The deck boat represents the last line of monohull defense against the pontoon boat—not that there’s anything wrong with pontoon boats; that market is booming right now. But they’re not for everyone. For buyers who still value sleek lines over passenger capacity, and performance over square footage, the deck boat is the ideal stop between a runabout and a pontoon boat.

cobalt 26sd

The 26SD combines the functional aspects of a deck boat and blends them with the great looks of a Cobalt runabout.

Take Cobalt’s 26SD, for example. In terms of function, the 26SD has a tremendous amount of interior space. Within its 8’6” beam, the 26SD’s cockpit is 91 inches wide. Cobalt also maximizes interior space by using a “blade-style” windshield, which creates less of an intrusion into the interior space than traditional wrap-around glass.

And Cobalt made the most of the 26SD’s seating areas. The port-side lounge converts to an aft-facing lounge with one hand. That same effort is all that’s required to convert the rear bench to an aft-facing chaise, which is wide enough for three. The cockpit comes fitted with bi-folding doors at the windshield cowl and at the transom walk-through.

At the helm, which is wide enough for two, the driver looks over a dash that’s pure Cobalt. The first runabout builder to incorporate French stitching and real wood appliqués, Cobalt uses these sophisticated materials and construction techniques to create a pleasant driving environment. Stainless-steel switches illuminate when turned on, and labeled gauges provide ample systems data. Each analog gauge has an accompanying digital counterpart in the same dial, which is pretty slick.


Cobalt boats are known for their slick-looking helms. Little wonder.

Behind the driver, the 26SD comes with a mini-galley that includes a sink, waste receptacle, and an optional refrigerator. To port, you’ll find a standard head compartment with a portable MSD, with options for a porcelain commode and pump-out capability. The whole thing tucks neatly behind a clamshell door topped with more French-stitched vinyl.

There’s additional deck boat functionality at the bow, where the starboard lounge converts to a jump seat by removing the cushion beneath your thighs. The port side has a conventional lounge, and both have armrests that flip down from the backrest. There’s also a broad foredeck with a concealed telescoping ladder and an anchor locker.

At the stern, the 26SD really shines—literally, if you opt for the underwater lighting package. Even in standard trim the 26SD comes with Cobalt’s patented swim step, a clever bit of engineering that swings an inlaid portion of the swim platform out and down to create a submerged deck. Far superior to a ladder, that makes ingress to and egress from the water a snap.

From its profile view, the 26SD looks as good as a sleek runabout, with a sharp bow entry angle and ample flare for a dry ride. Transom deadrise is a healthy 21 degrees, so this is a boat that not only looks good, but also will hold its own in a lake chop.

Engine options range from a 300 HP small-block to a 430 HP big-block and everything in between. Base MSRP with a MerCruiser 350 Mag MPI is $102,187. Base power should be enough, because dual-prop drives are standard equipment. That’s great for both low-speed maneuvering and for popping on plane with just a little throttle.

It’s nice to know that deck boats like the Cobalt 26SD exist. They provide a solid argument when compared with a pontoon boat or even a runabout. In households that are debating what to buy, it’s nice to have that option.

Other Choices: The Chaparral 250 Suncoast is another sharp-looking deck boat with lots of room and functionality, but this one runs on outboard power. The Sea Ray 240 Sundeck is a bit smaller, and is available in either stern-drive or outboard power.

See Cobalt 26SD listings.

For more information, visit Cobalt.
Draft (max)3'0"
Deadrise21 degrees
Displacement5,500 lbs
Fuel capacity69 gal.

Written by: Brett Becker
Brett Becker is a freelance writer and photographer who has covered the marine industry for 15 years. In addition to covering the ski boat and runabout markets for, he regularly writes and shoots for Based in Ventura, Calif., Becker holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s in mass communication from the University of Central Florida in Orlando.