Grady-White Freedom 275 Boat Test

It’s rare to find a serious bluewater sportfisher that also equally fulfils the role of a family boat, but the Grady-White Freedom 275 does that and more, as Warren Steptoe discovers on a test run on the Gold Coast.

Grady-White Freedom 275 Boat Test

Boat Test Grady-White Freedom 275: DUAL PERSONALITY
Author and photography: Warren Steptoe

This boat test ran in ISSUE 111 of BlueWater magazine – AUGUST 2015

For the complete feature, including all photos and information captions, you can purchase back-issues here

Boats capable of serving the dual roles of serious bluewater sportfisher and family boat for social outings are rare things indeed. The requirements for each are at opposite ends of the boating spectrum are usually somewhat mutually exclusive to a point where a boat well set up for, say, bluewater fishing will often demand a degree of compromise for family boating. That this boat more than adequately accomplishes both roles speaks volumes about the thoughtful design and quality of the Grady-White Freedom 275.

The Grady-White Freedom 275 is based on a style of boat we’ve come to know over the years as a ‘bow rider’. With their bow and cockpit lounges, and amidships positioning for the helm and primary passenger, bow riders are an excellent family boat configuration. The layout allows more people to be carried comfortably than any other configuration of similar size, with the added bonus of well-sheltered seating in the helm area and cockpit lounge. A bow rider’s cockpit can also be configured with a high freeboard, wide side decks, easily removable lounge seating and a fishing-friendly transom once the aft lounge is removed.

This helped create a boat that worked equally well in both serious fishing and family boat roles, with virtually no effort required to convert from one to the other.The 8.2m Grady-White Freedom 275 achieves all of the above and then some in a bluewater fishing context.

Whereas Aussie-built bow riders fade away around the 6m mark – the point where bluewater fishing boats merely start to get serious – the Grady-White Freedom line includes no less than nine models, ranging from a sub-6m ‘192’ all the way up to the flagship 11.1-metre ‘375’ model.

With its 2.59-metre beam and displacements around 3.5 tonnes when loaded (that’s not including a trailer), it’s questionable whether the 275 really is a trailerboat, although it is big enough and well found enough to be a capable bluewater sportfisher in any case.

Soft, Dry Ride

On the day BlueWater spent aboard the Freedom 275 the sea off the northern end of Queensland’s Gold Coast was in a particularly benign mood and therefore posed no test to the boat’s offshore capabilities by any means.

However, having spent a great deal of time offshore in Grady-White boats of all sizes and in all weather conditions, I’m comfortable telling readers that Grady-White’s SeaV2 hull is something special. It blends a quite steep deadrise angle at fine bows, topped by a pronounced Carolina-style flare topsides, through still-steep deadrise angles around 30 degrees amidships to a much flatter deadrise at the stern. This works with wide turned-down chines to maintain that difficult to achieve equilibrium between a soft ride across choppy water and comfortable stability at rest.

While virtually every bluewater boat hull design makes this claim, very few actually achieve the levels of softness, dryness and stability of Grady-White hulls. Every single Grady-White I’ve ever put through its paces at sea has been a standout in every respect, offering plenty of leeway to enjoy the ride on a rare nice day.

Dual Console

While conceptually many Aussies would consider this a bow rider, Grady-White have called it a ‘dual console’. It has a bow rider’s bow and stern lounges and central helm position, yet becomes a great deal more than a mere bow rider simply by its size.

Being an 8m boat means it has several capabilities that smaller craft just can’t match. For bluewater anglers this means a self-bailing cockpit big enough to get entirely serious about fishing the wide blue yonder, particularly once the folding transom lounge is stowed flat against the transom bulkhead and the optional portside lounge is retracted to once again become an aft-facing bucket seat (at the touch of a switch).

One thing I would suggest that boating enthusiasts take a good, hard look at is whether or not the aft lounge should be removed altogether for serious fishing outings. Other factors to consider is the way the fishbox and livewell are incorporated into the transom bulkhead, as well as the way the widish stern deck and a pair of 200hp outboard motor cowls exacerbate the considerable distance between people fishing in the cockpit and the water directly aft.

Lots of people happily gamefish from outboard-powered craft by continually driving on hooked fish while fighting them over the cockpit sides, considering this a small price to pay for the many benefits of outboards. The decision here, therefore, comes down to individual preference.

Shelter Plus Breeze

Moving into the helm area finds a central part of the deck area that’s a real strong point. A hardtop raises the level of comfort and shelter from the elements by several notches in any boat – and this one is no exception. A set of well-finished clears filling space between the hardtop and a tempered-glass windscreen provided complete shelter in a helm area that can also enjoy cooling breezes and flow-through ventilation by simply opening the centre of the windscreen.

As is typical, the Grady-White helm is supremely comfortable, with an armchair-style deep bucket seat at the helm and tilt-adjustable steering. An efficient-looking windscreen wiper takes care of vision from the wheel regardless of spray or inclement weather. What Grady-White call ‘twin consoles’ is an understatement considering the facilities in the windscreen bulkhead.

Behind the helm there’s a massive stowage locker. In fact, it could swallow mind-boggling quantities of gear with little care about packing it in there. But that’s nothing when compared to what you find upon opening up the passenger side console portside.

The door’s an odd shape to facilitate access, although getting into the bathroom contained beneath the windscreen portside is actually easy. If anything makes a great family boat – according to the many women I’ve discussed this matter with –it’s a comfortable ’loo, and this boat’s head is more than that. It even has a teak and holly floor – and a rod rack! What more could you ask for?

On the test boat, the bow lounge was set up as a sunbathing pad, complete with upholstery from side to side. With the centre cushion removed, four adults would find plenty of personal space to sit.

Readers who enjoy casting lures at GTs or surface-feeding pelagics might consider removing all the bow lounge upholstery at times and perhaps fabricating a drop-in centre deck section to complete a bow casting deck. There’s ample stowage available beneath the bow lounges if required.

Many Options Already Fitted

Fishing wise, although the basics are very well provided for, I imagine most BlueWater readers would add outriggers and some sophisticated electronics, as well as a lot of the other bibs and bobs associated with bluewater fishing.

The hardtop is very well engineered, and although the boat reviewed had only four side-mounted rodholders, there’s a top-mounted rack that holds another four on the options list, along with two different types of 4.6m outriggers. Mountings are already provided for in the design of the very robust-looking aluminium frame supporting the hardtop.

Also on the options list are a wet bar, grill, several varieties of toilets, shore power, power-assisted steering, several seating packages, a ski pylon and several canvas and tonneau covers.

However, few options are actually needed to put a Grady-White on the water, as they tend to come out of the factory with a pretty full inventory. Their Freedom models in particular include many things as standard fitment that other brands would offer as optional. Among the features included, for example, are cockpit bolsters around the periphery, blue LED cockpit lighting, a freshwater shower, 695-litre fuel tank, the hardtop, a portable toilet in the head, hydraulic trim tabs, the aft and bow lounges, a classy 316 stainless-steel steering wheel and a sound system. There is also a table that can be placed either in thebow lounge or cockpit, a transom door, built-in ice boxes, raw-water washdown and windscreen washers and wipers.

Great Performance

This boat performed very well indeed, with twin 200hp Yamaha 4-stroke outboards providing a top speed just over 78km/h, with good acceleration across the whole rev range. Twin 250hp Yammies (maximum rated power) are included on the options list. I imagine these would provide quite a spirited performance that is probably beyond fishing needs, although not perhaps beyond the fun factor they’d facilitate for family boating and skiing.

Grady-White offer comprehensive performance data sets from testing conducted under strictly controlled conditions on their website, and anyone interested in the extra 100hp option is advised to study them closely. What they don’t set out is acceleration, which presumably would be significantly brisker with a pair of 250s on the back.

It’s worth noting that twin V6 250hp motors add around 10km/h (up to 88km/h) to the top speed, while only consuming an extra 3.7L/hr of fuel at 62.8L/hr compared to a twin 200 powered boat at 59.1L/hr. This is at a cruising speed of just under 50km/h, where the twin 200s are spinning at 3800rpm and the twin 250s at 500rpm less at 3300.

Given the reliability of outboard motors today, a single motor would also be worthy of consideration now that Mercury has released a 400hp outboard.

While selecting an appropriate power option may not be so straightforward, choosing a Grady-White Freedom 275 is much easier. This is an outstanding boat with a unique set of assets whatever your fishing needs.

Highlights

  • A true bluewater sportfisher and an excellent family boat as well.
  • The versatility of a bow rider, with a bathroom!
  • Grady-White’s excellent SeaV2 hull, providing dry and smooth running.

Capacities

  • Maximum Rated Power: 500hp
  • Fuel: 695 litres
  • Fresh Water: 75 litres
  • Holding Tank: 37 litres

General

  • Material: GRP laminates
  • Hull Type: mono hull, bow rider configuration
  • Length: 8.2m
  • Beam: 2.59m
  • Draft: 0.51m
  • Weight: 2255kg (hull only)

Engines

  • Make/model: 2 x Yamaha F200 outboard
  • Type: DOHC EFI inline 4-cylinder
  • Rated hp: 200
  • Displacement: 2785cc
  • No. cylinders: 4
  • Weight: 225kg
  • Gearbox ratio: 1.86:1
  • Propeller/s used for test: 35cm x 45cm Reliance SDS

SPECIFICATIONS: Grady-White Freedom 275 Dual Console
Options fitted: An extensive standard package, as marketed in Australia by Game & Leisure Boats

Grady-White Freedom 275 Boat Test

Boat Test Grady-White Freedom 275: DUAL PERSONALITY
Author and photography: Warren Steptoe
Supplied by: Game & Leisure Boats

This boat test ran in ISSUE 111 of BlueWater magazine – AUGUST 2015

For the complete feature, including all photos and information captions, you can purchase back-issues here