By Doug Thompson
Sometimes the best place on a boat isn’t behind the wheel, but stretched out on a sunpad watching the world go by—and letting someone else pilot the vessel. The innovative layout and design of Cobalt Boats’ new A40 may sway more guests and even owners toward lounging rather than driving, as we discovered during our three-hour tour of the 40-foot sport yacht at the 2014 Miami International Boat Show in February.
Here’s why it’s awfully tempting to let someone else be in control: a huge aft island sunpad that has a split backrest that moves fore and aft. Move the backrest all the way aft and you’ve got a conventional front-facing lounge with a sunpad; move it all the forward and you’ve got a backrest for the sunpad, ideal for reclining in comfort. This setup is just one of many interesting features Cobalt has built into the A40, which is new for 2014. The boat we reviewed was hull No. 2, and Cobalt is in full production on the A40 and delivering boats to customers.
While relaxing and lounging is a big draw, the A40 also offers a first-class experience for the driver, utilizing Volvo Penta’s new Glass Cockpit navigation system (see Engine Room in the April 2014 issue of Southern Boating). Powered by a pair of Volvo Penta D6 diesel, 5.8-liter, 400-horsepower engines mated to stern drives with joystick control, the A40 has twin 12-inch Garmin Glass Cockpit 8212 multi-function displays mounted side by side on the dash. “It’s easy to use and takes hardly any time to get used to,” says Alex Barry, Cobalt’s western regional manager. “Once you learn to use it and become aware of all the functions you have, it’s going to be second nature and something you are lost without.”
Another appreciated feature is the joystick control, which allows for excellent low-speed maneuvering. The A40 does not have a bowthruster, but even in tight docking situations the joystick allows for precise steering with just a slight twist or push. Volvo Penta’s fly-by-wire software commands—from the joystick control—the individual stern drives with just the right throttle and thrust to move the boat into the helmsman’s desired position.
The helm features a bolster arrangement that can be configured for comfortable sitting or standing, with a well-positioned steering wheel and Volvo Penta throttles and shifters in a good position. Stainless-steel accessory switches are in a row below the twin Garmin multi-function displays, and the pop-up switch lights up when you turn them on. Detailed piping and stitching on the fabric and teak accents in the deck are elegant touches, and the entire helm area can be closed off with Strataglass. The hard top offers plenty of sun protection and also has space for optional radar and entertainment/communication antennas.
The A40 is the latest flagship of the fleet built at Cobalt’s manufacturing plant in Neodesha, Kansas, and the newest in the builder’s A Series, which also includes the A25 and A28. With a dry weight of just under 20,000 pounds, it’s a capable cruiser built with an extended running surface to withstand rough sea conditions. The A40’s ride is complemented by Lenco trim tabs that work in concert with an auto-leveling system you can set via the Glass Cockpit. The auto-leveling system uses an onboard gyro to stabilize the boat, providing an extremely smooth ride.
“This runs beautifully with the Volvo Penta stern drive engines,” says Barry, who notes that buyers can also choose optional Mercury and Volvo Penta power plants. “The boat will run to 47 mph at 3600 rpm, and then you can throttle back to a nice cruise at 30 mph at 2000 rpm. At that speed it gets about 1.5 miles per gallon, so you could run out to Bimini from Miami and have plenty of fuel left over. The boat is built for cruising and day boating.”
Cobalt designed the A40 for day boating, but there’s room for living aboard with generous headroom down below and berths for four people. The forward cabin features a V-berth that offers dual functionality: first, with twin facing settees and center table, and second, as a berth with a table that drops down and a filler cushion inserted to make a double berth. Air conditioning keeps it cool and a center skylight/hatch lets in plenty of natural light. To port is a galley with freshwater sink, refrigerator and freezer, and above that are the boat’s voltage-sensitive relay (VSR) panel—which determines what batteries need to be charged—and controls for the Sirius audio system.
The dedicated two-person berth under the helm area to starboard comes complete with a flat-screen television. A well-appointed head is nicely designed and offers plenty of room, and features a VacuFlush toilet with macerator, shower and elegant vessel-style sink.
Stepping up into the saloon/helm area, a comfortable L-shaped settee is to port while the two-person helm is to starboard. Aft of the helm seat is the outdoor galley, which features another freshwater sink and outdoor barbecue that can be closed off with a fiberglass lid that raises and lowers on hydraulic rams. In the down position the lid offers generous counter space for serving and preparing food.
In the center aft is the island sunpad, the front of which rises up on hydraulic rams to reveal the engine room, and access to the Kohler 6.0-kW diesel generator and twin Volvo Penta power plants. The aft end of the huge sunpad opens to reveal two large storage lockers with room for lifejackets and other gear.
Aft of the sunpad is the smartly designed transom floor and swim platform. The swim platform can be lowered with the push of a button from an above-waterline position to two feet below the surface, making it extremely easy to reboard from the water. A freshwater hot-and-cold shower is also well positioned, and twin audio speakers deliver the tunes.
“This has a 12-foot beam but most people think it’s at least 14 feet wide,” Barry says. “We had 13 people on here the other day and there was plenty of space for everyone, and the boat performed as if I was aboard alone. Everyone was able to find a spot to relax and enjoy the day. Enjoyment is what this boat is intended for—a social gathering place for people on the water.”
Weight (half load displacement): 19,926 lbs.
Fuel/Water: 225/50 U.S. gals.
Power: 2x Volvo Penta D6 400-hp engines
Cruise/Top Speed: 30/47 mph
1715 N. 8th St.
Neodesha, KS 66757
Southern Boating May 2014