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June 21, 2012

Mako 234 Center Console

Superb for fishing bays to blue water, this boat is easily trailered and offers ample cruising range.

When I was in college and daydreaming about fish when I should’ve been studying, the Mako center-console ranked as the ultimate saltwater-fishing machine. That was in the mid-1970s. Today the brand is in the hands of Tracker Marine, and based on my test of the new Mako 234 Center Console on Biscayne Bay south of Miami Beach, the quality and innovation might be better than ever.

Performance
Our test boat carried a pair of the new Mercury 150 FourStroke outboards. For a real-world test, we loaded the boat with 655 pounds of crew and 130 gallons of gas. The engines took it in stride. Spinning Mirage Plus 15½-by-17-inch, three-blade stainless-steel propellers, the counter-rotating twins vaulted from 0 to 30 mph in 7.7 seconds, and reached a top speed of 46.8 mph at 5,750 rpm.

Best fuel economy came at 3,000 rpm, where we burned 9.2 gph at 22 mph, resulting in 2.4 mpg. Based on a 90 percent fill in the 140-gallon tank, maximum cruising range calculates to 302 miles.

With 21 degrees of deadrise at the transom, the Mako offered a smooth ride, especially with the standard, recessed trim tabs deployed.

Thanks to standard hydraulic steering, handling was easy. The 234 cornered cleanly — no sliding or skipping in lateral acceleration over the bay’s choppy water.

Fishing
The test boat came with the optional fiberglass hardtop with anodized frame, two aft-facing spreader lights, white navigation light, electronics box and four rod holders. There’s a big access plate on the roof, and this helps ease the chore of rigging radar, VHF and GPS antennas.

The standard leaning post sports a backrest incorporating four rod holders. Integrated into the seat is a 31-gallon livewell with a clear-acrylic lid. Cool tackle-storage cabinets are built into each side of the seat.

In the starboard aft corner, a bait-prep area features a pullout freshwater hose for cleanup, in addition to a nearby raw-water washdown fitting. Below the station is a cabinet with a pliers/knife holder outside the door, and a clever rack inside for a spool of fishing line.

Below the sole of the aft cockpit on either side, a pair of four-foot-long insulated and gasketed fish boxes with compression latches offers plenty of room to stow your catch. In the bow, two dry-storage lockers lie beneath the opposing raised decks.

Horizontal racks beneath both gunwales plus four flush-mount trolling rod holders atop the gunwales increased rod-storage capacity to 18. The entire cockpit is encircled with coaming pads so you can fight a fish without tearing up your legs.

A below-deck compartment forward fits a five-gallon bucket with a cast net. To prevent snagging the cast net, the forward grab rails are recessed into the gunwale.

Design and Construction

This boat features a one-piece, molded fiberglass stringer grid and a ­chemically bonded hull-to-deck joint, which is backed up by stainless-steel fasteners every six inches. Construction is 100 percent composite.

The thigh-high transom bulkhead comes with a door to port, so you can walk out on the integral swim platform and maneuver a fish around the outboards. A hatch on the interior side of the transom bulkhead allows for access to pumps and other rigging in the stern.

The helm configuration on our test boat kept three SmartCraft gauges and the rocker-style switch panel within easy reach. The throttle and shift controls were also well positioned. A polished-aluminum steering wheel complements the tilt-and-lock hydraulic helm.

There’s ample room to flush-mount today’s bigger multifunction electronic displays and other devices on the console. I also like the angled footrest at the bottom of the console for bracing yourself in rough conditions.

Under the console, you’ll find a step‑down head compartment, as well as a neatly designed panel of battery switches and breakers, and access to rigging behind the helm.

While there’s so much to like on the Mako 234 Center Console, the element I like the most is the panache behind the name itself. It bespeaks fishability, and this new model lives up to that reputation.


SPECIFICATIONS

LOA......23 ft. 4 in.
BEAM......8 ft. 6 in.
DRAFT......1 ft. 6 in.
DEADRISE......21 deg.
WEIGHT......4,100 lb. (w/o power)
FUEL......140 gal.
MAX POWER......300 hp OB
MSRP......$70,084
(w/ twin Mercury 150 hp OB)

Mako / Springfield, Missouri / 417-873-4555 / www.mako-boats.com