Tags Posts tagged with "Volvo Penta"

Volvo Penta

People Pleaser

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.”


LOA: 39’6″
Beam: 12’0″
Draft: 40″
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
MSRP: Inquire


Cobalt Boats
1715 N. 8th St.
Neodesha, KS 66757
(800) 468-5764


Southern Boating May 2014

This Is One Smooth Operator

The future is here with Volvo Penta’s new Glass Cockpit navigation system. In collaboration with Garmin, Volvo Penta has created a user-friendly control platform at the helm that makes boating more simple and fun. If you’ve used a smartphone or tablet computer, you’ll be at home swiping, pinching and zooming your way around the display screens.

Now, for the most part you can still actually drive boats with the Glass Cockpit system—all the fun doesn’t have to be automated. But it can be. Garmin’s auto-guidance feature suggests the best way to avoid obstacles and shallow water, and if you pair it with autopilot, you’ve created a self-driving boat.

We took a long ride at the 2014 Miami International Boat Show on the new Cobalt A40 cruiser equipped with the Glass Cockpit system. Powered by a pair of Volvo Penta D6 diesel 400-horsepower engines mated to stern drives with joystick control, the A40 has twin 12-inch Volvo Penta Glass Cockpit 8212 multi-function displays mounted side by side on the dash. With the power off, the blank screens looked sad and uninteresting. But when you fire up the engines, the world of boating in the electronic age springs brilliantly to life.

“It’s easy to use and takes hardly any time to get used to,” explained Alex Barry, Cobalt’s western regional manager. Indeed, on one screen Barry had saved past routes through a crowded Biscayne Bay in the chartplotter view and simply followed the path without ever having to worry about obstacles. On the other screen, we toggled through a host of engine and performance information, and then started “dividing” the screen into even smaller screens. The captain decides what functions should be displayed on the screens and how they should be distributed.

Volvo Penta’s goal with the Glass Cockpit is to make boating more car-like. The system is less complicated because everything is integrated, and there is one point of contact if a problem arises. “The Volvo Penta Glass Cockpit gives the boat operator a similar experience to driving a modern automobile,” said Marcia Kull, Volvo Penta’s vice president of North American marine sales. “The driver environment in cars is similar regardless of the car brand. A driver pushes a button with confidence that it all will work. In the boating world, it has not been quite as easy—until now.”

The Volvo Penta Glass Cockpit gives the boat operator a similar experience to driving a modern automobile

The Volvo Penta Glass Cockpit gives the boat operator a similar experience to driving a modern automobile

It’s true that if you lose power, your screens won’t work, but just like in a car, nothing else will work, either. That’s no different than if your boat had analog gauges and you lost power, but for some reason it just feels different to have your speedometer or tachometer as a virtual gauge and not a hard one cut into the dash panel. “If you lose only the functionality of the screens the boat is still going to continue to run,” Barry explained. “However, the helm is all digital and if something is to go wrong, it’s not going to be the Glass Cockpit system; it’s going to be a problem with whatever is feeding it. Remember, what’s new is that Volvo and Garmin are doing this project together; this technology has been around for a few years now and it’s tried and proven.”

Garmin’s side of the technology centers around its GPSMAP 8000 Glass Helm system that includes sonar, radar, VHF communications, GPS antenna, autopilot hardware, regional navigations charts, and software updates.

The Glass Cockpit system is a standard feature on the Cobalt A40 when powered by Volvo Penta engines. The displays are easy and intuitive to handle, with touch and pinch-to-zoom functionality. Depending on boat type and size, one or more displays can be mounted on the dashboard. The screens are available in different sizes from 8 to 19 inches. The Glass Cockpit system is fully integrated with the Volvo Penta Electronic Vessel Control (EVC). That means that all Volvo Penta easy boating options—dynamic positioning system, trim tabs or interceptors and autopilot—can be monitored and controlled through the displays.

“In addition to the benefits for the boat owners, the Glass Cockpit system opens up a new world of possibilities for boat builders to create exciting—but also logical, safe and ergonomic—dashboard designs,” said Kull. “And the boat owners will be able to drive the boat in a relaxed but safe manner and enjoy the ride—which is why they bought a boat in the first place. This capability is possible thanks to Volvo Penta’s boating knowledge and the Volvo Group’s experience with driver environment designs.”

By Doug Thompson, Southern Boating April 2014

Volvo Penta pairs their new D11 diesel engine with IPS950 pod drives for a perfect combination.

Green and clean may have a fuddy-duddy reputation to some people—good for the environment but some say not much fun—however, Volvo Penta is changing that with its new D11 725-hp diesel engine. When paired with the company’s new IPS950 pod drives, the robust powerplant is more fuel efficient and pollutes less.

The D11 engine’s innovative technology creates an optimized air and fuel pressure ratio, which increases combustion efficiency. After-cooling provides more engine power, and on the exhaust end it simply emits less particulate pollution. That’s because the new D11 engine must comply with the world’s most stringent environmental legislation, U.S. EPA Tier 3, which comes into force this year. The particulate emissions requirements are 40 percent lower when compared with the old Tier 2 levels.

“The IPS800 and 950 are matched with the new 625- and 725-horsepower D11 diesel engines, providing a perfect combination of torque, speed and maneuverability for 40- to 60-foot flybridge yachts and sports cruisers,” says Marcia Kull, Vice President, Marine Sales North America, Volvo Penta of the Americas. “The result is two new and reliable drive packages both with a unique high torque.”

At the 2013 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show last fall, the Tiara 50 Coupe was equipped with the D11-IPS950 package. In fact, the boat builder designed the 50 Coupe specifically to utilize the new engine. “Tiara has enjoyed a very successful engineering and working relationship with Volvo Penta from the beginning of the IPS system in 2005 in North America,” says David Glenn, marketing director for Tiara Yachts. Tiara was one of the first manufacturers to incorporate that entire IPS system in a boat, which was the 40 Sovereign at that time. “With the Tiara 50 we took the same approach,” Glenn continues. “We designed the hull around the D11 engine to take advantage of the higher fuel efficiency and the EPA ratings. The IPS950 drive line gives you less drag, and we positioned the engines and drives accordingly to take advantage of the CG (center of gravity) and loads. It runs well and is very nimble around the docks.” On the all-new Tiara 50, the technologically advanced D11-IPS950 power package in a twin application is matched to a successful ocean proven hull. This delivers a solid ride whether enjoying a calm day cruise or pushing the vessel to island getaways far offshore.

Cruisers Yachts is developing new 50- to 58-foot coupe and bridge models for 2015 utilizing the D11 engines and IPS950 drives. “We are closely tied with Volvo Penta on this project,” offers Jon Viestenz, Cruisers’ regional sales and product development manager. “It’s exciting and the engines and drives offer a wide range of performance options.”

Offered in three power classes—625, 670 and 725 horsepower—the D11 engines also provide more powerful torque, improved drivability and reduced noise levels compared to other engines in these horsepower classes. “The new D11 series is based on the latest technology within the Volvo Group, and has been optimized for marine use,” Kull adds. “The result is a compact, powerful engine series with new and improved basic design. In addition to a wider range of power classes, the in-line, six-cylinder diesel engines are enhanced with a large number of technical upgrades.”

The engines use the latest generation of the Volvo Penta electronic platform, the Electronic Vessel Control (EVC). The latest generation of EVC enables an additional number of features for increased security and control, and improved functionality.

“We have further enhanced our twin-entry turbo where each exhaust pulse maximizes charging pressure,” explains Thomas Lantz, Chief Product Manager at Volvo Penta. “This gives an extremely powerful torque already at low RPM. The engine responds instantly to operator commands and provides improved drivability with stronger acceleration.”

Pairing the D11 engine with the new IPS800 and 950 drive packages provides higher torque, better drivability and significantly less noise. With steerable drive units and double forward-facing propellers, the Volvo Penta IPS system provides about 30 percent lower fuel consumption and 20 percent higher top speed compared with traditional shaft installations.

Inside the IPS unit the mechanical compressor increases the charging pressure directly from low RPMs and creates an even more powerful low-speed torque. Together with the double forward-facing and counter-rotating propellers the boat operator enjoys an extremely good grip in the water. “The drive packages are more responsive to commands and together with the joystick control, the result is significantly improved maneuverability,” Lantz adds.

The D11 series and the new IPS models are based on the same installation dimensions as before, which could help reduce costs for boat builders. All fuel and oil filters, oil dipstick and oil filler are gathered in the back of the engine where they are easily accessible for servicing, which allows for easier maintenance. The IPS installation is delivered in a complete package from Volvo Penta. In comparison to a setup with shaft drives, the installation time is reduced by more than 50 percent.

By Don Minikus, Southern Boating February 2014

A Modern Classic

By Doug Thompson

When the Grand Banks Yachts’ design team conceived the new Eastbay 50 SX at the 2012 Miami International Boat Show, choosing Volvo Penta IPS (Integrated Propulsion System) propulsion was a landmark move. IPS was introduced in the mid-2000s and is now common, yet Grand Banks had never utilized the forward-facing propeller IPS design. “It’s our first foray with Volvo Penta and we are impressed,” explained Tucker West, general manager of Grand Banks Northwest in Seattle. Tucker was on hand at the 2013 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show to introduce the brand-new Eastbay 50 SX. “The horsepower is outstanding, and the location and setup of the engines allows us to keep the cockpit lower.”

Volvo Penta isn’t the only company offering pod propulsion, and Grand Banks has offered boats with Cummins diesel power and Zeus pod drives. However, the combination of new twin Volvo Penta D11 700-hp engines and IPS 950 drives are a superb fit for the low-profile Eastbay 50 SX (traditional shaft drives are also available.) The yacht features a swept-back look from bow to stern with large side windows that create a feeling of speed even at rest. “The IPS propulsion offers an improvement in fuel efficiency and excellent maneuverability with the joystick controls,” West said. “At 28 knots you are burning 45 gallons per hour of fuel, and that is excellent for a boat of this size.”

Grand Banks launched the Eastbay Series in 1993, and the new 50 SX stays true to the C.R. Hunt design, while adding big boat features such as side bulwark doors, an integrated foredeck sunpad, retractable cockpit awning/shade, side helm door, and a mammoth retractable sunroof. Opening the sunroof fills the helm station with natural light and connects the captain and passengers to the outdoors. The boat’s stout construction begins with a PVC foam-cored, hand-laid fiberglass hull, with a deep-V entry for excellent sea-keeping in rough water. Humphree trim tabs are standard equipment with the Volvo IPS package—with the push of a button, a stainless steel plate descends or ascends to change the running angle of the boat.

“Most Eastbay owners cruise the Eastern seaboard down to The Bahamas in the spring and cruise New England, Maine or Canada in the summer,” West said. “If you were to order one right now we can deliver the boat in about 12 months. The boat is built at our factory in Singapore, shrink-wrapped and delivered to the U.S., where we install the electronics to the owner’s liking and do the final fit and finish. We are on hull number three. Hull number one was sold to the same customer that bought our first Eastbay 49 in 1996.”

The 50 SX is entirely done in teak, and when boarding the boat the aft cockpit offers a stately setting with a white transom couch and table forward. The table folds in half and allows access to the engine room through a hatch in the deck. Removable buckets act as storage bins when in place—simply remove the bins to access the pod drives for servicing. An optional docking station was added to the boat we reviewed, housed inside a hideaway compartment aft of the deckhouse. The IPS package also offers Volvo Penta’s optional DPS (Dynamic Position System), which holds your boat’s heading and keeps it within a very limited area—even in a current or in windy conditions—while you set fenders and lines.

Off the back of the boat is a teak swim platform that’s both wide and deep enough to accommodate a few deck chairs for lounging, and it also has chocks that pop out and rise up from a flush position for mounting a dinghy. An optional hydraulic swim platform with a 350-kg capacity can help assist the launch and storage of a tender.

Double-sliding six-panel doors lead into the main saloon with 6′ 8″ headroom and elongated side windows to provide expansive views. Comfortable couches are positioned to port and starboard with a popup flat-screen television for an extra touch. The control station with two Stidd helm chairs is to starboard and offers an expansive dash with all the necessary electronics, steering wheel, and throttle and trim tab controls.

The galley and staterooms are accessed down a three-step staircase and again, the teak joinery is resplendent amid the drawers and cabinets of the portside galley. The galley features intelligently designed pullout glassware stowage, a Sub-Zero refrigerator and freezer, and Meile fourburner cooktop. “We offer this boat in numerous different layouts,” West said. “This is the midship master two-cabin layout option, and the master has a queen bed, and an ensuite head with a full vanity and shower that closes off. The VIP or bow stateroom also has an ensuite head and separate shower with a queen bed, a deck hatch and port holes for lots of light.” A second layout option situates the galley starboard of the helm, with three separate staterooms below. The third option is a mid-level galley, and instead of three steps down, it’s up a little higher and allows a view of the water.

Moving forward to the bow of the 50 SX, the wide side decks are easily accessed from the cockpit, and sturdy stainless-steel handrails provide security. The huge windlass and anchor are easily accessed if needed, but it’s more likely you’ll come to the bow to recline on the two-person sunpad. From here you can watch the voyage unfold in comfort on board the Grand Banks Eastbay 50 SX.


LOA: 50’1″
Beam: 16’6″
Draft: 3’6″ Half Load
Displacement: 50,050 lbs.
Fuel/Water: 800/162 U.S. gals.
Power: 2x Volvo Penta D11 engines and IPS 950 @ 700hp
Cruise/Top Speed: 22.5/28.9 kts
MSRP: Contact dealer for pricing


Grand Banks Yachts
2288 West Commodore Way Suite 200
Seattle, WA 98199
(206) 352-0116


Southern Boating February 2014

By Doug Thompson

Cutwater’s new towable 30-footer is designed for tropical adventures.

Having the right toy makes the difference between a good boating weekend and a great one. Sure, Cutwater Boats’ new 30 Sport Top is one big toy. However, a closer look reveals a trailerable cruiser loaded with so many innovative features, it would take a year’s worth of boating weekends to discover them all.

Picture that perfect beach—it’s that one found during shallow-water cruising that would make an ideal lunch, sunbathing or exploring spot. The Cutwater 30 Sport Top is built for beaching with its rugged, protected keel and a telescoping ladder off the bow. If it’s safe and legal to nose the boat in, then you’re all set for a secluded few hours, and that’s where the fun really begins. This big toy is loaded with little toys, but they’re more than mere playthings—intelligent space savers, electronics, and conventional and remote operational controls all make boating easier.

The Cutwater 30 Sport Top debuted at the 2013 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show in late October and is the outdoorsier version of the Cutwater 30 introduced earlier in the year. One feature that sets apart the Sport Top model is the pilothouse that now fully opens to the aft deck by rolling up or removing the soft enclosure. The original Cutwater 30 is a hardtop sedan made for colder climates, and the pilothouse is an enclosed structure with an aft cabin door. “We decided to do the Sport Top for markets like Florida where boat owners want it more open,” says Mark Mansfield, Cutwater Boats’ National Sales Manager. Cutwater Boats––based in Monroe, Washington––was founded in 2011 by the Livingston family, which also owns Ranger Tugs. “By being more open the inside is exposed to the weather, so we’ve made the interior fabrics and surfaces more durable. We also added a reversible two-person seat where the aft bulkhead used to be. In the forward-facing position it’s part of a four-person dinette. Reverse the seat and you’re looking off the boat to the water.”

The reversible-seat function is just one of the many space-saving features aboard the 30 Sport Top. This function is smartly used throughout the boat; the two-person helm seat and the transom bench seat also are reversible. Further enhancing space, the port- and starboard-side gunwales on the aft deck have bench seat cutouts. The gunwale seat sections fold out over the water with seating for as many as eight people outside.

Space saving continues on the pilothouse roof, where sport racks are located to safely carry paddleboards or kayaks. Again, having that right toy at the ready can make all the difference. “The sport racks are just a design element that today’s buyers are looking for,” Mansfield explains. “It’s a lot safer to carry paddleboards on the roof rather than on the side rails where the view is blocked, and this is just a smart way to utilize space in a very clean way.”

Mansfield continues, “A word we hear a lot of time from customers is downsizing. “The rising price of fuel is keeping people from going boating, and while people are coming from larger boats they don’t want to give up luxuries like air-conditioning in both the pilothouse and forward stateroom.”

The 30 Sport Top sleeps a total of six guests, with two at the dinette and the other four guests in two cabins. The guest cabin is located under the settee in the pilothouse and features a double bed and two portholes, while the forward stateroom is accessed by a set of steps to port of the helm and includes a queen bed, five windows, two overhead deck hatches, and a storage locker. The boat’s single bathroom is just aft off the stateroom and includes a cleverly designed shower area that can be closed off using a circular clear enclosure to keep water from spraying all over the bathroom interior.

Additional amenities include the fully equipped, portside galley in the pilothouse with stove top, refrigerator, microwave, and wine cooler. The cooktop and sink can be covered when not in use with fold-down countertops for a large amount of surface area for drinks and appetizers. Other creature comfort appointments include flat-screen TVs in both the pilothouse and forward stateroom powered by a robust 12-volt electrical grid.

“Every place we can use 12-volt power, we use it,” Mansfield explains. “This boat has a solar panel on the roof, a very popular option. The advantage is if you enjoy being on the hook a lot, the solar panel will trickle-charge your house batteries. On a sunny day it’s an unbelievable amount of charge you can get. Of course, your starter batteries are always going to have a full charge and an inverter comes standard.”

The use of high-tech Garmin electronics continues at the starboard-side helm, where the optional twin 12-inch multi-function displays guide, track and inform the operator. Windlass, windshield wipers, compass, and VHF come standard, and the controls for the Volvo Penta D6 370-horsepower diesel are fly-by-wire. An aft steering station on the starboard side is also an option, as well as a wireless remote for bow and stern thrusters.

Outstanding fuel economy is another cost-effective benefit. The 30 Sport Top runs on a stepped keel that reduces drag and improves efficiency. Powered by the single Volvo Penta 370-horsepower engine the boat runs to a top speed of 26.3 knots. Reduce the speed to 15.5 knots, and the 30 Sport Top has a cruising range of more than 250 miles utilizing the 180-gallon fuel tank.

The Cutwater 30 Sport Top offers a clean profile with a light blue hull and white top. The Cutwater name and architecture was developed as an alternative to the Ranger Tugs’ line, which was first launched in 1958. By incorporating proven design elements and features from the Ranger Tugs’ line, the Cutwater brand has evolved into a contemporary towable cruiser that puts your toys right where you want them… on the water.


LOA: 34’4″
Beam: 10′
Draft: 2’5″
Dry weight: 10,200 lbs.
Fuel/Water: 180/80 U.S. gals.
Power: 1x Volvo Penta D6 370-hp diesel
Cruise/Top Speed: 15.5/26.3 kts
Range: 251 nautical miles @ cruise
MSRP (w/o options): $279,937


Cutwater Boats
17341 Tye St S.E.
Monroe, WA 98272
(800) 349-7198


Southern Boating January 2014


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