I just got done testing the Cobalt 226 Bow Rider and found her full of innovations from her hull to the running lights.
Let’s start with the hull. The boys over at Cobalt have succeeded in making the proverbial better mouse trap. We all know how effective a hard chine can be to help stability and lift. Here we see a big reverse chine on a 20-degree deadrise hull with the inboard planing strakes removed aft of the windshield. Also by removing the lower planning strakes the hull seems to ride on the upper strakes and chines creating a kind of stabilizing dihedral effect like that found on aircraft. To insure hull integrity a healthy amount of Kevlar has been used along the keel and chines, the areas of highest stress. For those who are not familiar with Kevlar it is the primary material used in bulletproof vests so you could say parts of these hulls are bulletproof. This is why Cobalt is confident enough in their product to give a 10-year hull guarantee.
The vessel tested was not equipped with trim tabs, which is an option on any Cobalt. So I expected to lean from side to side as the load was shifted. Impressively, the boat remained relatively level and continued to track well at plaining speeds, mind you not perfect but very acceptable. The reason for this is what Colalt calls an extended running surface. In essence what Cobalt has done is extend the hull beyond the transom on both sides of the out drive thus creating an extended planning surface. So where you would normally mount trim tab you find more working hull surface. Keep in mind we’re not talking about wimpy little trim tabs but two really beefy areas that extends well beyond the transom and to the freeboard on both sides. This is not a bolt on section ether, but part of the molded hull and makes for a generous swim platform above that bridges over the out drive. The effect of all this is a quick planing, impressively dry and very stable ride even through busy weekend lake traffic chop that comes at you from every angle. When you hit a wave the boat does not shutter like an old tri-hull but settles into the water for a comfortable safe ride.
The uppers are a singular molded fiberglass piece from the bow to the swim platform. Her lines are easy on the eyes combining European styling and classic American lines. The deck has all wonderfully graceful curves and bulges to create an elegant flowing appearance. But don’t let that fool you! Room and storage abound throughout Cobalt’s 226 bowrider. Starting at the peck, is the anchor rope locker having a gas cylinder assisted hatch and a rubber liner below. All the hatches, large to small, have these gas cylinder assist units that not only helps open the hatch but also safely and securely hold the hatches open. The helm has facing seats nicely bolstered back rests and a full back rests facing forward below the windshields on both sides. The full backrests lift to reveal cavernous storage compartments. So large are these areas that a full-grown adult could fit inside and have room to close the hatch. Additional storage is also available below both bow seats as well. The windshield, having an aluminum-extruded frame with safety glass made by Taylor, has a graceful sweep aft. The center pain is hinged to port to create a wide clear passage to the bow seat. A heavy stainless steel positive rolling lock latch is mounted at the port windshield base so even if the vessel is bouncing around the window won’t.
Now the healthy 8’6” beam comes into play in the cockpit area allowing for plenty of moving around room and a spacious L-shaped seat with additional storage below aft. Below the port leg of the lounge was a fiberglass-lined locker with drain that could be use as an ice chest or live baitwell. The two pedestal seats are quite innovative in that they not only swivel 365 deg. and move forward and back but also have Cobalt’s Flip lid system. This system allows the user to sit low behind the windshield at speed or when flipped up to see above the windshield in the breeze. Some of the other captains mentioned that the padding was a bit thin but I found them comfortable enough.
The dash had double stitched vinyl covering and real rosewood panels with a glass finish, an option. All the gauges have a touch of gold, and were quite readable with large numbers in a classic styling. Stainless steel toggle switches, built in depth and water gauges as well as the Sony stereo remote were nicely spaced and conveniently located. Aft of the cockpit area over the engine compartment and port side is a thick cushioned vinyl sundeck. On the starboard side is the walkway to the swim platform. A drop in deck section with matching vinyl sundeck and seat is available to fit into this walkway. On the starboard side of the walkway is a small locker with a flip down door containing an air compressor for all your inflatable toys.
The stock swim platform is roomy and full beam with a built in live bait well with drain on the starboard side with a fold out boarding ladder with its own compartment on the port. Be aware that even when standing you can’t see the edge of the platform from the helm. I had to keep reminding myself that it was back there when docking. Following in the over built tradition of Cobalt, the boarding ladder is made of heavy gauge stainless steel tubing that slides under the portside for storage. When extended the two sections telescoping ladder extended down at a slight angle aft making for comfortable boarding. The only thing about this ladder was the need to get down on my hands and knees to extend it and with the platform low enough so as to be awash even with small seas expect to get wet. All the deck hardware was solid stainless steel.
The engine compartment goes the full beam of the vessel making for very good access to all sides of the engine as well as the batteries, steering assembly, etc. The engine compartment hatch is large enough to allow one to climb in if needed.
Well what can I say? As a SAMS marine surveyor I have an eye for problems big or small. I was hard pressed to find anything wrong with this vessel aside from minor ones. So after checking out the Colalt 226 I found it to be stylish, well engineered, constructed with great attention to detail, as well as very stable in seas and turns. J.D. Powers and Associates were very impressed with the Cobalt line and I can see why. So if the price doesn’t scare you, and you want this type of quality in this size vessel this may be the boat for you.
By Manny Rebelo
Cobalt 226 (Not a Current Model) Test Result Highlights
Top speed for the Cobalt 226 (Not a Current Model) is 54.3 mph (87.4 kph), burning 23.50 gallons per hour (gph) or 88.95 liters per hour (lph).
Best cruise for the Cobalt 226 (Not a Current Model) is 20.5 mph (33 kph), and the boat gets 3.30 miles per gallon (mpg) or 1.4 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 148 miles (238.18 kilometers).
Tested power is 1 x 320-hp MerCruiser MX 6.2 MPO.
For complete test results including fuel consumption, range and sound levels go to our Test Results section.
Cobalt 226 (Not a Current Model) Standard and Optional Equipment
Washdown: Fresh Water
Outlet: 12-Volt Acc
= Standard = Optional
Cobalt 226 (Not a Current Model) Warranty
Cobalt 226 (Not a Current Model) Warranty Information
Warranties change from time to time. While BoatTEST.com has tried to ensure the most up-to-date warranty offered by each builder, it does not guarantee the accuracies of the information presented below. Please check with the boat builder or your local dealer before you buy any boat.