360 — By Capt. Bill Pike — January 2001
|Part 2: Cobalt 360 continued|
"Oil's fine. Let's rock and roll," Berry said at last. I lowered the engine hatch with the flick of a Carling toggle and turned the ignition keys above the standard Raytheon 210 VHF, an excellent radio with a ruggedized metal case. Vavavavooom! The MerCruisers burst into a guttural tribute to internal combustion. Clutching ahead, with the throttles at dead idle, I eased the 360 out of the slip toward the open lake and brought her up on plane. There was no way I could judge the rough-water capabilities of the 22-degree running surface given the prevailing placidity, but I did form an opinion about her flat-water performance: It was literally head-snatching, in part because of the weight reduction inherent in the use of Kevlar in the hull, but also because of the added low-end oomph typical of Bravo Three drives and the smooth steering control that comes about when power-assist is part of the package.
As soon as I had the race-bred running surface loping along at two-thirds throttle, with the Captain's Call turned off, drives trimmed out to the brink of aeration, tabs set straight back, and the bow aimed at an ersatz Italian villa on the woodsy shoreline a couple miles away, I panned my instruments, took a deep breath, and firewalled the throttles. Before I had a chance to let out a decent Rebel yell, we were doing more than 58 mph, a rousing rate of travel, although I was a little disappointed with a foible that announced itself close to top speed.
"She porpoises a bit," I said to Berry, once I'd confirmed my observation with a couple more wide-open bursts, each with slightly altered trim and tab settings. He acknowledged my opinion, adding that a new mold for the 360's hull was in the works, one that is intended to remove some of the rocker in the chines that is the suspected cause of the problem. Besides, prototypical test boats like ours, Berry added, are bound to exhibit a flaw or two.
Rocker or no, we subsequently spent an hour or so on the lake, carving high-speed turns and figure-eights and otherwise having a speed-demony ball. At length, of course, we had to return to the marina for an examination of the 360's layout and construction, a chore that neither of us figured was going to be quite so exciting as tooling around the lake.
The exam was pretty interesting, though. It started with a paradox. While the 360's interior layout is plain-ol' conventional sportboat--a convertible U-shape lounge in the bow, small galley and enclosed head in the saloon, and midcabin aft--the styling is warm and sophisticated, although the overall effect in our case was marred by finishing flaws of the sort common to prototypes. Some of the stylish ambiance came from the Corian countertops, the impeccably varnished panels and doors, the cedar-lined hanging lockers, and the earth-tone fabrics. The rest came from high-end equipage on our boat, like the VacuFlush MSD, optional Sony flat-screen TV, and Sony AM/FM stereo with optional subwoofer and 10-disc CD changer.
The 360's construction was what you'd expect from a boat with a 10-year transferable hull and deck warranty: an all-glass stringer system, Nida-Core reinforced cabin and cockpit soles, composite transom with structural-foam core, keel and chine laminations strengthened with a Kevlar/E-glass hybrid for improved impact resistance, hull and deck laid up with expensive AME 1000 vinylester resin, and in-the-gelcoat graphics.
Hey, I know that 58.3 mph is not exactly an edge-dwelling velocity. But on the other hand, it ain't bad, especially for a five-ton performance cruiser a small family can overnight or even weekend on. And speed is, after all, speed. So when Berry and I'd finished checking out the 360 dockside, including perusals of the rugged, stainless steel windshield supports and the artistically finished aluminum radar arch, I suggested we do just a little more fast-forward time out on the water. Just in case my next chance was a long way off.
Cobalt Boats (316) 325-2653. Fax: (316) 325-2361. www.cobaltboats.com.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.