Believe it or not, some people want a family runabout, but not one that looks "Euro-styled". Hey, it takes all kinds! Grady-White has the perfect answer: the salty-looking Freedom 255 dual console. It's a bowrider with a lot of room in the cockpit for cruising with friends. And, since it is from Grady-White, if one wants to fish from it now and then, they can do it without looking foolish.
- Anchor locker
- 80 quart port bow storage area
- 165-quart insulated box, storage area
- Lockable enclosed head area with bulk storage
- Flush mount electronics area
- 60 sq. ft. cockpit
- 135-gal. fuel capacity
- Helm seating with optional electromechanically operated seat
- Wet bar with sink, storage and optional grill
- Integrated outboard mounting area with swim platform and ladder
|Length Overall||24' 9'' / 7.54 m|
2.34 m with hardtop
Currently no test numbers
2 x 150-hp Yamaha F150
1 x 350-hp Yamaha F350
1 x 300-hp Yamaha F300
1 x 250-hp Yamaha F250
There are a lot of traditional boaters who prefer the salty look of a rugged sportsfishing boat to that of a typical sportboat produced by one of the traditional runabout builders. These folks feel more comfortable in a boat that looks like it was born and bred for saltwater, rather than one built for small inland lakes and rivers. Fishing boats just look more nautical to a lot of people and so they prefer them even though they use them exactly the same way many people use a conventional runabout like, say, a Sea Ray.
Grady-White discovered this phenomenon decades ago and always had a couple of boats in its line that fit the bill as family bowriders, but were never overtly marketed as such. It was Grady-White's little secret. Salesmen for competitive brands would snicker at these models because they weren't quite fishy enough, but in fact they were always good sellers because there are a lot of people out there who wanted the fishboat look, and the sea-keeping abilities of a Grady-White, without all of the fishing paraphernalia and added expense.
Historically, Midwesterners are not particularly fond of center consoles, so Grady-White's dealers are concentrated on the U.S. saltwater coastlines, and that's where Grady-White found these customers who didn't want a conventional runabout with Euro styling. The more Grady-White marketed its boats as rugged offshore fishermen, the more these non-fishing cruising folks liked the boat.
A number of years ago Grady-White quietly came out of the closet and created the Freedom line of boats. They were based on the same hulls as the tournament Series, but they were designed for general family cruising activities. and as good all-around utility boats for nearly anything.
The Grady-White Freedom 255 DC is intended to be a versatile, trailerable boat that can operate in the kind of choppy conditions one often finds in bigger bodies of water such as Pamlico Sound, the Chesapeake, Tampa Bay, Long Island Sound, and even in the ocean on the right kind of day. And the fact that G-W boats have a good reputation as being seaworthy offshore makes the Freedom series all the more compelling for the target customer.
The major feature of the Freedom 255 is its SeaV2 hull designed by Ray Hunt and Associates, with its distinctive sheer line that was made famous by the Rybovich brothers over 50 years ago in custom gold-plated battlewagons. We think it was brilliant for Grady-White to copy that look in a small serious fishing boat. Now everyone no matter what the size of his purse could have a little bit of that Rybovich look. This is a styling and design characteristic that Grady-White has had for years and it has always set them apart from most everything else on the water in its class.
A little Carolina bow flare helps keep any boat dry, even this 25-footer.
Standard features on the boat include a portable head in a compartment in the port console, stainless steel thru-hull fittings, a freshwater shower, hydraulic trim tabs with indicator and retractor, hydraulic tilt steering, gunwale bolsters, a 104-quart fish box aft and an 80-quart one forward. The Freedom 255 also has "Basic Flotation" which means if the boat is swamped some part of it will float -- this usually means the bow.
Options to Consider
If it were our family runabout we would go for the optional bow table, hardtop, marine head, stereo with MP3 player, canvas package and a ski pylon -- and a colored hull! Not that we are tired of the famous Grady-White creamy-colored hull that has been around for 50 years, but we'd just like some color because we think it makes any boat look better. Grady-White's optional colors are: Sea Foam Green, Sky Blue, Slate Blue, and Sunlight Yellow. (Note there is no fire-engine red!)
Power and Performance
Grady-White doesn't list any power as standard, only 350-hp as the maximum. The builder has been a partner of Yamaha since the days when Ham Hamberger barnstormed around the country lining up builders for Yamaha in the early 1980s. Grady-White was one of the first to sign on and is in a large measure responsible for helping Yamaha build its hegemony among saltwater boaters. The company recommends twin 150s, a single 300 or 350, take your pick.
On its website Grady-White publishes some performance numbers in what it describes as "Optimum Conditions." It doesn't say who did the testing. It wasn't us. According to the website, powered by a 300-hp Yamaha outboard with a total load of 6,912 lbs. (3,242.8 kgs.), including boat, engine, crew, water, fuel and gear, the boat had a WOT of 43.5 mph at 6100 rpm. It states that the best cruise was at 4000 rpm, 25.1 mph and 2.37 mpg.
Pros and Cons
First the Cons.
Glastron, Larson, Four Winns and the rest of the traditional sportboat builders need not lose any sleep over Grady-White's family-oriented push. The Freedom line still has one foot firmly planted in fishing, and the other dangling somewhere over the side with its toe only slightly in the water. While Grady-White does offer a skiing pylon as optional equipment, that is about as far as it goes to accommodate the skiing, wake boarding and tubing boaters.
There are no centerline lockers long enough for skis, and no towing arch is offered as an option for wake boarding. Further, Grady-White knows that scuba diving is best done from boats, yet we find no scuba racks on the options list, nor does its perfunctory swim platform with three-step ladder lend itself to a person loaded with scuba gear climbing back aboard. There is no side-opening door on the options list.
What is on the options list are fishy things, like a 26 gallon livewell, macerator, and outrigger kit. That makes sense because that is Grady-White's heritage, but as everyone knows fishing isn't exactly the hottest ticket in boating these days.
Finally, there is the matter of price. Grady-White's are not cheap in any sense of the word. But this has a benefit as one will see below.
Now for the Pros.
Grady-White is one of the best-run companies in the business and it has a sterling reputation for integrity. That means if something catastrophic happens to your boat that is due to material or workmanship you will be dealing with people who care about your problem being properly handled without finger pointing or shirking responsibility -- and that means even after the warranty runs out. These sorts of problems are least likely to happen with conscientious, experienced builders like Grady-White, but now and then they do happen even to the best of builders, and Grady-White has a reputation of putting things to rights.
Second, the Freedom 255 has a Sea V2 hull design which is comfortable and strong. The boat was designed to go offshore and be driven by hell-bent-for-leather anglers who want to get to the canyons as fast as possible. Thirdly, because Grady-White uses "best practices" in its construction, the systems installations are among the best in the industry.
We like the company's decision to introduce colors into its hulls. That together with the other options, such as an electric grill and an electric helm seat, give some sizzle to what is otherwise a fairly staid boat.
Grady-White also believes in keeping its boats as simple as possible. It has never been big on gimcracks because in the saltwater environment complicated things easily go wrong. Because the Freedom 255 is an outboard boat and not a sterndrive like most sportboats on the market, there are fewer thru-hulls in the bottom of the boat and therefore less chance for gremlins to cause mischief.
Designed for Americans.
Like most all Grady-Whites, the Freedom 255 was designed for Americans - that means it was intended for big men to stand and sit at the helm, get through the walkthrough to the bow, and sit on the other seats in the boat. The only exception to this is the headroom, a bit tight in the console head, but manageable.
Holding Relative Value.
Grady-White has long been one of the most prestigious brands in this size and type. Even though in the last few years more companies have gained a foothold on the hallowed ground at the top of the reputation mountain, staying there is not easy. There is only one other brand (Boston Whaler) which has shown over the last several decades that it has the staying power of Grady-White. Typically strong brands like that hold their value better, which means while you paid more to buy the boat, you should also get more for it when you sell, provided the brand didn't slide off the hill in the meantime.
Finally, on the subject of re-sale value, Grady-White has long had a policy of selling its boats to all dealers for the same price no matter how many units they order. That means that people who buy from a large volume dealer will be paying about the same as those buying from a small volume dealer. This policy is virtually unique in the boating industry and prevents a wide discrepancy in used boat prices as there often is with other brands.