Grady-White fibreglass boats have a long standing reputation as being well made and great performing fishing boats. These US-made craft have been renowned for seaworthiness, a quality finish and top-shelf ride since 1968. Built from the keel upwards as high-end fishing boats, they can also double as great family craft. Comfort and features sit side by side in the Grady-White, with the 180 Fisherman Centre Console being an ideal sized boat for bay, estuary and offshore fishing.
The reviewed craft was set up by the owner for regular offshore fishing excursions, particularly for billfish, hence the outriggers and massive bait station aft. At 5.44m long, 2.26m wide and with a hull weight of 975kg this is one very solid boat, reflected in a specified engine rating of 150hp. The Fisherman 180 features The test boat had Grady-White’s patented Sea V hull, which featured a variable deadrise from stem to stern and quite large reversed outer chines all linked to a pronounced flare in the bow, plus a lift in the gunwale sheer line from the console forward.
The rig reviewed was loaned to Game and Leisure boats of Runaway Bay.
Walking aboard her on a very windy March morning I suspected I might be going to get a little wet, given the chop and white horses all over the Broadwater.
That was my first mistake. I also thought there would be some walloping or pounding, too, given the roughhouse water conditions as far as the eye could see. Wrong again!
I was more than pleasantly surprised to find the Grady-White a very dry boat in the rough conditions. Even running across chop with wind behind it to a more sheltered area for some speed runs caused only tiny amounts of spray to find their way above the gunwales, which was most unusual.
Powered easily by the 150 Suzuki 4-stroke, and with three people enjoying the ride, the Grady-White acquitted itself very well. She planed at 14.8km/h at 2600rpm, then cruised at 3000rpm recording 28.9km/h. 4000rpm saw 42.7km/h while a burst to 5000rpm gave her a speed of 57.6km/h. WOT of 5400rpm recorded 66.4km/h.
One thing that really impressed me during those speed runs was the willingness of the Suzuki 150 plus the total ride quality of the Fisherman. Belting over wind-blown chop out wide or wash from other craft saw the hull taking it so gently in its stride that, while I’m a great supporter of our local boat manufacturers, I had to concede that for out and out ride quality this boat was hard to beat. No banging, no thumping, no vibration of any kind, that was the Grady-White story.
Yet ride quality was only part of it. The Grady-White Sea Vee hull not only slipped water well away to the side underway, it exhibited considerable stability by leaning only moderately under sharp turns. Moreover, for a hull with a deadrise of 20º it sat remarkably level at rest, even with a couple of us moving about. These were great attributes for offshore work in my view.
The test boat was set up from stem to stern to please anglers. Up front, just aft of the locking anchor well, was a 95L capacity fish box, easily able to hold even big mackerel or tuna. The fish box was complete with a drain and ram to keep it open while in use. The area was also equipped with press studs to secure a bow cushion as a concession to more family-orientated boaters.
Stepping down from the casting deck onto the aggressively non-skid main floor I could see that the console, with its big access door to port, was an important hub within the craft. It offered considerable dry storage space within it and came equipped with grab rails and a stout windscreen. A two-person seat was attached to the front of it and lifting the seat revealed the craft’s plumbed live well under the squab. A fibreglass hard top supported by a massive stainless steel frame provided some shade for skipper and first mate when seated at their bench seat with its reversible back rest.
The helm instrumentation and switches occupied, along with forward controls for the Suzuki 150, most of the face of the console although a lower shelf was located just above the foot rest for skipper and mate.
A compass dressed up the flat section of the console just aft of the windscreen. The next, vertical, level down was occupied by a neat fascia set up with a bank of rocker switches plus a Garmin GMI 10 gauge to monitor the Suzuki’s function. Adjacent was a Garmin GPS Map 5012 to chart and plot routes and, most importantly, to locate fish.
Next level down saw the craft’s 3-spoke stainless steel wheel, radio mike, engine forward controls, paired cup holders and a grab handle. Grady-White boats always seem to have handles or hand holds exactly where needed: in the bow, along the sides, all around the console…. they’re all well placed.
Back to the console layout: below the wheel was the ignition key plus marine radio. In all, it was very tidy set up with a high degree of user friendliness all round.
As earlier mentioned, access to the console was via a door to port and I noticed a very useful amount of dry storage area within the console. It would be ideal for additional tackle, bags of clothing, a tucker box or similar items.
Below the Fisherman 180’s wide rod holder equipped gunwales were horizontal rod racks, each capable of storing a couple of game rods with their tips protected within recesses in the hull liner. Side pockets were of considerable length and large enough to handle gaffs and tag poles with ease.
Looking aft within the craft’s self-draining cockpit with its 560 mm high interior sides, 800 high exterior sides, it’s easy enough to imagine three anglers working here, maybe four if they are on the ball.
Paired aft seats sat astride the engine well (with storage under them) and it was pleasing to note the fresh water wash-down hose in the port quarter. A ladder was also set up aft of the transom to help with boarding after a swim or a dive.
Also next to the engine well was a very impressive bait station. Sporting a high degree of functionality, the stainless steel unit came with a cutting board, knife holder, drink holders, four rod holders plus a waste bucket below. This was an option installed by the owner, and I was told it was very easy to remove if you wanted to spend a day marlin trolling.
This boat is built for fishing. Serious fishing. With its high sides, the hull’s big lift in the forward sheer line mated to plenty of above water flare, this is a craft of extraordinary seaworthiness given its modest size of 5.44m. And it would be a brilliant boat for family fishing in estuaries or bays as well.
In summing up, the Grady-White Fisherman 180 Centre Console is one of the better rigs of its size I’ve had the pleasure of water testing. The high-end features and finish, plus performance and overall sea keeping capability put it at the pointy end of the pile. Imports have a reputation for being expensive but our dollar is helping the buyer these days. The base price is $69,830, including the alloy trailer, for a basic craft currently in stock at Game and Leisure Boats of Runaway Bay (optional extras such as hard top, electronics and bait station not included). The contact phone number for GLB is (07) 5577 5811.
|Length on trailer||7.10m|
|Height to windscreen top||2.60m|
|Engine fitted||150 Suzuki 4-stroke|
|Towing||6-cylinder ute, wagon or 4x4|