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#568754 - 08/10/17 02:12 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 07:28 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 08:42 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 10:32 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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Whats the budget?


2004 Rinker 232
2010 Dodge Ram Crew Cab Laramie 4x4
#568758 - 08/10/17 10:58 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 12:15 PM Re: Calling all late 80s/early 90s Cobalt owners..need advice [Re: TechieTechie]  
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On Holiday Offline
Daddy
On Holiday  Offline
Daddy
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 12:50 PM Re: Calling all late 80s/early 90s Cobalt owners..need advice [Re: TechieTechie]  
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TechieTechie Offline
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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 01:01 PM.
#568764 - 08/10/17 01:32 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 01:32 PM Re: Calling all late 80s/early 90s Cobalt owners..need advice [Re: TechieTechie]  
Joined: Jun 2004
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Silverbullet Offline
Admiral
Silverbullet  Offline
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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 03:20 PM Re: Calling all late 80s/early 90s Cobalt owners..need advice [Re: TechieTechie]  
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tpenfield Offline
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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 03:24 PM.

Regards, Ted

Formula 330SS

My Boat Web Sites
#568772 - 08/10/17 06:54 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 07:07 PM.
#568773 - 08/10/17 08:09 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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Posts: 2,284
Cape Cod, MA

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

Regards, Ted

Formula 330SS

My Boat Web Sites
#568776 - 08/10/17 08:30 PM Re: Calling all late 80s/early 90s Cobalt owners..need advice [Re: TechieTechie]  
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 2,284
tpenfield Offline
Admiral
tpenfield  Offline
Admiral

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Posts: 2,284
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 08:39 PM.

Regards, Ted

Formula 330SS

My Boat Web Sites
#568777 - 08/10/17 09:24 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 05:22 AM Re: Calling all late 80s/early 90s Cobalt owners..need advice [Re: TechieTechie]  
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tpenfield Offline
Admiral
tpenfield  Offline
Admiral

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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 11:02 AM.

Regards, Ted

Formula 330SS

My Boat Web Sites
#568779 - 08/11/17 06:09 AM Re: Calling all late 80s/early 90s Cobalt owners..need advice [Re: TechieTechie]  
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 2,284
tpenfield Offline
Admiral
tpenfield  Offline
Admiral

Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 2,284
Cape Cod, MA


Regards, Ted

Formula 330SS

My Boat Web Sites
#568783 - 08/11/17 08:07 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 09:27 AM Re: Calling all late 80s/early 90s Cobalt owners..need advice [Re: TechieTechie]  
Joined: Aug 2017
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TechieTechie Offline
Warrant Officer
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 09:34 AM.
#568786 - 08/11/17 11:42 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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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 05:05 PM Re: Calling all late 80s/early 90s Cobalt owners..need advice [Re: TechieTechie]  
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tpenfield Offline
Admiral
tpenfield  Offline
Admiral

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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 06:49 AM.

Regards, Ted

Formula 330SS

My Boat Web Sites
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