John page williams
The following review was written by John Page Williams, Editor-at-large, Chesapeake Bay Magazine. John, senior naturalist for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, has been a regular contributor to Chesapeake Bay Magazine for 30 years, specializing in environmental issues, nature, wildlife, fishing and boats. He has been testing new and used boats for the magazine's Time-Tested and New Boat News departments since 1998.

MAY 2012
 
   
Length overall  28' 6"
Beam  8' 6"
Draft 3' 3" (drive down)
Deadrise 21 deg.    
Fuel 90 gal
Headroom (Head) 3' 6"
Max. Power 430hp

There's undeniable romance in the mahogany inboard runabouts of the 1940s and '50s, but their modern counterparts from top-quality builders like Cobalt Boats are undeniably faster, more efficient, cleaner and more durable. Modern design systems, materials and construction techniques allow seaworthy bottom shapes, flowing but classic-looking lines above water, and amenities that weren't possible 60 and 70 years ago. Case in point: Cobalt’s new A28.

This is a big, strong, seaworthy bow rider, at the top of the range that can run with a single engine (a big-block V8 from Volvo Penta or MerCruiser). Her deep-V hull (21-degree transom deadrise) is light but strong, thanks to sophisticated composite construction, and the company's attention to mold and lamination quality means each hull faithfully reproduces the shapes drawn by the design team. The big engines deliver top speeds around 50 mph, with remarkably efficient cruising speeds in the 20s, 30s and even low 40s.

Cobalt's designers have plenty of training and on-the-water experience with their families, and they listen carefully to owners. All three of these attributes allow them to produce amenities that really fit their customers' needs. One example on the A28 is a sturdy cockpit table that folds precisely out of the way into the port-side settee. A second is an optional extension for the swim platform that lowers into the water hydraulically for ease of boarding ($6,260). A third is a pair of sturdy seat backs that allow passengers to lounge or sit facing forward or backward on the port settee and the sunpad.

The A28 is an instant classic that should still be turning heads many years from now. Base price with a 400-hp Volvo Penta 8.1 GiC DP inboard/outboard is $127,198. Cobalt Boats, Neodesha, Kans. 800-468-5764; www.cobaltboats.com