Grady-White 360 Express
MAY 2005
Length overall  39'7"
Beam 13'7"
Draft  29' (drive down)
Displacement  14,550 lb
Fuel Capacity  370 gals
Water Capacity  65 gals
Price as Tested  $387,125

The cabin is quite roomy, thanks in part to the lack of an inboard engine room, and the designers have used the space well.

Grady-White, the venerable fishing boat manufacturer based in Greenville, N.C., has just launched the biggest boat in their 46-year history. And it's said to be the largest production outboard boat ever built. It's the Express 360, powered by triple 250-hp V-6 four-stroke Yamaha outboards. The result is a fast, nimble, fuel-efficient fishing machine with an amazing amount of room in the cabin.

Joey Weller, one of the nicest guys in this or any other industry, took me for a quick test run at the Miami boat show. The 96-square-foot cockpit features thigh-high bolsters all around. The transom has a 269-quart refrigerator/freezer fishbox. Another 55-quart refrigerator/ freezer fishbox is controlled by a separate digital thermostat.

The aft-facing seat on the port side has a cooler underneath. There's a bait prep station on the starboard side featuring a deep sink and a 48-gallon circulating bait well. A hatch in the sole under the fold-down transom bench hides the standard generator.

The helm deck is two steps up from the cockpit. The hard top has rod storage mounted on the ceiling. There are settees on either side of the custom Pompanette helm chair. The helm features a flip-up dash that protects the electronics. There's room for two 10-inch chartplotter screens. The Yamaha engine control systems line a separate dash above.

All three engines are controlled with dual shifter/throttles. The controls are silky-smooth, there's no clunking when shifting from forward to reverse. Here's how it works: at trolling speed, you're only using the middle engine. When spinning with one engine in forward, another in reverse, the middle engine automatically goes into neutral. Or you can manually select any combination with switches on the dash. Otherwise, the middle engine syncs with the port engine.

Down below, it's one large cabin with nearly seven feet of headroom. The absence of an inboard engine room, combined with the wide, 13-foot beam, allows for a lot of interior volume, and they've used the space well.

The galley is fully functional and features one neat custom touch: The refrigerator and freezer are in separate drawers, and the freezer drawer has an automatic icemaker. This is a real space saver. No more stooping and groping to find items in the back of a tiny apartment-size refrigerator stuck underneath the countertop. The solid teak dinette table seats four and converts to a small double berth.

The V-berth is separated from the cabin by a privacy curtain. There's a queen berth amidships tucked underneath the raised helm deck. The enclosed head is truly enormous. Performance is spectacular. The hull, designed by C. Raymond Hunt & Associates, comes right up out of the hole with very little bow rise. Turns are astonishingly tight and smooth. This is a big boat that behaves like a really slick runabout. We clocked a top speed of 37.6 knots at 6000 rpm, and an economical cruising speed of 25 knots at 4500 rpm. With this kind of performance the bow thruster seems superfluous, but it's standard equipment, as is everything else in this remarkable boat except for the outriggers and satellite radio.