More than a curious form, the Bimini arch on the Cobalt 262 provides superior function.

More than a curious form, the Bimini arch on the Cobalt 262 provides superior function.

There's nothing vanilla about the Cobalt 262. It's one of those high-styled boats that practically begs for a viewer's opinion at first glance. You'll either love or hate this 26'8"-long, 8'6"-wide bowrider for its sci-fi looks.

The primary design element that gives the 262 its space-age appearance is what the folks at Cobalt Boats, based in Neodesha, Kansas, call a "Bimini arch." It looks a lot like what many boat builders call a radar arch, the largest of which are reminiscent of the architectural trademark of a certain fast-food restaurant chain. The Bimini arch of the 262 is far more understated and sleek than a typical radar arch. Still, rising to 7 feet above the cockpit, it's hardly a typical design motif for a runabout.

It is, however, undeniably functional. Mounted on a track atop the scythe-like support structure is a sheet of canvas, which creates a retractable Bimini top. The track is made by Harken, of sailboat fame, and the canvas can be rolled out to various lengths. This enables users to control how much shade or sunlight is available in the boat's cockpit. Very slick.

I suspected that the canvas would have a tendency to flap in the onrushing breeze created by a boat running at speed. To my pleasant surprise, it did not. The key is correctly tightening/adjusting the tracking device.

The height of the Bimini arch from the cockpit sole provides a major advantage over most conventional Bimini setups — it gives passengers standing headroom. The 18 inches or so of clearance between the leading edge of the Bimini and the top of the windshield allows air to pass through the cockpit, which cools occupants and cuts down wind resistance.

Take away the Bimini arch, which is a $1,069 option, and you're left with a full-size family bowrider or mid-size sportboat. Base price for the 4,700-pounder is $57,123. With a host of optional bells and whistles, the 262 can run you $70,000.

The model I tested boasted a 415-horsepower Volvo Penta 8.2 GSi/DP engine. Thanks at least in part to the water-biting DuoProp drive, the boat put the power to good use. It came on plane in 3.2 seconds and topped out at 56.7 mph and ran from zero to 30 mph in a spirited 6.2 seconds. Based on a cruise speed of 30 mph and the boat's 70-gallon fuel capacity, the 262 should offer 190-mile range.

In choppy water, the 22-degree deep-V hull softened the ride. It also helped the bowrider knife through turns. The general heft of the boat and its solid construction minimized any notable vibration.

Per Cobalt tradition, the 262 was loaded with uncommonly thoughtful features, such as remote controls for the stereo and outdrive on the transom. Another nifty touch was a cooler ... built into the integrated swim platform.

In addition to a windshield walk-through for access to the open bow, the 262 had a transom walk-through for access to the swim platform. While convenient for swimming access, the walk-through did separate the sun pad into two sections; each good as a single-person tanning bed. The downside, of course, is the division of a single large sun pad for those who prefer that arrangement, Cobalt provides an insert, which also can be used to transform the L-shaped bench seats in the rear of the cockpit into a giant U-shaped lounge.

In the open bow, the forward lounges have a distinctive, living-room-recliner-type feel. Equally comfortable were driver and copilot seats in the cockpit, which featured flip-up bottoms that come in handy for stand-up riding when the water gets rough.

At the helm station to starboard, I found several nice features, starting with a thoughtfully designed armrest/throttle arrangement. The armrest enables a driver to rest his right arm while throttling — a major plus during long rides. Another dash highlight was the wood-grain panels into which the instruments were placed.

That kind of classy, upscale touch is typical of Cobalt. This high-end boat builder is the archenemy of runabout mediocrity, as the 262 surely proves.

Boat Specifications/Performance
Length overall:26'8"
Weight:4,700 pounds
Fuel capacity:70 gallons
Deadrise at transom:22 degrees
Draft (drive down):39 "
Base Price:$57,123
Maximum horsepower:500
Top Speed56.7 mph
Acceleration (0-30 mph):6.2 seconds
Decibels at idle:69 dB-A
Decibels at wide-open throttle:93 dB-A

For more information:

Cobalt Boats
P.O. Box 29
Neodesha, KS 66757
phone: (800) 468-5764