Friday, October 19, 2012
I think you’ll find this to be an unusual (but interesting) letter from a hard-core Cobalt owner raving about a model that is no longer in the Cobalt line-up: the 343.
I’ve always been an avid high-performance boater and have owned most of the usual suspects over the years when it comes to high performance off-shore boating (whole thoroughly enjoying my Cobalt’s – 293, etc. – for luxury boating on inland lakes). One question has always haunted me when it comes to boat designs: why do I have to give up so much in luxury, handling, and ride just to go fast? I get the whole weight vs. power thing, but as an engineer by background; I just had to believe that someone could solve that equation in a more balanced fashion than had been delivered to date. Enter the Cobalt 343 – a truly “stealth” solution to the problem I spoke of. My personal opinion is that the 343 was a great platform that was much more capable than most understood (or gave it credit for). And, it had all of the basic ingredients from the factory to begin to satisfy the luxury AND speed-minded owner (a little light on the original power choices but I’ll get to that in a moment).
When it was announced, I jumped at the chance to be on of the first 343 owners and George M. at the factory helped me spec out and build a fully loaded ’05 with basically every option box checked, including generator and air/heat (no speed top). Obviously, this boat is not a lightweight contender. When it left Neodesha, it was equipped with the top-end Mercury racing big blocks available at the time. It only took one shakedown ride to discover the phenomenal engineering done on creating the hull. It possessed the legendary Cobalt rode, carved incredibly in the turns, and had none of the normal idiosyncrasies typical of stepped hulls (skipping or skating in turns, etc.). To this day, other boating friends of mine are still amazed by this wolf in sheep’s clothing. It is truly the ultimate performance “sleeper” and now can run at GPS verified speeds that are (in their words) “amazing”. That statement sort of brings us to part two of the story.
With the expiration of my warranty, I decided to do a little “experimenting” in the power department. I’ve always found the best results by turning to the best people for help, so I turned to the proven marine power-making leaders: Mike D’Annibelle and the Sterling Performance guys in Michigan (my 343 sits on a lake in Ohio). His marching orders were simple: build me a couple of nasty blown on big blocks that make a ton of horsepower, but in a dependable, conservative EFI configuration that makes them very easy to love with on 91 octane. Now I had the pure grunt to do what I wanted to, but as you well know at Cobalt, there’s much more to do on getting the power to the water in the most efficient manner. Enter the second partner on this innovation: Art Cook of Art Cook Marine in Detroit, Michigan. Art has partnered with Sterling on many a hot-boat, and has a library of “little secrets” that go far beyond the typical speed parts catalogue approach to going fast.
Mike and Art took the challenge to heart and they personally propped, rigged, and massaged the 343 to a level that is an incredible blend of power and luxury. By their own admission, they were absolutely amazed at what it delivered. The result: a 343 that will tickle triple digits (GPS certified) at 6000 rpm with custom lab-finished BBlades props – and a hull that is just as confortable there as it is at 60 mph! And I still have all the luxury and legendary Cobalt attributes (including generator and A/C)! I have seen a few folks mess with alternate power in their 343’s, but to my knowledge no one else has engineered the complete combination that really put’s it directly in performance contention with a bunch of other hot-boat brands and models. We love to watch the expression on people’s faces as we pull away from they when they’re already at WOT – particularly on rough water when we’re riding like it’s a dead-calm in the Cobalt!
Jon J. Ricker
Well, there you have it. A fairly short story from a long time Cobalt fan and customer that continues to love our Cobalt’s (I’m thinking about getting one of the WSS-series boats for my oldest son). If there is ever a Cobalt model in the future that is a “next generation” to the 343, you can again put my name on one of the first hulls. Thanks again for your dedication in keeping the Cobalt name (and everything it stands for) consistent decade after decade.
Categories: Cobalt Boats, Lifestyle | Tags: Cobalt Boats, Cuddy , Lifestyle, Luxury Boat
Friday, October 12, 2012
My oldest friend died last week. And I have become thoughtful. About things that last and those that do not. I’m old, and my examples of life’s swift passing reflect my age. You youngsters out there, please substitute appropriately.
Now, Cobalt owners and those of you who would soon like to become such, look at your boat. Look there. And there. And over here. And here. And recognize again that genuine style operates outside of Time. Look at your Cobalt: its classic lines, its amenities, its so carefully chosen comforts, the technology that underlies every inch of its hull, the elegant simplicity of its profile, its effortless grace at cruise and anchor alike.
Mood rings and pet rocks have come and gone, and we all must continue to pray that neither earth shoes nor disco balls ever, ever return. You know, Cobalt design has not once admitted a passing whim, a fad of the moment. We build boats in long traditions of craftsmanship which in Neodesha, Kansas have come to stay.
I think of my old friend with his Beatle bangs and his bell-bottom jeans. And then I see him again, on his Harley, the bike he had bought two months before he died. And on his boat, his Cobalt another American icon, a throwback to a simpler time. A time when dreams seemed as real and attainable as the malt shop down on Main Street’s red bricks, when the latest pop record spun at 45 revolutions per minute. I think now that my old bud wanted his Cobalt 202 just for its looks, for its classic three-color graphics, glorious and unfading, beautiful today and tomorrow, just like Betty Lou in that summer we all did the Twist.
I’ll miss him, and those long, slow cruises into a summer sunset that, we thought, would not ever end.
Thanks to John Brown for contributing.
Categories: Lifestyle | Tags: Cobalt Boats, Lifestyle
Friday, September 21, 2012
The rains have finally come to Neodesha, Kansas. After fifty-plus days above a hundred degrees Fahrenheit, we’ve become a bit philosophical. About our work. About its obligations and its rewards.
We’ve been thinking about you.
We believe in thoughtful fanaticism. We value enthusiasm in the pursuit of personal and collective standards of performance determined by the specific, identifiable needs and wishes of our customers. We understand the particular relationship between boats and their owners, the deeply personal nature of a product whose principal function is to introduce families to boating. The big abstractions matter: “quality,” “innovation,” “service,”.
But we understand that the such words find meaning in the ten thousand daily completions of small, carefully defined tasks. Quality begins in the integrity of a wiring circuit. Innovation is subsumed in the first flicker of an idea for a better brace for a windshield. Service is a phone call.
We build boats so that your expectations are established after the first ride in your new boat. Boating is visceral. It’s adrenalyzed, physical, full of sensations felt, first, in the middle of one’s chest. And so Cobalt builds boats that thump, subtly sometimes, but thumping nonetheless, full of your family’s best feelings about yourselves and your time together.
Cobalt builds boats for families and for friends. In the realization of individual dreams we find a corporate identity. Cobalt boats have become timeless in the terms that make them uniquely valuable: first the integrity and then the skills of our associates. To the degree that the people of Cobalt anticipate your needs, your wishes, we will succeed.
Categories: Customer Service, Lifestyle | Tags: Boat Dealers, Family Boating, Luxury Boat, New Boat
Friday, August 17, 2012
My family has just returned from an extended Fourth-of-July stay at Table Rock Lake. A group of people from back home (Wichita, Kansas) built cabins in a rugged, wooded strip of shoreline west of Shell Knob, Missouri, the Cobalts waiting at a dock called “The Have-Nots Hangout.”
Deep-down, bedrock happiness, drawn from the rock formation that serves as a scenic overlook off Highway 165, large and flat this rock, above what was to be original site for Table Rock’s dam and the heaven-sent water that backed up behind the dam’s 1.2 million cubic yards of concrete. Water that, per the younger Cobalt riders in our group, “lets you see your feet.” So clear and, in this year of such very strange weather, so warm, Table Rock’s waters are so deeply green, so often calm that the mountains reflected there mirror in a shimmer the Ozarks’ grandeur.
Even during the Independence Day frenzy, the chop was manageable in a lesser boat, simply not a factor in a Cobalt boat – Table Rock is that big, that fingered. And when a mid-afternoon thunderstorm rolled quickly through and the lake cleared of boats, the lake settled immediately into dimpled glass. Boaters love Table Rock first, last, and always for that miraculous water.
And for what it makes possible: the cliff jumping with family and friends at anchor to shoot video of the daredevils, many of them barely in junior-high school; the wakeboarding at preternatural, but survivable speed; and the quiet, smooth corner where a little kid first comes up on skis. That warm, clear Table Rock water gives rise even to retail traditions – taking the Cobalt for ice cream at Big M marina, to Shell Knob for pizza, to Kimberling City for live music.
With its winding origins in the White River, Table Rock can be a fine and private place for hundreds of people, all at once, here and there, with little coves and inlets the defining features of the lake. At the same time, massive anchorings of party-minded boaters are also a Table Rock deal from the get-go.
And did I mention that you can see your feet?
Thanks to John Brown for contributing
Categories: Lifestyle | Tags: Boat Dealers, Destination, Luxury Boat, New Boat
Saturday, July 14, 2012
Your ownership of a Cobalt boat entitles you to use loud and often nautical terms of every stripe: those that have come fully into the vernacular — “learn the ropes,” for example – and those that remain damp and obscure — the onomatopoetic “garbling,” for example, “the illegal practice of mixing cargo with garbage.” No garbling around here. None whatsoever, as we invite you to talk the talk just as confidently as your Cobalt . . . er . . . walks the walk. Do be careful then, as nautical terms do sometimes make for unworkable metaphors.
Anchor’s aweigh fer sure, me hearties! And the scuttlebutt is that the skipper is just about to stand abeam and order an extra ration of grog for the entire ship’s company.
Categories: Lifestyle, Tips and Hints | Tags: Boating Industry, Cobalt Boats, Lifestyle, Luxury Boat, Saltwater
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