Grady-White Freedom 375 Boat Test

Grady-White boats need little introduction to experienced anglers. This North Carolina, US-based fibreglass boat manufacturer has been producing first-class offshore sportfishing boats for decades. In recent times, Grady-White has concentrated on expanding its dual-console boat range, culminating in the launch of its impressive flagship model Freedom 375, as reviewed here by Jeff Webster.

Grady-White Freedom 375 Boat Test

Boat Test Grady-White Freedom 375: LEADING BY DESIGN
Author and photography: Jeff Webster

This boat test ran in ISSUE 123 of BlueWater magazine – APRIL-MAY 2017

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

Grady-White boats are renowned around the world for their quality of construction, superior finish and fit-out, ergonomically-designed interior layouts, and seaworthy, variable deadrise deep-vee hulls.

Constructed using the very latest techniques and with only the finest fixtures, fittings, fabrics and composite materials, these boats are built to last. Grady-White boats consistently rank at the top of customer satisfaction surveys – and this is no accident.

Grady-White boats are also synonymous with offshore sportfishing due to their sturdily-built, eminently reliable, hard-core fishing boats. However, during the past few years Grady-White has expanded its range to include models that are more family friendly, including the 10-strong line-up of dual-console Freedom models – all of which incorporate a forward bowrider seating area. Designed with versatility in mind, these boats remain equally well suited to offshore fishing, and will appeal to family boaters and serious anglers alike.

The smallest of the dual-console Grady-White Freedoms is the easily trailerable 192, a single-outboard-powered craft with a centreline length of 5.84m. The largest, most impressive model is the enormous 11.15m Freedom 375. This flagship model, powered by dual Yamaha 350hp V8 4-stroke outboards, is the subject of this review.

Outstanding Design

The Freedom 375 is a big boat. Having a width of 4m, and with very high topsides crowned with a distinctive Carolina flare to suppress and deflect spray, this boat has the means to keep its occupants and gear comfortable and dry.

Like most of the larger models, the hull has high bows, a pronounced sheer in the topsides from amidships, and a deep-vee monohull. The wave-slicing sharp entry at the bow of Grady’s ‘SeaV2’hull evolves to a fuel-efficient and stable, flatter hull at the stern, providing class-leading levels of ride comfort on sloppy seas.

The Freedom 375 has a large, deep cockpit for anglers, as well as a spacious bowrider seating/lounging compartment forward for families. It also features an elevated helm deck with adaptive seating and overhead hardtop, along with berth accommodation and a head compartment under the port and starboard console units.

Pricing And Features

The Freedom 375 is a premium-quality product and is therefore priced accordingly, starting in the vicinity of $1million, depending on the exchange rate with the US dollar.

A range of Yamaha outboard engine options are available for the Freedom 375, including triple 350hp V8 outboards. The base package has to make do with just a pair of the big Yamaha V8s in the extra-longshaft 25-inch (63cm) configuration and with counter-rotation.

The standard Freedom 375 is superbly outfitted with a vast number of standard features. They are too numerous to list here so it’s best to check the Grady-White website for a full inventory. Aussie-specification Freedom models come armed with all regular standard features, as well as a side door on the starboard side of the cockpit, and a large insulated icebox/cooler at the transom.

Our test boat was rigged with a number of options, including an aft drop curtain and bow cover, air-conditioning at the helm and refrigeration to the transom icebox. It was also fitted with a pair of Garmin GPSMap 7416xsv multi-function displays and a VHF radio.

Joystick Engine Control

Like the base package, the test boat was also fitted with dual Yamaha 350hp V8 4-stroke outboards, but the owner had optioned the boat with Yamaha’s superb Helm Master. This fully integrated boat control system incorporates fly-by-wire digital binnacle throttles, electric power steering, digital LCD engine display and a joystick for easy manoeuvring around the marina.

With joystick control there is no need for a bow thruster as you can simply move your boat around in any direction without touching the throttles or steering. With one-handed convenience you can jockey the boat forwards, backwards, diagonally, even completely sideways, making docking or positioning easy, even for beginners.

When you move the boat sideways the dual outboards appear to take on a life of their own, turning inwards to face each other most unnaturally before ‘crabbing’ the boat sideways. As you might imagine, it is especially useful in windy or strong current conditions, or when you have to squeeze into a tight marina berth.

The Yamaha Helm Master digital control system is available with dual, triple and quad outboard engine installations, and is compatible with Yamaha outboards above 200hp. It is a great system, but relatively pricey, adding around $33,000 to the cost of the Freedom 375 test package.

Bonus In The Bow

While the dual-console, bowrider layout of the Freedom 375 may not suit all offshore anglers, it’s my view that having a useable bowrider compartment – as opposed to a flat deck – is actually a substantial bonus.

Although intended as a seating/lounging area for afternoon cocktails, it can also serve as an effective stand-up gamefishing platform. There is no casting deck forward, but the centre seat cushion behind the anchor well (with electric anchor winch) is removable so you can stand there while leaning against the forward bulkhead.

Where better to take on a fast-running blue marlin, or a sailfish on light-tackle? It is much easier for a skipper to chase a fleeing billfish while moving the boat forward than to try and hunt it down while reversing, especially with an outboard-powered craft.

Padded Cockpit

From the trailing edge of the elevated helm deck back to the transom wall, the self-draining cockpit is 2.45m long x a 3.25m wide. The substantial width here also provides for the installation of a game chair, while still leaving ample space to the sides to walk past and to trace a fish.

Serious anglers will appreciate a range of other features too, including the 300mm wide side coamings, toe-rails under the side storage pockets, the padded coaming bolster that encircles the cockpit, horizontal rod racks under the coamings, and six stainless-steel gunwale-mounted rodholders. Other features include pop-up stern cleats to avoid obstruction when on the leader, fresh and raw water deckwash, and the starboard side door and transom entry door – both of which could be used to haul a large fish aboard.

The 197L icebox (refrigerated in the test boat) across the transom provides easy access to cold drinks, food and rigged baits, although it does prevent the installation of flush-deck rodholders across the transom. In outboard-powered boats you generally fight fish from the sides while driving forwards, rather than over the transom in reverse, so the positioning of the icebox and the 114-litre plumbed livebait tank alongside it should not cause too many difficulties while hooked-up.

Other cockpit features include a series of storage cupboards, a fold-down rear bench seat, and a lazarette/bilge compartment that contains all the steering gear and bilge pump plumbing, cranking and deep-cycle batteries, and access to sea-cocks and fuel filters, etc. This compartment also contains the included 8kw diesel generator and 76L fuel supply for running electrics on 240-volt power when at sea.

Helm With A View

The helm and saloon area is elevated on a mezzanine deck situated a step up from the cockpit, giving you excellent visibility forward and aft.

The layout has an L-shaped lounge and cocktail table for the crew on the port side, with storage underneath. There’s also a two-person-width padded bench/box seat for the skipper and a second passenger to starboard. A bolster at the front of the seat flips up to allow you to stand comfortably at the helm, or you can leave it folded down for very comfortable seated driving.

There is ample flat dash space ahead of the helm, while the fascia is more than broad enough to accommodate the engine instruments, switch panels, compass, VHF radio and two big 40cm Garmin multi-function displays. The Yamaha Helm Master binnacle throttle box and joystick are neatly located beside the tilt-adjustable steering wheel, with drinkholders and a useful handrail opposite.

There are numerous storage areas near the helm/saloon and under the hard-top, including useful nooks and crannies, a lockable glove box to port, and a huge underfloor storage area for fenders, covers, spare seat cushions, etc. The entire area is covered by the attractively-styled, aluminium-framed, fibreglass hardtop. Features include easy fold-up side clears, and an overhead sun-roof, complete with full screen and sun-shade.

Retractable Awning

There’s also an electric rear awning/sun shade which, at the push of a button, extends out from the fixed hardtop to cover the entire cockpit area. This retractable awning enables you to extend it out over the cockpit for family outings, then slide it back out of the way of your rods when fishing offshore.

Besides providing very welcome shelter from the elements, the hardtop is used as a base for LED spreader lights, interior lighting, and the outriggers and radio antennae. Underneath the hardtop you’ll find storage and first aid kit compartments, storage netting for lifejackets, a horizontal ceiling rod storage rack, as well as aft-facing rodholders and the option for a ceiling-mounted LCD TV on the port side.

Fresh-air Galley

Instead of being situated below decks, the galley and wet bar in this Grady-White are conveniently located behind the helm station, accessed from the cockpit. Features include an electric grill/barbecue, dual-voltage refrigerator/freezer, sink with hot and cold running water, storage drawers, drinkholders and a rubbish bin. The layout works well and is an ideal setting for a family barbecue while anchored up near a secluded beach.

Opposite the wet bar you’ll find additional bench seating, covered storage areas, a pull-out cupboard with removable terminal tackle drawers and a side seat, which slides out to form an L-shaped cockpit lounge. Being on an electric slider, the seat can also be retracted at the press of a button, so you can fish the full length of the port side cockpit.

Air-conditioned Cabin

Family boaters will no doubt appreciate the spacious cabin situated beneath the port side console, as well as the equally large head/shower compartment under the starboard side console, both of which are air-conditioned and provide full standing headroom.

This cleverly designed cabin boasts a seating area which converts into a double berth with the addition of an electric slide-out cushion. There is also a fold-down timber table with mirror, cedar timber-lined storage lockers in the forepeak and cabin sides, as well as a separate, full-length single-berth aft.

You will also find there is ample interior lighting, a port hole leading to the central companion way for ventilation, and a bulkhead-mounted flatscreen TV.

The head compartment under the opposite console has an electric flush toilet, shower with curtain, vanity with sink, the main AC/DC electric switchboard, and flat bench space beneath a microwave oven. With additional storage space, this starboard side cabin can also double as a lower galley area.

Twin Or Triple Outboards

The Grady-White Freedom 375 is available with a range of Yamaha outboard engine options – with or without Yamaha’s superb Helm Master digital control system.

A pair of 350hp V8 4-stroke outboards is the base engine package, remarkable given that we achieved a top speed of 37.4 knots. You can also order the boat rigged with triple Yamaha 300hp 4.2L big-block V6 outboards engines or with a trio of the 350hp V8 outboards.

Although you probably don’t need more than 1000hp on the transom, the boat is easily capable of handling the extra power. On a craft of this calibre, I would be tempted to go with a trio of Yamaha’s finest 300hp V6 outboards, which I suspect would lift the top speed into the mid-40-knot range. Having said that, the test boat package did not feel slow or cumbersome, accelerating strongly from idle through to wide-open throttle, with the big V8 Yamahas never missing a beat.

During our sea trial, we determined that the boat and dual Yamaha combination is most economical at 4500rpm and a boat speed of 27.8 knots – burning 130.4 litres of fuel per hour for a maximum range on the 1211-litre fuel tank (less 5% for line losses) of 245.4 nautical miles.

Handling And Ride

Grady-White hulls are renowned around the world for being well-built, soft-riding, dry and stable. It’s a classic shape, offering excellent performance with economy, great handling and manoeuvrability. The SeaV2 hull’s fine, sharp entry at the bow stretches back to a transom vee angle or deadrise of 20 degrees, providing a smooth ride through troubled waters.

Despite its size, the Freedom 375 feels nimble and is more agile on the water than you would expect from a craft this big. Underway the Grady turns surprisingly tightly at speed, with a solid grip on the water and only moderate banking. At the same time, the boat feels solid and seaworthy enough to run comfortably out to the offshore fishing grounds at a fast cruise.

Ultimate Transformer

The Freedom 375 is promoted as a boat that can switch seamlessly from one on-water activity to another. With its versatile interior layout, this practical, wonderfully-appointed craft is as well suited to offshore gamefishing as it is for socialising with family and friends.

If you can afford the price of admission, you won’t be disappointed. The Freedom 375 is a fine quality product, a spacious family boat and an excellent offshore fishing rig.

Highlights

  • Practical, versatile layout
  • Soft-riding, seaworthy deep-vee hull
  • Excellent build quality and fit-out
  • Surprisingly large console cabins
  • Wide, uncluttered fishing cockpit
  • High freeboard with cockpit toe-rails
  • Sturdy, multi-function hardtop

Capacities

  • Maximum power: 1050hp
  • Fuel capacity: 1211 litres
  • Freshwater: 204 litres
  • Water heater/shower: 54 litres
  • Livebait tank: 114 litres
  • Genset fuel capacity: 76 litres
  • Toilet holding tank: 38 litres

General

  • Type: Monohull dual-console
  • Material: Fibreglass and fibreglass/composite
  • Hull length: 11.15m
  • Beam: 4.01m
  • Draft: 740mm
  • Deadrise: 20 degrees
  • Weight (no engines): 7370kg
  • Flotation: Basic standard

Engines

  • Make/model: 2 x Yamaha F350C outboards
  • Type: 60-degree V8 DOHC 32 valve 4-stroke
  • Rated hp: 350
  • Displacement: 5.3 litres
  • No. cylinders: 6
  • Weight: 346kg (extra-longshaft)
  • Shaft length: 25-inch (63cm) extra-longshaft
  • Gearbox ratio: 1.73:1

SPECIFICATIONS: Grady-White Freedom 375
Options fitted: Twin Yamaha 5.3L V8 350hp extra-longshaft 25-inch (63cm) 4-stroke outboards with Yamaha Helm Master boat control system with joystick, dual Garmin GPSMap 7416xsv multi-function displays, VHF radio, aft drop curtain and bow cover (not shown), air-conditioning at the helm and refrigeration to the transom icebox/cooler. Everything else is standard.  

Grady-White Freedom 375 Boat Test

Boat Test Grady-White Freedom 375LEADING BY DESIGN
Author and photography: Jeff Webster
Supplied by: Game & Leisure Boats

This boat test ran in ISSUE 123 of BlueWater magazine – APRIL-MAY 2017

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