Grady-White Freedom 285 Review

Big-water capable and fuel efficient, the 285 will enthrall the family and indulge your passion for saltwater fishing.

June 15, 2012

Even die-hard saltwater anglers find balance in their lives between family and fishing, often combining these two loves to fulfill the best of both worlds. That’s what Grady-White’s new 285 Freedom is all about.

This big-water, dual-console model strikes a marvelous median between family comfort and serious fishing features. The Freedom series — which includes eight open-bow models from 19 to 33 feet — is now Grady-White’s best-selling line, and after testing the 285, I understand why.


The 285 cradles the family in the same hull as Grady’s Canyon 283 center-console. So it’s not surprising that the Freedom 285 rides and handles with ease. Powered by a pair of Yamaha 250 Offshore four-stroke outboards, it exudes solid confidence with nary a rattle or creak, even when slicing through wind-driven chop or coming about at high speeds.


The test vessel blasted to 30 mph in 5.1 seconds — remarkable for a hull weighing nearly 6,000 pounds, plus engines, an optional hardtop, 70 gallons of gas and 410 pounds of crew. The bow rose about 30 degrees on hard acceleration but settled within a few seconds. Equipped with Yamaha 15½-by-17-inch SWS II SDS propellers, the 500 ponies generated by the counter-rotating twins carried the 285 to an exhilarating top speed of 54 mph at 6,000 rpm.

With today’s gas prices, the 285’s efficiency makes this boat even more desirable. I recorded the best fuel economy at 3,000 rpm and a speed of 24.5 mph, achieving 1.97 mpg. When I bumped the speed up to 30 mph at 3,500 rpm, the Yamahas attained 1.93 mpg. You can’t ask for more.


The 285 Freedom is clearly a fishing boat with family features, not the other way around. At the stern, for example, you’ll find a heavy-duty transom gate for hauling big fish aboard, though it’s also a great way to get to the integral swim platform and ladder.


Rod storage is not forgotten. Four stainless-steel, flush-mount trolling-rod holders flank the cockpit, and there’s a horizontal three-rod rack under the starboard gunwale. The step-down head inside the port console features an integrated three-rod rack, as well as a portable marine toilet. A permanent pump-out head is optional.

Grady’s 285 comes with two ­insulated fish boxes — a 135-quart box under the starboard bow seat and a 185-quart box in the transom bulkhead. The transom also houses an optional 32-gallon livewell in the port quarter.

Anglers will appreciate the anchor system (standard for the 2013 model-year) when the time comes to set up on a wreck or reef — or just hang out with the family in a quiet bay. An anchor roller is integrated into the bow with a stainless strike plate to protect the gelcoat. Open the bow hatch, and you’ll find a Lewmar stainless vertical windlass.


Design and Construction

Grady’s vaunted SeaV2 hull and deck liner are 100 percent hand-laid ­fiberglass. The deck is self-bailing. Thickly upholstered bolsters encircle the interior. A nonskid sole and cockpit toe rails help ensure secure footing.

To help prevent dock rash, a beefy, high-density PVC rub rail with a polished stainless-steel insert stands between the 285’s sheer line and barnacle-studded pilings and seawalls.

The 285 offers two cool seating features. One is a standard stern bench seat that easily flips up when you have a crowd on board, and then quickly folds down for fishing action. The other is a motorized aft-facing seat on the port side. With a button push, the seat bottom extends aft, turning into a lounger that can double as a berth for overnighting.


The helm station will accept a flush-mount 15-inch multifunction electronics display, and with the fiberglass hardtop with an anodized-aluminum frame, there’s no shortage of places to mount radar, GPS and VHF antennas, as well as outriggers and vertical rod storage on the aft edge of the top. The underside of the top has zippered storage for items such as life jackets. Speakers for the stereo system were also integrated overhead.

My test boat featured an ­electrically adjustable helm seat, backed by a cabinet with a wet bar and an electric grill. While this optional food-prep center appears to fall on the family side of the 285 balance sheet, a place to sear freshly caught ahi seems right at home on a serious fishing boat. I know my family would agree.


LOA: 28 ft. 0 in.

BEAM: 9 ft. 6 in.

DRAFT: 1 ft. 8 in.

DEADRISE: 19 deg.

WEIGHT: 5,980 lb. (w/o power)

FUEL: 219 gal.

MAX POWER: 600 hp OB

MSRP: $160,825 (base boat w/ twin Yamaha 250 hp OB)

Grady-White Greenville, North Carolina 252-752-2111


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