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Yamaha F350s with Helm Master

You can still go to a car dealership and buy a sedan, but all the excitement is around “sport utility vehicles” that promise to deliver a lot more than just transportation.

A decade ago, a new 33 foot power boat was almost certain to be an express cruiser that could take a small family cruising, with overnight sleeping accommodations, a head, a little galley to make some food and honestly, we thought that was good at the time.

Times change and today, people want more. The new Grady-White 33' Freedom 335 is said to be the world’s largest outboard powered dual console boat and it brings a marriage of features and abilities the buyer a decade ago would’ve never believed possible.

Catering to a wide range of interests and ambitions, the Grady-White Freedom 335 opens up all the possibilities. This boat accommodates fishing, diving, rafting up, exploring, sightseeing, camping, using tow toys, water skis or wakeboards, swimming, lounging, listening to music or entertaining friends. And yes, you can sleep overnight and make meals too!

Grady-White introduced the Freedom 335 at the 2012 Miami International Boat Show but we drove it in late October at Yamaha’s North American introduction of their new Helm Master joystick docking system.

Our test boat was rigged with twin Yamaha F350 outboards; the world's first V8 5.3-liter four-stroke outboards each making 350 horsepower, and wow do these perform!

Top speed is 50 mph plus, yet this brawny big boat gets over 1.0 mpg at a range of speeds between 26 and 37 mph. The Yamaha engines are very efficient and now with Helm Master, docking is just as easy as going fast.

Yamaha’s new Helm Master is a fully integrated boat control system that manages steering functions, speed control including a button you can hit to throttle up + or - 10% or 15% when docking, a single lever function to control up to 3 different motors at once, automated trimming assist at speed and automatic engine synchronization too.

Of course the Helm Master’s main benefit is joystick docking. You have read about this before, but it is sensational. Press the button on the control box to activate the joystick and from there, at docking speeds you can hold the boat in position, move forward or reverse, rotate or turn and even move sideways. It’s great to see this feature become available on outboard powered boats.

Even a relatively inexperienced owner is going to look like a superstar around the docks with their Grady-White Freedom 335 when it’s equipped with Yamaha’s Helm Master system.

It really supports the “sport utility” functions in this design too. Grady-White’s term “dual console” might be more familiar to our readers as a bow rider design where the dashboard and windshield are split for a walk-through to the bow area which is fitted with seating all around.

Here, the bow is complete with removable cushioned seating and a cushion insert is available that makes the whole area a great deck for all the sun worshippers aboard.

There is a 230 quart insulated storage area on one side and of course, solid hand rails, drink holders and speakers for the audio system. A large anchor locker is included too.

Where the Grady-White term “dual console” becomes more clear is in the dashboard areas to port and starboard. This is a big boat and there is a lot of space in the “console” areas.

The easy-to-access portside cabin makes a very handy changing room where family and guests can get into their bathing suits, but the cabin has a roomy and comfortable sliding bunk, plus an entertainment system to send your favourite MP3 tunes or satellite radio all around the boat through the eight speaker system. The cabin also has a nice bench seat, stand up headroom, a closet, mirror and bulk storage. There’s lighting, and the tinted screened window contributes to an open feel.

Where families used to plan to sleep on board, often now, they stay at marinas and check into hotels or B&Bs so the cabins mainly help families and guests enjoy the day on the water, and then let them change clothes and head out to eat on shore in a restaurant.

Adding to that level of convenience is the shower and head located across the companionway in the starboard console. This features stand-up headroom for an adult, plus shower, sink, storage drawers and bulk storage.

Both console cabin areas have beautiful detailing with cherry accenting and cherry and holly soles.

So yes, you can sleep onboard but this boat is all about going places and doing things. Just outside the portside cabin is the companion seat that features a removable table. Directly behind this, there’s an electronically operated sliding bench cockpit seat. The seat back here folds down to reveal a handsome Corian-topped table, and the big drawer underneath is a great storage area for favorite beverages and accompaniments.

To starboard is a wet bar with refrigerator and sink, and with the optional grill you can get your fresh catch cooking right off the hook! The arrangement keeps cooking odors out of the cabin too.

Remember that Grady-White has a great history of building fishing boats and the cockpit is both the main living area and the centre of fishing action.

Aft of the wet bar is a patented, extra-large foldaway bench seat with cushion that opens up plenty of fishing space. More room is available when you retract the cockpit bench seat. Across the transom is an optional 30-gallon, lighted livewell featuring Grady-White’s full column water distribution inlet and an 1100 GPH pump. There are rod racks where you need them (yet out of the way), storage for all kinds of tackle, and the aft fish box is a whopping 166 quarts. This can be optionally equipped with a digitally controlled freezer-cooler feature!

Whether you are fishing or swimming, the recessed freshwater shower on the transom is great for cleaning sunglasses or reels, or for a quick rinse-off after water sports; a water heater is available for hot showers.

An important feature is that Grady-White’s overboard-draining boxes and decks plus both pressurized raw water and fresh water washdowns all ensure that clean up is easy and the Freedom 335 is completely self-bailing. Another great thing is that Grady-White’s use unsinkable foam flotation in the structure of their C. Raymond Hunt Associates designed SeaV2 hulls.

On the Freedom 335, the hardtop is standard, providing shade and protection over the helm and companion areas plus overhead storage nets for PFDs and other items like towels, extra gear and more.

The hardtop supports an optional electrically operated SureShade that extends to cover the entire aft cockpit. Hardtops are great for letting you get into the fresh air without the major sun-exposure that can spoil the day and the SureShade increases the comfort a lot.

Finally, the helm seat has room for two adults and adjusts electrically. Driving the boat, we loved the clear sight lines, handsome adjustable steering wheel and the ergonomics around the control box and joystick. The helm is large enough for multiple 15" screens and loads of electronics.

What ever your interests and where ever you go out in big water across Canada, the Grady-White Freedom 335 with twin Yamaha F350s and the new Helm Master joystick docking system will be one great sport utility vessel!


SPECIFICATIONS

Engines:
Twin Yamaha F350 Four-Stroke V8 outboard engines with 32 valve, dual overhead cam design, variable camshaft timing and sequential multi-point electronic fuel injection and electronic shift. Displacement is 5.3 L /  325.3 ci making 350 hp. Props are 16 1/4 X 17 SWS XL SDS.

SPECIFICATIONS:
LENGTH: 33'6" /10.21 m
BEAM: 11'7" / 3.53 m
WEIGHT: 11,900 lbs /5,398 kg
FUEL CAPACITY: 312 gals / 1,181 L
WATER CAPACITY:
WASTE CAPACITY:
PRICE MSRP Base: $387,145 (Helm Master pricing not yet announced)


ENGINE RPM    SPEED MPH

1000 6.2
1500 8.2
2000 9.6
2500 10.4
3000 16.9
3500 26.0
3900 30.9
4000 31.6
4500 37.2
5000 41.3
5500 46.4
6000 50.2

CRUISING SPEED rpm / mph
30.9 / 3900

Test boat provided by and price quoted by: Grady-White Boats, www.gradywhite.com

Performance data by: Grady-White Boats

By Andy Adams