John page williams
The following review was written by John Page Williams, Editor-at-large, Chesapeake Bay Magazine. John, senior naturalist for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, has been a regular contributor to Chesapeake Bay Magazine for 30 years, specializing in environmental issues, nature, wildlife, fishing and boats. He has been testing new and used boats for the magazine's Time-Tested and New Boat News departments since 1998.
APRIL 2014
 
   
Length overall  24' 7"
Beam  8' 6"        
Draft  14"
Weight  3,550 lb
Fuel  78 gals
Max Power  300 hp 
Base Price  $96,720

The designers at Grady-White have debuted the first in a new series of center-consoles called Coastal Explorers—outboard-driven boats that can run shallow in tidal creeks but still handle open water seas safely and comfortably. Exploring implies travel, so the boats have several options for people to stand, lean or sit; storage for food and drink; and innovative, convertible storage and seating solutions. They also feature enclosed heads and are well equipped to fish both inshore and nearshore species.

The first in the new Coastal Explorer series is the 251 CE, a sweet-looking center-console with a classic Carolina raised sheer. Its SeaV2 hull is just deep enough for a stand-up head in the console. Fishing features include bow and stern casting decks, rod holders, two options for livewells, several insulated fishboxes and room for a flush-mounted 15-inch electronics display at the helm. For beaching, there’s a fold-down ladder hidden in the bow; for swimming, there’s another at the transom. The traveling amenities are ingenious. The bow deck converts into a double sun pad, with bolsters that pop up for seatbacks. The removable center section of the deck converts to an (optional) picnic table. Two leaning post options and folding seats in the stern deck complete the standard package. Grady-White handles features like the bow anchor locker and maintenance access with its usual attention to detail. Yamaha’s 300-hp Offshore four-stroke offers efficient cruising speeds from 20 to 30 mph, with a top speed in the upper 40s.

Base price for the 251 CE with engine is $96,720. Grady-White Boats, Greenville, N.C. 252-752-2111; www.gradywhite.com.