Choosing the right boat is easy if your waterborne activities are singular in purpose. But if your needs vary, that is to say, if you need to consider the desires of other people in your life, then hitting a boat show can leave you more confused than a goat on Astroturf. One solution is to check out a big dual console, like Grady-White’s Freedom 255. A hefty, self-bailing boat riding a blue-water hull, the 255 delivers more amenities than most fish boats, while providing easier maintenance and more confidence in plying open water than most bowriders.
Grady-White’s reputation for robust construction and accessory installation remains untarnished following my test. Despite running harder than prudence dictated in three-to-four-footers, the hardtop ($10,100) refused to rattle. Additionally, I could detect no movement of the gunwale where the uprights mounted. the structure is backed and bolted, and if you look closely you’ll see some cool mitered joints where the pipe work comes together to support the finished fiberglass lid. Each weld is as smooth as a caulk line, an indication of high quality. The top was fitted with outriggers and LED spreader lights.
A great hardtop alone doesn’t mean a boat makes the grade. Other factors include through-bolted hinges and deck hardware, which I could check because Grady provided wide-open access to the anchor locker, itself an uncommon feature for this size boat. Then there are the six cleats, each big enough to belay at least two half-inch-diameter lines at a time. The main electrical panel is just inside the helm console door, so you can work without having to crawl on your back. Pull rods for the seacocks mean you don’t have to lie on your belly to close a through-hull. There’s more, but the headline reads: robust and serviceable.