FAST, COMFORTABLE AND THRIFTY
Grady-White’s Express 360
By Warren Steptoe
This 36 foot Express from iconic American boat builder Grady-White is powered by twin 350hp Yamaha four stroke outboards and it presents a strong case for the powering boats this size with outboards. Fast, soft riding and fuel efficient, it’s a boat especially applicable to Gold Coast fishing. Yes; it’s a fair run to some of our best fishing grounds, including the edge of the Continental Shelf off the Seaway, and the prolific grounds to our north off North and South Stradbroke Islands.
A beautifully engineered boat with no compromise to absolute quality throughout, the Grady-White Express 360 is plenty fast enough for short travelling times to places like that, and equally as importantly, its hull design is more than capable of delivering a comfortable trip anytime the weather forecast makes offshore fishing a sensible proposition.
This is a very easy boat for people graduating up from smaller outboard powered boats to learn to operate, and its fuel efficiency must surely give the staunchest advocate of diesel power something to think about. The Express 360’s comfortable ride at sea is all to do with a patented hull design Grady-White call “SeaV2.” Essentially, this means a variable deadrise hull with a deadrise angle that continuously steepens from 20 degrees at the transom to around 30 degrees amidships - and keeps right on tucking in to a very fine entry point indeed at the bows!
Grady-White fits hydraulic trim tabs as standard to the Express 360, but on the day the Yamaha’s power trim was quite sufficient to adjust the hull’s attitude at different speeds and different approach angles towards travelling swells and surface chop. This particular boat was also fitted with one of Yamaha’s excellent twin binnacle engine controls, which allowed the outboard legs to be trimmed either simultaneously or separately at the literal touch of a switch.
Wide chines and full length strakes along the SeaV2 hull’s bottom add lift at speed and stability at rest and at lower (trolling) speeds, doing a good job of deflecting spray meanwhile.
Despite it being substantially bigger than a trailer boat this 4 metre beam 8 ½ tonne boat certainly handles like one. At any speed it could be tossed around like a boat half its size, and thanks to hydraulic power steering and those already mentioned throttle and gear controls, it required less input at the controls than many smaller boats.
As for the aforementioned performance and fuel efficiency, with the pair of Yamaha 350hp V8 outboards on its transom spinning standard factory fitted 15 inch pitch Yamaha Saltwater Series propellers, Grady-White claim a top speed of 38.5 knots at 5900 rpm. Respect for brand spanking new motors prevented us from running the test boat wide open, but the GPS was showing 32.5 knots at 4900 rpm; so those figures are quite believable.
Meanwhile, engine telemetry showed we were burning 148 litres/hr (32 gallons/hour for traditionalists.) At 4300 rpm we were still progressing at 27 knots and burning fuel at 112 litres/hr (24gph.) This is mightily impressive fuel consumption for a 36 foot bluewater sportfishing boat!
There are several power options to consider including the twin 5.3 litre 350hp Yamaha V8 outboards seen here, and either triple Yamaha 4.2 litre V6 300’s or triple V8 350’s. ANOTHER 350 hp; wow that’d be fun!!!
This boat’s enclosed hardtop is a factory option that was greatly appreciated on a chill winter morning. Outriggers and a set of underwater lights were the only other options fitted; the rest of the boat’s quite comprehensive inventory was all standard fitment.
The Grady-White Express 360’s cockpit has obviously been designed by people who fish for people who fish. An upholstered bolster runs around the entire cockpit periphery providing good support for the legs while fishing, once the transom lounge is folded down out of the way anyway.
Moving up onto the bridge, the deck here is considerably lower than a fly bridge would be, and I suspect quite a few of these boats might end up fitted with a low tower which, surprisingly, isn’t on the options list.
Stepping downstairs to port beside the helm into the cabin provides yet another pleasant surprise. The cabin is compact, as indeed a 36 footer’s cabin must be, but it’s far from cramped.
The galley is situated along the portside. It has Corian benchtops, a Kenyon twin ring ceramic cooktop and a convection grill/microwave oven set above a twin drawer type fridge/freezer.
In the bows a double vee style berth is plenty big enough for a couple, although it is an irregular shape. Back beneath the bridge deck the second double berth is also surprisingly roomy. Two couples could actually sleep aboard in some comfort.
Tasteful use of gloss finished cherry timberwork with teak and holly flooring gives the cabin interior a pleasant ambience, and in a neat touch, there’s an etched glass panel which provides a visual division between the bow berth and dinette.
Lastly, the (well ventilated) bathroom is once again surprisingly roomy for a boat this size. It includes a separate shower cubicle and a VacuFlush toilet.
The full range of Grady-White boats are distributed on the Gold Coast by Game and Leisure Boats at Runaway Bay.