TEXT BY BARRY THOMPSON
UNLESS YOU OWN ONE, YOU WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND!
A slogan wrapped around a Grady-White logo on a T-Shirt says it all. Unless you own one, you will never understand. How true, and after experiencing another example of the brand, the very latest 330 Express, I can relate 100% to that catchphrase.
When you receiving the NMMA CSI Award for Top Customer Satisfaction Ranking 19 years in a row, you have to admit that Grady-White is doing something right. Thanks to the energetic Stuart Arnold, Grady-White boats have been coming into New Zealand for seven years. His Tairua based Marine Imports Company has delivered more than 60 boats and, like every other boat dealer currently in a situation where he is unable to supply a new boat for at least 12 months due to huge demand both here and the USA.
“We have never seen anything like this, it is unprecedented, a10.2mnd I find it hard to tell people they have to wait so long for a new boat, but that’s the same for any popular brand, so they have no other choice”, says Stuart.
The Grady-White 330 Express that I reviewed was the first I have been aboard, but not the first reviewed by the magazine. In 2020, we ran a fishing-based report on a 330 Express, but the new 2021 model this time around is an even better boat with a lot of new innovative features. While the set-up is unquestionably about serious fishing, there is a decent emphasis on cruising, giving the 330 Express a much broader appeal. Our 330 was the eleventh Stuart has sold to Kiwi clients, and he says he has more on order. He loves the model so much he has ordered one for himself.
“I reckon this is the best boat in the range, and it is going to suit my wife and my needs as a platform for our diving, fishing and cruising”.
While the well-proven 100% hand-laid SeaV2 hull has been retained, the topsides have undergone a redesign, and the 330 is now available in three hardtop variants; open with split-screen and clears, wrap-around with solid screens and the new AV2 top. The AV2 hardtop enclosure was designed for the 370 Express and was so popular the company has rejigged it to fit the smaller 330 Express. This includes an all-aluminium frame with a full width ventilated tinted safety glass windshield and side windows. Fitted into the grp hardtop is an electromechanically sliding sunroof w/screen and shade, storage net, LED spreader lights, six tri-coloured (red, blue, white) LED recessed lights, four side-mounted rod holders and outrigger plates. This is finished off with a SureShade electrically retractable shade with Sunbrella canvas. The aft area can also be completely enclosed with a trio of drop-down canvas sections.
The helm essentially remains unchanged over the previous 330, but with a few subtle design changes. If you run a pair of Simrad MFDs, you are restricted to a couple of 12″ screens, but if you opt for Garmin or Furuno, you can go up to a pair of 16″. All this is displayed on a retractable dash that can be set at any level. Dropped right down to completely conceal your screens when not in use for extra security or conversely raised and folded back for ease of entry to the back of the displays if they need to be accessed.
The fit and finish of everything are well-thought-out, from the drink holders to the universal cordless fast phone charger and all displays and switches’ positioning. It is a testimony to the extremely high standard throughout the boat. There’s also plenty of handy storage spaces around the wheelhouse.
This 330 Express was also the first boat into New Zealand to have the New Yamaha EX complete Helm Master full manoeuverability system with full remote control, integrated autopilot, built-in GPS, Joystick controller, Stay Point, Fish Point, Drift Point and a host of new features all connected to Twin XTO V8 425hp motors.
I was keen to test out the new EX system’s capabilities, so we put in a waypoint and let the autopilot do all the work. When we arrived at the destination, a harbour marker, the boat stopped and maintained a position on the spot all by itself. An excellent feature that is perfect for anyone fishing over deep canyons.
“It makes docking, slow manoeuvring or getting into a fuel berth, especially if there is a crosswind so easy. This can be an issue for a high-profile boat such as the 330 Express and means there is less chance of any possible damage to the boat”, says Stuart.
The new model 330 Express has had the shore power upgraded from 16 amp to 32 amp, and there is an encapsulated 8kW Panda diesel genset complete with an 85-litre diesel fuel tank. All the batteries are AGM, plus a 50-amp battery charger is included in the list of the standard items.
Helm seating is more than just the usual twin forward bucket seats. The 300 Express has a central adjustable contoured helm chair with deluxe cushioning and flip-up bolster, plus further seating on either side. To starboard are a pair of single fore-aft facing seats, with an infill to make a small lounger and opposite another single seat with a hinged panel to convert to another short lounger. A perfect use of space and extremely practical.
While on the subject of seating, the cockpit has been given a bit of a revamp also. While the previous 330 had a single foldaway aft bench seat, the new model has an extra one added to the starboard side. Another new feature on the 330 is the additional port side cockpit door, which is a great feature when boarding from a dock. It also comes with a separate four-step ladder which is a plus for divers getting back aboard away from the engines, and the gap is wide enough to drag in a gamefish.
Storage. Well, how much do you want? The 330 Express has it in abundance. There are drawers dedicated to fishing tackle, rod racks, a storage net for lifejackets, and wet lockers for your fish and bait. Whatever you bring aboard, there’s sure to be somewhere on the 330 Express to stow it. A neat feature is the large fully insulated livewell built-in under the starboard seating. This comes with a patented Grady plenum that thoroughly aerates the entire water column, so the fish don’t get beaten up while they await their fate. There’s even a blue light to calm them down. This space can also be used as an ice bin if you are not running live baits.
The self-draining cockpit sole has six scuppers to dispel any water quickly, and there is a reinforced pad in the centre should you want to mount a game chair or stand up leaning post. Across the transom is a huge fully insulated fish bin/wet locker and is available as an option with a Dometic fridge/freezer.
The styling below decks is flawless and conceived to offer as much comfort and homely appeal as is possible in the space available. Not much has changed since we looked at the previous model, with a massive forward berth with deep storage drawers under and a separate aft cabin beneath the cockpit sole. You can lower the dining table to convert the space into another single berth, which gives dedicated sleeping areas for six inside.
The galley is equipped with a dual Kenyon cooktop, convection microwave, Isotherm fridge/freezer and copious storage areas for all your galley needs. You have the option of a cockpit bbq and additional cockpit fridge if you prefer to do all your cooking outside.
Grady-White has not skimped on the size of the head/shower with over 2m headroom, and someone my size would indeed not be pinched for space when showering. It’s a total wet room, with Blue LED lighting adding a nice touch.
This magazine and others have written a lot about the Grady-White range of boats’ outstanding performance, and the 330 is one of the best of them. The 330 is based on the award-winning SeaV2 hull, a continuously variable vee that delivers a soft and stable ride. The vee sharpens from the transom to the bow stem with 20 degrees of deadrise at the transom and around 30 degrees amidships. The two strakes and the chine of the SeaV² hull cut through the water, providing lift, stability and a dry ride.
Although the day I ran the boat on Auckland harbour was calm, I did appreciate how the hull tracks as if the boat is on rails and holds on tight in the turns, without an excessive heel. You only have to look at the high bow flare, freeboard and chine angle to know this boat is going to give you a great dry ride in almost any sea state. Interestingly the SeaV2 hull is designed for Grady-White by C. Raymond Hunt Associates, the originators of the modified vee.
With a pair of Yamaha 425XTOs, I saw a top speed of 46 knots, and that was from a fully loaded boat with three crew and 1200 plus litres (3000kgs) of fuel. Stuart says that with a half fuel load, he has seen around 50 knots on the GPS.
The optimum cruise is around 3500-3800 rpm, giving the 330 Express a range of approximately 300nm. If you plan to do a lot of trolling, thanks to the Yamaha EX system, you can drop the rpm way down, so you are only running a few knots. At 1000 rpm, the speed is around 4.5-5 knots, with a miserly fuel burn of 14 lph and a range of 380nm.
Our test boat was destined for a new Grady-White client in Tutukaka who plans for both family boating and serious game fishing. According to Stuart, he is typical of most Grady-White owners.
“All the clients I have sold 330 Express boats too are experienced boat owners who know what they want and know that Grady-White can deliver that and more. I have never had a customer say they didn’t like their boat, and all come back to me with accolades about the boat being even better than they ever imagined, especially in the rough water. Nourishment not punishment to me sums up boating in a Grady-White,” says Stuart.
It seems like the T-Shirt slogan was right- Unless You Own One You Will Never Understand.
- Boat Design Name: Grady-White 330 Express
- Builder: Grady-White Boats
- LOA: 10.21m
- Beam: 3.53m
- Deadrise: 20°
- Construction: Hand laid GRP
- Displacement: 4817kg (with twin engines)
- Fuel Capacity: 1253 ltr
- Engines: Outboard Only
- Test Power: 2 x Yamaha 425XTO
- Propellers: 16 5/8 X 19 XTO SDS
- Power Options: 2 or 3 Yamaha 300hp or 425XTO
- Max Speed: 46 knots
- Weight As Tested: 6854kg
- MFD: Simrad
- Trim Tabs: Bennett
- Generator: Fisher Panda
- Sounds: Fusion
- Underwater Lights: Lumitec
- Priced From: $NZ725,000
- Price as Tested: $NZ800,000 plus