The dayboat-spawn of a bowrider and a cruiser-is a large, fast, seating-filled vessel with just enough cabin to provide clothes-changing privacy, an enclosed head, and perhaps a double berth and a simple galley. Simply put, Cobalt's 323 may be the best dayboat ever. Here's why.
THE DEEP. Step aboard the 323 and you're struck by the depth of its cockpit. Though the minimum depth of 1'3" is correct, that's only one measurement, taken at the raised walkway that leads to the platform. The remainder of the cockpit averages 3'3", which is about waist-high to a six-footer. That's deep enough to provide exceptionally tall (read: comfortable) lounge backrests, keep guests from getting blasted by wind, and allow you to be fully weather protected at the wheel while standing. All good attributes in a dayboat.
But there's more than depth afoot. One subtle space enhancer you'll notice immediately is the 323's windshield. Its corners are curved, not square, allowing more cockpit space. Cobalt arranged the 323's seating so that it begins aft of the motors. In other words, the sole rides right over the engines. This creates an exceptionally long cockpit, and one with a single-level sole to boot, which is perfect for a boat designed to have a crowd milling about all day. It's similar in layout to Regal's 3350 ($176,996 powered like our test boat), in my view the 323's most direct competitor. Regal's twist was to start the 3350's seating at the engine compartment. It also has a single-level sole.
The 323's seating arrangement provides the attributes cited, plus one more: If some guests aren't used to boats, the cockpit depth offers a psychological security blanket should you desire to wring some horsepower out of the engines. And why wouldn't you?
The 323 delivers visceral thrills. Crank the wheel at 50 mph and the 323 whirls like a dervish. Now straighten your course and trim out. With twin 375-hp MerCruiser 496 MAG MPI Bravo Three stern drives, four crew, full fuel, and full water, my test boat rocketed to 54.3 mph. It tracked straight at moderate speeds, and I found it handy around the dock. All of this took place on freshwater and at 1,600 feet above sea level, where a 2.2:1 gear ratio might have been optimal. Still we over-revved by 160 rpm, leading me to conclude that, even fully loaded, I'd expect better performance at the coast.