Family, Fishing & Value
Text by boatest.com
For 2018, Robalo has updated the R222 ES to the R222EX Explorer and introduced an even better boat.
The Robalo R222EX Explorer is a centre console fishing boat first, that has all of the necessities including an aerated livewell, 25 litre bucket storage, fishbox with overboard drain and plenty of rod holders. But add a few options and it’s also a large and comfortable family day boat suitable for towsports, harbour hopping or a picnic on a remote beach. Top speed with a Yamaha 200 four-stroke was 43.4 mph in our test runs, and best cruise was at 3500 rpms and 21.4 mph, where she got 4.1 mpg.
Robalo is very clear about their mission for the R222EX Explorer —“Family, Fishing, Value.” More specifically, they’re looking to combine the practical features of a fishing vessel with the comfort and luxury demanded of a family excursion boat. A boat versatile enough to feel at home catering to the fishing or family utility, and back to the other when the situation demands it.
There are quite a few notable features on the boat, such as the adjustable bow table/ casting deck. A microcosm of what the R222EX Explorer is trying to accomplish, the bow section can be outfitted with an adjustable cocktail table in the footwell of the seating. Lower it down to be flush with the seating, and the area is now a perfect bow casting platform for fishing.
Yamaha’s Command Link gauges provide real-time, accurate readouts on information like engine function, fuel consumption, trim levels, and battery voltage.
There’s also a center console day head, which is great if you are going to spend a long day on the water with the family. The R222EX Explorer takes that concern away ably with a simple, effective head accessed from the forward side of the center console.
And how about the aft livewell under the aft bench seating section, that lifts to give access not just to 25 litre bucket storage, but also service for the engine. There’s also a livewell that is a huge plus when fishing.
Underneath, the R222EX Explorer has what the company call, a Hydro Lift Extended Running Surface. The R222EX Explorer’s hull design utilises an extended running surface, which allows the “v-plane” to continue aft of the transom. This creates superior stability under nearly every driving condition, quick plane time and precise cornering abilities.
Many bow sections contain some level of versatility in their design, and the R222EX Explorer is no different. What is different is that very often the tools of this versatility—removable cushions, tables, and so on—are only available as add-on options. Not so with the R222EX Explorer. The bow has a “U” shaped seating section, and the removable seating cushions and removable backrests are both standard.
There is further versatility that falls under “add-on option” as well, however. The cocktail table that can mount in the footwell of the “U” shape is optional and highly recommended, as it can lower to be flush with the seating, which creates a great forward casting platform when fishing. An optional filler cushion can be installed along with all the seating cushions to make this into a lounging sunpad as well.
Storage in the bow comes via port and starboard lockers under the latched seating as well as a below deck storage space and forward a large anchor locker. The bow is lined with plush bolsters and guiderails along the gunwales as well. Stereo speakers and cup holders further refine the space and its capabilities.
Just aft of the bow seating section is the center console, with its forward-facing jump seat. The seat has plush cushioning, making it a bit more comfortable than other more perfunctory console seats. The front and sides of its base have heavy-duty grabrails as the jump seat is part of the outward-swinging access door to the R222EX Explorer’s head.
The jump seat is also a perfect distance away to participate when the bow cocktail table is installed, expanding the entertaining space nicely in design. The RR222EX Explorer’s head is not expansive, nor is it a fully walk-in space. Instead, the door opens to reveal a step-down for access and use, with just the head itself inside. The head is electric and comes with an large holding tank with your option to include overboard discharge or not.
Moving aft we noted the bolster cushions in the gunwales continue the length of the boat, which is a great feature when leaning over and wrestling with a catch. On the aft side of the center console is, of course, the ship’s helm.
The dash is simply and concisely laid-out, with a compass at the top of the console, space for touchscreen readouts just below, stainless steel and weatherproof toggle switches flanking these, the Yamaha Command Link gauges, stereo system control just to port of the steering wheel, digital throttle just to starboard. The steering wheel is stainless steel and can be optionally upgraded with a control knob as well. Just below the dash is lockable glovebox storage.
The captain’s chair is more of a leaning post, with double-wide bench seating and two flip-up bolsters. The upholstery is soft but weather-resistant. On the aft side of the leaning post are five rocket-launcher style rod holders above a cooler that sits in a cooler slide—dedicated storage to keep it from rattling around while the boat is underway and a slide for pulling it out from under the helm seat and easily accessing.
The cockpit on the RR222EX Explorer is self-bailing with integrated drain fittings. The decks are “diamond lustre” non-skid and there are stainless steel toe rails in the gunwales. To port and starboard, mounted in the gunwales as well, are stainless steel
rod holders, two to each side. The stainless steel grabrails on the gunwales extend back from the bow to about parallel with the helm station.
The transom seating is upholstered, like the rest of the boat, in premium vinyl with “nano-block technology.” The seat extends from the port side across to the start of the starboard stern access door. It lifts to reveal the boat’s livewell, bucket storage spot, and more general storage space as well. The transom seating backrest hinges up for access to the bilge area. The starboard side of the transom, as mentioned, has a small stern access door that sits in place in a groove and opens with a small lift and push.
As an outboard-powered boat the R222EX Explorer’s swim platform is not a large space, but does give enough room to use as comfortable platform for playing in the water. The platform has a three-step telescoping boarding ladder that sits flush under a latch. Raw water washdown access is right on the starboard bulkhead, with two stainless steel grab-rails for lifting one’s self up and back onboard.
The R222EX Explorer can also be optionally outfitted with a stainless steel tow line for further watersport enhancement.
The R222EX Explorer comes with a number of outboard power options, from 150hp through to 250hp in either Mercury or Yamaha. Top speed for the Robalo R222EX Explorer, with a Yamaha 200 is 43.4 mph burning 76.84 lph. Best cruise is 21.4 mph and the boat gets 1.74 kpl, giving the boat a cruising range of 330 nm.
Robalo’s mission to appeal to both the fishing and family outing is certainly evident—one can absolutely do both with this boat and be very satisfied. With some option-selection savvy, the R222 shouldn’t short you in pursuit of either type of excursion. That being said, the R222 is definitively more a fishing boat than a family excursion one. The R222 has the somewhat spartan feel that many fishing vessels offer, and the tighter layout means it won’t be ideal for parties of much more than 4 or 5. There is certainly value to be had in looking into the R222, but instead of viewing it as a boat 50/50 split between fishing and family, best to see it closer to 65/35 in favour of fishing expeditions.
- Model & Model: Robalo 222 Explorer
- Priced from: $
- Type: Centre Console
- Construction: GRP
- LOA: 6.55m
- Beam: 2.59m
- Deadrise: 21 deg
- Height on trailer: ??
- Trailerable weight: ??
- Test Power: Yamaha 200hp
- Propeller: ??
- Power options: Outboard
- HP Range: 150hp-250hp
- Fuel Capacity: 341L
- Trailer: Tandem