Grady-White Freedom 235Designed for life

By Andy Adams

It’s been a while since I last reviewed a Grady-White, but the Freedom 235 Dual Console seemed immediately familiar to me as we arrived on the dock at Desmasdon’s Boat Works in Point Au Baril for test day. I think that’s one of the best features about a Grady-White; the look and feel is unmistakably “Grady-White” and while it’s a handsome and contemporary boat, it has a unique style that I think is designed for life. It will always be a Grady-White and the Freedom 235 feels like it will last for years.

You could also say that at over 6,000 lbs displacement with engine and equipment, this is a heavy boat and it has a very stout feel in the waves. The ride and the feel of the Freedom 235 inspires confidence. Some of this is the construction and some of this derives from the design.

The company has a hull design that is called the SeaV² and they say that their hull’s superior rough water performance can be attributed to the forward sections that offer a sharp “deep vee” cutting edge while the flatter aft section provides stability.

The Bow SeatThe bow seating is comfortable, the space is deep and we liked the recessed hand rails.

The SeaV² is a “continuously variable vee” hull that delivers a soft and stable ride. Unlike other brands, a SeaV² hull design has no two places on the keel where the deadrise is the same. The vee continuously sharpens from the transom to the bow stem. A SeaV² hull with 20 degrees of deadrise at the transom will have around 30 degrees amidships—more than even the most radical older deep vee designs. The deeper vee forward means a softer ride at sea. Less vee at the transom coupled with wide chines provide stability at rest and when trolling.

Helm Seat

 

A flip up bolster and armrests help make the helm seat a highlight.

Additionally, the Grady-White designs feature a high bow and what I call a “Carolina sheer” like you see on some big sport fishing yachts. The sheer line curves down in the aft section beyond mid-ships to give a lower line as you move to the stern. The high bow sheer is good for breaking through big waves while the lower hull depth toward the stern looks good and puts you close to the water for fishing and swimming.

Grady-White also claims that a SeaV² hull with its variable deadrise delivers a tremendous righting force, giving impressive tracking in quartering seas and better handling in following seas.

Head Access

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The companion side console front swings open to give generous access to the head which has a mirror, towel rack, storage and most importantly, a vent.

SeaV² hulls are designed exclusively for Grady-White by C. Raymond Hunt Associates, the originators of the modified vee. This all works very well and we will talk more about performance later, but let’s get into the features that buyers are looking for when they are first shopping.

Folding Step

 

 

We loved the very handy folding step on the starboard side. Hang onto the top frame and step in easily!

At an overall length of 25’7” including the swim platforms on a beam of 8’6”, this is a big 23-footer! That partly explains the weight and the boat has a full fiberglass inner liner which adds strength and convenience too. Starting at the stern, there is lots of transom room for the Yamaha F 300 outboard so you get a big swim platform with wet storage on either side and a starboard side four step boarding ladder.

Cockpit
The transom is very well done. There’s a real transom door with serious hardware and hinges and the door swings out, so a following sea will not come crashing through as it could if the door swung in. Battery switches are located behind a gasketed door in the walk-through which is handy as you’re boarding the boat. Just there on the gunwale is starboard side shower and there is a fresh water washdown as well.

 

Pull Out ShowerThe test boat had a pull out shower by the stern.

Across the transom top is a large bait well and a very large fish box with a tow pylon for water sports mounted in the centre and drink holders too. If you don’t have a freshly-caught sport fish, you can fill the fish box with cold beverages…it’s up to you. But they really thought this boat out. As we went through the interior features, I felt that the Grady-White people really use these boats and understand what will be handy in a form follows function sort of way.

Another good design example is the fold out aft bench seat. This is big and comfortable when deployed and the back rest is good for leaning against while fishing.

Sport Fish Steering WheelThe classic sport fish steering wheel with knob can tilt well up for standing operation.

Most people will step onboard from the dock to the starboard side swim platform but if you are stepping in from a higher pier, there is a fold out step on the starboard side to help you into the boat. It’s really smart! You can just hold the hardtop and step in fairly easily. Also, in the interior hull sides is storage for three fishing rods per side for a total of six. There are rod holders in the gunwales and with the optional hardtop, you get two rod holders per side.

Companion Side Accommodations
The companion side seating is generous and might seat two side-by-side facing forward. Behind that is an aft-facing seat that has storage inside and this seat slides out to make a sun lounge, or pushes in to clear more cockpit space for fishing. An appreciated touch is the spring-loaded plexiglass place to hold a notebook or similar items when running and there are three spots for loose items there as well as a stainless-steel grab bar.

For all day comfort, our test boat was equipped with an enclosed head that includes the MSD, mirror, towel rack and ventilation port. It’s big enough to be comfortable and also offers handy storage space. The door is a large section of the port side console. While we are seeing a lot of centre console boats on the market these days, the Freedom 235 Dual Console offers a lot of comfort from wind and weather and we see that as a great design for Canadian use.

The Transom LidThe transom top includes a live well with gasketed lid, a pop up ski pylon, drink holders and a second well that you can use for cold drinks.

There’s a picnic table option to mount in the bow space or in the cockpit. Another option for fishermen and day trippers is the starboard side sink and bait prep station although our test boat did not have this feature.

Bow
The bow seating area has good depth for a secure feeling, inboard mounted hand rails and there’s a mount for the table. The seat lids are gasketed and equipped with gas struts to stay open while you get things out. There is an anchor locker and drink holders of course.

Helm
Great Grady-White flip-up bolster seat is also equipped with fold up armrests and it adjusts for reach as well as height. The helm is equipped with a tilt steering wheel and it is a stainless-steel type with a sport knob like you see on so many serious fishing boats. The test boat had Lenco lighted trim tabs that help keep the boat on plane at lower speeds and these can level it in a side wind. There is a nicely laid-out switch panel, a drink holder and storage in the side panel. There’s also a secret drawer at the helm for little valuables like your wallet; another nice touch.

There are power points on port and starboard for charging your devices. The Ritchie compass is dead ahead of the wheel where it should be and there is a Fusion stereo remote control at the helm while the main system is located on the companion side.

We should mention that the test boat had the optional blue hull colour which we thought was very attractive and the hull colour is continued on the underside of the hard top. This looks great and it reduces glare on a sunny day as well, compared to a white underside. The hardtop had four overhead lights and an overhead PFD storage mesh bag too. The hardtop is not necessary, but we really like it.

To go with that, our test boat had the full factory canvas package which fits beautifully and shows the expected high quality that Grady-White is known for.

Performance
Grady-White specifies the Freedom 235 Dual Console with the Yamaha F 300 outboard engine, Yamaha Command Link controls and SeaStar steering. The Yamaha idles silently and seems silky smooth at all speeds. We found that the boat planes off at about 3,400 RPM and 18 miles per hour but 27.9 at 3,600 RPM which is the optimum cruising speed.

Acceleration to planning speed times at about six seconds and there is plenty of power for towed sports or planning off a group of passengers. Out in the bay, we found it heels over hard and turns well at speed. The ride is tops – very solid and a great boat for Georgian Bay or the Great Lakes as well as saltwater use.

My associate Jill Snider from Canadian Yachting and Ports-The Cruising Guides joined me for test day, and she wrote a sneak peek that appeared in the Canadian Yachting OnBoard newsletters last summer. Jill wrote, “If I were required to compare Grady-White’s Freedom 235 Dual Console to an animal, I would tell you that she has the character of a Labrador Retriever. Here are a few reasons why:

She is friendly and doesn’t mind being around people. The Freedom 235 can handle up to ten passengers at once and everyone is comfortable with her. The adjustable, rear-facing lounge seat is a very comfortable accompaniment to the many cozy seating options. She is a “People Pleaser”. She is very adaptable. She will play when you want to play, whether that is fishing, skiing, wakeboarding, tubing, gunk-holing, anchoring or entertaining. This user-friendly boat is designed to offer the cross-functionality that boat owners so often seek in a day vessel. She is an A-Class Companion. She will always make you look good and she is built to do so with every attention to classic Grady-White detail. With so many great characteristics wrapped into one well thought-out boat, it is clear to me, that the Grady-While Freedom 235 Dual Console can be a best friend – just like a Labrador Retriever.

SPECIFICATIONS

Engine: Yamaha F-300 Four-Stroke, 300 HP, 4.2L V-6 engine, 254.4 ci, with DOHC 24 valve layout and variable camshaft timing. Multi-point electronic fuel injection. Propeller:
15 1/2 X 17 SWS II SDS

RPM MPH
1,000 5.4
1,500 7.3
2,000 8.7
2,500 10.3
3,000 15.2
3,500 26.4
3,600 27.9
4,000 31.7
4,500 36.7
5,000 40.8
5,500 44.7
5,800 46.4

Specifications
Center Line Length w/o Engine: 23'7" (7.18 m)
LOA w/Swim Platforms: 25'7" (7.80 m)
Beam: 8'6" (2.59 m)
Transom Deadrise: 20 degrees (SeaV2® progression)
Maximum HP: 300 (224 kW)
Fuel Capacity – Standard: 115 gal (435 l)
Passenger Capacity: 10
Weight w/o Engine: 4050 lb. (1837 kg)
Weight as Tested: 6040 lb. (including persons, fuel, water, gear, engines & accessories)
Price: Base about $125,000 USD

Test boat and price provided by: Desmasdon’s Boat Works, https://www.desmasdons.com

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