This is the type of sportboat that Barry Bonds would love. Don't get the connection? This boat is your typical family boat after emerging from the Balco program. Still not getting it? The Cobalt 302 is a bowrider on steroids. With a centerline length of 29'7" and a beam of 9'11", this is a spacious, amenities-packed party monster in runabout form.
Pack it in. Stretch it out.
The dayboat category-used to describe large bowriders-isn't crowded. And there aren't many others as expensive as the 302. The Sea Ray 290 Select EX, a well-built boat with plenty of amenities, comes in about $5,000 below the Cobalt, selling for $143,086 with twin 320-hp MerCruiser 6.2 MPI Horizon Bravo Three gasoline stern drives. Monterey offers its 298 Select SSX ($139,062 with the same power); Rinker sells its smaller 296 BR, which only offers single-engine power ($84,304 with a 425-hp MerCruiser 496 MAG HO Bravo Three stern drive). The best direct comparison for the Cobalt 302 is the Formula 310 Bowrider ($184,736 with twin 280-hp Volvo Penta stern drives). Like the Cobalt, the Formula has plenty of well-appointed space and comparable on-water performance, save for a slightly slower top end. The Cobalt holds 20 more gallons of fuel and has a few standards-the air compressor and bow scuff plate-that the Formula lacks. But the Formula has some standards not found on the Cobalt, and it has a nicer head, with cherry flooring and a vacuum-flush commode.
How does Cobalt justify the high sticker? It's all in the details. Many things combine to help this boat fulfill its mission of being a family entertainment center. Start with the large sunlounge atop the engine hatch. It's big enough for two to tan. Its backrest adjusts so people can kick back and look aft while at rest or face forward in the cockpit underway. A beefy stainless-steel rail runs along the entire extended swim platform, providing crunch protection and giving swimmers a place to grab. There's a dedicated stainless-steel grab handle at the boarding ladder.
The cockpit lounge is massive, with U-shaped seating that can seat 12 to 14 people. (Feel free to pack 'em in. A boat this big must be yacht certified, so there's no maximum passenger load.) Room for guests isn't an issue, nor is the means to entertain them. Six Sony speakers are placed strategically throughout the boat, and the CD player has a port to accept iPods and other MP3 players. Behind the helm, the galley has a Corian counter, a stainless-steel sink, a cooler, and a stainless-steel grab handle that serves as a fiddle. Stainless-steel cupholders keep cold drinks within arm's reach.
My favorite entertainment feature in the cockpit is the dedicated spot under the port seating for the flip-out table. What's that? Basically, the dinette table is hinged. Remove the seat cushion and swivel the hinge and the table flips out and locks in place. There's no assembly or disassembly, nor any fumbling with the table pedestal. It's a simple, effective feature that will make your on-water entertaining that much less of a hassle.
The 302 also differs from the competition in its bow cockpit seating. There actually are seats. The arrange-ment makes one of the most comfortable bow seating configurations I've tested.