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The hot new boat you won't see at Miami

The much-anticipated Cobalt 46, with pod-drive propulsion, will be absent at this year’s Miami International Boat Show.

The much-anticipated Cobalt 46, with pod-drive propulsion, will be absent at this year’s Miami International Boat Show.


The relocation of Cobalt Yachts from Tennessee to Cobalt Boats headquarters in Kansas will halt production of the builder’s two express cruisers for about a year, according to Alex Barry, Cobalt sales manager for the western region and Florida.

“We just don’t want to showcase a boat we can’t deliver right now,” says Barry, who worked closely o

n the production of the 46. “We had the boat at the Fort Lauderdale show, and I couldn’t even put people on a waiting list to buy one.” Eight Cobalt 46 express cruisers have been sold to dealers, and four have been shipped, says Barry. The remaining yachts will be completed by spring.

Cobalt announced late last year it was shutting Cobalt Yachts in Vonore, Tenn. “The people in Tennessee are great, and the quality is there,” says Barry. “We tried to move our [working] culture to another state and that’s very hard. What we have here [in Kansas] is our own people who know our philosophy and what differentiates us from our competitors.” He notes that about 20 employees will relocate from Tennessee to Kansas.

Cobalt will increase the size of its home-base operations in Neodesha to resume production of the yachts. “Things are still up in the air,” says Barry. “We are not sure whether new buildings will be built or existing ones expanded.” Cobalt plans to resume production of the 46 for the 2009 model year, and the boat will be reintroduced at its dealer meeting in the fall.

Known for speedy, high-end runabouts, sportboats and bowriders, Cobalt began offering the 46 — as well as a 37 — to keep customers in the Cobalt family. “Our mission is to give our customers a place to go when they want to go bigger,” says Barry. “We lose customers who have to go to the competitors.”

Barry says Cobalt has been trimming the displacement of the 46 with each boat built. The first weighed in at 40,000 pounds, but that number is now down to 37,500 pounds. With twin 480-hp CMD diesels and Zeus pod drives, she cruises at 30 mph, burning 31 gallons per hour (about 1 mile per gallon). Top end is 38 mph. A pair of 600-hp engines would be needed to attain the same speed with conventional V-drive inboards, according to Barry. Cobalt will offer the V-drive version of the 46 with twin 600-hp Cummins diesels, and the boat eventually will be offered with Volvo Penta’s Inboard Performance System, says Barry.

Designed by Donald L. Blount and Associates, the 46 is offshore-capable but should also be popular on the Great Lakes and other inland waters. (Blount has designed sportfishing boats for Hines-Farley and Rybovich, among others.) The 46 was designed for both conventional V-drive inboards and Volvo Penta’s IPS, says Chris Swanhart, project engineer for Donald L. Blount and Associates. With CMD’s tunnel insert, the boat also can be powered with the Zeus system, says Swanhart.

Pod drives and inboards provide significant weight aft, which helps maintain the boat’s center of gravity, he says. This allowed the Cobalt 46 to be designed with a narrow forefoot for good head-sea performance. “Of course, it’s not as fine as a go-fast boat, but we were able to create narrow sections forward with the weight distribution of the boat,” he says.

The chines are angled down about 5 degrees to deflect waves without causing slamming and contributing to a harder ride. Two spray strakes per side, spaced between the keel and chines, also are angled 5 degrees to limit spray while not affecting ride quality. Blount took care of the design from the chines down, while Tony Castro Naval Architects and Yacht Designers handled the exterior and interior. It was the first collaboration between the British company and a major U.S. builder, according to information on its Web site.

The 46 has the space and amenities for extended cruising, with two staterooms that each sleep two adults and a dinette area that converts to a berth for two. The layout includes two heads with showers and a spacious galley with wood cabinetry and a solid granite countertop. A second galley abaft the helm station is optional. Other topside features include a foredeck sunpad with reclining backrests and a hydraulic swim platform that lowers into the water for tender dockage.

Will Cobalt be going even bigger than the 46? “Right now we are going to concentrate on these two models and see what the customers say,” says Barry.

LOA: 46 feet, 10 inches

BEAM: 14 feet

DRAFT: 4 feet, 10 inches

DISPLACEMENT: 34,000 pounds

HULL TYPE: modified-vee


TANKAGE: 350 gallons fuel, 105 gallons water, 45 gallons waste

POWER: twin 480-hp Cummins QSBs with Zeus drives and joystick control SPEED: 38 mph top, 28-30 mph cruise

PRICE: $909,590

CONTACT: Cobalt Yachts, Neodesha, Kan.

Phone: (800) 468-5764.,