My opportunity to run Grady-White’s new 330 Express came during the most recent Barta Boys and Girls Club Billfish Tournament in Beaufort, North Carolina. Weather proved excellent for a boat test, less so for taking children out fishing. Winds blustered out of the southeast at 20 to 25 knots, making seas not the least bit comfortable. In fact, our common description for these kinds of seas is “all face and no ass”: steep vertical seas with a sudden drop-off on the back side. Unfortunately, our game plan for fishing included heading some 40 nautical miles offshore to a famous fishing spot called “The Big Rock.”
Heading out the pass, we dropped back to a prudent speed – about 25 mph – where we made good time but didn’t launch the boat or pound after the wave crests. There are two ways to negotiate seas like these: Power up between waves, and then chop the speed back at the crest so as to not come slamming down into the trough, or set the throttles at a constant speed that allows you to move ahead without pounding – ever. The latter usually produces slower speed (though more comfortable), while the faster, former method demands constant, rapid adjustment of the throttles. If you prefer this method, be advised that the angle of the shift/throttle binnacle on the Grady 330 will tire your wrist out quickly. I’d like to see the binnacle positioning change.
Running a brand-new pair of Yamaha 350-hp, V-8 outboards, I discovered that what I really like most about these new engines is their mid-range response. At cruising speed, the boat leaps forward when you push those throttles. The 350s also sound significantly different from the 250s, providing a much throatier rumble, just as you get from a hot muscle car compared to a measly 6-cylinder.
Running the Intracoastal, I managed a 50.4-mph top speed at 5,900 rpm using 67.7 gph. Optimum cruise was 3,900 rpm at 32 mph, providing a 1.22-mpg economy (26.5 gph total).
No matter the point of sea, the 330 proved no slouch. It performed well up-sea, down-sea, turning and drifting beam-to the seas. Perhaps the highest praise I can offer is that it was perfectly predictable.
Every person involved in designing Grady-White boats actively fishes. Consequently, the company historically includes many useful and innovative fishing features. For example, the optional freezer coils wrapped around the outside of the fish box make for easier clean up and more volume in the box without stainless plates on the inside. This eliminates the need for stocking up on ice before each trip. Grady was also the first to mount downrigger ball receptacles under each gunwale. The 330 provides space under the gunwales for two rods or gaffs, as well as two rod holders in each gunwale. You’ll find more rod holders across the back of the top as well as belowdecks.
Though Grady doesn’t provide pop-up cleats, it mounts all its fixed cleats in indents so that in profile, they appear to be flush with the gunwale.
To save your gelcoat, Grady affixes a StarBoard cutting surface atop the transom fish box for preparing baits or cleaning your catch on the way back to the dock. And while your doing that, you can feel comforted by the cockpit coaming pads all around.
Other fishing features include a tackle center in the portside module with a sink and another cutting board, and a 45-gallon baitwell in the starboard cockpit module.
Grady does an excellent job of installing the outriggers with strong base plates in the hardtop. If you want such fishing features, it’s a good idea to let the factory do it in this instance.
At trolling speeds, the 330 Express exhibits a remarkably clean wake and the broad beam makes for a very stable platform in a beam-sea drift or troll.
Design and Construction
The 330 shows much more impeccable styling belowdecks than most comparable boats. Grady designers do have good taste. You also get great headroom below.
A V-berth forward boasts storage on the bulkheads, beneath the bed and coaming-style cushions on the perimeter. A small dinette seats two, and the sleeping accommodations also include a roomy midship berth under the bridge deck. Rounding out the interior appointments are a stand-up head with shower, Corian counters, a well-equipped portside galley with ceramic cooktop and polished stainless-steel sink, microwave, flat-screen TV that recesses into the galley cabinetry (beautiful teak cabinetry, by the way) and loads of storage.
Another feature rarely seen on this size boat: Air conditioning both at the dock (shore power) and at sea, thanks to a diesel generator.
Up on the bridge deck, a foldaway leg support on the port companion seat extends it into a settee. Starboard-side companion seats face each other (fore and aft) but also have a foldaway insert, making them into a settee as well.
I have one small nit to pick, though: I’d like to see the windshield washer (presently squirting out the middle of the wiper blade) move to the top of the windshield. As it stands now, it only covers the lower half of the windshield. (A small thing certainly, but it besmirches Grady-White’s otherwise common attainment of near-perfection.)
An opening hatch combined with side vent windows makes for excellent airflow to the helm area, but you also get air-conditioning ducts near the wheel. And finally, I particularly like the magnetic door latches that hold doors open without having to undo a latch to close them.
I’ve always admired Grady-White’s fanatical attention to detail. And just when I think the company can just rest on its laurels for a while, it disagrees and introduces another boat several steps better than the last.
LOA……35 ft. 10 in.
BEAM……11 ft. 7 in.
HULL DRAFT……2 ft. 1 in.
WEIGHT……10,000 lb. (w/o engine)
MAX HP…… (2) 350 hp OB
MSRP……$327,950 (w/T350 hp four-strokes)
Grady-White Boats / Greenville, North Carolina / 252-752-211 / www.grady-whiteboats.com