additional strength.
Though the 360 is designed as a day boat, the attention to detail and level of finish are just as evident belowdecks. The compact galley to port is sufficient for preparing appetizers or lunch, with a single-burner electric cooktop, a refrigerator/freezer, a stainless-steel sink and a microwave oven behind curved cabinetry. The countertop is Zodiaq, a new Dupont material that blends real stone with Corian to eliminate some of the cracks that can develop in granite surfaces. Opposite the galley, the fiberglass-lined head includes a VacuFlush MSD, a shower, an opening port, a Corian counter and a holding tank indicator. The forepeak includes a V-shape leather settee and dinette table with a perfect view of the optional flat screen TV abaft, above the hanging locker. A tight double berth is tucked under the helm deck. Great ventilation is provided throughout by six opening ports and three opening hatches.
The 360 is a truly comfortable, high-end day boat. With an expected price lower than $300,000, Cobalt’s first model longer than 30 feet should cause much well-deserved back slapping down in the Neodesha, Kansas, yard.
Contact: Cobalt, (316) 325-2653; fax (316) 325-2361.