Boat Test Videos
Content courtesy ofThere has been a sea change in approach at Mako recently and the Mako 234 is a prime example of what is going on. A sharp price point is no longer the object of this offshore fishing boat brand. Rather, it is just simply another one of the vessel's many "amenities." Much more important is the fact that Mako is building one of the most functional boats in class no matter what they cost.
Prices, features, designs, and equipment are subject to change. Please see your local dealer or visit the builder's website for the latest information available on this boat model.
Good Old Days.
Back in the go-go days of the 1970s when center consoles were just becoming popular, Mako quickly went to the head of the pack in terms of well-earned status. Veteran anglers preferred Makos to virtually anything on the market and the brand had a cult-like following. The 234 was the brand's most popular boat because it was the minimum size people were willing to take to places like the Bahamas, and out to the canyons on decent days. It was also one of the most expensive boats in class.
Economic events repeatedly nearly crushed the boating business in the late '70s, '80s, and early '90s. Mako's ownership changed hands several times going from lots of TLC of the founders to undercapitalized or inexperienced owners who did little more than keep the name alive.
Then, after one particularly nasty economic crisis Tracker Marine Group bought Mako's assets. They essentially contained two things: 1) The brand name; and, 2) A set of remarkable hull designs that had proven themselves over the years among America's most demanding offshore fishermen.
Tracker Marine Group
, a division of privately-owned Bass Pro Shops, is the largest builder of boats in the world in terms of numbers. Taken together, the company's financial resources and body of fishing and small-boat building knowledge and expertise is probably unmatched in the world. By focusing its talent and financial resources on resurrecting the glory days of the Mako brand, the company has, in fact, far exceeded anything that even Mako's founders ever produced.
A Sea Change in Approach by Mako
It is remarkable what money -- and lots of it -- can do. The Mako 234 was completely redesigned in recent years, except for the hull and all of it has been retooled, retooled and retooled again. Re-tooling is expensive but that is what gives this boat a head start on having world-class fit-and-finish. And that is the emphasis of Mako management these days -- not price. You read that right. Unlike many other products in the Tracker Marine Group portfolio, the Mako 234 is not intended to be a low-price leader. Rather it is intended to be a class leader no matter what the price point. This is an important sea change in philosophical approach.
But top notch fit-and-finish is not enough for the Mako 234. The builder also wants to incorporate virtually all of the fishing amenities, equipment, little refinements and esoteric nuances found in many of the most expensive boats in class. This is a tall order, particularly for a company that knows how price sensitive the market is.
We Compare the Mako 234 to 9 other Boats in Class
The most important aspect of any boat is its basic design. Those design specifics incorporate all of the assumptions of mission, scope of capabilities, and compromises baked into the boat. Let's look at how the Mako 234 stacks up against other leading brand names in the market in terms of her basic design. The reasons that this analysis is important is simply because it casts the die as to what the boat can do and can't do. It determines how fast she can go, how far, and how comfortable she will be getting there. These are all important attributes that will be fixed and can't be changed by adding an extra set of rod holders or tackle boxes in the aftermarket.
To see how the Mako 234 stacked up against other center console boats her size we compared her with five of the most expensive -- and respected -- brands in class and four other boats that are more moderately priced but have excellent reputations. All told, we compared the Mako 234 to 9 other center consoles in class. Five of them had designations of "23", three were "22"s and one was a "24." Our criteria for determining "class" was the general length (22' or 23' with one 24'), maximum horsepower rating (250 to 300-hp, with one maxed at 200) and stated person-carrying capacity from 10 to 12.
The stated length overall of the boats ranged from 22'4" to 24'5" (6.80 to 7.44 m). The Mako 234 measures 23'4" (7.11 m) LOA, so in this respect she is in the middle of the pack.
All of the boats in class -- including the Mako -- had a beam of 8'6" (2.59 m) except two; one was 8'4" (2.54 m) and another was 8'8" (2.64 m). Most builders standardize on 8'6" for boats in this size range because they are typically trailerable and 8'6" is the widest that can be towed without a permit in all of the U.S. 50 states. Most other countries have width and permit requirements similar to the U.S. so this boat width works pretty well world-wide for trailering.
This dimension is somewhat problematical as builders do not all measure it the same. Some measure the engine-up draft to the lowest protuberance, and some measure to the bottom of the hull. Of course, the draft of the vessel is dependent on the boat's foot print and displacement. For example, narrow, short, heavy boats will draw more water than long, wide, light ones. The Mako 234 draws 18" with the outboard up, which was more than five of the other boats in class which had drafts as low as 15" reported. Two boats drew more water than the Mako, one drawing 24" and one 20". One of the boats we checked did not publish the boat's draft on its website, something that we find odd.
At 4,100 lbs. (1,863 kgs.) the Mako 234 is the heaviest boat of the 10 boats we studied. (All weights were dry and without engines.) The closest boat was just 2% lighter. One boat was 27% lighter. Four of the 9 other boats ranged from 3,500 to 3,970 lbs. (1,590 to 1,804 kgs.) displacement. That is from 3% to 15% less. Why is there such a discrepancy in displacement among boats that are all within a foot or so of each other and all have pretty much the same beam? The answer to that question is beyond the scope of this investigation, but clearly there is more material in some boats than in others. Some materials are heavier than others. Some boats have more molded parts and liners than others.In any case the Mako 234 is the heaviest in class which tells us that she should ride better offshore and be more stable at rest, all things being equal, and she should be able to take a pounding. On the negative side, heavier boats can be harder to push and therefore not have the WOT speed or fuel efficiency of a lighter boat.
The Mako 234 joins two other boats in having a 21-degree deadrise at the transom which is generally considered in the range of being a "deep-V." A deadrise at the transom of 24-degrees is typically what is found in high-performance offshore racing hulls. The downside to a deep deadrise such as this is that they are harder to push through the water. They are also more rolly at rest. Only one of the boats studied had a 24-degree deadrise bottom.Eight of the 10 boats studied had a deadrise at the transom of between 19-degrees and 21-degrees which means the builders of these boats have compromised a bit on riding comfort in order to increase WOT speed and have greater fuel efficiency at cruise. They will also be more stable at rest. The Mako 234 falls into this group with a slight emphasis on ride over top speed.Again, one builder failed to report the deadrise of the boat in class for some reason. Given its importance to consumers trying to select a boat, such an omission is perplexing, particularly from a famous brand.
When it comes to offshore fishing boats, range can be critical and is certainly a lot more important than top speed. Range of course depends on the amount of fuel that can be carried and the fuel burn of the engine. The Mako 234 has a fuel capacity of 136 gallon (515 L) which is greater than all of the boats in class that we have studied, except one. Interestingly, that one boat is the vessel that has a 24-degree deadrise, and its fuel capacity is 160 gal. Possibly its builder figured on a higher fuel burn because of the greater deadrise. Most of the boats studied had a fuel capacity from 100 gallons to 125 gallons (380 to 475 L).
If all of the boats in our comparison went the same cruising speed and burned the same amount of fuel, then the Mako 234 would have from 12% to 40% greater range than all of the boats in class except one. The boat with 160 gallons of fuel and the 24-degree deadrise could have a range 14% greater than the Mako.
Power and Pricing
Powered by a 2-stroke Mercury OptiMax 250-hp XXL the Mako 234 has a MSRP of $58,995, plus freight and dealer prep. Upgrading to a 300-hp Mercury Verado XXL raises the price to $64,495, plus freight and dealer prep. Several other engine configurations are available and can be found on the Mako website.
The comparisons above are instructive because they prove that the Mako 234 is the beefiest boat in class and has the theoretical second greatest range. Further, her legendary hull shape has been tried and tested by veteran anglers for decades and has proven to be satisfying.
Back to the Future.
We think the Mako 234 is a real example of "back to the future," much like traveling in a 1981 DeLorean DMC-12 time machine with the wild-haired Christopher Lloyd at the throttle. The folks at Mako traveled back in time, saw what things were like with the legendary Mako, fixed the 234's "flux capacitor" which had come loose, then latched on to Tracker Marine Group's "1.21 gigawatts" of financial lighting and brought her back to 2013 better than ever. Obviously, this is a boat that has to be seen to be believed.
Pricing Range: $58,995.00Prices, features, designs, and equipment are subject to change. Please see your local dealer or visit the builder's website for the latest information available on this boat model.