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#568851 - 08/18/17 09:43 PM Re: Calling all late 80s/early 90s Cobalt owners..need advice [Re: TechieTechie]  
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TechieTechie Offline
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Well, last weekend was a blur. I ran all over NY and NJ to see boats. No takers yet...here are my notes:

Under consideration:


Mid 80s Formula Express Cruiser 23 in NJ. Comfortable Cabin. Berth is 6'8x6'6", head that you can at least poop in (small, but functional with 16" entrance), small galley (3 feet) and 5'11 headroom. Single berths on starboard and port sides are for non claustophics, folks too inebriated to notice, or kids (super narrow). Small deck (18" between rear of captain seat box and rear bench, but might be able to gain a few inches by installing true captains chairs). No carpet on deck (big plus). Gobs of freeboard and in dang good shape for being in the Atlantic. However, on THT, a former boat rep has stated that the 28s on down in this line are hard to control because the center of gravity is so high. If this sat lower, I would have bought it already. Still in the mix, but concerned that it's so bulky that I may not take it out as much for daytrips. But dang, it would be great for overnights!!!

Mid 80s Formula 223 in NY. Good sized v berth (6'8" x 7") with decent headroom (4'5"). Slightly wider opening to cabin (19") and deck is decent size (3'6" between back of capt chair to bench). Glassed deck. Could probably squeeze in a small sink/mini galley on deck. This brand/size is in the running. But, the boat had rotten stringers (bouncy floor) so this particular boat is a no go.

'Early 90s Cobalt 243 in NJ. Vberth is 6 ft long by 6 ft wide. Seats in front of vberth are 3' long. Could potentially rip those out for a longer vberth, if needed. Vberth headroom is 4'6" (floor to ceiling). Entry to vberth seems narrow (17") but I was also crawling under shrinkwrap, so probably less tight in real life. Two downsides..carpeted deck and rear bench is in front of, and not on top of, the motor box...so only 18" between back of passenger seat and rear bench. So no way to retrofilt a mini galley on deck (and it's too short under the cuddy). Otherwise a good boat (with a brand new Volvo motor and prop, too!). Perfect for day trips, a bit more challenging for overnights. Still debating.

Out of consideration

'87 Cobalt Condesa 23' in upstate NY. Good space on deck (51" between passenger chair and front of rear bench). Cuddy was long (7'3" including center cutout) but narrow (5'6" w). Headroom in cuddy seemed low (forgot to measure), though I could at least sit up at the foot of the bed. Overhead cabins in cuddy were tiny (18 or 24 inches wide). Thinking I need a longer boat (2 footitis has already struck). But a dang solid boat that would be great in rough water for daytrips. But no fresh water on boat, so hard to overnight.

'96 Cobalt 233 in upstate NY. 14" between rear of passenger seat and rear bench, vberth is 5'6" long, including cutout. Too small and terrible use of space. Nixed.

25 foot Formula express cruiser in RI Passed on looking, likely will be too big for me, based upon my thoughts on the 23.

80 Formula Sportman 233 in NJ. Vberth is 6' long, but narrow (5'4" w). Vberth floor to ceiling clearance is tiny (3'10"). Deck space is HUGE (5'10" from back of pass seat to bench. Super heavy, burning.3 gph. Marine mechanic owned boat (mechanicals are great). but it needs a lot of teak and 'pretting' work. Felt too small to overnight in. Pass.

28 Pursuit Denali. I like the layout (though it is a bit fishy) but at almost 8k pounds, it will eat up gas that I I don't need to eat (since I won't be 30 miles offshore to fish).

New to the mix

I have decided to branch out a bit and consider a few other boats:

26 foot Cobalts and Formulas from the 80s/early 90s. To see if any give me a bit more under cuddy headroom and more deck space.

Still looking for a late 80s, local Cobalt 23 CS (with had a small sink alongside the stairwell, but not under the cuddy. And, the rear bench is flush against the transom, so deck should be a bit bigger. Want to see this before completely ruling out the mid 80 Cobalt 23s.

245 SeaRay Amberjack. from the early 90s. Supposedly built like a tank (like the Cobalts and Formulas, THT approved), good deck space (they use it for fishing a lot), and a cuddy that is supposedly in the 5' height range. Older versions which have a 9'6" beam, so should have gobs of deck space. I've seen a similar one outfitted with a small deck galley, which would be perfect. There are a few in the midwest, may try to get out next weekend and look.

Mid 90s Pursuit 2550...seems like it gets decent gas mileage, and does not seem ridiculously fishy in pictures. . Want to find a local one to measure.

Late 80s Tiara 279SC. Seems like a decent cabin cruiser (seems lower COG than the Formula express crusier), though at 5k lbs, might be gas hog. Want to see one in person. Too bad they don't make a 25 foot version frown


There ya go! Other recommendations considered. Thanks for reading along.




Last edited by TechieTechie; 08/18/17 09:59 PM.
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#568853 - 08/19/17 07:25 AM Re: Calling all late 80s/early 90s Cobalt owners..need advice [Re: TechieTechie]  
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tpenfield Offline
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tpenfield  Offline
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Sounds like a busy weekend. I did something similar when looking for my current boat. I think when you find the right boat, you'll know it.


Regards, Ted

Formula 330SS

My Boat Web Sites
#568858 - 08/19/17 05:23 PM Re: Calling all late 80s/early 90s Cobalt owners..need advice [Re: TechieTechie]  
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TechieTechie Offline
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Thanks Ted. Was a lot of driving for a few days, but I explored the north fork of LI for the first time (and rode the LI to New London ferry) which was great. Like to combine research with exploring new places.

QQ...if I remember right, didn't you have a late 80s/early 90s Formula 26 SS? If so, how did it run in our chop? And do you happen to remember the approximate headroom in the cabin and size of the vberth? This looks to be almost the perfect size for my first boat. There are some for sale in Western NY and the midwest, and they are in my price point, but would be interested to get your first hand experience before burning the miles to see them.

Thanks!

#568862 - 08/20/17 02:39 PM Re: Calling all late 80s/early 90s Cobalt owners..need advice [Re: TechieTechie]  
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tpenfield Offline
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I had a 1991 Formula 242SS as my first power boat. The boat was 26 feet overall with the silent thunder swim platform. The boat was as good as you can get in the chop for a 24-26 footer, because of the 24 degree hull and 8 foot beam (narrow).

Most rough days, we were one of the few boats out there.

The cabin/v-berth was not so good for overnighting. I think the standing height was less than 5 feet and the porta-pottie is under the v-berth. Sleeping accommodations were fine for 2, and if you stay in a marina with restrooms, then the location of the porta-pottie is not really and issue.

There is also an LS model 242 LS that has a smaller cockpit, but slightly larger cabin.

Last edited by tpenfield; 08/20/17 06:29 PM.

Regards, Ted

Formula 330SS

My Boat Web Sites
#569016 - 09/04/17 12:16 PM Re: Calling all late 80s/early 90s Cobalt owners..need advice [Re: TechieTechie]  
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TechieTechie Offline
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TechieTechie  Offline
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Happy Labor Day all....well, 2 more weekends looking, and I am exhausted, but I think I am narrowing in on the two boat styles I want.

1990 Cobalt Condurre 263. Length, 26'3 (all centerline measurements), 17 degree deadrise, 9.5 beam, 6100 dry with single engine (option to have single or twin screws). Vberth is 5'8"x7'6"w. (entrance to cabin is 22"). 6' floor to ceiling in cabin, split galley (port and starboard) about 16" each. Enclosed head with super narrow opening (15") with slanted ceiling, almost impossible to move around in. Aft cabin (with a separate door) is approx 5' w by maybe 6' long. Port side passenger bench is 52" long (that measurement may be off), 30" from rear of captain's chair to rear bench. Rear bench approx 4' long...could be longer if you added an extension to cover transom door. Deck has small cooler. This boat was only made in this configuration for 4 years (later 263s have smaller cabins). Boat impressions: Super roomy feeling deck, good seated and standing slightlines for piloting the boat. Ride in rear of boat is super calm and not hammered by the wind. Cabin feels roomy, but the split galley may be hard to work with (though each 16" countertop has an fold up extension). Very shallow sink. Cobalt was dumb enough to round off the walls to the portside aft cabin and the starboard side bathroom (which they did not have to do)..which makes the head almost unusable. That is the problem spot on that boat (wondering if I can square the head side, with a different door, to rectify the problem) The aft cabin is a nice 'add on' though not sure how much I would use it. This particular boat handled well on calm water (inland lake) and with twins, it had plenty of go and felt very stable. But there were spider cracks everywhere and water in the bilge. Verdict: Really like the style, but want a cleaner boat with single screw.

88 Formula 242 LS. On Lake George, NY. 24'2 length, 24(?) degree deadrise, 8' beam, 4200 dry with single engine. Vberth is 5'6"x6'w. (entrance to cabin is 22"). 4'4" floor to ceiling in cabin, single galley about 16". Chairs aft of vberth that are 30". Portable head aft of vberth. Entrance to cabin is 19". 18" from rear of captain's chair to rear bench. Rear bench approx 5' long. Both vberth and deck feel claustrophobic. However, it handles very well on light chop and this boat was beyond pristine, no spider cracks in gelcoat, engine and bilge were spotless. Tons of maintenance done, with receipts. Heck, even the owner's garage was spotless. Verdict: Not the style for me, but if someone wants a clean, freshwater 242 LS, this one was a gem.

85 Sea Ray Amberjack 255 in Boston. 25'5" length, 22 degree deadrise, 9.5' beam, 5,800 dry with single engine. Vberth is 5'5"x6'6"w. (entrance to cabin is 20"). 6" floor to ceiling in cabin, single galley about 26" (decent depth sink, stove, fridge). Useable (!) enclosed head (30" ish) with 18" entrance. Entrance to cabin is 20". 5'10" from rear of captain's chair to rear bench. No rear bench in this boat. Engine under deck floor. Boat impressions: Massive feeling deck, good sightlines seated or standing for the pilot. Not as fast off the mark as the Condurre 263, but super stable ride. Serviceable headroom in the cuddy, but the vberth is a bit short. Head was actually usable, a nice change! This particular boat had water in the bilge, a newer 7L engine (but needed a serious tuneup...heck it took several turns of the starter to even turn over), and salt corrosion was evident. Verdict: Really like the style, but want a cleaner boat. Definitely needs a big block with dual props.


91 Cobalt 255 in Missouri. 25'2" length, 17 degree deadrise, 8.6' beam, 4,900 dry with single engine. Vberth is 5'6"x6'w...but has clever extension to add a foot to the berth. Entrance to cabin is 16-18". 4'6" floor to ceiling in cabin, 28" portside galley with sink and fridge. Porta pottie under the vberth extension. 2'6" from rear of captain's chair to rear bench. Passenger seat had aft facing 'twin' seat that folds down. No transom door. Aft bench is 6'2" bench (about 6" in front of the transom) and folds down for a single berth. This boat was only made by Cobalt for 1 year. Boat impressions: Small feeling deck, good sightlines seated or standing for the pilot. Cabin feels pretty tiny. Very good off the mark (7.1L) but felt a bit less stable than the AJ or larger Cobalt...but certainly not at all dangerous...and this was without trims). Felt similar to the Cobalt 24s, rather than the 26 (drat). This particular boat was very clean, only 1 spider crack in the gelcoat, and the previous owner had 20+ years of records. Verdict: Too small, but for someone who wants a 24-25' Cobalt in excellent condition, would not hesitate on this boat.


So, now it seems like I have settled on the 255 Amberjack or Condurre 263. If I could get the finish and pickup of the Cobalt on the AJ, that would be my perfect boat. I've heard the AJs with twins can really haul, but I don't want the maintenance. If I could fix the head size in the Cobalt, that would probably nudge it ahead of the AJ. Now, I'm in the hunt for the perfect representation of each of these two models. roflmao

Last edited by TechieTechie; 09/04/17 12:23 PM.
#569017 - 09/05/17 07:52 AM Re: Calling all late 80s/early 90s Cobalt owners..need advice [Re: TechieTechie]  
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tpenfield Offline
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tpenfield  Offline
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The Amberjack may be the way to go. The deadrise comparison between the Sea Ray and the Cobalts is telling . . . The Cobalts would be better on a lake.

Keep in mind that you are looking at 30 year old (and more) boats. The hull structures are made of wood with fiberglass over. Moisture retention and rot, to some extent, is highly probable with these boats. Additionally, the fuel tank, if it is aluminum, may need to be replaced, as they tend to corrode if the boat has accumulated some moisture (as most boats of this age do).

Do you plan on having a surveyor do a pre-purchase inspection?

Last edited by tpenfield; 09/05/17 07:53 AM.

Regards, Ted

Formula 330SS

My Boat Web Sites
#569018 - 09/05/17 09:17 AM Re: Calling all late 80s/early 90s Cobalt owners..need advice [Re: TechieTechie]  
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TechieTechie Offline
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TechieTechie  Offline
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Morning Ted....

Yep, the deadrise and the Cobalt's handling on the open seas has always been a bit of a 'nag' in the back of my mind. The odd thing is, now I am wondering if I shouldn't re-open the door to the 80s Formula express cruisers. I think they are in the 20+ deadrise range (I am going to call today to confirm). I struck them out due to 1 forum post (about their high COG)..but I'm wondering if I should not at least sea trial them (there are a crapton more of them available than Cobalts). There are 10k Sea Rays with similar size characteristics on the ocean, they can't all be unseaworthy.

Yeah, I hate the idea of wood in these suckers..I sorta opened the door for a Sea Ray once I found out that Cobalts, until 95, had wood stringers. Back then, they all had wood. Plan on having it surveyed (in the hopes that a moisture meter will find any rot). I am hoping to find a garage queen (lift or trailer queen, I guess), but I know those can have rot too.

Argh, decisions, decisions.






Last edited by TechieTechie; 09/05/17 09:35 AM.
#569026 - 09/06/17 04:44 AM Re: Calling all late 80s/early 90s Cobalt owners..need advice [Re: TechieTechie]  
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tpenfield Offline
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tpenfield  Offline
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Originally Posted by TechieTechie
Morning Ted....

I am wondering if I shouldn't re-open the door to the 80s Formula express cruisers. . . . I struck them out due to 1 forum post (about their high COG)..but I'm wondering if I should not at least sea trial them (there are a crapton more of them available than Cobalts).



Internet forums are 95% opinion . . . I would imagine the person posting about the high CoG on the cruisers has no idea of how it compares to similar boats.

Last edited by tpenfield; 09/06/17 04:47 AM.

Regards, Ted

Formula 330SS

My Boat Web Sites
#569322 - 10/01/17 04:22 PM Re: Calling all late 80s/early 90s Cobalt owners..need advice [Re: TechieTechie]  
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TechieTechie Offline
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I swear, I am just going to go man overboard and forget even buying a boat.

Yesterday I looked at a baby version of your boat, Ted, the 280SS. Great cockpit, but the stupid bulkhead/deck support in the vberth basically cuts 18" off an already small 5'8" vberth.

Looked at a 32' Blackfin yesterday, great size and style, but there is no way I want to manage a ladder to get to the captain's chair.

Today I looked a very, very nicely maintained, single screw '98 Formula 27 PC. Didn't love the 17 deadrise, but I thought hmm, maybe it's manageable since it's got great cabin headroom, comfortable sleeping for four, a head that is actually useable, and a very, very clean interior. Until I found rot in a stringer in the bilge (in the cabin) with soft wood in the front of the engine compartment.

How hard is it to find a clean, 27-28 ft boat with 20+ degree deadrise, sleeping for four, enclosed head, small galley, decent deck space and some get up and go!


Last edited by TechieTechie; 10/01/17 04:23 PM.
#569324 - 10/01/17 09:45 PM Re: Calling all late 80s/early 90s Cobalt owners..need advice [Re: TechieTechie]  
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Jack T Offline
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"How hard is it to find a clean, 27-28 ft boat with 20+ degree deadrise, sleeping for four, enclosed head, small galley, decent deck space and some get up and go!"

Through your work and determination, we are finding out.

One thing I might do if were you, is to check with a shop that can repair those stringers. Might not be as expensive as you think. Besides, it is now a negotiating point. Also, since winter is coming, any large boat for sale right now will run into $1000's storage for the winter. If you purchase such a boat now, i can be repaired over the winter at less cost than Spring or Summer and storage for you will not be a factor while it is being worked on. This can also be a negotiating point in your favor.


Have a great day of boating
2012 Monterey 224 FS,
300 HP Volvo Penta with catalytic converters

#569325 - 10/01/17 10:53 PM Re: Calling all late 80s/early 90s Cobalt owners..need advice [Re: TechieTechie]  
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TechieTechie Offline
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TechieTechie  Offline
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Thanks Jack. I was just so defeated after seeing that boat today. The 27pc looked SO great, visually, besides the stitching starting to pull on several seams, it really looked well cared for. The owner seemed genuinely surprised that I found this, and frustrated that his previous surveyor didn't (he's only owned it a year and wants to move up to a bigger boat). I don't think he'll negotiate much...he was willing to have a surveyor look at it, but he didn't think it was a big job...and just sorta said that he would store it and live with it, if need be.

Even Tiaras, with their build quality, get rotten stringers. The THT site is full of threads on stringer replacements. At times, I think I should buy an Amberjack and when it starts to visibly rot, just take a chain saw to it....and buy another one.

If I could figure out how to upload pics, I would. I don't see the "add picture' link that is noted in the FAQ. Am I missing something?

Last edited by TechieTechie; 10/01/17 10:53 PM.
#569326 - 10/02/17 08:23 AM Re: Calling all late 80s/early 90s Cobalt owners..need advice [Re: TechieTechie]  
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tpenfield Offline
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tpenfield  Offline
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Cape Cod, MA
TechieTechie,

What you are finding is essentially a budget squeeze, as I believe that you were looking in the $10-15K range IIRC. Your ability to find the moisture/rot in a boat is impressive though. Fixing that stuff is expensive, particularly in a cruiser style boat. Usually, the bad stuff goes about 3X further than what is initially visible. Just take a look at my Formula 330 Bulkhead replacement thread on iBoats. What started out as a wet bulkhead, blossomed into some major structural work.

You will have to make compromises in finding a boat, as you seem to be running up against trying to fit all of your requirements to a high level. Figure out what is most important and lesser importance. Can you deal with a smaller cabin and lower standing height for the benefit of greater cockpit seating? You are not going to hit a home run on your first boat, but you will find out what you like and what you don't like and then can move on in a few years to a boat that better suits you, if you have some dissatisfaction with the first boat.

What became of the Amberjack that you were looking at?

BTW - I am going to be helping a buddy find a Formula in the next few weeks, can you tell me about the 280SS that you looked at? (the what & where) I assume it was around Boston/Eastern MA

Last edited by tpenfield; 10/02/17 11:56 AM.

Regards, Ted

Formula 330SS

My Boat Web Sites
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