Robalo R302 Boat Review

This 30-footer offers quality, comfort and ample fishing features at a pleasing price.

Robalo R302 Boat Review Test
Specs: Length: 29'2" Beam: 10'6" Draft: 21" Fuel: 300 gal. Water: 30 gal. Deadrise: 21 degrees Weight: 8,920 lb. Max HP: 700 Price: $147,895 w/ twin Yamaha F300s Test Conditions: Weather: Sunny Location: Sarasota Bay, Florida Wind: West 9 to 13 knots Sea State: 2-foot chop Test Load: Three adults, 80 gallons of fuelCourtesy Robalo

Using the proven deep-V hull of the predecessor R300 as the starting block, Robalo built a new center console that incorporates updated interior features to address the growing trend toward family-minded fishing machines. The new R302 reflects the brand’s top-quality construction and offers excellent performance and a price sure to please many buyers.

The hardtop on the R302 integrates smoothly with the console and leaning post/seating module. Its powder-coated, aluminum D-frame uprights meld perfectly with the console, leaving the 22-inch-wide walkways amidships clear of obstacles that could hinder foot traffic. Integral grab rails enable passing crew members to hold on in rough conditions.

The underside of the hardtop houses built-in LED spreader lights (two facing aft and two forward), an integral overhead electronics box and LED dome lights. A tempered bonded-glass windshield extends from the underside of the hardtop to the top of the console, and a motorized vent at the top of the windshield ushers in the fresh air desired on sultry days.

Full-height bonded-glass side windows — which offer superb protection from wind blasts and spray at the helm — are optional, but Martin Rusin, Robalo Boats marketing director, claims few R302s leave the factory without this upgrade.

Robalo R302 Boat Review Test
Seating at the bow turns into twin loungers, or a picnic area by adding the removable table.Courtesy Robalo

The console features a 38-inch-wide dash panel with plenty of room for flush-mounted twin Simrad NSS evo2 12-inch multifunction displays. Switch panels flank the dash and a cool little nook on the starboard-side secures your mobile phone where you can see the screen.

Unlike most center console helms, the steering wheel of the R302 resides on the starboard-side, with electronic throttle and shift levers for the twin Yamaha F300 outboards just to the right. The test boat featured SeaStar Solutions hydraulic steering, a welcome addition.
A portside glove box includes a 12-volt DC power outlet and a dual USB receptacle. A pair of cubbies atop the console serve as conven­ient places to stash small items such as sunglasses and tubes of sunscreen, a smart use for space often wasted by boatbuilders.

The helm seating module features a two-across seat with fold-down armrests and flip-up bolsters to serve as support while standing. With angled footrests at the base of the console, the helm seat feels comfortable, reminiscent of driving an automobile.

Robalo R302 Boat Review Test
The steering and controls sit to starboard, and the dash houses two 12-inch displays and more.Courtesy Robalo

Abaft the seat module, you find a covered 20-gallon livewell, a stainless-steel bait-prep sink, and a freshwater shower nozzle to clean up after rigging. Below sits a slide-out 70-quart Igloo cooler with a spring-loaded latch to lock it in place. Tackle stowage drawers are built into both sides of the seating module.

Within the console, a spacious step-down head compartment with more than 6 feet of headroom is accessible via a front-entry companionway. Its fully lined interior includes an electric, porcelain marine toilet, a freshwater faucet and shower, and a vanity with sink and faux-granite countertop. There’s also plenty of room to secure helium tanks and kites inside the console. And with the companionway door closed, you can enjoy a comfortable seat on the forward console.

The aft cockpit (8 feet wide by 5 feet long) is all about fishing. There’s a 25-galloncovered livewell in the port quarter, undergunwale rod racks, stainless-steel toe rails to lock in on rough seas, six flush-mounted rod holders (two on each gunwale and two across the transom), and a transom door in the starboard quarter for pulling aboard big fish. A pair of cavernous fish lockers flank the aft deck.

Robalo R302 Boat Review Test
The roomy head compartment features a porcelain toilet, sink, pull-out shower and vanity.Courtesy Robalo

Instead of a deck hatch to access the bilge, the R302 offers an innovative transom design with an interior transom bulkhead that lifts to get to pumps, hoses, valves or wiring. A hatch just forward of the transom offers access to the battery compartment.

With the transom hatch closed, you can flip up a 5-foot-wide transom bench-style seat to take a load off. It quickly folds away when it’s time to fish. A padded bolster cushions your legs while ­fishing astern.

Bolsters continue around the interior of the R302, and in the bow they double as backrests for the U-shaped seating. These seats also serve as forward-facing loungers, thanks to a pair of molded-in pods that create angled backrests and contain stowage compartments. A removable table turns the bow into a dining area. When not in use, the table stows in a massive locker under the bow deck that the folks at Robalo affectionately call the cellar.

Robalo R302 Boat Review Test
A flip-up bench affords seating in the rear, flanked by a large livewell and a transom door.Courtesy Robalo

You’ll want to stow the seating pads in the cellar in order to access the three fish lockers underneath (a pair of 40-gallon compartments and a 50-gallon one) when fishing, as well as when stepping up to man the anchor. The R302 features an electric windlass, stainless-steel anchor roller, roomy anchor locker, and freshwater washdown to rinse the anchor. A recessed stainless-steel bow rail offers an extra measure of safety when going forward. Powered by twin F300s, the Kevlar-reinforced hull jumped to plane in 4 seconds and reached 30 mph in 7 seconds, en route to a top speed of 54.5 mph at 5,700 rpm. The ride was gentle in the afternoon chop, and handling at high speeds proved smooth and predictable. The most efficient cruising speed occurred at 3,000 rpm, where the R302 posted 1.8 mpg at 25 mph, burning 13.6 gph.

With a base price of $147,895 (with twin Yamaha F300s), the R302 is one of the best values on the market. There aren’t many 30-footers you can touch for that price, especially one that combines so many features with the superb fit and finish that have long been the ­hallmark of a Robalo.

Performance of Robalo R302
With twin F300s and Yamaha Saltwater Series II 19-inch-pitch, three-blade stainless props, the R302 tops at 54.5 mph and 1.8 mpg.Courtesy Yamaha