The first Mako center console boat, a 19-foot center console introduced at the 1967 Miami Boat Show, was the talk of the show as it generated 400 orders that weekend
Five decades later, are they still considered good boats?
Here’s How Good Mako Boats Are
Mako Boats were at one time the standard for offshore, rugged, and reliable construction. They were intentionally overbuilt to withstand offshore conditions. When their manufacturing process and ownership situation changed, there was a perceived drop in quality.
They are now considered mid-range.
A Brief History of Mako Boats:
Marine surveyor Robert Schwebke founded mako in 1967.
He wanted to produce an affordable but rugged offshore fishing boat. The name came from a mako shark that was caught on a large fishing yacht Schwebke was on.
It jumped out of the well, biting chunks from the deck, before reaching the ocean again.
The first models, the 17, 19, and 22-foot center console models, became wildly popular. The Mako 17 remained in production for over 40 years until 2009 and is one of the most iconic 17-footers ever produced.
In 1992, Hurricane Andrew hit the manufacturing facility, halting production for six months. The carrier’s insurance claim related to the damage was denied, leading to a series of financial deals to keep the company afloat.
This lead to it eventually being acquired by the Tracker Marine Group (now known as the White River Marine Group – which is in turn owned by Bass Pro Shops).
Around this time, they transitioned from hand-built to mass production and the change in quality became apparent.
How Reliable Are Mako Boats?
Mako Boats were made to be the toughest boat you could take into the ocean for their price range.
That kind of quality is what they continue to strive for, despite the changes in ownership and manufacturing.
Reliability – and nearly all boats – is often in the eye of the beholder. One person has bad luck with their boat, and another never has a problem in over a decade.
That being said, patterns generally emerge over time.
One problem undercutting the reliability of Mako boats is the warranty process through Bass Pro Shops. They do not have the best reputation for standing behind the boats.
Perhaps the most common complaint is the difficulty dealing with Bass Pro, often becoming a “he said/she said” impasse.
The Mako website advertises a five-year stem-to-stern transferable warranty, calling it among the best in the business.
Depending on the specific problem, it may be difficult to get the warranty fulfilled.
How Durable Are Mako Boats?
Like reliability, this can be subjective for the same reasons, but again, some trends are apparent.
One problem reported by some owners is the delamination of the fiberglass. Cracks have also been reported in the hull before any significant use. These problems lead to the boat taking on water and revealing the damage.
Does this make Mako less durable than comparable models? This isn’t easy to say.
All mass-produced boats can have these problems from all such manufacturers. Searching for durability problems from any manufacturer will easily turn up complaints.
In general, it seems safe to say that current Mako boats are as durable as any other manufacturer’s boats in the same price range.
What About Older Mako Boats?
It is challenging to find complaints about older Mako boats, particularly before 1989.
When they were all made by hand, and the quality control was among the highest in the industry, there very few defects in the hulls, and almost all of such errors were caught before the boat left the factory.
There are still many older Mako boats on the water, often in possession of the original owner. This is a testament to how rugged their construction was.
It is safe to say that the older models were among the most reliable and durable boats built at that time. If you can find one – for a reasonable price – it is most likely a safe bet that it is a decent buy.
Do They Still Make Parts For Older Models?
The majority of parts for older Makos are no longer being made.
A few companies do make a few parts for them, like windshields and rod holders, and are billed as OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer), but most parts are no longer in production.
Some older parts can still be found, however. Marine Connection Liquidators in Florida has a small supply of original equipment, acquired as Mako ceased producing certain models and moved on to others.
Four Sons Marine and Great Lakes Skipper also have a supply of older parts.
The Classic Mako Forum is a good source to consult here, whether looking for dealers or owners who may have extra parts for older models. Their advice can be invaluable in tracking down that elusive part if it still exists!
Finally, parts can turn up on eBay, but you need to consult it constantly, and you should expect to be patient in finding that part.
What Are Typical Problems With Mako Boats?
We touched briefly on the delamination problems that some owners have brought up.
Again, this is seen in mass-produced fiberglass boats on occasion and may not indicate a deeper problem with Mako.
There have been many documented problems occurring with Mako, which we have mentioned in a previous article.
How Long Do Mako Boats Last Compared To Similar Brands?
There is no question that older Mako boats last a long time relative to similar brands.
Their reputation for ruggedness is well-earned and has been proven over the decades. You will see one cutting through the waves or returning after an offshore fishing excursion almost any day on the water.
For the newer models, the longevity is mixed. Beyond the problems cited above and in our companion article, there is less indication that they last any longer than comparable models of boats. They still hold onto their rugged reputation, but there is evidence that they are not as solid as they used to be.
This is not to say that they are bad, just that newer models do not seem to last any longer than their similarly-priced competition.
Do Mako Boats Hold Their Value?
Older Makos, owing to their quality construction, have held their value very well over the decades.
If you are selling one, you can expect to get top dollar for a used boat, considering its length and age.
Newer models seem to depreciate at the expected rate. The feeling that they are tough and a solid value is not there anymore. This may not be entirely deserved, as people do not always take care of their boats, and some modern Makos going for a low price can influence the perception of the entire line’s quality.
This could work in your favor if you are in the market.
You may be able to get a newer Mako in good condition for a very favorable price.
Are Mako Boats Still Being Made?
Mako Boats are still being made to this day.
Currently, they have 7 offshore center console models ranging from 18 to 41 feet in length. The price range is from $36,000 on the 18-footer all the way to $605,000 for the biggest.
They also make a line of boats for inshore fishing.
There are five skiffs ranging from 15’2″ and $18,000 to 19’4″ and $38,000. In addition, there are four more traditional models ranging from 18’10” and $33,000 to 21’5″ and $50,000.
This puts them in the low to mid-range pricing for fiberglass boats.
Mako boats do not have the reputation that they once did.
More problems show up in their current construction and in trying to get warranty work done, but there is no true indication that current models are worse than competitors’ comparable boats.
Given that, it is safe to say that current Makos are reliable and good as any other model in the same price range.