|Top speed (1)
|Draft w/o eng
|Top speed (2)
It's 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 Yamaha 225's.
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, rolling swells.
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.
Yet, while 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
Wood hull structures not glassed over.
- We found wooden (mainly plywood) hull structurals in the aft bilge area to be not glassed over with the wood exposed at the deepest level of the bilge -- see photo below. This includes the hull stringers. We compared this with the Contender where the entire inside of the hull was completely faired with nary a single strand of glass standing out. The internal finish work on both the Grady's was just plain poor.
- Sloppy 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.
- Back 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.
- Caulking 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?
- Performance. 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.
- A rubber rub rail that has more waves in it than the Atlantic. Looks like a washboard and is rather unsightly.
- Moderately deep vee hull produces a fairly good ride in rough water.
- Excellent cockpit drainage with four 1-1/4" scuppers.
- A cabin design that squeezes a lot of space out of what is actually a very small space.
- Three, 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.
- A 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.
- Shore power has galvanic isolator standard.
- Three batteries with three master switches and dedicated house battery.
- 9'6" beam. The extra foot in beam over the conventional 8'6" beam trailer boat makes a huge difference in cockpit spaciousness.
- All fiberglass cabin liner.
The wire chase from helm. Note that the 125VAC white cable looped under and is stressed by the heavy bundle laying on top of it.
By far, 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.
The Yamaha 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.
Interestingly, 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.
Ergonomics. 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.
You lift 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.
Some Grady 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.
It's a tight fit behind the wheel.
The cabin 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.
We also 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.
This sport 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 nice boat.