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.
Cobalt 200
MAY 2011
Length overall  19' 4" (w/o swim platform)
Beam  8' 4"
Draft  6" (drive up)
Deadrise  20 degrees
Weight 3,500 lb
Fuel 40 gals
Water 10 gals
Base Price  $42,838

There's a lot to be said for buying the smallest boat in the line of a high-end company. Cobalt's new 200 is a great case in point. She is a beautifully built little boat that comes with all of Cobalt's top-quality design, engineering, materials and construction. In a well upholstered "sportboat," there are lots of places where a shoddy builder can cut corners, but Cobalt invites close inspection in places where the sun doesn't normally shine.

Astern is power from Volvo or Mercury with entry-level prices as low as $42,838, but a good choice for Chesapeake boaters is MerCruiser's new 220-hp MerCruiser 4.3 MPI ECT V-6 engine with Bravo 3 dual-propeller stern-drive, Digital/Shift (DTS), and SeaCore anti-corrosion system. "ECT" stands for the company's latest emissions control technology, which also quiets the engine at cruising speeds and reduces fuel consumption for this already stingy engine. The Bravo 3 stern-drive offers good tracking at low speeds, strong acceleration and solid handling at speed. DTS provides smooth engine control and SeaCore protects the engine in Bay water. Those options raise the price to $53,844, but they also protect the owner's investment in the boat.

So what about the 200 itself? She offers a generous swim platform, a stern sunpad that converts to a lounge, an easy passage from the platform to the cockpit, a comfortable chair at the helm, wraparound seating to starboard aft of the helm seat, and an aft-facing lounge/settee to port. The open bow holds two more lounges. There's plenty of storage under the seats, plus space for skis, wakeboards or dive tanks in the port console. This little runabout can play all day and then dress up for dinner. Cobalt Boats, Neodesha, Kans., 800-468-5764;