Small but furious thunderheads appeared out of nowhere, cutting off our return to the island. Calm water roiled into whitecaps in a matter of minutes. We pointed the bow into the mess and waited for it to blow over. Was I worried? Not one iota. In fact, while riding out this summer storm on Grady-White's new 282 Sailfish, my worst fear was getting my only pair of deck shoes wet.
HEALTH NUT. Why such confidence in a boat I had been on only once before? Because that day involved a 90-plus-mile cruise from Palm Beach, Florida, to Walker's Cay, Bahamas, a trip that revealed the numerous impressive aspects of the 282 Sailfish. For starters, we encountered two-to-three-foot rollers in the blue water and a tight chop riding over the Bahamas Bank. The boat shrugged it all off; the ride was as comfortable as any 28' monohull I've cruised. Most striking, however, was the boat's stability when riding between wakes. We were with a group of 27 boats going in the same direction. Translation? We were going to wallow between wakes. But the 282 Sailfish was extremely stable. Credit goes to the variable deadrise hull, with 20.5 degrees at the transom. That's enough V to slice up the waves, without sacrificing too much stability. It's no surprise that the 282 Sailfish feels solid underfoot, doesn't rattle or vibrate in sloppy seas, and takes rough weather well. After all, we've come to expect that from Grady-White. But the 282 Sailfish holds plenty of surprises, too. This boat isn't just a makeover of Grady-White's 272 Sailfish. That may have been the original idea, but Grady-White had a whole new deck designed and built. The company then added a new cabin. A new hardtop came next. But things still weren't quite right. A new dash panel, cabin berth, rigging station, helm station - in fact, the only similarity between the 272 and the 282 is the boat's length and beam. And their construction techniques. Grady-White still uses conventional glass-encapsulated XL-10 rot-resistant plywood stringers, with enough foam belowdecks to float the boat plus another 30 percent of its weight. Other construction highlights include a polyester/vinylester-blended resin, backlit rocker switches on the carbon fiber print dash panel, Pompanette helm seats, and a 1"-diameter stainless-steel bowrail. You want even finer details? Check out the standard windshield wiper. Most builders skimp here, providing a flimsy, jerky wiper that only seems to work for half a season. Not so on the 282 Sailfish. In fact, the wiper even has a windshield washer, so you can spritz away salt buildup without ever leaving the helm.
MARATHON MAN. The real surprise during our long-distance cruise came when we reached the marina and looked at the fuel gauge. Rigged with a pair of 200-hp Yamaha HPDI outboards, we had burned less fuel than most boats with single outboards. At the best cruise, 3500 rpm, we got 2.2 mpg while running at 31 mph. I looked up every 26' to 30' twin outboard-powered monohull fishboat we've tested over the last three years, and they averaged 1.7 mpg. But with 700psi blowing fuel into each cylinder (most other pressure-injection systems produce between 90psi and 450psi) a variable deadrise hull designed by Ray Hunt Associates, the 282 Sailfish outperforms the competition.
The Highs: Awesome fuel economy and capacity. Details like the windshield washer, toerails with hose holder and cupholders, and hardtop life jacket stowage put many competitors to shame.** **
The Lows: Integrated transom motor bracket puts the outboards far aft; chunkers and bottom anglers will have a long reach to get around them. Single hose clamps on the test boat's bilge and livewell pumps. Check out some other top contenders: Scout's 28'2" Cabrio 260 ($95,580 with twin 225-hp Yamaha outboards), at a cruise of 3500 rpm, tested out at 1.9 mpg while going 34.2 mph. Aquasport's 27'5" 275 Walkaround ($93,045, with twin 225-hp Evinrude Ficht outboards) hit 32.8 mph while getting 2.1 mpg. Most other walkarounds in this size range didn't even come close to the Grady-White/Yamaha HPDI combination. And the 282 Sailfish is quiet, too, producing just 80 dB-A at cruise, compared to 82 on the 275 Walkaround and 87 on the Cabrio 260. This can be attributed to two things: the HPDI outboards and the 282 Sailfish's full transom. The downside? You'll have the usual problems maneuvering fish around those outboards when chunking or bottom fishing. We trolled on test day, but since trolled fish are usually landed on the hip, it wasn't an issue. ** **
MAKE THE GRADE. If you think solid construction and awesome fuel economy are the only impressive details to be found on this boat, you're wrong. Have you looked at that new hardtop- It's slightly crowned, with netting across the bottom for life jacket stowage - they're out of the way but easy to reach in case of an emergency. Every builder should do it. And look at the electronics box. The door is split, so you can fold it halfway and still get an obstruction-free view of the LCD screens. What's more, this helm has true 360-degree visibility, and for my 5'11" height, no windshield frames, supports, or canvas seams were in the way. More proof that the Grady-White guys never stop thinking: The removable oil fills at the transom slant backward. So if you spill a bit as you're pouring in oil, it runs down into the motorwell, not onto the aft bench seat. Also note the fishbox placement. It's abovedecks, not sunken into the cockpit sole. That means no seawater leaking over gutters and melting off your ice, a common problem with fishboxes placed in the sole. If seawater - or, as on test day, rainwater - does enter the cockpit, it drains out fast. How fast? I tried leaving on the washdown for a few minutes, but water never pooled on the deck.
One complaint, however: The bilge and livewell pumps had single hose clamps instead of doubles. Our test boat was a prototype, and according to Grady-White, every 282 Sailfish it builds will have doubles. But there's another construction goody that needs to be noted. While many builders use a single pump shared by the livewell and the washdown, the 282 Sailfih has two separate pumps. So even when the well's full, you'll have full pressure to wash away fish blood. Just how much fish blood will hit the deck of this boat? In all likelihood, more than you're used to. The livewell holds 40 gallons (compare that to 35 gallons on the Cabrio 260 and 27 gallons on the 275 Walkaround). Standard fishing features include a 300-quart insulated fishbox, four gunwale-mounted rodholders, six under-gunwale rodracks, dual integrated tackle trays, and a rigging station with sink. Are the fish far offshore? Fuel capacity is no concern: Fill up the 220-gallon capacity (separate 150-gallon and 70-gallon tanks) and with those HPDI outboards, you can hit the canyons twice between fill-ups.
When you get beyond all the extras and goodies, the 282 Sailfish has yet one more angling advantage: It's comfortable to fish from. Unique details, such as the toerails with built-in cupholders and a slot that perfectly accommodates a self-coiling washdown hose, make trolling a pleasure even when the fishing's slow. The food/drink cooler is easily accessible, and the padded coaming doesn't hurt to lean against. The fishbox opens aft behind the helm station, so one angler can flip the hatch up while another swings in a gaffed fish, keeping the cockpit as clean as possible. Everyone will like this cockpit. Except, that is, for the fish. A Last Word. What, me worry? Not on Grady-White's new 282 Sailfish.
LOA ......................28'0" ** **
Beam ......................9'6" ** **
Draft ......................1'6" ****
Displacement ......5,800 ****
Transom deadrise..20.5° ****
Bridge clearance ....9'8" ****
Minimum cockpit depth ......................2'6" ****
Max. cabin headroom.......6'2" ****
Fuel capacity (gal.) .........220 ****
Water capacity (gal.) .......32
Price (w/standard power) .......................$99,285
Price (w/test power) .....................$103,250 ****
STANDARD POWER: Twin 200-hp Yamaha EFI outboards.
OPTIONAL POWER : Twin outboards to 500 hp total. ****
TEST BOAT POWER: Twin 200-hp Yamaha HPDI V-6 outboards with 158.4 cid, 3.54" bore x 2.68" stroke, swinging 15 1/4" x 17" three-bladed ss props through 1.86:1 reductions.
STANDARD EQUIPMENT: (major items): Chrome-over-bronze through-hull fittings; MSD with holding tank, macerator, and pumpout; refrigerator; butane stove; bait rigging station w/sink; 12v outlet; cockpit coaming bolsters; 5 drinkholders; 300-qt. fishbox; hydraulic trim tabs; 46-qt. icebox; 40-gal. livewell; 6 under-gunwale rodracks; 4 gunwale-mounted rodholders; Pompanette helm and passenger chairs; tilt steering; integrated tacklebox; raw-water washdown; windshield wiper w/washer.