During our test of Grady-White’s Freedom 335, the world’s largest dual-console boat, we discovered a vessel more seaworthy and easier to maintain than a bowrider. It offers more amenities than a center-console and offers the cockpit protection of a cabin boat, plus safe and easy access to the bow. This boat is the ticket to ride for those who enjoy a variety of boating activities with as little compromise as possible. Let’s start with features that apply to all boaters.
The Freedom 335 is eminently serviceable. A large hatch in the cockpit sole provides wide, bright access to through-hull fittings, pumps, filters, the optional generator ($19, 245) and more. Plumbing and wiring runs are robustly supported and easy to trace. We applauded the fitting of extension rods on the seacock handles so that you can throw the levers without having to stand on your head. Electrical panels are easy to service via a pair of removable panels located inside the starboard-side helm console.
The Freedom 335 rides the vaunted SeaV2 hull, a C. Raymond Hunt and Associates design. We had flat conditions during testing, but the SeaV2 hull form is a proven rough-water design, as evidenced by the many Grady-Whites running inlets and fishing offshore as well as by Boating’s previous tests conducted in rough conditions. The Freedom 335 also features a self-bailing cockpit and stowage boxes and lockers that drain directly overboard. These are safety features, but self-bailing boats are also easier to own. One reason is that you can leave them in the slip without a cover and not have to worry about the bilge pump draining the batteries. Another is that washing down — whether it’s blood and scales or chips and dip — is much easier since suds and crud flush right out through the scuppers.
The hull laminate’s thick glass is hand-laid, a proven method for achieving strength and stiffness, though it can produce a heavier boat than some closed molding techniques. Weight isn’t necessarily a bad thing in a sea boat. Hatch lids are smooth on both sides, and so are easy to clean. The stringer grid features foam between the bays for both stiffness and flotation — basic flotation is not required aboard boats over 26 feet in length overall, yet the Freedom 335 offers this additional safety.
New for 2012, PPG paint coats the hull between the chine and the spray rail, and you have your choice of colors from which to choose. Paint offers a gloss that gelcoat is hard-pressed to match (of course, there’s gelcoat beneath the paint). We also applauded the use of hidden fasteners to secure hinges, hardware and more. The lack of visible screw heads gives the boat a clean, classy look. In fact some items, such as the toe rails that provide secure footing in the 83-square-foot cockpit, have no fasteners at all: They are glued in place with methacrylate adhesive.
Amenities? The portside console conceals a cabin with a teak-and-holly sole, leather sofa and flat-screen TV. A double berth deploys electrically at the push of a button. When nature calls, the starboard-side console offers a stand-up head and shower, in addition to tremendous lockable stowage. A wood floor graces the sole here too, and teak accents meld with the solid-surface vanity top, and gelcoated bulkheads, to produce a designer look that’s easy to keep sanitary.
Aft of the tall windshield, the cockpit is as weather-protected as that aboard a cabin boat, particularly with the standard hardtop that can be fitted with a retractable sunshade ($9,240). The helm has space for big-screen electronics and is decked in a combination of faux wood trim and a fabric resembling sea grass. There’s a double-wide helm seat here. Opposite is a five-person L-shape lounge served by a flip-up table. Aft, an electric seat opens to connect with the folding transom bench, creating another L-shape seating area. The wet bar offers an optional grill and refrigerator. Saltwater and freshwater washdowns are standard. The transom door is heavily latched and leads to a broad platform with a rugged ladder. Boarding is easy. So is maintaining the twin Yamaha F350 outboards.
In the bow, we discovered a concealed anchor deployed through a chute and served by a windlass. The opposing lounges seat a big crew, and we gave kudos for Grady’s fitting the under-seat lockers with latches so they wouldn’t rattle under way. The seat cushions are removable for fishing, diving or the longer life that comes from removing them during seasonal storage.
With the twin F350s, we topped 50 mph and noted plenty of reserve power while cruising. More corrosion-resistant than sterndrives, outboards are a great choice for coastal boaters of any ilk and allow for a shallower operating draft, a feature boaters on any water can appreciate.
From propulsion to design, and from construction to details, we think the Freedom 335 will strike a resounding chord with a wide swath of boaters.