Fishing Boat Review: Robalo 242 Center Console

A proven performer gets a thoughtful face-lift.

For a boatbuilder, replacing a popular model is always risky. The goal is to add improvements and changes to entice new customers without alienating existing ones, who hopefully will stick with the brand and upgrade. Robalo Boats is the latest company to use this approach. Their new R242 Center Console supplants the venerable R240, and based on first impressions and our pevaluation, they don’t have a thing to worry about. The newest addition is a surefire winner.

It starts with a proven hull design. Robalo engineers retained the 240’s exceptional running surface, which includes a variable deep-V with 22 degrees deadrise at the transom. Its ­Hydrolift design has extra-wide reverse chines and is reinforced with Kevlar for strength and impact resistance. This boat is a pleasure to drive, as I discovered thanks to Fish Tale Marina in Fort Myers Beach, Florida, a leading Robalo dealer. The boat pops on plane within seconds with no discernible bow rise, and it rides as soft as freshly fallen snow. Don’t expect any surprises or errant spray either. The aggressive stem slices and dices a chop, and the stern holds like Super Glue even in high-speed maneuvers. And with the centerline helm and low-profile glass windshield, the operator is always in total control.

Our test boat was rigged with twin Yamaha F150 four-stroke outboards, and it proved a great pairing. Top speed at wide-open throttle was a tad over
45 mph. At 4,500 rpm, an easy cruising pace, the 242 pegged the GPS at 33.7 mph while consuming a miserly 15.4 gallons of fuel. The base boat comes with a single 250-hp four-stroke, which I expect would perform equally well with the Hydrolift hull.

The changes from its predecessor are in the boat’s top cap and layout. The console of the 242 has a smaller footprint without ­sacrificing any of the necessities. That means there’s more room to transit from the cockpit to the bow, which is a welcome ­feature when fighting a hot fish. SeaStar hydraulic tilt steering is standard, along with trim tabs with an indicator light, dual batteries with switch and charger, a 12-volt power receptacle and premium sound system. The optional — and very rugged — T-top with the fiberglass hardtop and powder-coat piping comes with an overhead electronics box and spreader lights. Taco Grand Slam outriggers can be added easily, along with a range of Garmin electronics packages.

The helm ­seating ­combines a comfortable leaning post with a ­backrest and integrated 18-gallon livewell with a directional aerator and four-rod rocket launcher. With the additional launcher on the hardtop, plus horizontal racks under the gunwales, this 24-footer holds an impressive arsenal of 14 rods. Run-and-gun anglers will also appreciate the 20-gallon pitch well in the bow c­asting deck, as well as the divided 30-gallon ­insulated fish box in the transom. That augments the twin 30-gallon boxes that drain overboard in the forward casting deck. The extra-large compartment in the bow deck stows an anchor ball or fenders, and it comes with a molded cradle for a cast-net bucket. The cockpit toe rail and wide transom door offer welcome convenience during the heat of battle. Raw and freshwater washdowns come standard for cleanup chores.

The overall comfort level was also ­enhanced on the 242. The forward casting deck converts to a lounge area with the filler cushions for family trips to the beach. The console’s padded seat forward swings open to reveal a roomy head compartment with a standard Porta Potti. A VacuFlush head is an available upgrade. The transom bench seat is wide enough for three big adults, and it stows easily.

Potential buyers will also appreciate the quality and overall value of this latest model. The hull is backed by a 10-year warranty and includes the company’s Rot-Free Perma Guard Structural System. The ransom has poured composite coring and encapsulated foam for additional flotation. Premium components prevail throughout, including the stainless-steel bow roller and anchor chafe guard, ­breakered waterproof switches and a ­standard fuel/water separator. The compartment hatches are fully finished, and wire harnesses are neatly run and organized. From bow to stern, the 242 is a smooth-riding, well-built boat.

If you’re in the market for a very fishable center console that won’t break the family budget, consider the Robalo 242. You’ll be glad you did.

sls0215-runningrr.jpg
“From bow to stern, the R242 is a smooth-riding, well-built center console with the features serious anglers will appreciate.”
r242_bowstorage_02_15.jpg
A sizable and easy to access in-deck baitwell is strategically located in the forepeak, a feature pitch-bait enthusiasts are sure to appreciate.
r242_console_01_15.jpg
The smaller console increases room to walk around the cockpit without sacrificing any of the features necessary for comfortable operation.
r242_electronicsbox_02_15.jpg
The overbuilt frame of the optional T-top is rock solid and comes with an overhead electronics box. The added powder-coating finish gives the boat a stylish flare.
r242_transom_01_15.jpg
The wide bench seat will accommodate extra passengers, but it can be stowed during fishing or raised to allow quick access to the bilge.
r242_fishing01_15.jpg
screen shot 2015-01-21 at 4.59.28 pm.png