Grady White Say That They Make The Best Bluewater Fishing Boats In The World. We Asked Fishing Guru, Bruce Duncan To Take A Grady White 330 Express Out For A Day’s Fishing To Find Out If They Are As Good As The Hype That Surrounds Them.
EVEN BACK IN THE EARLY EIGHTIES, THE GRADY WHITE BOATS STOOD OUT FROM THE REST FOR THEIR DESIGN AND HIGH STANDARD OF FINISH.
Today after sixty years of production Grady White is still a privately owned company and still stand out from the rest. It’s well worth googling Grady White and watching the video on their 60-year history.
Named one of the 25 greatest offshore saltwater sportfishing boats of the past 20 years, the 33-foot express cabin boat Express 330 recently was completely redesigned with an emphasis on seating, cabin amenities and interior lighting. Not only is the 330 a premiere sport fishing boat, but it’s also a great family boat and overnight cruiser.
It’s all very well looking at a boat, but the true test is to get out on the water for a day and put it through its paces. Even better would be staying away on the Grady White 330 for a few days as it is well set up below with two double bunks galley toilet and shower.
Sitting on a hydraulically braked tri-axle trailer this is a very big trailer boat by any standards and all be it trailerable, [see LTSA regulations] mostly it would be in either dry stack or on a marina.
My first impression of the Grady White 330 as I walked down the dock was of a sizeable boat, with clean, sleek lines, massive curved one-piece screen to the slight deck angle to allow water to drain overboard quickly. Very impressive and I had not even stepped aboard.
Powered by twin 450 hp Yamaha outboards, matched with Yamahas fully integrated Helm master controls plus a bow thruster, makes for totally stress free docking and manoeuvering with just a touch of the joystick.
This is a boat that perfectly fits a gap when you can’t justify the cost or need endless upkeep of a big cruiser but have the desire to be able to get out wide to chase Marlin at the drop of a sinker when a weather window appears. Today being time short from fishing local waters to offshore seamounts this is one hell of a go-fast boat designed to get where you want and back quickly, in safety, comfort and style but also has the stay away capabilities for a few days.
With just a touch of the throttles, the twin Yamaha V8s glide the GW 330 effortlessly onto the plane leaving a clean wash astern at a very impressive 28-30 knots cruising speed. Top speed is 46 knots. Ideal cruise is around 3800 rpm which returns a respectable 3.8 lpnm /9.5 lph and still running at close to 27 knots, with a range around 300nm.
The owner’s party trick is at full speed to put the Grady White into a full hard-on turn. I even did this myself a few times and not once did it cavitate or let go giving you the feeling of total control at all times.
THE HELM STATION
From a central pedestal helm seat, the skipper has a virtually unobstructed 360-degree view from the bow to the transom. All switches, gauges and screens are visible at a glance and within easy reach. There is very comfortable seating on either side of the helm, as it is on all the seat and loungers throughout the boat. One simple feature that stood out for me was the hatch at the top of the windscreen that allows a flow of fresh air to cool and keep the crew alert when trolling on long hot summer days.
At the push of a button, a console in the centre of the dash rises to reveal a full set of Garmin electronics. Two 16 inch screens give the options of separate chart plotter sounder and radar or a combination of the three options. Transducer positioning is critical, even at 30 knots, and the sounder showed little interference with a near-perfect bottom display.
Fifty years of building high-end sport fishing boats are evident the second you glance around the cockpit. Designed to fish out wide in big water, I noted many small but essential little things, such as no sharp edges with every corner rounded off for safety.
Padded bolsters surround the cockpit at the ideal height for leading or gaffing fish. The cockpit sole extends under the coamings giving anglers a secure foothold when playing fish off the side of the boat. The wash down hose is to port, and big scupper drains are aft on either side of the cockpit. They will not only clear any water quickly, but the grates also prevent them from getting blocked by fish scales.
Rod storage is not an issue on the Grady White, with rod holders across the transom and on the side decks, plus an additional six holders on the hardtop stanchions. Although not on board or needed at the time, a game chair can be fitted in the middle of the cockpit.
This leaves plenty of room either side for the crew to move around. Using the outriggers and the deck rod holders, one can run a wide pattern of lures when trolling, and when not required the telescopic outriggers fit neatly out of the way under the coamings. On top of the cabin roof are also three adjustable rod holders to enable lures to be run as shotguns, well clear of the other lures. Perfect when targeting tuna. Two tuna tubes are conveniently located at the transom on the port side alongside a massive insulated icebox to hold the catches such as tuna or kingfish. Well thought out is a partition to hold spare bags of ice.
Stepping down from the helm station behind to starboard there is a large live bait tank, again a well thought out finer point is the ends of the tank on the inside are round, allowing the live baits to last longer as they can swim without getting knocked about. Most important, on the port side is a very convenient stainless steel cockpit fridge levitating the need to go into the cabin with fishy clothes. Teak decking on the bridge and cockpit floor and transom gives firm, secure footing, especially when playing game fish on stand up gear.
At the stern on the starboard side are the most impressive hinges I have seen on a transom door which allows easy access onto the transom, where you can walk between the motors.
A concern that some would think could be an issue is drowning the two big V8 450 hp Yamaha outboards when backing down on a big fish, but the reality is that with the speed and manoeuvrability of the Grady White is such that the fish will be played off the aft quarter till it is alongside.
Facing down into the cockpit is an excellent array of LED lighting to flood the cockpit at party time or should a tussle with a big fish go long into the night. Talking of party time, there is an ingenious aft seat that folds away when not required, so takes no cockpit space but folded out provides extra seating. Two removable bait boards can be set either side of the cockpit to minimise congestion and clutter when cutting bait or rigging lures.
No matter if you are drift fishing in the Motuihe Channel or 30 miles off the coast live baiting for broadbill or marlin, a boat needs to be stable and predictable, and the Grady White certainly gives you that stable big boat feel.
Out for a bottom fish in the Hauraki Gulf, we chased the workups targeting snapper and kahawai. We drifted with soft baits, and Kubra lures, and when the workups died, we decided to anchor and baitfish. From the helm, you have a clear, unobstructed view of the anchor and Maxwell winch which is remotely operated.
The beam and size of the cockpit are what we all dream of, with bait boards mounted midships either side of the cockpit you can fish six people without getting in anyone’s way and still have room to make a bee-line to the cockpit fridge.
The snapper and trevally that came on board were quickly liked and laid on salt ice, out of the sun in the transom icebox to chill and be filleted on the way home.
Even at speed on the way back the Grady White 330 effortlessly sliced through the waves and ferry wakes while I filleted the days catch. Washing down the cockpit, the substantial scuppers drains easily coped with the scales and mess, leaving just quick freshwater wash off once alongside the dock.
All in all, this is one hell of an impressive boat that ideally suits the needs of those with limited time but a passion for fishing — fast, furious with the ability and capability of covering all bases. My only criticism would be the anchor chain is to short and worst of all I can’t afford to buy a Grady White 330.