Cobalt 243

Cobalt's 243 runs solid and silent thanks to its impeccable construction.

The best way to test a boat is to first tour the factory to see what goes inside the ride. We did that before testing the Cobalt 243. This new upscale cuddy is, as if it were needed, the latest proof that those with a thirst for luxury will always open their wallets.

Tapping the purse for this spiffy runabout won’t disappoint, I believe, after taking a wintry test ride on a choppy Kansas reservoir.

Running for protected water, Cobalt technician Rich Shadduck and I left the windward launch ramp and skipped smoothly over the rough stuff. We would've tested in the main body if I could've held the pencil still enough to jot down numbers. What I loved right off was the solid sound of hull meeting water. No drumming, thumping or creaking. Inside the factory, we saw craftsmen expertly lay up the seven-layer hull, overlapping at the keel for a 14-layer keel. The process included a spray core layer for added strength and silence. Every bubble was meticulously rolled out by hand with a touch so practiced it looked easier than I knew it was.

No question now why the boat ran so solidly and smoothly, but why so silently? The factory tour showed us that too. Behind any spot that could resonate vibration was some manner of dampening laminations. The captain’s seats remained firm, each bolt locked into a laminated aluminum base in the floor.

Additional strength is built into the 243 with handcrafted components, including the heaviest engine-hatch hinges we’ve ever seen. Likewise for the stainless-steel tubing in the aft seat back and the optional wakeboard arch. Even the support brackets and hinges for Cobalt’s new swim step platform are handcrafted in its factory.

While most manufacturers offer either a bare fiberglass helm console or a vendor-built, vinyl molded one, Cobalt — and this surprised us — molds its contoured dash panels and contoured coaming panels in its factory then carefully upholsters them with leather-grain vinyl stretched drum tight to meet every curve.

Cobalt claims that nearly every boater who tours its factory buys its brand. That’s not a surprise to me.

Comparable model: Formula 240 Sun Sport