No company has captured the category of dual-console boats with greater proliferation than Grady-White. Its Freedom series includes eight models stretching from 19 to 33½ feet, including the Freedom 285. This 28-footer comes as close to possessing universal appeal as any boat possibly can.
Quality plays in favor of the 285, which boasts 100 percent hand-laid fiberglass construction. A beefy, high-density PVC rub rail with a polished stainless-steel insert stands guard between the 285’s sheer line and barnacled seawalls. The undersides of all hatches are smoothly finished, and all deck hardware and rails are 316 stainless steel.
An aggressive diamond-pattern nonskid sole and cockpit toe rails help ensure secure footing in rough conditions. The self-bailing deck will quickly drain any water that comes aboard. If you encounter spray, the tall, full-width windshield and side windows will help keep it out of the cockpit. There’s also a bifold door to block wind. For bow access, the center panel of the windshield swings opens, and the bifold door folds aside.
I adore two of the standard seating features on the 285. First is a stern bench seat that quickly folds away for fishing action. The second is a motorized aft-facing seat on the port side. Push a button and the seat bottom extends aft, turning into a lounger. A table can be fitted in the bow or in the 65-square-foot aft cockpit. Encircling the interior are thickly upholstered bolsters.
Nestled in the port console is a step-down head compartment. Ours was equipped with an optional Jabsco electric toilet. The quarters felt a bit tight. Also, there was no sink inside the head for washing up. On the positive side, the head features an integrated rod rack that stores three sticks in a space that runs under the port bow seating.
A 15½-inch multifunction electronics display will flush-mount nicely at the helm, and the optional fiberglass hardtop with an anodized-aluminum frame provides plenty of places to mount radar, GPS and VHF antennas.
Our test boat featured an electrically adjustable double-wide helm seat, backed by a cabinet with a 110-volt electric grill. This optional cooking center is a great place to whip up a quick meal.
The dual-console layout sits on the same continuously variable SeaV2 running surface as Grady’s Canyon 283 center-console does. As expected, it parted the wind chop with silky-smooth grace and cornered with commanding ease. Powered by a pair of Yamaha 250 offshore four-stroke outboards, the 285 exuded the solid confidence of its lineage.