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Cobolt 262 Bowrider
There's nothing vanilla about the Cobalt 262. It's one of those high-styled boats that practically begs for a viewer's opinion at first glance. You'll either love or hate this 26'8"-long, 8'6"-wide bowrider for its sci-fi looks.
The primary design element that gives the 262 its space-age appearance is what the folks at Cobalt Boats, based in Neodesha, Kansas, call a "Bimini arch." It looks a lot like what many boat builders call a radar arch, the largest of which are reminiscent of the architectural trademark of a certain fast-food restaurant chain. The Bimini arch of the 262 is far more understated and sleek than a typical radar arch. Still, rising to 7 feet above the cockpit, it's hardly a typical design motif for a runabout.
It is, however, undeniably functional. Mounted on a track atop the scythe-like support structure is a sheet of canvas, which creates a retractable Bimini top. The track is made by Harken, of sailboat fame, and the canvas can be rolled out to various lengths. This enables users to control how much shade or sunlight is available in the boat's cockpit. Very slick.
I suspected that the canvas would have a tendency to flap in the onrushing breeze created by a boat running at speed. To my pleasant surprise, it did not. The key is correctly tightening/adjusting the tracking device.
The height of the Bimini arch from the cockpit sole provides a major advantage over most conventional Bimini setups — it gives passengers standing headroom. The 18 inches or so of clearance between the leading edge of the Bimini and the top of the windshield allows air to pass through the cockpit, which cools occupants and cuts down wind resistance.
In choppy water, the 22-degree deep-V hull softened the ride. It also helped the bowrider knife through turns. The general heft of the boat and its solid construction minimized any notable vibration.
In the open bow, the forward lounges have a distinctive, living-room-recliner-type feel. Equally comfortable were driver and copilot seats in the cockpit, which featured flip-up bottoms that come in handy for stand-up riding when the water gets rough.
At the helm station to starboard, I found several nice features, starting with a thoughtfully designed armrest/throttle arrangement. The armrest enables a driver to rest his right arm while throttling — a major plus during long rides. Another dash highlight was the wood-grain panels into which the instruments were placed.
That kind of classy, upscale touch is typical of Cobalt. This high-end boat builder is the archenemy of runabout mediocrity, as the 262 surely proves.