360 — By Capt. Bill Pike
|Looking for a cruiser with sizzle? Check out the Cobalt 360.|
For some wretched reason or other, on the morning I stepped aboard Cobalt's new 360 Performance Cruiser at a little marina on Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks, I hadn't been on a fast boat for way too long. So the spine-sparkling shiver I usually get just prior to a wide-open-throttle, big-block extravaganza felt about as good as it always does, but just a tad unfamiliar. Easing over the gunwale, I said hello to Cobalt's western sales manager Alex Berry, who was kneeling beside the machinery spaces in the shade of a big, open engine hatch. After commenting on how flat-calm the lake looked, he began pulling the dipsticks on a pair of 415-hp MerCruiser 502 MAG MPIs, as I proceeded to familiarize myself with the helm, a snazzy piece of work if ever there was one.
Lemme get specific. For starters, the plushly upholstered, double-wide benchseat was an ergonomically correct, boat-driving wonder. Thanks to an electrically actuated fore-aft adjustment, I could position the fold-up driver's leaning post at just the right height and proximity to the wheel to guarantee kickback relaxation without losing more than a smidgen of over-the-windshield visibility. All steering-related controls and instruments were gathered together in the same molded, rectangular pod, savvily positioned against the starboard inwale and directly beneath my throttle-jockeying hand. Obviously, the pod's design came straight out of the high-speed boat-handling realm.
Aft of this was a pair of buttery smooth Zero Effort throttles, with a handy dual-trim switch in the top of the port stick. Above this were two Bennett trim tab rockers with easy-to-read-at-a-glance LCD digital and LED bar tab-position indicators. And above these was a set of separate trim switches, with needle-type Faria trim gauges topping off the whole ensemble. A thrivin'-on-drivin' arrangement? You bettcha.
There was more. The three-way adjustable wheel had fat, fine-feeling leather handgrips and a Teleflex cable-type steering mechanism, in addition to the Merc's power-assist system. And just over the top of the wheel were two long rows of smartly prioritized, gleaming Faria gauges. In the middle of the top row were a synchronizer and speedo, flanked by port and starboard tachs, with a Faria depthsounder all the way to starboard and a couple of fuel gauges all the way to port. In the bottom row were two sets of oil, voltage, and temperature gauges (the right for the starboard engine, the left for the port). Crisp Carling toggle switches--the best in the market for my money--were to port of the wheel, controlling such secondary systems as cockpit lights, wipers, and the optional Captain's Call exhaust silencer.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.