3 Most-Common Problems With Robalo Boats (Explained)

Robalo Boats is one of America’s biggest recreational fishing boats and has been around since 1969.

Most Robalo customers are super happy with their Robalo boat, but like with any boat manufacturer, things can occasionally go wrong.

In this article, we take a look at the 3 most common problems with Robalo Boats:

A Brief History Of Robalo Boats

Robalo Boats was founded in 1969 when they started off building a 19-foot salt-water fishing boat that was one of the first to feature an ‘unsinkable’ hull.

Over the years, the Robalo Boat brand has been sold several times to companies, including Cobia Boats and the Brunswick Corporation, before being bought by the Marine Products Corporation in 2001. At the time of purchase Robalo Boats, after many years of success, was in a steady decline stage.

The Marine Products Corporation also manufactures Chaparral boats which are known for their quality powerboats.  When they purchased Robalo Boats, the company was virtually bankrupt.

Still, under the guidance of Marine Products, the company started building two 23 foot models, which was the beginning of the company regaining its success.

Nowadays, Robalo Boats are known for their quality products and have a center console, dual console, and walk-around boats ranging from 18 – 36 feet in size.

However, unlike automated car production, boat production is still mainly done by hand-laying fiberglass sheets, and as with anything, handmade human error is still a factor.

1. Workmanship, Finishing & Quality Control Issues

While the company boasts about its quality products, this doesn’t always seem to be the case.

There are many complaints about poor finishing, especially in Robalo Boats’ compartments, especially in the ‘out of sight’ compartments. In addition, there are some complaints on the boating forums about rubbish left in the bilge.

“The bilge was full of screws, plastic bags, and wire ties, and filled a 2nd time as more came down.”

[Robalo Forum, posted December 2017]

Finding trash in the bilge of a new boat is not a great sign. In fact, it sends a strong message that the factory, or indeed the dealer, doesn’t care.

Quality control inspections should be carried out before the boat is handed over to the new owner, which in some cases is obviously not being done.

2. Wet Foam Core Rotting

There are many posts on the different boating forums about water getting into the hull.

The fish box in front of the transom seems to be the main culprit on older boats. While well glassed-in wooden stringers and transoms are not of too much concern, problems arise when water gets inside the gel coat, causing the wood to get wet and then start to rot.

Having water inside your gelcoat will also make your boat much heavier, which will slow you down in due course.

A good way to find out if a boat has water inside the gel coat is to have the boat weighed (without the engine mounted) and then check the weight with the factory specifications.

If the boat weighs a lot more than the specs, and there’s no obvious heavy equipment installed, then the chances are there is water in the hull.

3. Lack Of Customer Support

The Robalo dealer network can be found worldwide, which contributes to the success of the company.

Robalo has more than 30 domestic dealers spread across the entire U.S. boating industry and is considered a boating brand of choice in many markets.

Robalo has dealers worldwide, including Italy, France, Spain, Greece, Netherlands, Singapore, Puerto Rico, Hong Kong, and Japan. While the boats are only produced in Nashville, Georgia, they ship worldwide.

Although the company has an extensive dealer network, the buck stops if you have a warranty problem with your Robalo Boat. There are many complaints on the different boating forums about a lack of support from Robalo. In fact, there is not even a telephone number on their website!

So, if you are looking at buying a new Robalo Boat, it’s best practice to do your homework about finding the right dealer for you and your boat.

In addition, before you accept the boat, make sure you do a thorough pre-delivery inspection with your dealer to make sure the finish is up to your expectations.

General Pros & Cons Of Robalo Boats

You will usually have to compromise on something when buying a boat as not many boats will tick all your boxes.

The following are some of the pros and cons to help you decide about buying a Robalo Boat:

The Pros:

Most people will agree that the build quality of the hull of a Robalo Boat is very high.

The lamination schedule for all their models is a minimum of 7 layers of 100% hand-laid fiberglass, which is then cured in the mold for more than a week. The hulls are heavy, which gives a stable ride and Robalo owners often refer to their boats as tanks.

Robalo is one of America’s top recreational fishing boats brand and has been an industry leader for more than 50 years. Their focus is on first-class engineering and innovative design, emphasizing fishing and family days on the water.

In addition, Robalo only uses top-quality materials, both inside and out, that can withstand tough conditions to provide you with a long-lasting boat.

There are many older Robalo Boats still going strong today.

The Cons:

  • Workmanship, Finishing & Quality Control Issues
  • Wet Foam Core Rotting
  • Lack Of Customer Support

What do The Reviews Say?

A quick look on the internet shows many boat reviews for Robalo Boats, both in magazines and Youtube.

The following is what some of the experts say:

“The Robalo R272 has what it takes to be called a serious center console fishing boat – and it has the construction it takes to be called overbuilt.”

[Source: Fishtalkmag.com]

“The Hydro Lift design -produces quick plane times, thrifty fuel efficiency, and a soft ride. Robalo traits also include high freeboard, so anglers and others feel secure even in deep cockpits.”

[Source: Sportfishingmag.com]

Of course, test boats given to boating journalists for review purposes will be equipped to a higher specification than the average entry-level boat.

Still, they all agree that Robalo produces a high-quality boat with a smooth, dry ride.

What’s The Resale Value Of Robalo Boats?

Boat values for Robalo Boats vary with boat size, type of engine, and the equipment or accessories on board.

At present, the Robalo boat sizes range from 16 – 36 feet, and the pricing starts from around $16,000 for an older, smaller model all the way up to over $500,000 for a new Robalo R360 with all the bells and whistles.

But what is the resale value on Robalo Boats?

Let’s make a price comparison for one of their most popular models, the R230 Centre Console boat, which is still in production today:

Make & Model Year Price
Robalo R230 CC 2022 $93,500
Robalo R230 2004 $29,500

A dealer offers the 2022 model and comes complete with a single Yamaha 4 stoke VF250XA VMAX, plus a dedicated aluminum trailer.

The 2004 model comes with a single Yamaha Z300TXRC with 350 hours on the engine. This older boat also comes with an electronic navigation package and a trailer in good condition.

While it’s difficult to compare the 2 boats, a search on Nada Guides indicates that the suggested retail price for a new 2004 boat was around $53,000 (with engine and trailer included). So in the space of 17 years, the boat has depreciated by less than 50% in value (or the equivalent of $1,560 per year).

Depending on how often you use your boat, that depreciation should be worth every cent!

Plus, we can safely say that your boat will hold a good resale value if you look after your Robalo Boat.


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