Monaro Marine Ltd.
Sea Trial: Monaro 255RXL


I drove out to Richmond, No. 5 Road, and found the Monaro factory easily. As is happens, this is how most people buy their Monaros—directly from the factory. It keeps prices down and you get that personal touch from founder, owner, manager and builder Dan Parker and his staff. I found them busy, not only building new vessels, but converting and upgrading older ones for loyal owners and doing some custom work. People who buy Monaros are particular about their vessels and know what they want, and generally Dan will help them bring their needs to fruition. People buy these boats because the company has been in business for 30 years and they build high-quality classic Northwest boats that do the job and do it well. Because they are a family business (Dan’s son Brad, a civil engineer, has just joined the company) and not a massive conveyor belt operation, they can build to fit your needs even it they differ a little bit from the plans.


The vessel I went to see had already been sold (the factory is not in the habit of building for stock, so you have to pre-order your own boat), so I put on my little booties and clambered aboard the Monaro 255 RXL, and we went through the boat from stem to stern. Up forward, the 6’5” long V-berth is functional for a weekend away for two tall people and even has a toilet in the V, which is covered when the insert is in place to make up the double bed. There is good light from ports each side and a large Bowmar hatch above. The teak doors lead aft to the main cockpit where the action is. The gas-adjusted captain’s chairs sit well up and the big windows give a fabulous 360-degree view. In the test vessel, micro engine controls had been fitted and instrumentation included chartplotter/fish finder and radar, both of which are installed in front of the driver and are protected when not in use by a heavy Plexiglas lockable cover. The rest of the engine instruments are fitted on the centreline and to the right of the helmsman.

Behind the seats to starboard is a day galley with sink and faucet, a microwave beneath, and a beautifully made teak plate rack built-in. A removable dining table sits to port and beneath the aft double seat is a large fridge/freezer. The seat also has a reversible backrest that does not swing. It has to be physically lifted out, reversed and replaced to make it happen: an excellent safety touch in my opinion. Imagine the boat taking off over a wave and crashing into the trough. The backrest would fly forward along with the passenger. This is stronger and well thought-out and confirms the image of toughness that everything about this boat is telling me.

Turning aft, there is a large area for the business that this boat is best suited for: fishing. The engine, in our case a very neatly fitted diesel from Volvo, was only encroaching into the “work space” by 10 inches because of very clever design work. The transom is actually not where one would expect it to be, but is much farther aft under the transom platform. This not only gives more space inside, but more waterline length, which of course gives a better ride and stability. The ability of this boat to cruise at just on the plane at only 1,500 revs is extraordinary, but more of that later.

Inserts fit each side of the short engine box, allowing for seating for two more people, one on either side of it. There is a door onto the swim grid to allow easy access for those stern ties and for boarding after swimming or landing that big fish. The hardtop in this case was open to the stern and a sensible canvas sloped cover was fitted to keep the weather out. A minimum of hoops were fitted (one!) so that fishing was not hindered by all the paraphernalia that goes with an unneeded camper back. Another example of good sensible thinking and design is the depth of the working areas of the boat. One can stand and fish without fear of falling out and without railing around the sides that impede the sitting of down-riggers and rod holders.

Working on the engine is made extremely simple by removing the engine box and then the rear panel that goes right across the boat. This opens up what appears at first glance to be a very tightly fitted engine, and allows easy access for servicing. On the swim grid they have even build the platform in two different pieces to allow mechanics to be able to lift a panel and get at the rear end of the engine.

Forward there is an electric windlass and Bruce anchor with chain controlled from both the foredeck and the cockpit. The pulpit is well built and a decent height without being unsightly, and there is a large Bowmar hatch for ventilation and light below.

The lay-up of the hull and deck was without thought of a chopper gun and it is all solid woven roving and matt fibreglass with some core in the deck and hardtop. For added strength, they attach all the bulkheads, shelves, floors and berths to the hull with biaxial glass fibres. Expensive, but worth it if you really want a tough boat. There is no obvious “print through” and the gel coat is as good as it gets. Stringers are still made out of wood, and having looked at a 20-year-old boat having an extension put on the stern, I could see the old stringers still as good as new. If you build it right, it will stay together for a long, long time. The hardtop had been built four inches higher for the new owner, and the overall appearance carried it will.


We pulled out of the boat-house on the Fraser River and I nearly jumped overboard as Dan worked the bow thruster to turn the boat in the tight space. Not having a thruster myself (and my boat is a 62 full keel sailboat!), I was not ready for the noise, or the fact that the boat had one. It’s only 25 feet! But in right spaces it really worked well. I have already been warned about the noise from the engine and was very surprised how quiet it was even without the soundproofing that was to be fitted within the next day or two.

We motored gently out towards the North Arm and as we cleared the bridge Dan gently opened her up and she came on plane effortlessly. The ride was as I expected from a 20-degree deep V with a very fine entry, not unlike a “Damn Donzi” to look at. Volvo has really made a beautiful engine in the D4 260-hp, and with both turbo and supercharger it is smooth and powerful, while giving the appearance of the compactness and neatness.

The tilt steering has both hydraulic and power assistance and is very light, yet seems to be not so light as to lose feel. I was certainly aware of—without going to sea in a gale—the boat’s solidness, reliability, and great use of space.


The Monaro 255 RXL is a new model that carries forward the traditions of an established company that has produced solid Northwest-type boats for 30 years. You don’t do that by producing something that falls to bits on the first descent wave. I think we all know that the designs are not ultra modern, but they are classic and will always be in vogue if the quality is there. In this case and with this company, I believe it is.

Pricing ranges (for the 255 RXL) from $71,000 to around $145,000 with all the bells and whistles. Our test boat will be going to the Taku Resort on Quadra Island I believe, and reliability and toughness is a must up there for sure. Also remember that resale value is good for a boat that retains its class, even years down the road. I would say that the website deserves a visit at You can see other models available from 21 to 32 feet and various options available, as well as the custom option that may make your new boat just that little but more perfect for the job you need it to do. I boarded a 29-footer during our test run, whose owner was going out fishing. He puts on some 1,200 hours a year and takes his pastime seriously. He swore by his vessel. It was nice to get an impromptu opinion. His also had a rear door to the cabin instead of canvas, as our new owner has stipulated. The new swim grid on the 29-foot model is big enough to put stainless rails around it and erect a deck chair for that special person in your life to sunbathe.