By John Page Williams photo by robalo photos
This handy center console has much to recommend it. Yes, it’s a good fishboat. But yes, it’s also a family boat with valuable amenities. And from Robalo, a storied brand anchored for years in a well-managed, publicly-traded boatbuilding company (Marine Products, Inc.) that has effectively taken advantage of modern manufacturing technology to produce high quality boats in two brands (Robalo’s sport-boat/cruiser sister is Chaparral) whose extended warranties demonstrate their level of quality. This company takes fit-and-finish very seriously.
In 2017, a twenty-footer with a 150-hp four-stroke is a basic vessel. Get it right and it holds serious worth in both present-day fun and long-term value. Robalo did that some years ago, and the current version is even better. We’ve been around several of these compact center consoles, and we remain impressed.
Robalo R200 Specs
- LOA: 20′ 7″
- Beam: 8′ 4″
- Draft: 30″
- Transom Deadrise: 18°
- Weight: 3,000 lbs. (including engine)
- Max Power: 200 hp
- Fuel: 70 gal.
Boatbuilders who profess to build family boats invariably want to include a head, whether it is comfortable to use or not. I’ve bent my aging body into a bunch of them, and it’s clear that some designers have never studied human anatomy. Not Robalo. The 200ES’s variable-deadrise hull is deep enough in the center to provide 60 inches of headroom inside the console. The door to it swings out in front of the console, so the user can ease into it without a bump in the cranium, even in seas. The compartment includes a towel rack, holders for TP and waterless hand cleaner, even space to hang a couple of oilskin jackets. It also provides access to the business end of the dashboard electronics. This space is just one example of the degree to which Robalo’s design team thinks about ergonomic details. Another is the design of the cushions, from their heavy-duty vinyl covers to the choice and placement of foam inside them.
The bow can be action-central for hard-core anglers casting topwater lures to breaking blues or jigging over an oyster reef for rockfish, but it’s also a family space for picnics. The R200 offers seats with removable cushions and storage/fishboxes underneath on each side of the bow. Optional pop-up cleats make it easy for fly fishers and cast-netters to operate there when necessary but offer comfortable accommodations for more casual passengers. The cockpit is deep, to provide a sense of security, with recessed handrails in easy reach along the sides.
At the helm, there’s space for a flush-mounted display of up to nine-inches wide. Garmin units are factory-installed options interfaced with a VHF radio flanked by panels of toggle switches connected to circuit breakers connected to a sophisticated, marine-grade, digital backbone. There are several leaning post options, plus the choice of a Bimini or T-top. The transom offers an ingenious combination central livewell flanked by fold-down jump-seats with storage underneath and access to plumbing, wiring, and batteries.
Like all Robalos, the R200 has a variable-deadrise hull with reverse chines, which direct spray downward, and a planing pad on the after quarter of the keel. Robalo pairs it with Yamaha four-strokes. The logical choice for most uses is the classic F150, one of the most durable, powerful, and efficient engines to date. Figure on a top speed of around 45 knots with easy cruise speeds from 18 to 30. Plan on adding the optional trim tabs to get the most out of this hull in the variety of seas that the Chesapeake will dish out.
Fish in the morning, tow toys all afternoon, and take a sunset cruise. Robalo’s R200 can do it all well. Reel Deal pricing is around $45,000 with a Yamaha F150, dual-axle aluminum trailer, and useful options like tabs, ski tow pylon, Garmin 741XS plotter/fishfinder, a Bimini top, and dual batteries.
John Page WIlliams is our fishing and boat review editor-at-large and the author of the Chesapeake Almanac.