I don’t know what it is about Grady White boats but every time I set out to review one from Game and Leisure Boats at Runaway Bay the weather takes a vicious turn to the windy side of the scale.
Luckily, these boats are made for the rough stuff so as I boarded the Grady White Seafarer 226 recently I just grinned at the white caps out on the Broadwater and said to Chris Jones of Game and Leisure, “Bring it on!”
For the record, although it sports an impeccable finish there’s nothing soft about the big Seafarer 226. It’s a solid fibreglass craft with a length of 6.76m, beam of 2.44m and with almost one half of the craft devoted to a cuddy cab. There’s room for a family to have a snooze over night after spending a day aboard cruising, or alternatively to make use of the angling appointments and generous cockpit layout to get stuck into some fish. With their fishing and other equipment stored within the cuddy cab, an icebox aboard for tucker, a team of dedicated fishos would enjoy heading offshore for the day.
The Seafarer’s cuddy cab came equipped with a fresh water sink to port of a folding door, while inside well formed V berth cushioning (including an infill) offered options of stretching out or with the infill removed, sitting to enjoy time out of the weather.
Useful storage was under each side berth, while full lining, cushioned back rests courtesy of the plush side shelving, a marine toilet also under the forward cushion, large cabin hatch up front plus opening side windows and an interior light combined to ensure that the cabin was well ventilated, very bright and airy.
With it’s two part door (upper section acrylic plus bi-fold lower section) able to be locked it also offered useful security if the craft was to be docked over night and some gear left aboard.
One option on the Grady White that really appealed to me was the very strong hard top – with it’s ultra strong stainless steel frame work – featured on the reviewed Seafarer 226. The moulded hard top also came with a radio box, front and side curtains, a drop curtain, clears, aft rocket launcher rod holder plus another rod holders on the rear vertical frame work.
Along with some shelter for up to 4 people it also offered useful hand holds for anyone going forward to tend ground tackle, via the big walkaround area beside the cuddy. I tried the walk-around out myself in somewhat choppy conditions and had no issues going forward to photograph various items thanks to the convenience of the large hard top and it’s framework. Note that a strong bow rail is also part of the Grady White package along with a very prominent bow sprit to ensure that the pick does not contact the lovely gel coat.
The Grady White Seafarer 226 featured a very strong 4-piece windscreen with plenty of dash space behind it. The craft also had a very neat instrument layout, which made driving and monitoring progress a pleasure. Uppermost on the three section instrument area was Yamaha’s new multi function LCD gauge with it’s 5” screen, linked to the 300 four-stroke’s digital gear/throttle control system.
Set into a very slick binnacle, with the Grady White emblem adjacent, the gauge was a great source of information and very easy to refer to. On the next level down was a compass plus engine controls, below the compass the craft’s tilt adjustable three-spoke wheel, ignition key, with a quite neat but fairly large array of switches to starboard, along with the trim tab controls.
Helm area seating consisted of high backed buckets mounted on moulded boxes set up with side accessed compartments under each pedestal bucket seat. I found these seats to be very comfortable as both passenger and driver. The skipper’s seat was slide adjustable, afforded great visibility and offered the option of also standing braced against the lower bolster section if necessary. Note that storage shelving was also set into each side of the craft adjacent skipper and mate’s seats.
Lids on the aft sections of the seat box extensions provided seating for two more people, conveniently handy to both skipper and mate. Further storage was again provided under these seat squabs with the 180L capacity box to starboard set aside for general storage, with the port side being suited to a live well or ice chest, as it was insulated. Note that both of these storage compartments had lids equipped with gas struts and decent rubber sealing for utmost convenience.
With almost one half of the craft devote to the cockpit I saw ample room in this area for 4-5 anglers to enjoy their fishing. A self draining non skid floor was but one of the useful attributes here along with 1.8m long side pockets (off floor with a toe rail under them) large enough to hold plenty of tackle, gaffs, tag poles and the like.
A fresh water wash was located in the port pocket. Three horizontal rod racks per side were set up within cockpit sides with provision for rods to be fully rigged for use and their rod tips inserted within the hull liner out of harm’s way.
Other cockpit items of note were the side coaming up top to provide comfort while working on a fish, paired seats in each aft quarter (which could be lifted to allow access to compartments under them) plus a drop down section at transom centre, providing extra space for the engine to tilt upwards. Two gunwale rod holders per side were fitted with paired cup holders aft. Aft of the transom a boarding platform plus ladder was located to port.
Engine ratings for the Grady White were 200-300hp, which saw the top power 4.2L Yamaha V6 strutting its stuff with ease. The big Yamaha was near silent at idle but could be provoked into a throaty growl with movement of the small throttle lever to the right of the wheel. The Seafarer 226 planed at an amazingly gentle 13.8km/h at 2400rpm with two aboard in the nasty Broadwater chop. Cranked to 3000rpm saw 33.6km/h on the GPS, 4000 a speed of 47.8km/h, 5000 a feisty 63.4km/h from the brand new engine. Run in properly, I’d see top speeds in excess of the 70km/h mark from the well designed hull, which featured a 20° aft ‘V’ section plus quite large reversed strakes each outer edge for best stability. The V6 Yamaha impressed me with its smooth, seamless power band and even at the 4500-5000rpm mark the engine was still super responsive.
As I mentioned earlier, the review day was not pleasant thanks to a stiff southerly whipping up chop, with lots of misty spray about too, but Grady White have been building hulls for offshore work for decades and the Seafarer 226 took everything in its stride with ease.
Running out through the Seaway was fun with the hull ironing out incoming swells with ease. Thanks to a decent lift in the forward sheer line, plenty of above water flare right from the bow’s entry the big Grady White kept us entirely dry with it’s smooth ride. Stability is important in fishing craft and I was impressed with the inherent steadiness of the Seafarer 226’s 1600kg hull, which, even with two on one side, hardly showed any inclination to lean.
In short, I gave the hull full marks for easy performance, excellent balance and handling plus ample stability both under way and at rest.
The Grady White 226 Seafarer is certainly a top quality fishing rig with a lot going for it as on offshore craft yet family boater’s would certainly enjoy the rig as well. As such, I see it as a top shelf all rounder. Fresh water’s aboard, there’s a toilet and the cabin would be ideal for overnighting, yet the 660mm high cockpit offered plenty of fishing room plus the convenience of those large capacity fish boxes under the aft facing seating squabs. Attention to detail also sees every wet area draining outside the hull not under the floor.
Finish was deluxe from stem to stern. With tandem wheel Magic Tilt alloy trailer, the Grady White (with safety gear and registration) would come home for $13,9900, which, given the high end finish, specs list, performance and offshore capability of the craft would be value for money. Note that Grady White craft have an excellent resale value, if you can find one! Game and Leisure Boats can be contacted on (07) 5577 5811 or --e-mail address hidden--
|Length on trailer||8.2m|
|Height on trailer||3.1m|
|Engine fitted||300hp Yamaha four-stroke|
|Persons||Up to 10|
|Towing||Large family wagon or 4x4|