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JLL posted 09-27-2000 09:25 AM ET (US)   Profile for JLL   Send Email to JLL  
I often visit this forum and enjoy the information it provides. I have owed two Boston Whalers and presently have an '80 Montauk/'80 Johnson 100. I finally have the Montauk in near perfect condition and I plan on enjoying it for many years. Over the last several weeks, I've been looking around for a larger Whaler (1980 or older) as a "project" and to have something that will better handle the chop and slop that Lake Erie can dish out. I've looked at couple Outrages and a Revenge but unfortunately they required more work than I care to tackle.

Last weekend, I checked out, and purchased a '78 Robalo 23' Center Console, w/'97 Evinrude 200 Ocean Pro. I had seen a few Robalos on the lake, but never knew too much about them. I checked out their Web site and was very surprised to see that they claim the boat (hull) was designed by Ray Hunt, who also designed the original Whaler and Bertram.

I'm interested in any experiences or information, particularly in the context of a comparison of Robalo/Whaler that you folks can tell me about. I understand this is a WHALER forum but the common "heritage" loosely ties the two together.


hauptjm posted 09-29-2000 12:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for hauptjm    

I have never owned a Robalo, but have spent some time on them with friends. Undoubtable a great boat. In fact I never knew there was a connection with Whaler, via Hunt. I am not surprised. For an ole salt, I always thought of a Whaler first. But I certainly have a respect for the quality Robalo puts into their boats. In fact if I had to make a short list of power boats, I would have to say Whaler, Robalo and Mako would make the grade. I am sure this might "rub" some Whaler purist (of which I consider myself) wrong, but honestly, a "classic" model from these manufacturers would probably provide many years of joy to you. Of course, I would always go the Whaler route first if possible. As far as comparing the two, I truly believe they both have their +/-'s. If this boat has been well maintained, I'm sure you'll get many years of pleasure from her. A Whaler may take the advantage here in that I believe she would take more abuse than a Robalo. Where the Robalo might shine, is in ride quality. Whalers are not for the weak of heart, or any other body part. The caveat being, you'll break before the Whaler does. Under normal conditions, I give that edge to Robalo. If I'm in a gale, give me my Whaler. Any way, put some elbow grease and personality into your new craft, and I'm sure you'll be happy.

stagalv posted 10-01-2000 10:17 PM ET (US)     Profile for stagalv  Send Email to stagalv     
How about the Mako? I think of them as a well built boat. Do any of you have owner experience with 17 Mako? If so how do they ride compared to a Montauk?
Clark Roberts posted 10-02-2000 03:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for Clark Roberts  Send Email to Clark Roberts     
Re: Robalo/Mako.. I have never owned one but have logged quite a few hrs. in a 19 Robalo (the cc with the mahagony pulpit... a beautiful boat...), and 17, 19 and 26 Makos... Folks, the Robalo was an awful handling beast... turning around (180 degrees) requires a complete stop, turn and go again... it slides so badly that really anything other than a straight line is dangerous... and the power to put it onto plane is enormous... very sensitive to prop pitch... Three boats and same story.. As to the Makos, they handle better but still break loose in hard turns and slide, slide, slide... These are not Mako/Robalo "hater" comments... 'cause, if it's a boat, I like it! Just some more than others!! The above are honest, objective, and emperical comments... JLL, give us some insight on the 23... I have never driven one! I have a neighbor with a 17 Mako flats rig and a 26' cc.... he loves them both... I drive them regularly and my only comment is "whatever floats your boat" but beware and "fly before buy".... Clark... The old opinionated Man and the Sea
hauptjm posted 10-02-2000 04:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for hauptjm    
While thumbing through an industry web-site for the recreational marine industry, I happened onto the Brunswick site. Not having a Mercury engine, I had never visited the site. Lo and behold, I learn that Brunswick owns Robalo now. What an interesting development. How long have I been out of the loop?? Regarding Clark Roberts observations on Mako/Robalo handling; I agree to a point. I didn't find the slippage quite as severe, but there nonetheless. Believe it or not, but I have been on an older 20ft. Mako that was retrofitted with a bracket by Armstrong. What a difference! Now, if we start comparing a Whaler's handling to other boats, well that would be like a Ferrari compared to a Pinto (or Vega)!!!
JLL posted 10-03-2000 09:28 AM ET (US)     Profile for JLL  Send Email to JLL     
Well folks, the '80 Montauk vs '77 Robalo on the water comparison was completed this weekend! Hauptjm's "Ferrari / Pinto " analogy is close…but I would upgrade it to at least Chevy Pickup or maybe an old Eldorado!

To net it out, the Montauk, in terms of handling is tough to beat. The Montauk literally "jumps" on plane in a flash, and can turn on a dime without spilling a drop out of the open Coke can. It is certainly my choice on a relatively calm Lake Erie. The Robalo 23 is a different animal as Clark stated. When it bought the boat, the '97 Evinrude Ocean Pro was turning an OMC Viper SS 14 ˝" X 21 prop. The Dealer who rigged the Evinrude installed it. (I have the invoice when the previous owner bought the motor) With that setup, the captain could take a nap waiting for the boat to come on plane! After much experimentation, I finally settled on a Michigan Wheel Aluminum 15" X 17" prop. Clark is right on saying that the Robalo is VERY sensitive to pitch as well as trim. Time to plane is still no where near the Montauk, but at least reasonable in the 3 to 5 second range. In addition I'm getting 5500 RPM at WOT, and it doesn't feel like top end speed has been reduced too much. I need to verify with GPS. The slipping Clark described during hard turns is evident, and somewhat disconcerting, but I would not call it dangerous. I've seen worse.

In terms of "fit and finish" the old Robalo compares favorably to the Montauk. The SS fittings, rails, and T-Top are very hefty and the 23-year-old Gelcoat is in fabulous shape. The Robalo does not creak, crack or rattle when blasting into or over waves. Lots of teak. (A blessing for looks and a curse for cleaning) Tons of storage space and plenty of room on console for electronics. I'm not sure if any of the quality has gone downhill in recent years, and have no idea what Brunswick has or will do to them.

I wish I had a larger Whaler to compare with the Robalo, as I feel this is not an apple to apples situation.
The Montauk's roughly 950lb-hull weight vs. the "estimated" 3500lb-hull weight is a major difference. (The new Robalo model 2220 (24ft) weighs in at 4400lbs. Also the 100 Johnson is a lot lighter than the 200 Evinrude. Hopefully I can get my hands on some old Robalo brochures or other literature to verify weight and to see if in fact they used foam filled core similar to the Whalers. Robalo also claims "unsinkability". If anyone has any info, please let me know.

When I get the Robalo all cleaned up and shipshape, I will take some pictures and hopefully post on CETACEA…….the pictures will also include my Montauk floating next to the Robalo to keep the forum "Whaler"…my first choice too !


cxc0zyk posted 10-03-2000 11:16 AM ET (US)     Profile for cxc0zyk  Send Email to cxc0zyk     

I have a 17 CC whaler. It is a 1984 with a 1998 90 Johnson. But I also use a 1979 18 robalo with a 1985 175 Evinrude (They share almost equal time). I live in South Florida and fish the reefs and flats. I agree the Robalo takes a much longer time to plane. This boat feels heavy and solid (but I have spun out once or twice on a sharp turn). It will knock down a chop much better than my whaler. While drifing or anchoring it will not bob up and down as much as the whaler. I have had them achored side by side in 1 to 3 foot conditions and there is a big diffence in up and down movement of the boats. One problem I have with the Robalo is that when drifting or anchoring, larger waves come over the transom (and don't leave). This problem is compounded if you have two big guys fishing off the back, the boat will get a little swamped. This self-bailing hull only works when you are moving. Having a automatic bilge pump is a definate need. Another complaint is that the boat is very wet. You will get soaked in windy 2 to 3 foot conditions.
I prefer using the whaler on the flats, calm days, snokeling/skiing/lobstering trips or when I am going out alone or with a friend. The whaler is drier and feels safer (I have never had a wave swamp this boat). I don't like to use it in conditions 3 feet or better. I am more comfortable fishing outside in the Robalo, because of the space/storage and it does not bob as much. One last comparison, the Whaler seems to sip gas, while the Robalo gulps it. On the same trip I will burn less than half of the gas in the Whaler.

PS I would also like to see a comparison between the smaller (~17) and larger (~22) whalers. I Think my next boat may be a 20 - 22 Whaler.



bigz posted 10-03-2000 01:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for bigz    
Carl and Jim

Just an observation because I'm not qualified to comment on Robalo boats ---

You all really can not compare a Montauk to any of these Robalo boats your talking about --- completely different hull designs and purpose (sort of like comparing an Outrage to a Montauk though both can get up and boogie real quick like) than the Montauk. What is necessary for a proper comparison would be anyone of the smaller to mid Outrages with deep V hulls, and/or newer Dauntless or Conquest!

Clark has driven all of the above so his commitments probably hit more to the mark, than your current comparisons. That is not to say you both don't bring up some good points but they're somewhat meaningless in the context of the comparison used.

I don't really have an opinion on the quality or performance of the Robalo boats just trying to get this discussion into a comparison that might prove meaningful. Just because the Montauk has a center console heh heh well that's about where the comparison stops ---

As mentioned just my observations --- don't mean at all to offend --- as some folks say if it floats it must be a boat --- chuckle ---

Tom -- of the 27 class BW which as quickly as I can throw the throttle levers forward she'll get herself up flat out and that is a lot of weight and a 10 foot beam to boot!

lhg posted 10-03-2000 11:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
JLL: There's a good chance that a 1978 Robalo has NO foam floatation whatsoever, so check it out. Back in those days, only boats under 20' HAD to have flotation. Try pulling the plug at the dock and see what happens. You won't like what you find! Boston Whaler was YEARS ahead of the competition in those days. My 25' Outrage, with a hull weight of only 3300 lbs, sits at the dock all the time with BOTH plugs pulled! I hardly ever have the plugs in! A friend bought a brand new 1990 Stratos (an OMC company) 26' offshore fishing boat, and was shocked to find it had no (ZERO) foam in it at all. Pulling the plug at the dock was out of the question, as it still is on most boats today. And a couple of years later, it almost sunk on him 8 miles off Key West. Pure junk. This line has been discontinued, fortunately.

Did I tell you about the 19' Mako (1980's era boat) I found washed up on our Florida beach, completely broken up with hardly any evidence of floatation at all? It had evidently broken up and partially sunk at sea, then washed up on the beach. Seeing how it was actually constructed was a shock.

As an aside, when Brunswick bought Boston Whaler in 1996, a Dealer told me "they didn't know what to do with it". So they formed an "Offshore Fishing Boat Division", including Whaler, Robalo and Wahoo, Whaler's prime imitator!! Well, this turned out to be a disaster, complete with in-fighting. So Whaler got dumped on Sea Ray a year later, and Robalo went with the go-fast Baja boat division.
Don't know what happened to Wahoo and their fake Whalers.

randysr posted 10-08-2000 03:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for randysr  Send Email to randysr     
Jim, I think I may be able to provide some useful insight into the Robalo discussion. I currently own a Whaler 15' Center Console, but also owned a 1976, 23' Robalo Center Console for 22 years. I have owned many small craft in my 55 years of boat operation and the Robalo was one of the best.

I bought the Robalo new and powered it with a pair of 70HP Johnsons. Some have said that was inadequate power, but I ran the boat offshore fishing and diving for many years hauling dive gear and four people with no problems. My wife and I took the boat from West Palm Beach to West End Grand Bahama Island, and all over the northen Bahamas including Walker's Cay, Green Turtle Cay, Hopetown, etc. We carried food, water, cooking equipment, dive gear, cameras, etc., and lived on board, sleeping under the forward spray shield for two weeks. It was one of our greatest trips. We got caught in squalls crossing the gulfstream while coming back at night, and also had many bumpy days st sea in our home area of Savannah, GA.
We were always comfortable with the handling of the boat and the fact that it had foamed in, inner-liner construction that allowed it to be operated totally with the drain plug removed. There was never any fear that it might sink or come apart. It was tough!

The Robalo was heavier built, stringer type construction and cannot be directly compared with Whalers. We all know that Whalers are wonderful boats, but so was the Robalo. When I sold it, there was only a single area of significant cracked gel coat about 3" long.
It ran about 30MPH WOT with a light load and the two 70HP engines. More power would have added speed, and could easily have been accommodated. The boat was rated for 230HP and had a built-in 90 gallon fuel tank.

While the Mako is a pretty good boat, I don't think it is in the same class with the Robalo. I have seen a Mako breakup pretty badly after a fairly serious impact. It just was not the same beefy construction as the Robalo. I have heard that in later years the Robalos were not built as well, but I have no personal knowledge of that nor of the Ray Hunt connection in the original design.

Hope this helps,

adrian in florida posted 02-23-2003 06:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for adrian in florida  Send Email to adrian in florida     
Hey guys I dont know if anyone will read this or respond. I am 44 and have grown up with boats. When I was working at a dealership at age 16 the hottest boat to me was the robalo. I have owned a 1979 robalo for the last six years. I recently decided to do a complete renovation. In some of the earlier post people suggested that the robalos lacked foam. I can tell you that my 1979 23ft was completely foam filled. Not an inch of space between the liner and the hull. I have popped the inner liner and I am suprised at how good things looked. Firtst thing is the amount of glass. The hull is thick, Heck the liner is thicker than most boats they build today. The older robalos seemed come apart atound the seems of the liner just behind the rubrail. I have seen many old Robalos that exhibit this characteristic. I think it is due to being totally foamed out combined with with a little water. The water, foam and a good beating acts as a hydralic effect and they start to come apart around the rubrail. Anyway , I am restoring this thing to full glory with improvements. Full transom, hydralic brackect , tower and a little less foam. I have to give it to Ray Hunt his lines remain classic.
JLINESIDER posted 01-08-2004 06:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for JLINESIDER  Send Email to JLINESIDER     
Bigshot posted 01-09-2004 02:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
In NJ the local Whaler dealer also sold Robalos. I have had about 6 close friends who own/owned them. Nice boats, built well but WET. I helped work on 2 20' Robs, one a 76, the other a 79. BOTH were waterlogged due to water getting in around the gas tank. This is a problem area and I would highly recommend checking it out. The boats do have a lot of foam but I would not say you could pull the plug on it. When you remove the plug, there is a cavity under the liner....hence why there is a plug. The 76 was so bad that when he removed the bottom paint the entire hull was spider cracked from bow to stern and the transom was goo(this was around 1990). The 79 was not in bad shape but she sat pretty low in the water, transom had issues and with a 200hp would barely break 40mph(around 1995).

Those were the bad ones....the others were fine boats and were pretty tuff considering their age. The 23' had twin 115's and did mid 40's....way nicer ride than my other buds 23 Mako. The railings have a tendency to break welds for some reason....maybe hull flex or just bad rails?

Newer Robalos I think went to hell, hence why Robalo went out of business(now back in business again). In 94 I was torn between the 21 Robalo and the 20' Hydra-sports. I went with the Hydra-Sports. This was due to a few things first being the deck was just screwed to the hull. This in itself is no biggie being most boats are built that way, problem was you could SEE the screws. 2nd was all thru-hulls were plastic, major No-No in my book. 3rd was the hinges were plastic....another major No-NO. 4th was it was like 3500lbs and was rated for a single 225 which topped out about 38-40mph. Being owned by guessed it.....only available with Mercury power. I told the guy I did not want a Mercury and he said "if you really don't like the Merc, I can put a Mariner on it instead"....that was the end of our discussion. I was always a Robalo fan but I really think they went down hill, they might have turned around now.

There are MANY great hulls out there. Some were great boats that went to lower quality over time, some were OK boats that have been built better over time, some have always been great boats. What I mean is Robalo was a great boat, went downhill, might be better now. Grady White's were OK boats but have become #1 and maintained that for almost 3 decades. Sea Craft were awesome, went to hell, are now awesome again(supposably). Donzi were the shinizel up to the 80's, went rock bottom for a decade or so and have regained their staus again. Whaler....well let's just say they have ALWAYS been great boats but I am not as confident with the new regime as I am with my 1986.

elaelap posted 01-12-2004 08:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for elaelap  Send Email to elaelap     
"...shinizel..."? I sorta get its meaning via context, Bigs, but...?


John W posted 01-12-2004 08:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for John W  Send Email to John W     
I'm fairly familiar with the Robalo & Mako boats, having owned several Mako's & having friends who owned Robalo's. A couple of general comments:

Robalo was owned by AMF and was a very high quality boat in the 1970's & 1980's. They were more conventional construction with stringers & decks, but they put a lot of foam in the hulls to stiffen it and add floatation, obviously copying what Whaler was doing. Unlike a Whaler, though, the foam was more easily exposed to bilge water, and like many old Mako's, the foam would deteriorate & could eventually absorb water. This made them heavier than they were to begin with, & many older ones won't self-bail anymore.

In the 1980's Robalo changed hands a couple of times until it ended up under the Brunswick banner. It was always marketed as a top quality boat with top grade components, but I've heard the late 1980's boats weren't as good as the earlier ones. But that may just be talk.

Mako's of all sizes all had closed cell foam floatation since Mako started in the 1960's. The gunnels were where most of the foam was/is. lhg, if you found a Mako with no foam in it, it had to be modified by someone, which isn't that uncommon as (like the Robalo's &many other brands) the foam was exposed to the bilges and could wick up water & gain weight. Again, Mako's were more conventional construction than a Whaler's unibond method. They're strong but not as durable as a Whaler.

jimh posted 01-12-2004 09:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
This article/thread was begun four years ago.
ghiddo posted 09-02-2009 03:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for ghiddo  Send Email to ghiddo     

I own a 1976 Robalo 23 and agreee it is a great boat. Do you have by any changee tech specs of the boat or drawings?

In particular I am not sure the tank is in an isolated atorre orr it should be connected to other storing departments to expell out any possible water.

Ciao from Italy.

BlueMax posted 09-03-2009 01:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for BlueMax  Send Email to BlueMax     
I hope Jay responds, but seeing how the post referred to is over 5 1/2 years old itself (posted Jan 8 2004).....

If no response and you need info, recommend you try a direct approach using the email address in his profile.


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