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#568754 - 08/10/17 03:12 AM Calling all late 80s/early 90s Cobalt owners..need advice  
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TechieTechie Offline
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Hi,

Recent reader, first time poster. Hi all!

I am in search of my first boat (although I spent many summers aboard, and learning how to drive, in my grandfather's Lyman). I live in greater Boston, so I need to have a boat that can handle the 'snot' of Boston Harbor and cruising up and down the Eastern Seaboard (I suspect Nantucket, on a calm day, would be my farthest offshore, about 30 nm). Just me, so I want a cuddy and something under 26 feet so that I can handle it myself if the urge hits (of course, after I've relearned everything I've forgotten). And, something I can take out in a variety of weather..as summer afternoons, in particular, can kick up some snotty seas (3-5 feet is not uncommon) along the coast and Boston Harbor.

I have fallen in love with late 80s/early 90s Cobalts. They are built like tanks, but look very elegant. And these seem well thought out without going overboard on gadgets. And they don't seem to have nearly as many stringer problems as SeaRays (the other design I like). Chapps are also interesting, but I've read the build quality isn't the same. And if I am going to buy a used boat, I want the initial build to be as close to perfect to account for previous owners mucking up the superstructures. And they are not that much more expensive than excellent condition Bayliners, SeaRays and the like.

I am focusing on 3 boats (dimensions)
1984-1989 Condesa/CS 23. 22'7' centerline, 24 degree deadrise, 8' beam, 4200 lbs.
1990-1993 Condurre 243. 24' centerline, 20 degree deadrise, 8' beam, and 4100 lbs.
1994-1998 ish 233. 23'2" centerline, 20 degree deadrise, 8' 6" beam, and 3300 lbs.

I thought I preferred the Condesas because of the stability (and our rough weather) but the 223 has a porta pottie that is not under a Vberth...which would so SO nice for overnights...and I am a little worried as the freeboard aft is a full foot less on the 233. These are rare boats on the East Coast (tho common in NH and NY) so it will be hard for me to test drive these back to back on poor condition days (particularly since the newer models have a lot less deadrise, so I don't want to use those as testing grounds).

So, ABC'ers, do any of you have these boats? Like, dislike? And if you run them on open waters (Great Lakes, Oceans) I would particularly like to hear how they handle in poor conditions.

Thank you!!!

Techie

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#568755 - 08/10/17 08:28 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
Welcome to BABC . . .

You must be boating out of Cape Cod, if you are thinking Nantucket for a day trip.

I do like the looks of those late 1980-early 1990 Cobalt's. I got myself a 1991 Formula 242 SS as my first power boat (had sailboats previously). Mostly day cruising in Buzzards Bay and through Woods Hole to 'The Vineyard' once in a while.

You are right about the Chappy's from what I have seen on the inside, behind the shine. Sea Ray's are pretty good, but grossly underpowered.

I would think Nantucket is a stretch in a 22-24 footer. Formula may be a better option for the snotty Cape waters than a Cobalt. Cobalts are more the lake boat, but workable in the ocean. The older models may have a deeper V than the newer models. You will want 24 degrees of 'V' (deadrise).

Your biggest challenge will be finding a boat of that era that does not have structural moisture/rot issues. I am not sure if Cobalts of that era had a wood structure, but I think they may have as most boats did. I believe Cobalts have switched to more synthetic materials, but it may be more recent than the years you are looking.

What budget are we talking about? I can keep a look out for any good candidates.


Regards, Ted

Formula 330SS

My Boat Web Sites
#568756 - 08/10/17 09:42 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
I thought I recognized the handle "TechieTechie" . . . you also frequent the THT site. (right?)

They are good for salt water boating, center consoles, and fishing style boats. Here and on iBoats, you will find more folks with the style of boat that you are considering (Mid-sized Cuddy), but more leaning towards fresh water boating.


Regards, Ted

Formula 330SS

My Boat Web Sites
#568757 - 08/10/17 11:32 AM Re: Calling all late 80s/early 90s Cobalt owners..need advice [Re: TechieTechie]  
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captkevin Online content
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captkevin  Online Content
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Chicago, IL
Whats the budget?


2004 Rinker 232
2010 Dodge Ram Crew Cab Laramie 4x4
#568758 - 08/10/17 11:58 AM Re: Calling all late 80s/early 90s Cobalt owners..need advice [Re: TechieTechie]  
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Silverbullet Offline
Admiral
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Boise, ID
I have to agree with Ted. I'm not sure a Cobalt will be the best choice for that type of boating. We also don't have many or any early 90s cobalt owners on this board. I couldn't imagine taking our 226 put in 5 foot seas. I had it in some rougher water in the CA delta and it was tough. I don't think those were anywhere close to 5 foot seas.

Good luck on your search. I would open up your parameters a bit and look at some other brands. Also, in that age of boat, maintenance and care will be the real factor to look for. A boat stored indoors for the last 30 years is going to have far fewer structural issues than one stored outside. Expect boats of that vintage to have issues associated with degrading materials such as wire, hoses, etc.


James
2002 Cobalt 226 VP 8.1GIDP
2007 Chevy 2500HD Crew Cab Duramax
1988 Suburban 3/4 Ton
2000 Subaru Forester


#568760 - 08/10/17 01:15 PM Re: Calling all late 80s/early 90s Cobalt owners..need advice [Re: TechieTechie]  
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On Holiday Offline
Daddy
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Admiral

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PA and Smith Mountain Lake
May want to look at boats similar to Cobia, Tidewater or other Carolina style boats that have that very distinct bow flare that are often used for offshore.


2008 Honda Goldwing Trike
2006 Regal 2400
2004 Dodge Ram 2500
2003 Ford F-150
2002 Harley Davidson Roadking Classic
1998 Honda Civic


#568762 - 08/10/17 01:50 PM Re: Calling all late 80s/early 90s Cobalt owners..need advice [Re: TechieTechie]  
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TechieTechie Offline
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Hi all, thank you for the warm welcome and the quick responses. I was going to reply individually, but there are some overlaps, so hope you don't mind that I answer in bulk.

First off, yes I am the same Techie as THT. There is such a fishing mentality over there, that I thought I might ask this esteemed group as well...though I like their focus on heavy duty, seaworthy crafts! smile

I am just north of Boston, so Nantucket would be part of a longer (not one day) trip. I actually prefer the Vineyard, so Nantucket would be one of those 'perfect day' events that I might do 1x or 2x, ever. Just wanted to give everyone an idea of the farthest offshore I would ever take the boat.

I wondered about wood use in older Cobalts, and wouldn't you know, a 35+ year employee (who worked on the shop floor for 15 years) was kind enough to respond to an email I sent. He says: "We actually did not start using fiberglass stringers until the 252 came out in 1994. The composite liner floor came out at that time, but only on the 252. Every new model after that had the liner floor and fiberglass stringers with the exception of the 190 that came out in 1996. In 1997, we began to install a composite foam transom on our boats, replacing the wood transom. We have always used marine grade plywood in the construction of our boats. It is supposed to be resistant to water intrusion, but we ignored that and covered it first with resin, and once it was installed in the boat, we covered it with fiberglass"

So, now I know I need to look out for rot in older Cobalts (as well as upkeep on the non-structural parts) just like any other older boat (boo!). Good news is that I'm incredibly detailed, and that I go over everything I buy with a fine tooth comb and have them professionally surveyed too. I've purchased several used high end cars this way, direct from the original owners. And they were/are pristine.

Up until last night, I was focusing only the Cobalt 24 degree deadrises (which were only offered in the 1980s Condesas and 23 CM/CSs). These are cuddy tanks at 4k lbs and plenty of forward/aft freeboard (35+ inches each) with 48" transoms. (Similar to a Carolina style). These are not at all the same as any of their bowriders or the 1995+ cuddies (17 degree freeboard)...which I would never dream of taking into the open ocean. I've spoken to several owners of these 24' deadrises (including a weekend sport fisherman out of LA) and they are fine for open water (even THT agrees :)). I was on the fence about the 20 degrees ones, though..sounds like these are probably not the best designs for open water.

I want an incredibly well built (simpler is better), but nicer looking older boat for moving up and down the coast. Good power and agility, but comfortable cruising in calmer seas. I want 22-26' cuddy so that I can overnight (prefer 6'+ Vberth). Enclosed head ideal, but not absolutely required. Tiny galley would be great, but as long as I can get some freshwater, I could survive. I had looked into Formula, but I've heard the build quality is not quite the same as Cobalts (same with Chappys) so I was avoiding. I also crossed off 4 winns, Bayliner and SeaRay due to build quality. I had looked at Grady Whites, but they are a bit too spartan. But I could be persuaded otherwise. Happy to have an unmolested boat that might need some upholstery work down the line if the drivetrain and structure are super solid.

Initial purchase budget is max $15k, including trailer. Ideally under $10k. I have found at least a half dozen Cobalts that are in this range that are not junkers (but none yet to my exacting specifications...one in CA was very close, owner had poured tons of money into upkeep, but he was a sportfisherman, with too many modifications for my taste. IAm willing to wait (and turn over every rock) to find the right boat. I already have Craigs list set up to send me a notification anytime a Cobalt is listed on any CL site (nationwide)....I actually prefer to buy direct from the owner. Here's an example of a Condesa:
http://www.boatsbygeorge.com/defaul...amp;t=preowned&fr=xPreOwnedInventory

Thanks all, again for the warm welcome and anything you might be able to help with!


Last edited by TechieTechie; 08/10/17 02:01 PM.
#568764 - 08/10/17 02:32 PM Re: Calling all late 80s/early 90s Cobalt owners..need advice [Re: TechieTechie]  
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captkevin Online content
Admiral
captkevin  Online Content
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Chicago, IL
Nice looking older Cobalt. Good luck


2004 Rinker 232
2010 Dodge Ram Crew Cab Laramie 4x4
#568765 - 08/10/17 02:32 PM Re: Calling all late 80s/early 90s Cobalt owners..need advice [Re: TechieTechie]  
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Silverbullet Offline
Admiral
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Boise, ID
It sounds like you have done some good research. I was not aware the older cobalts were that different from a styling perspective.

You many things going for you. First and foremost is patience. Most, don't have that patience and ultimately overlook things because they want to get on the water. The number of threads on iboats about people buying a boat and finding out it's junk is amazing.

A good thing about boats is virtually everything can be replaced or rebuild if you have the time and patience. Floors, stringers, transom, etc. I am not advocating that you buy a boat that needs all that, just pointing it out.

Good luck on your search.


James
2002 Cobalt 226 VP 8.1GIDP
2007 Chevy 2500HD Crew Cab Duramax
1988 Suburban 3/4 Ton
2000 Subaru Forester


#568766 - 08/10/17 04:20 PM Re: Calling all late 80s/early 90s Cobalt owners..need advice [Re: TechieTechie]  
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tpenfield Offline
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Cape Cod, MA
Good info on your search. A few additional comments . .

Despite my bias, I would say Formula and Cobalt are in the same league as far as build quality. Both companies are very meticulous about their boat construction. Having been into the 'guts' of 2 Formula's, I can say that they are built like tanks and have a more robust structure and a better engine mounting design than most other boat builders. Cobalt was a bit quicker to transition into synthetic materials. Formula does so on their FasTec and Super sport lines, but still uses wood on the Sun Sport and Performance Cruiser lines. I think Cobalt has transitioned all of their lines to a synthetic structure

Glassed in fiberglass will still absorb water. Fiberglass is porous at a molecular level and so the glassing in of wood does not prevent water intrusion, it just slows it down. Most boats absorb water from the fuel tank bay and/or the transom, as that is where water collects and is not readily accessible. It then spreads up the bulkheads and into the stringers.

Your budget is light, so that will most likely put you into a boat that will need some work, even though they may be advertised as in great condition. Boats are always full of surprises and you will typically put 15-25% of your initial investment into it each year, depending on what that initial investment is. I would not be looking across the country, or even any great distance for a boat in the $15K range . . . $150K, maybe, but not $15K. I also would not rely on just the surveyors word and report. I would want to be there during the survey & sea trial to see first hand what is being found and be able to ask questions. Purchasing a boat at a long distance does not make that an easy or inexpensive process. Then you have to transport the boat, which is not an inexpensive proposition either, so both risk and cost go up.

If you are on the north shore of Boston, you will probably find yourself not going to the Vineyard or Nantucket very often. Going through the Cape Cod canal would be the quickest way and you are about 75 nm to MV and 105 nm to Nantucket. The cigarette boats tend to do that in the evening after the marine patrol packs it in for the night, as they go about 70 mph the whole way. I usually hear then screaming across the bay around 7 PM.

We never stayed overnight in our 24 foot boat (Cuddy) . . . just too small to be comfortable. If you are thinking about overnight capabilities, I would go towards the higher end of your range, say 26 feet. Sure, the 22-24 foot boats have overnighting amenities on paper, but in reality, they are not all that comfortable IMO. you don't really start to see enclosed heads until you get into the 28 foot range.


Last edited by tpenfield; 08/10/17 04:24 PM.

Regards, Ted

Formula 330SS

My Boat Web Sites
#568772 - 08/10/17 07:54 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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@CaptainKevin. Thank you. I like the look of these early Cobalts smile

@Silver. Hi there...it's funny, I had the misconception too that Cobalts were just bowrisers and zippy boats until I found in some forum (thank goodness for the internet!) about these old 'bricks' of Cobalts. The good news is that my Dad has been on the water his whole life, and has restored something like 6 or 8 boats. Good news is that I have a sense of what I'm getting into buying an older boat...the bad news is that I have a sense of where the money is going to go smile

@Ted. Thank you for setting me straight about Formula. I thought they were all scream queens...but lo and behold a simple check on Boat Trader proves me wrong (duh). Are there particular models or years you would recommend (given that you know Formulas and our lively Bay conditions!). I noticed this Formula F-233 on Boat Trader. What was immediately apparent there was NO CARPET (this was my internal monologue, not directed to BABC, apologies in advance if anyone is reading it this way). Of all the design decisions Cobalt made, I cannot believe they affixed carpet into a boat shell with wood framing framing. I know that was common building practices back then...but I can tell you, that will be on any boat list...get rid of carpet (and from what I've read, I understand it ain't an easy task).

I was already planning on burning thru some of my frequent flyer miles for test runs and the surveys. I've learned my lessons that surveyors are human too and miss things (they certainly did on my house) I've got the funds ready. I've purchased 3 used BMWs via national searches (CT, CO and CA)..to me it's part of the adventure (I like putting my air miles and hotel points to good use). I flew to CA with literally a purse full of $100 bills....talk about nerve wracking. But I find that cash is king during negotiations.

And, that is the only bad thing about me buying a boat now, is that my BMW touring can only tow light craft, but certainly not anything seaworthy. So I already have figured in $$$ for transport. And that I will have to rent a van or uhaul if I want to trailer (and that I need to consider the wear and tear having it on a mooring. The reason I want a smaller boat is that it's just me. I would not feel comfortable docking anything bigger than a 24 out solo (maybe a 26). I am a backpacker and camper, so I don't mind terribly that my first boat will be cramped and a bit like boat camping (actually, I'd prefer small and simple while I am still renovating the house)...but I know that I will be a greater risk for 2/4/6 foot-its down the road!

If there are other makes you like, I am certainly open to suggestions.

PS..if you don't mind me asking Ted, where are you on the Cape? My dream of a relaxing vacation is a small oceanfront shack in Wellfleet (now that's an oxymoron!)


Last edited by TechieTechie; 08/10/17 08:07 PM.
#568773 - 08/10/17 09:09 PM 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

Last edited by tpenfield; 08/10/17 09:11 PM.

Regards, Ted

Formula 330SS

My Boat Web Sites
#568776 - 08/10/17 09:30 PM Re: Calling all late 80s/early 90s Cobalt owners..need advice [Re: TechieTechie]  
Joined: Aug 2005
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tpenfield Offline
Admiral
tpenfield  Offline
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Cape Cod, MA
In terms of your question about carpeted floors vs fiberglass floor (w/ snap-in carpets). During the late 1980's - 1990's the manufacturers were changing the design and construction of their boats . . . mostly to save $$$, but also to offer design improvements. Boats with fiberglass floors are typically the modern design, where the boat is essentially a 'clamshell' . . . the deck, cockpit, and floor are a single molded fiberglass piece that is mated to the hull of the boat at the rubrail.

Boats with full carpeting are the older design where the floor (wood) is a separate piece that is laid on top of the stringers and glassed over and attached to the sides of the hull with fiberglass 'tabbing'. The problems are that the carpet holds water and the water seeps through the fiberglass and into the rest of the boat structure and results in rot.

Formula started making the modern 'clamshell' boats in 1987/1988. I am not sure when Cobalt transitioned, but probably around that same time. Other boat manufacturers, like Sea Ray were really late in the game and did not transition to the new design until the late 1990's.

The 24 foot Formulas from the early 1990's weighed about 4700 lb dry. I got a 4WD Explorer V8 to tow it. 7000 lb towing rating. The 22 foot boats will be in the 4K lb. range the 24 footers will be 4500-5K lbs. a 26 footer will be 5500-6K lbs.

Last edited by tpenfield; 08/10/17 09:39 PM.

Regards, Ted

Formula 330SS

My Boat Web Sites
#568777 - 08/10/17 10:24 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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Ted, that is the one thing that makes me nervous about Cobalt is the carpet + wood structural members.

Thanks for the links. It's interesting, the boats you've noted are pretty much the same dimensions of Cobalt's late 1980/early 1990 20 and 17 degree deadrise designs. I would not touch the 17s with a ten foot pole (I don't want to jar my teeth loose or wait for a calm day). But have you ridden these 24 feet, 20 degree designs in our area? (actually, now that I've followed your link, it looks like you owned this type of boat). How did they ride in our Mass Bay/Coastal NE slop? What conditions did you have to avoid (or what was your fatigue point)? I grew up on Lake Erie (with a Lyman) so I was used to the chunk chunk chunk of breaking waves...but now, I'm not sure my middle aged knees would like it so much smile

In the meantime, I found a (what looks to be) pristine, freshwater, single owner Formula 1985 cabin cruiser (25') hidden away on some obscure website. Typical 24 deadrise, 8 foot beam, 4300 lb monster....but within my budget (I don't want to post a direct link for fear of vexing the gods). 6 foot headroom down below, honest to goodness head, and a small galley. Underpowered, but that is fixable in the long run (and it means the previous owners probably didn't beat the crap out of it). I couldn't believe it. It was the boat Cobalt just missed out on building. Same amenities of the 1968 26' Lyman Express Cruiser I would buy if I didn't have a house to renovate. Already sent an email. smile

I don't need supersonic speed all day long, but a nice ride that can really move (and be nimble) when I need it.

Thank you SO much for all your words of wisdom, they are greatly appreciated.

#568778 - 08/11/17 06:22 AM Re: Calling all late 80s/early 90s Cobalt owners..need advice [Re: TechieTechie]  
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tpenfield Offline
Admiral
tpenfield  Offline
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Cape Cod, MA
There are not many Cobalts that I have seen on Cape Cod, a few, but not many. So, no real opportunities to ride on them (for me). SilverBullet and PDQCobalt are our resident Cobalt experts, I would say. So. maybe they can comment on their boats vs. any others they have ridden on, etc

The older Formula 'SS', 'LS', and 'SR1' models all had 24 degree deadrise. The Cruiser 'PC' lines, which are the cabin cruisers, that I think you are referring to, tend to have about 20 degree deadrise. Formula has their old brochures posted on their website. So, the spec's for the older models are easy to check.

Here is the link to the 1985 brochure, in case you don't have it. I think the model you are referring to is the 'F-25'. Doesn't specify the dearise, only the beam and the draft.

https://www.formulaboats.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/1985-Formula-Cruiser-Brochure.pdf

In looking at boats, I have learned not to go by what the seller says about the boat's specifications, but to verify everything, because often they don't know the right information.

Anyway, I think either Cobalt or Formula will be a good choice, so long as you can find the right boat that is in good condition. You seem to be leaning towards inboard/outboard ( 'I/O' aka sterndrive ) boats rather than outboard powered boats. I wonder if there you have a specific preference idn Outboards generally like salt water better than sterndrives. Grady-Whites are a dime a dozen along the New England coast, as are many other brands of 'walk-around' express cruisers, with outboard engines..


Last edited by tpenfield; 08/11/17 12:02 PM.

Regards, Ted

Formula 330SS

My Boat Web Sites
#568779 - 08/11/17 07:09 AM Re: Calling all late 80s/early 90s Cobalt owners..need advice [Re: TechieTechie]  
Joined: Aug 2005
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tpenfield Offline
Admiral
tpenfield  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2005
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Cape Cod, MA


Regards, Ted

Formula 330SS

My Boat Web Sites
#568783 - 08/11/17 09:07 AM Re: Calling all late 80s/early 90s Cobalt owners..need advice [Re: TechieTechie]  
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Dock Holiday Offline
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Dock Holiday  Offline
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Lake Geneva, WI
Techie - Do you have hard size or weight restrictions (garage/storage space, in water slip, tow vehicle)?

#568784 - 08/11/17 10:27 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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Good morning all,

Ted, to your first question, I don't have a preference for I/O...that is what seems to be on boats in my price range. Actually I am sorta partial to inboards, only because I grew up on a late 60s Lyman (well, that any inboards and I/Os have a real gas tank). But in my range, they don't seem to make many pure inboards. Stupid newb question, can a pure outboard have a permanent gas tank?

I looked at the most recommended cruising Grady that was in my pricerange (can't remember, but it was recommended by THT and was in the 24foot range)...and it was pretty fishy looking for my taste. I do know they are highly recommended, though. I am scanning Boat Trader for any that catch my eye. Appreciate the links for the brochures (I already had 15 years of Cobalt downloaded to my HD). It's funny Ted, I looked at your boat site and saw your maintenance page...it's hilarious, I do the same type of excel running list for my car searches and running maintenance! And yes, the 23 and 25 were both intriguing.

Hi Dock! With an original Euro tow hook, my wagon is rated to tow 4500 lbs with a tongue weight of 150ish. Not really in line with the kind of boat I am looking for...so no restrictions there. I really want to keep under 26 feet (prefer 24) with a single, flat cockpit so that I can easily dock it myself. In Boston, I'll be relegated to mooring for the first couple of years, so no dock restrictions. And, of course, under 8.5' beam so that I can take it most anywhere.

Okay, off to look at boats (oops, I mean work) for the day.

Have a great day all!

Last edited by TechieTechie; 08/11/17 10:34 AM.
#568786 - 08/11/17 12:42 PM 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
Yup, outboards tend to be more money, so you will definitely find more I/O boats in your budget range.

I make lists for maintenance so that I don't forget anything. . . it's funny how the list grows smile


Regards, Ted

Formula 330SS

My Boat Web Sites
#568792 - 08/13/17 06:05 PM 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
You will tend to see more Formula's on the ocean waters and more Cobalts on inland waters

As an example, we went over to Bassett Island (Buzzards Bay) today, saw about 10 Formulas, 1 Cobalt

Last edited by tpenfield; 08/16/17 07:49 AM.

Regards, Ted

Formula 330SS

My Boat Web Sites
#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.
#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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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