I think it is a pretty solid boat. If you have that jing; curious if you've looked at the Pursuit 385 offshore. I really like that boat. There are a few things that I prefer on the Grady but same can be said of the Pursuit.
The things that I'd like to see addressed with the Grady.
- Wood coring on older boats transom and stringers. If new, no issue. I thought the 33 and 36 always had composite stringers but there is wood in the transom.
- Wood coring on the decks, beam (balsa coring) and other areas. Not sure about new boats, but all the older boats had this. Just a non-starter today. Go to the THT and search how an Onslow Bay Boat is built. That is what GW should be doing. 100% composite.
- Transom. While ok, the methods are just not top tier in my book. I don't like the cap and white plastic pieces installed with screws along the back. Water is all over this area and it is a way for water to get into the transom. Using fairing compound to seal is just wrong - saw this on 2 factory tours (2002 and 2007 may have changed since). Use a proper bonding agent like Plexus (see Onslow) and glass the transom. If worried about the engine interfering with glass when mounting and the need for a bang plate, bond a piece (no screws).
- Where you are drilling through the coring below or even above the water line (the rear well scuppers come to mine), over drill, fill with a plastic/glass or other material suited for water applications and re-drill the smaller hole in the material. Pay extra attention to water intrusion and ensure there is no way for water to get into the coring (no matter what it is).
- Hull to liner joint. Instead of some wet glass and fairing compound and then relying on the rub rail blind side fastners (yes there is some thru bolting within the boat too) to hold them together, look at Onslow again. Their boats are fully bonded with Plexus that is stronger than the glass.
- Lids, Hardtops. There are complaints about these chipping on the edges. Fairing compound is used in the Resin Transfer Molds (RTM) as getting glass and resin in the edges is tough. The problem is this water penetration and then cracking and chipping (especially in cold weather places). If you cover the boat (shrink or store inside during layup) and keep the moisture out, you have better luck but honestly this is a subpar way to build. There should be zero fairing compound (bondo) in boat building in my opinion.
- Layout options. The center helm is a non-starter for some (me being one). It is too tight and I feel just too much going on - like the designer tried to fit 10lbs in a 8lb bag. I like the Pursuit OS helm. Let me know what you think when you see it. It doesn't feel like a bunch of small fold away seats made for tiny people. You can pass thru the helm with ease and it just doesn't feel as cramped. Go see both layouts at a boat show when busy and there are a lot of people on the boats . You will see what I'm talking about. May not bother you, does me. I'd like to see a right helm in addition to center helm offered across the line if they could. I think it would out sell the center once people see and live in it.
- DCs. Just not a fan and I think Grady is spending too much time and effort on them at the expense of other configurations. They are selling so I get it - make hay when the sun shines. When ready to get a new boat, I'll be looking around at other manufacturers. Again - just my preference and you can't satisfy everyone.
The molded windshield of the Pursuit just looks great. GW making strides in this area as well. That being said the Pursuit is just nicer.
Tilted helm and ability to get behind the wheel and at wiring. Wiring layout is superior from a layout and staking perspective. Grady wiring has always been sketchy, getting better where you can see - not so much if you look hard.
I believe Pursuit uses 100% tinned wire. Not sure about GW, but I think not. Just a better wire selection for the environment and much better reliability over the years for intermittents and corrosion resistance.
The things that I think are equal.
Cabins are a equal in my book. I like the layout of the GW. Vbirth area goes to GW, aft and ease of access to Pursuit. Head and galley are a toss up but I think the admiral will like the Pursuit.
Power. Both use Yamaha.
Use case. Almost identical. If you want that type of boat, both should do the trick.
The things I believe are better on the Grady.
- Customer service is second to none. Hands down. Grady works with their owners to get things right. Everyone makes mistakes from time to time. GW exhibits extreme ownership in this area,
- Proven design. Grady can be slow to change but I believe that is because they are balancing risk conservatively. Any change will be proven before being introduced. I don't want a boat builder or any builder of an expensive item taking chances. I like that.
- Solid materials. Glecoat, glass, SS, Aluminum, railings, hardtop pieces really are as good as you can get on a production boat.
- Transom door. Big win to Grady on this one. The Pursuit is just lacking.
- Aft seat design. The Pursuit has metal pieces on the sides and top exposed. Every time I get on the boat I just think of an unstable situation (wave or quick maneuver and a kids face hitting the metal). Maybe just me but I've had 4 kids grow up on 2 Gradys and I like their attention to detail, padding, toe rails, high gunnel, plain object free cockpits and generally attention to safety in the cockpit.
- Gunnel height and padding. As I recall, Grady is better. I don't like a low gunnel on a boat. My preference, maybe not others. I don't want kids, women or rookies going overboard.
- Bow railing. Pursuit is good, Grady is a bit better. Again, I like the safety aspect. I know some people don't like rail look, but I'll take it all day due to the safety margin. I also like that Grady pieces sections. If you do bang or break it, you can fix it. Ever have to have a welded bow rail replaced - worse shipped? Not cheap.
- Overboard drain. The Pursuit requires a macerator for the fish boxes. I like the GW design better.
One thing I dislike on both is the difficulty to get to the bow quickly. You can come through a hatch or go around on the outside of the beam. It is a tradeoff for a larger cabin. I like the feature of a walk to get up there but you do loose cabin space. Could there ever be a 1/2 walk - probably just another compromise that I'll complain about later.
I have owned 25 and 30 ft Gradys and a 28' Pursuit. While the Pursuit fit and finish and electrical work were great I couldn't stand the ride. My first priority is how a boat takes the seas and handles. I found the Grady superior here. It was a surprise as I was told the Pursuit is a great riding boat. Maybe the 28 (no longer manufactured) was an exception.
Interesting, have not ridden in the OS385 Pursuit just examined at the boat shows. I thought the ride in a 282 Salifish was very good. When I move to the 300 Marlin it was like another level. The 30 foot boat felt like a yacht on the water.