Grady-White Express 305
By Capt. Rob Smith
Today’s multi-focal family and today’s budgets require us to be more creative in the choices and the use of anything we purchase. The new Grady-White Express 305 answers the call for more socializing aboard while maintaining the fishability and fighting spirit of their line. From the outside you have all the fishing features you would expect from a serious fishing tank yet inside you have more than just a crash pad when the fish stop biting or the heat gets too much.
On the Bow
Up front is a spacious bow area with typical anchor pulpit and rails at a height that gives you a secure hand-hold when working docking lines or taking on the anchoring chores. I found the walk-around space in the front to be exceptional and surprised that it didn’t eat up space in the cabin. The 305 has a standard windlass system with starboard chain locker and an optional bow thruster that will be handy if you find you are doing a lot of single handing. Nothing like sidling up to the docks with the tuna flag flying and not having to rush around grabbing lines and fending off the docks!
The View from the Helm Deck
The sight lines in the helm area are very good. Even coming out of the hole, I found I didn’t have to crane my neck up to make sure nothing slipped in front of me. Grady-White understands the value of high tech equipment and has an electric flip up panel in the center of the dash large enough for two large screen flat panels. Pushing a button brings them up to the perfect height for you, then down and secured so they will be there the next time you hit the switch. Switches are lighted and grouped together within easy reach of the wheel. In the center on top of the dash, where it belongs, is a large Ritchie compass. Just below it on a vertical panel are the Yamaha Digital Command gauges for the powerful engine package on the stern. Also in this panel were Bennett trim indicators with the tab switches next to the throttles.
As a test captain, I always have a lot of portable gear and when a family is on board, they will too. Grady-White has extra 12volt sockets around to power just about everything. I especially appreciated the ones on the side panels next to the seats in the helm area. When you have the livewell dried out, you can stow the tower in clips under the navigator’s seat. More room for the family to relax with you is on the starboard side in the form of another bench seat. With two kids, you can drop the center panel so they both have their own seat or have it up so mom and the kids can relax next to you (or you can relax while she does the driving!). The driver has a super comfortable Pompano seat with vertical and horizontal adjustments. My only problem was I needed to slim up some to comfortably get around the starboard side of the seat. I guess the food on the road is showing too much.
Overhead is a standard hardtop. Protection from the sun and frequent showers is important, but it is also a great place for the rocket launcher rod holders, fishing lights, net storage, electronics box as well as room to add the outriggers for some serious angling fun.
In the Cabin
The cabin door has a neat magnetic catch that eliminates the nail system so many use. It is plenty strong to keep the door open. Inside you feel like you must be on a larger boat with the wise use of space. Forward, my test boat had an optional TV for entertainment, reading lights for checking out the latest gear from the supply stores and wood racks on the side to stow the magazines while fishing and cruising. A high gloss teak table provides room to serve dinner and a filler cushion makes this into a handy berth at night. A standard satellite ready stereo system has auxiliary input connections and my test ride also had a DVD player for additional entertainment.
The most comfortable berth was the under cockpit aft berth. I am claustrophobic but didn’t feel cramped or closed in when stretching out my 6 foot frame inside. Four rod loops are overhead to stow your expensive rods on board in safety and security.
The galley has the basics with a microwave, storage, sink and Isotherm refrigerator/freezer. Across from the galley was a separate standup wet head with vanity, pull out shower wand and VacuFlush toilet.
The Fishing Deck
The cockpit features 74 square feet of fishing room. Just behind the starboard bench is a 32 gallon livewell with 1100gph circulating pump and overboard drain. Just below it is a lure and tool organizer. Across from the livewell is a cushioned aft facing seat with either a cooler or optional chill plates for added fish storage. Along the sides you have standard bolsters to protect your thighs and toe rails to add safety when leaning over netting or gaffing fish. Flush mount rod holders are in the tops of the gunwales and horizontal rod racks keep your gear neat and orderly topside. One feature that stands out on this model is Grady-White’s thoughtful positioning of key switches. Often you have to go up to the helm for things that are only used in the cockpit. They moved the livewell, wash-down pump and light switches to the cockpit for convenience, right where they should be!
Across the stern wall is the favorite bench seat for most. This patented folding seat flips out in a snap and is just as easy to stow when fishing. Below and behind it are access panels to the diesel Panda generator, dedicated diesel tank and remote shut-off handles for the through hulls. Battery and fuel selectors are behind a panel to the right. On top you have a huge 304 quart fish box with replaceable cutting board on top and optional chiller plates from Cruiseair. The transom door is an indication of the design, it has super duty handles and hinges that should last a lifetime.
The Express 305 measures 32’7” length overall with the pulpit and has a beam width of 10’7”. Bridge height is about 9’9” and weight without engines is approximately 8850 lbs. She has a safe cockpit depth of 28” and a draft of approximately 23”. This model is rated for up to 700hp outboards and was tested with twin 350-hp Yamaha Four Strokes. Fuel capacity is 290 gallons.
Of course, the true test of a fishing machine designed for rough off-shore conditions is to go out in some difficult weather. The best I could do is some serious cold weather that had my hands sticking to a freezing wheel. I did find this boat was a smooth operator with an easy to handle design as well as easy to maneuver around the docks. She is off and up on plane in 3.8 seconds and up to 30mph in about 6.2 seconds. I found her best cruise to be 31.7 mph at 3500 rpm and her maximum speed to be 56 mph at 6100 rpm.
I believe Grady-White has done a good job of putting together a serious fishing rig that can also be a comfortable cruising boat for the family that loves to spend time near shore, fish and spend an occasional night on board. With Grady’s attention to detail and notable durability, this can be a solid performer for years to come.