Grady-White 305 Express Review

Being customer driven has its advantages. Grady-White listened to owners and dealers before designing the new 305 Express and incorporated all the cool stuff...

11grady

11grady

I ate significant crow after stating unequivocally that Grady-White could never sell its 33-footer - that people just wouldn't buy such an expensive outboard-powered boat. As it turned out, the company couldn't keep up with demand.

So I kept my mouth shut when Grady introduced its 36-footer. Sure enough, they sell every hull they can build.

Being customer driven has its advantages. Grady-White listened to owners and dealers before designing the new 305 Express and incorporated all the cool stuff the company put aboard its 33 and 36 in this smaller model - making it one of the best-equipped 30-foot outboard fishing boats in existence.

Performance
Tropical Storm Beryl just barely passed us by, leaving us with one of the prettiest days I've seen in Beaufort, North Carolina. A day like that warrants some serious offshore fishing, so we headed about 10 miles north of Big Rock, approximately a 60-mile run southeast. After plugging the waypoint into this factory boat's new Raymarine E-Series nav system, I pushed the throttles forward and discovered that even with a pair of Yamaha 250 hp four-strokes, the 305 acts like a bigger boat, taking about five seconds to rise onto plane. The 305 also handled the 3- to 4-foot-high long ocean swells like a bigger boat, offering a truly wonderful ride. I noted that the changes made to this hull also make it a different ride from the 30-foot Bimini center console model.

Speaking of throttles, Grady positioned these so you need to reach over them to use some of your electronics, causing an occasional arm bump on the levers. Also, I couldn't put the electronics compartment up all the way and still see the Yamaha Command Link engine gauges.

I purposely turned up-sea straight into a set of square waves and launched the 305 out of the water. It sounded like a heavy door closing softly when it landed. With the wheel hard-over, the 305 banks nicely and tail-slides just enough to prevent passengers from being moved outboard. Remarkably, it carves a 180-degree turn in just about one boat length, though it bleeds off most of its speed in the process. You gotta love that power-assist steering. Oh, and the 305 also loves running down-sea. The wide beam assures a stable roll moment when drifting or slow-trolling in beam seas. And finally, whether maneuvering around the docks or a fish, this 30-footer with a bow thruster spins like a hard drive.

Top speed at 6,000 rpm touched 45.5 mph while using 43.1 gph. A more modest 5,100 rpm offered 1 mpg at 35 gph - not a significant difference from 35 mph (4,500 rpm) that gave us 1.2 mpg.

Were I purchasing one of these boats, I'd definitely install a half-tower with a second control station. Such additions are no-brainers now with Yamaha's Command Link electronic controls and plug-and-play connections.

Fishing Every decision maker in Grady's marketing and engineering departments qualifies as a skilled angler - bordering on obsessive. Ergo, I'd describe the fishing features aboard the 305 Express as second to none. For example, similar to larger Grady models, the 305 provides optional freezer plates in the fish boxes, including the big box in the transom. A 32-gallon livewell seals to protect baits while underway.

Grady still boasts one of the best fold-down transom-seat designs in the business for that ride out to the grounds. Then, of course, there's the actual fishing stuff: three rod holders, two drink holders and 'rigger ball holders all under each cockpit gunwale. Add three more rocket launchers on each hardtop leg, three more in each gunwale, fresh- and saltwater washdown in the cockpit, tackle trays and cockpit coaming pads, and you have an unsurpassed fishing platform. And I must mention the ladder - deployable from the water - recessed into the swim platform. Thanks.

Design and Construction
One of the things I appreciate most about Grady-White boats is the company's fabulous attention to detail. Grady employs standard construction and materials, building a solid bottom with end-grain balsa-cored topsides.

Top-quality gelcoat combined with isophthalic resins make for a very durable hull laminate.

I also noticed more 12 VDC power points for cellphones, spotlights, etc., than I've seen on previous Grady models - a sign of the times, I guess.

Belowdecks, you'll find a small double berth. A table (with a cushion insert) drops down to fill the vee in the berth. But as Grady unabashedly says, the space's primary function is as dinette, and the berth is secondary. Plus, you'll find additional sleeping quarters in the form of a midship berth under the bridge deck. A galley fills the portside, and you get a stand-up head with shower too. Grady employs a useful trick I first saw on large custom yachts: hiding the television behind a one-way mirror. The remote works through the mirror. TV on - no mirror. TV off - no TV. The system also boasts built-in inputs for a movie camera so you can easily watch that fish you just fought or even plug in your MP3 player for shipboard music if you choose.

Grady-White offers a diesel generator that runs the air conditioning. Be careful when filling fuel tanks, as the outboards obviously run on gasoline.

So if you want the most luxurious, best-equipped and laid-out 30-foot offshore fishing machine, but still want outboards, your search stops at your local Grady-White dealer.

     Specifications
 LOA   30 ft. 6 in.    WEIGHT   8,850 lb. (w/o power)
 BEAM  10 ft. 7 in.    FUEL  290 gal.
 HULL DRAFT   1 ft. 7 in.    MAX HP  (2) 300 hp OB
 DEADRISE  17 deg.    MSRP   $215,895 (w/ T250)
_Grady-White Boats Greenville, North Carolina 252-752-2111 _www.gradywhite.com