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Boat Test: Robalo R317

Multi-purpose fishing boat

May 11, 2018
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Boat Test: Robalo R317
Specs: Length: 31’10” | Beam: 10’6″ | Draft: 21″ | Deadrise: 21 degrees | Fuel: 260 gal. | Water: 25 gal. | Weight: 7,982 lb. plus power | Max HP: 700 | Price: $183,595 w/ twin 300s | robalo.com Test Conditions: Weather: Partly sunny | Location: Key Biscayne, Florida | Wind: Northeast 12 knots | Sea State: 1-foot chop | Test Load: Three adults, 260 gallons of fuel, 25 gallons of water Courtesy Robalo

Robalo, a brand synonymous with fishing, recently launched its largest model ever, one the whole family is bound to fall in love with. The R317, the latest addition to the builder’s dual-console series, is chock full of conveniences and amenities for fun on the water, without forgetting about the fishing essentials.

It all starts with the design and layout, which place a premium on stability and comfort, and include a variety of seating arrangements meant to promote interaction among crewmembers and allow for serious relaxation.

Bow seating includes flip-down armrests and consists of a single starboard seat integrated in the door to the step-down head compartment — furnished with a sink, electric toilet, storage shelf, vanity cabinet and ­counter — and a portside L-shaped seat with room for four, concealing ample insulated storage with ­overboard drain.

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Boat Test: Robalo R317
​The helm sports a 12- or 16-inch glass dash for an MFD, bookended by switch panels. Courtesy Robalo

Double helm seats sit behind each console, in the shade of an oversize fiberglass hardtop complete with LED lights, rod holders and dry storage. An optional retractable sunshade extends over the cockpit, where the open-concept seating includes a 36-quart removable cooler to port, augmented by a removable table, perfect for entertaining and sharing lunch with a view. Replacing the usual rear bulkhead/transom, Robalo’s patent-pending Vista-View lounge seat lets you adjust the dual backrests to your preferred position — or lay them flat, creating a sizable sun pad — at the touch of a button.

The Robalo also incorporates a side door in the cockpit, a full-beam integrated swim platform with aft-facing seating, walk-through transom door, telescoping boarding ladder, and a transom freshwater pullout shower, plus a cabin with lockable entry at the portside helm, featuring a full fiberglass liner, LED lighting, a sleeping area, carbon-monoxide detector, and storage for four rods.

Boat Test: Robalo R317
​A transom door to starboard provides access to the integrated swim platform. Courtesy Robalo

The R317 helm station, on the starboard console, features a 12-inch glass dash, which can be upgraded to 16 inches to accommodate a larger multifunction display and is bookended by panels of backlit switches with circuit breakers. There’s also a stereo with remote and auxiliary inputs, ­12-volt and USB power stations, switches with indicator lights for the Lenco trim tabs, and real estate left for options like the Optimus 360 joystick for easy docking and maneuvering. A cockpit gas grill, and a wet bar with fridge, cutting board, sink and freshwater faucet — in lieu of the starboard cockpit seating — are among the other available options.

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For the anglers in the family, the 31-footer is equipped with a ­50-gallon fish box beneath the aft seats, a ­25-gallon oval livewell with LED lighting and clear lid on the port transom corner, raw-water washdown, stainless-steel toe rail in the starboard cockpit, four vertical rod tubes on the hardtop frame, undergunwale rack for two rods to starboard, and a pair of flush-mounted combination drink/rod holders on the covering boards, with more easily added as an option.

Boat Test: Robalo R317
Vista-View aft lounge seat features backrests that lie flat at the touch of a button. Courtesy Robalo

The hull of the R317 utilizes a forward keel to slice through the waves, and an extended running surface that allows the V-plane to continue abaft the transom for superior stability in a range of sea conditions. The HydroLift ­hull design affords quick planing and ­acceleration, as well as excellent fuel ­efficiency. The extended running surface coupled with the tight aft hull corners deliver everything you need when taking sharp turns.

Boat Test: Robalo R317
​An oval 25-gallon livewell with clear lid sits strategically in the port transom corner. Courtesy Robalo

The new Robalo is available with a choice of power. Our test boat was rigged with twin Yamaha F300s, which pushed the boat from zero to 30 mph in 10 seconds and delivered a top speed of 55.1 mph as we sprinted across south Biscayne Bay in Miami. Power-assisted hydraulic steering, standard on the R317, made turning effortless, and the boat felt limber throughout all ­maneuvers. Prop torque proved ­minimal, and even in reverse, the 31-footer turned promptly in both ­directions with no appreciable lag time.

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Boat Test: Robalo R317
With twin Yamaha F300s, the R317 handles heavy loads well, with plenty of pep to spare. Courtesy Yamaha

Despite some wind during our sea trial, there was never a reason to close the bow walk-through and its custom windshield or to use the windshield wiper on the starboard console. And thanks to the high freeboard, which provides a definite sense of security in the cockpit, no sea spray made it over the gunwales.

If your next boat is destined for outings with family and friends that include cruising and a mix of watersports as well as fishing, this Robalo deserves serious consideration. Not only does it do lots of things well, but it is also reasonably priced, taking into account all its bells and whistles.

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