not often that we get the chance to test two identical
boats back-to-back, but in this case we tested two identical
boats that were built within a couple months of each other.
One was powered with twin Yamaha EFI 200's and the other
As you can
see from the top speeds recorded, what a difference 50
horsepower makes! A whopping 10.5 knots. However, one
caveat to the speed attained on the boat with 200's was
that the sea trial was done in the Atlantic Gulf Stream
in a confused two foot sea, while the other was in the
Gulf of Mexico with an even 18" steep chop. Therefore
the the speeds attained in the stream could be as much
as 2 knots off due to a loss of momentum from longer,
to say the least, Grady's are have the reputation of being
top end boats. Before I stick my foot in my mouth totally
sideways, let me preface my comments about quality by
saying that quality is usually perceived differently in
different classes of boats. Obviously, if you're a millionaire
your ideas about quality are likely to be a tad higher
than the guy who's not a millionaire.
we've heard so many raves about Grady-White boats, I'll
have to admit that neither of these boats lived up to
expectations. Particularly in terms of the price tag of
$100k plus. For that kind of money, we think one could
expect better. The problem is, what else out there is
better? Well, the Contender 27, though a center console
fisherman rather than a walkaround is a good comparison,
and with a comparable price. So, with that boat in mind,
we'll take a look at the Sailfish 272.
Now, I know
this is going to disappoint a lot of you dedicated
Grady fans, but hey, the truth is the truth. And besides,
if a builder is resting on his laurels, maybe it's
time to give the laurels a little tug, so here it
and finish on the outside is all-around good.
But down in the places where you don't look
very often, well, we found some pretty sloppy
workmanship. Removing the panels from some of
the compartments in the cabin reveals some very
sloppy glass work with razor sharp barbs or
fishhooks just waiting to rip your hand open
should you dare to attempt to work in any of
these areas. It was much the same in the bilge
area back aft under the rear seat hatch cover.
With the Contender, we found the glass work
as neat as could be, even in the hidden places.
hull structures not glassed over.
wiring and plumbing runs. Removing the panel
that covers the wire and control runs from the
helm down into the bilge, we found a jumbled
mass of wires, engine controls, hydraulic steering
lines and other stuff. Generally unsecured,
this stuff could bounce around and chaff. The
wiring and plumbing in the Contender was meticulously
laid out and fully secured.
where all the systems are mounted under the
aft seat, we found wiring, including 125VAC
wires, routed with the fuel lines which is a
real no-no. Then the battery charger is also
mounted in the wet bilge area where it is surely
going to get wet. So, too, are spade wire connectors
that will corrode and cause systems to fail.
smeared around all of the window frames. Of
course, you don't see the white caulking as
it is applied to new gel coat. But as it ages
and change color, it gets real ugly. We found
ourselves scratching our heads over this one,
wondering how unprofessional a builder can get
than to, like an amateur, just smear caulking
around. Would you accept caulking smeared around
the windows of your Chevy, yet alone a Lexus?
And since when do you caulk windows from the
outside? Aren't they supposed to be bedded?
Both boats displayed a tendency at speeds over
25 mph to lay over on its side about ten degrees
or so. This was markedly more pronounced on
one boat than the other. One the second boat,
we decided to investigate and found that the
hull rises so far out of the water that the
chines are exposed. Meaning that the chines
rode ABOVE the water. This caused a resulting
loss in transverse hull stability. Our conclusion
is that the desire to keep making boats lighter
and lighter has reached its end. Since the fuel
tanks are rectangular and installed with the
long axis transversely, fuel shifting in the
tanks may contribute to the problem. While the
tanks may be baffled, that doesn't mean that
fuel can't shift.
deep vee hull produces a fairly good ride in rough
cockpit drainage with four 1-1/4" scuppers.
design that squeezes a lot of space out of what
is actually a very small space.
count 'em, three insulated wells that can be used
for any purpose, including ice boxes, fish box or
bait well, though there is a dedicated bait well.
designed foredeck that gives adequate room for a
windlass and cleats. This area is heavily reinforced
with 1-1/2" inches of plywood substrate.
power has galvanic isolator standard.
batteries with three master switches and dedicated
beam. The extra foot in beam over the conventional
8'6" beam trailer boat makes a huge difference
in cockpit spaciousness.
fiberglass cabin liner.
wire chase from helm. Note that the 125VAC white
cable looped under and is stressed by the heavy
bundle laying on top of it.
we felt the strongest point of this boat was the Yamaha
outboards. Especially the 225's as we felt that the
200's just didn't cut it. The 225's are not overkill
and we'd highly recommend them. The higher power is
needed at lower speeds as well. There was a huge difference
in overall responsiveness at nearly all speeds. These
engines also hold their RPM range very well. Starting
from 2200 we tested up through 6 speeds and the engines
would hold their speed at all of them without falling
off or creeping ahead.
instrument package is another success story: even the
speedometer agreed with the GPS +/- 1 mph. Complete
with fuel flow meters and trim indicators. The only
thing we didn't like was that these are offset to one
side where they should be mounted front and center where
other gizmos are located. You have to look down and
to the side to see the tachs. Not good.
the fuel tanks consist of 52 and 150 gallons, with the
smaller apparently intended to be a "reserve"
tank. And electric primer pump is standard in case you
run dry. Less favorable is the fact that neither of
the tanks are accessible for inspection, although there
is a removable deck section.
The cockpit is fine, plenty of space and no real complaints
here. There's a good, solid transom door with a latch
like you'd find on a 46 Hatteras. But in moving out
to the motor platform, the bottom has an angled 8"
deep well with the built in swim ladder on the opposite
side. That means swimmers have to stumble over the angled
well, steering system and motor controls and cables
to get aboard. That's not too cool.
up the aft cockpit seat to get at all that stuff in
the bilge area like fuel pump, filters, bilge pumps,
sea cocks and the like. Problem is, you have to go down
head first to reach any of the deeper stuff. Plus, they
installed the Yamaha aluminum fuel flow sensors too
close to the bottom, so you just know what's going to
happen to those. Worse, it's completely impossible to
reach the many through hull fittings on either side
of the hull. Replacing hose clamps on the cockpit
scupper through hulls appears to be an impossibility.
owners have no trouble at all with the raised helm deck.
We found it to be cramped and inconvenient. The seats
are 14" apart; the companion way to cabin is 15"
wide, and the space between helm chair and wheel (with
chair all the way back) is mere 7". There could
have been 13" here but the tilt steering wheel
sticks out another 6". If this is an option, you
might want to forego it for a plain flush mount that
would allow anyone with thighs bigger than toothpicks
to get by the wheel.
a tight fit behind the wheel
area gets a better report. Though it is very small,
it seems bigger than it is, so at least you feel less
cramped. The head is actually large enough that it can
be used with relative ease. Yet, in our view, they could
have foregone the attempt at creating a galley as it
is far too small to be of much value, and mostly serves
to cramp things up. With a single burner alcohol stove,
this would be like cooking in a barrel. It will get
so hot so fast down there that you may find yourself
as the main course should you make the attempt.
had our doubts about the manner in which the rope locker
bulkhead was installed. Here we found four screws run
through the fore deck to hold it in place. This is something
we've never seen any other builder do. Is it that hard
to glass in place like everyone else does, rather than
risk water leakage into the deck core? We think not.
fisherman has long commanded a very loyal following.
But frankly, this Grady just didn't live up to expectations.
There were too many amateurish touches for us to get
very enthusiastic about it. Good quality to us means
things like at least putting on a decent rub rail and
not smearing caulking all around the windows, and not
leaving exposed wood in the hull structurals, installing
the wiring neatly and not leaving the inside of the
hull looking like a fiberglass version of a food fight
in the midst of an explosion in a foam factory. In our
view, it's not alright to do things sloppily just because
an area isn't immediately visible. That's like judging
a book by its cover when it's content that counts.
To be called
a top 'o the line boat, one has to do better than this.
And since we looked at two boats, these faults are no
fluke, unless we are seeing two flukes. Certainly the
boat has many strong points, but this is no $49,995
price leader where you might be prone to accept such
things. Clean up these faults and it's otherwise a pretty