Robalo Boats is a bluewater boat manufacturer that specializes in offshore fishing vessels. They have been around since 1968.
So, just how good are their boats?
Here’s How Good Robalo Boats Are:
Robalo is considered to be a mid-tier brand of boat. In terms of cost, though, they are acclaimed to have superior construction, fit and finish. They are heavier than most similarly-priced boats, but this results from their heavier construction and contributes to a smoother ride.
A Brief History Of Robalo Boats
Robalo Boats was founded in 1969 by Jud Gavrvin and Bill Laurie.
The company was originally known as the Robalo Marine Manufacturing Company, and it was located in Miami, Florida.
The first boat they built for the company was a 19-foot saltwater fishing boat that C. Raymond Hunt designed. It was one of the first boats to claim an unsinkable hull.
They also became known for their hand-laid transoms, stainless steel fittings, and all-teak trim.
They quickly built a strong reputation for quality, and in 1971 Robalo Boats was purchased by AMF.
That was the first in a string of purchases of the company, and practically every ten years. Robalo was sold to Cobia Boats in 1982, and in 1991, they were sold to the Brunswick Corporation and relocated to Tallahassee, Florida.
Marine Products Corporation acquired robalo Boats in 2001, which also owned Chaparral, and the production was moved to the Chaparral plant in Nashville, Georgia.
Since that last purchase, the ownership and the manufacturing of Robalo have remained steady, and they re-established themselves as a competitive brand.
How Reliable Are Robalo Boats?
The design and construction of Robalo Boats is something that the company takes great pride in.
Not just in the quality of the boat’s construction, but everything from stem to stern, as well. All of the components and features are designed to be reliable.
These details in the construction of the boats consistently get positive reviews from owners. For instance, one owner said, in comparing the finish of his 2015 Robalo,
“…the Cayman has a 5 gallon bucket holder in the aft hatch – it was a nice molded in design with no sharp edges… Small detail but if you are the type that works on you(r) own boat you come to app(reciate) little things like that.”
[Source: The Hull Truth]
This speaks to the general perception that Robalo pays attention to their designs’ details, functionality, and ergonomics, making things as easy and owner-friendly as possible.
How Durable Are Robalo Boats?
The general perception of Robalo boat hulls is solidly built, with some owners comparing the quality to much more expensive brands.
Most agree that the hulls are heavy due to the strong build, making them slower than lighter brands but a very smooth and stable ride in offshore conditions.
Kevlar reinforces some areas of the hull. This is done to lessen the impact of the waves, making the ride smoother.
The construction methods and materials are robust in Robalo Boats. On forums, it is rare to find any complaints about the fiberglass, even spider cracks around anything as susceptible as the T-Tops.
It is commonly accepted on forums that Robalo Boats are very durable for their price point, with a few inevitable exceptions.
What About Older Robalo Boats?
Despite going through several acquisitions and different owners, Robalo Boats have had a reputation for being tough boats throughout their existence.
From their first, unsinkable 19-foot saltwater fishing boat to their current lineup at their Georgia plant, the durability of the hull and the quality of the fit and finish has seemingly been very consistent.
While commenters on forums will stress differences in the older models and the time periods of Robalo’s history that they were built in, they all seem to agree that quality has been consistent throughout the company’s history.
Do They Still Make Parts For Older Models?
Many parts dating back to the manufacturing move to Georgia in 2001 are still being made.
Robalo has many parts guides from those models on their website, along with owners’ manuals. Owners are encouraged to get in touch with their dealers for parts.
Most parts for boats older than that are no longer in production, though a few may still be from the original manufacturers of those parts. These can be very difficult to track down.
Contacting the dealer network is possible to find obscure parts, as some dealers have been involved with Robalo from before their move to Georgia.
There is also a very active forum of owners on Robalo’s website, and they have proven helpful in tracking down some rare parts.
The normal online replacement parts sellers, like greatlakeskipper.com and boatoutfitters.com, have some replacement parts, but all seem very limited in their inventory.
What Are Typical Problems With Robalo Boats?
One problem that some older Robalo Boats developed was the foam core getting saturated and rotting.
All of the instances reported of this problem occurred before 2000, so it is likely a potential manufacturing defect (assuming it was not caused after being manufactured) that was eliminated in the move to their current plant.
There do seem to be some periodic quality control issues that occurred in the mid-2010s. Many of these complaints show up on the company’s own forum, as owners try to get answers.
These issues include improperly sealed drains, unfinished drain holes, and screw holes not aligned properly. While none of these are major problems by themselves, they can add up to larger problems for owners.
There have not been many threads of this nature on Robalo’s forums in the last three years, though, so it seems that this particular oversight problem has been addressed.
A common complaint about newer Robalo boats is the nature of the fuel tank. It takes a long time to fill up, as the fuel is constantly backing up to the nozzle, and it needs to be constantly backed off during the process.
This is claimed to be due to a new fuel tank design required by Coast Guard regulations.
How Long Do Robalo Boats Last Compared To Similar Brands?
All indications are that Robalo Boats lasts as long or longer than boats made from similar brands.
Owner feedback is the best way to determine this in the absence of a national database on the raw numbers of individual boats’ longevity. Boating forums are the best place to get owner feedback on their boats.
It is easy to find owners on forums that have had their Robalo for decades and are still going strong, usually with simple replacements of small things like rocker switches.
When it comes to the hull, Robalo Boats gets near-universal praise.
Do Robalo Boats Hold Their Value?
The depreciation of a Robalo boat varies greatly, seemingly depending on the kind of boat.
Their center console models have a very favorable rate, while other models, like their discontinued cabin cruisers, do not fare as well.
A 2015 R200 center console model cost $37,460 new that year. Currently, that same boat has an average resale value of $34,220. That is an almost astounding depreciation of 9%.
Conversely, a 2015 R305/WA, one of the last years they did this cabin model, cost $247,182 that year new. That model now has an average resale value of $169,350. That is a depreciation of 32%, which is close to an average rate.
Looking at their Bay Boat line, a 2015 226 Cayman cost $43,270 new that year. That model now has an average resale value of $39,430, which is again a very favorable depreciation of 9% over half of a decade.
Are Robalo Boats Still Being Made?
Robalo Boats are still in business. Their boats are being manufactured in the Chaparral plant in Nashville, Georgia, at a 1.2 million square foot facility, the largest single-site facility in the world.
The company’s boats are broken into four lines: Center Console, Explorer Center Console, Dual Console, and Bay Boats.
Their center console line has 8 models, and it spans the 18’4″ R180, which starts at $38,295, up to the 36.5-foot R360, with a starting price of $403,395.
The Explorer line is very similar to the Center Console line, with the differences being in the deck layout; it is more family fun-oriented. There are 3 models, starting with the 20’7″ R202EX, with a base price of $48,195, and ending with the R242EX, at 24 feet and starting at $90,395.
The line of Dual Consoles has 4 models and starts with the 20’7″ R207, with a base price of $50,195, and goes to the 31-foot R317, which has a starting price of $221,695.
The company’s line of Bay Boats has five models. It starts with the 20.5-foot 206 Cayman, with a base price of $44,795, and goes up to the 26.5-foot 266 Cayman with a starting price of $114,795.
While it is possible to find online complaints about Robalo Boats, most feedback on forums is very positive, particularly considering their cost.
The quality of the hull construction is generally seen to be superior for a mid-tier boat.
It is safe to conclude that Robalo Boats are both reliable and good.