Grady-White Chase 273
MARCH 2002
Length overall  26'11"
Beam  8'6"
Hull Draft  15'
Displacement  3,975 lb
Fuel Capacity 750 gals
Standard power  Twin Yamaha 225hp outboard engine
Price  $93,420

(Above) The dash on the center console lifts up with the flick of a switch to reveal electronic displays. (Below) The comfortable bench across the transom folds down completely out of the way, and the back rest serves as the bolster for fishing off the stern.

Mid-winter might not be the ideal time for a boat ride in the Atlantic off the Maryland shore, but when Steve George took me out the Ocean City inlet on his new Chase 273 from Grady-White, we were almost having too much fun to come back inside. Steve's the owner of Boat Doctor Marine there in Ocean City, and he was eager to show me what the center-console boat could do with a pair of new Yamaha 225-HP four-stroke outboards.

Fortunately, it was a crystalline day, with little wind to kick up the swells against the tide rushing out through the inlet. The loop-de-loop tracks of the amusement park at the southern tip of Ocean City gleamed in the sunlight, looking like sculptures of giant seashells. To the south, the deserted northern tip of Assateague Island made a stark contrast with its neat rock jetties and wild dunes. We passed a lone fisherman heading out and a towboat dragging a sad-looking rusted barge back in, and then with the push of the throttle levers, left it all quickly behind.

The Yamaha F225's had started quietly and smokelessly at the ramp, then literally purred as we headed out. But the quiet ride belies the power. They brought the hull swiftly up on plane and with seemingly little effort we were running at the optimal cruise speed of 26 mph at 3500 rpm. But it's the acceleration from there that's truly remarkable. Once out in the open, half a mile off the fishing pier, I pushed it up to wide-open throttle and in a flash, we were going just over 45 mph at about 5500 rpm. Factory tests indicate a top speed of 50.9 mph at 6000 rpm. The F225's compact and lightweight 60-degree V block sports a 24-valve double-overhead cam and through-the-prop exhaust for maximum torque, and they burn so clean, they exceed the Federal EPA 2006 emission requirements. The digital Yamaha gauges on the dash read out the fuel consumption rates: 2.5 gallons per hour at trolling speed; a miserly 7.1 GPH at cruising speed; and 42.4 GPH at wide-open throttle.

Grady-White's unique hull adds to the performance, with its deep, sharp entry for cutting through the waves and a deadrise that flattens out as it runs aft for greater stability. The hard chines and the flare of the bow keep the ride surprisingly dry.

Steve George likes to show off the details that make Grady-Whites so fisherman-friendly: the trim tabs are recessed flush against the hull so they won't snag lines; the toe rails inside the cockpit give you hands-free stability whether you're trolling, fighting or landing; the fish boxes are all above deck with overboard drains so there are no gaping cavities in the sole to trip into in the excitement of the catch; the rod storage under the gunwales keep up to twelve rods and reels safely and neatly locked away; and at the helm, the electronics console rises up from the dash with the push of a button, keeping all that valuable gear safe and out of sight when not in use and allowing you to adjust the angle of the screens to keep down the glare.

There's a deep anchor locker in the bow, and two 104-quart fish boxes under facing bench seats. This seating configuration is nice for passengers, but also lets you fish right off the bow with your feet firmly on deck. An insert makes the bow seats into one big sun lounge. Inside the console, there's room for a portable toilet and loads of storage. And the bench seat across the transom folds down, neatly out of the way.

The model we took out for a ride was equipped with an optional T-top, with its sturdy aluminum frames bolted through the cockpit sole. Even with the T-top, the bridge clearance is a mere 8' 3'. Radial Top Gun outriggers whiskered out of the top. The optional T-Top and outriggers add just under $9,000 to the base price.

It's easy to see why Grady-White won the 'Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Center Console Boats' category of J.D. Power and Associates 2001 Marine Quality and Performance Study.