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December 17, 2003

Grady-White 300 Marlin

Following on the heels of the monumentally successful Grady 33 Express, the 300 Marlin fills the bill for those wanting a big little boat.

Yes, Grady-White builds some of the finest fishing boats on the planet. Yes, the company reacts promptly when you make a suggestion for improvement. Yes, innovation accompanies every new model. I wish they'd screw up once in a while so I'd at least have something new to say. But that's not likely.

Performance
The Beaufort Inlet at the southern end of North Carolina's Outer Banks can really tax a boat structurally when the wind counters the tide. Heading into 4- to 6-foot seas is always interesting. Outside the inlet, the ocean might be relatively calm, but in the ship channel, watch out. We actually saw a wave roll over a 20-foot skiff, burying everything but the tip of its bow.

We had no such problems with the new Grady 300 Marlin. In fact, we headed out the channel at about 25 mph quite comfortably. The Yamaha 225-hp four-strokes run so quietly, it's hard to hear them when you're trolling or the wind is blowing past your ears.

Though it sports the same hull as Grady's 30-foot center console, this express' weight logically lies farther forward than that of its center-console sister, causing it to run flatter. Remember, too, Grady builds very stable boats with lots of room to move around. Ergo, while this hull handles head seas perfectly well, it isn't going to fly through them like an offshore racer that has a sharper entry and a narrower beam. With that said, doing 25 mph straight into a 4-foot sea doesn't qualify it as a slouch, either.

Not that a capable boat handler actually needs it, but the bowthruster on the Grady 33 proved so popular that the company made it an option on this boat, too. It's fun to use and removes any trepidation about docking in adverse conditions. You can handle literally any kind of maneuvering with a thruster.

Fishing
That same stability and interior volume make trolling in a beam sea and drifting bottom structure a true pleasure aboard the 300. But what always pleases me about Grady-White is that the decision makers all fish fanatically. Consequently, rather than producing boats with some fishing features included, the company builds dedicated fishing boats. For example, Grady was the first to incorporate downrigger-ball holders under the gunwales.

The Marlin 300 boasts rod storage for three rigs under each gunwale, two in each caprail and two more on each hardtop leg. You could easily mount additional rocket launchers across the back of the hardtop, place more rod holders in the gunwales and across the transom, and add a few hangers down in the cabin. Suffice it to say you'll have plenty of space for rods, no matter how many species you care to target in a single trip.

The walkway forward features excellent handholds, so fighting a fish while you walk to the bow shouldn't cause any sense of foreboding. By the way, I discovered that if you don't want the expense of outriggers but still want to troll, the pattern works pretty well with two rods in the gunwale holders and two more in the upper rocket-launcher holders on the hardtop legs.

You'll find padded coamings that meet you just above the knees and bars under which you can lock your toes. Overall, this cockpit provides a great sense of security when fighting and wiring a big fish. Of course, there's a tackle station, baitwell, removable tackle storage and big fish boxes. But Grady also responded to several of my pet peeves on boats: It installed a trash bin in the transom, as well as a swim ladder that's easily deployed by someone in the water.

Design and Construction
It seems that not a year goes by without some nameless engineer at Grady devising a truly better mousetrap. Witness the rigger-ball holders and the Grady-White transom seat - by far the best in the business. This year, Grady solved the problem of keeping the sliding-overhead part of the hatch to the cabin open. A weighted pivot pin now holds it open, if you so desire. It's such an amazingly simple design that I wonder why it wasn't invented long ago. It works perfectly. In fact, it can't not work.

Grady-White initiated its SeaV2 - a constantly variable deadrise hull - sporting triple chines that carry to different lengths down the bottom. These provide lift and knock down spray. Altogether, the design makes for a smoother, quieter ride. Oh, and despite the 30-foot length, this - and all Grady-Whites - receive enough closed-cell foam to make them unsinkable, a rare commodity in boats more than 20 feet.

Belowdecks, the Marlin boasts a teak-and-holly cabin sole, removable table, V-berth and midship double berth under the bridge deck. A galley and a stand-up head with shower round out the living quarters. All in all, Grady has designed a simple yet elegant space. Those who choose can have a diesel generator (and all the 110V appliances that benefit from that) and air conditioning.

Grady-White builds solid, no-nonsense boats that never go out of style. The company lives by its customer-satisfaction index and has the most loyal dealer network in the business. In fact, I don't believe I've ever seen a Grady-White boat put out to pasture, sitting idle in a boatyard somewhere. There's always someone who wants to fish it.

LOA 30 ft. 6 in.
BEAM 10 ft. 7 in.
DEADRISE 20 deg.
DRAFT 1 ft. 7 in.
WEIGHT 7,500 lb. (w/o power)
FUEL 306 gal.
MAX POWER T300-hp OB
MSRP $168,880 (w/T225 4-strokes)

Notable Standard Equipment
Heavy stainless fittings
Transducer-mounting flats
Built-in trash barrel
Cockpit toe rails
Grady foldaway transom seat
Custom Grady hardtop

Engine
Yamaha 225-hp Four-stroke
TYPE 60-degree V6
DISPL 204.6 cid
MAX RPM 6,000
HP/LB RATIO 0.39
FUEL SYSTEM Multiport Injection
GEAR RATIO 2:1 WEIGHT 583 lb.
ALT. OUTPUT 45 amps
MSRP $17,440

It's a good thing that running outboards out of sync doesn't damage your boat like running inboards that way does. It can be really tough to hear these engines well enough underway to match their revs. It's a good thing Yamaha manufactures accurate gauges, too.

Grady-White Boats
252-752-2111
www.grady-white.com