Marlin 300 — By Capt. Ken Kreisler —
Variation on a Theme
|Can one of boating’s most successful designs be improved on? Grady-White thinks so.|
What do you do when you’re at the top of your game and want to take it to the next level? Professional athletes spend more hours exercising and training, while accomplished musicians will practice for days on end. But if you’re a top-of-the-line boat manufacturer like Grady-White, you go back to your customers and see what you’ve done right and what you can improve. Then it’s back to the drawing boards, literally.
Case in point is the Marlin 300, the highly successful model that’s been in the Grady-White lineup since 1989. While I’d read about her redesign, I was skeptical until Joey Weller, Grady’s marketing manager, invited me out for a day of fishing aboard a new Marlin 300 and visiting the company’s new 46,000-square-foot plant in Greenville, North Carolina. Also along on the excursion was Jim Hardin, Grady’s compliance manager, and PMY’s Mid-Atlantic sales rep, Dave McGee.
When we arrived Weller suggested that a plant tour would be a good way to begin, and as we strolled through the cavernous facility, he explained that this new $6-million building would not only provide 450 employees with more space but with added plant features such as 35-foot ceilings, an evaporative-cooling system to better control the lamination process, a pair of overhead cranes, seven specially designed grinding booths, and a powerful air-filtration system. The bottom line, he told me, was higher quality and better consistency. I also noted that the plant’s size would allow Grady to build significantly larger boats than its flagship Express 330.
Then he launched into why and how the company decided to redesign the 300. “Why change something that’s already a proven and well-received design?” I asked Weller. His answer was simple: After polling current and past Marlin 300 owners and gathering data from forums held at boat shows and dealer meetings, as well looking at the success of the new 330, the conclusion was obvious. “It’s what our customers wanted,” Weller said.
But getting to that better boat meant leaving some things alone. The 300 still rides on the SeaV2 hull that Grady and C. Raymond Hunt Associates collaborated on and introduced back in 1989 as a solution to softening the ride of smaller fiberglass boats in rough water. (It was the 300 that first launched the SeaV2 hull, again at the behest of customer input.) The hull accomplishes this by providing a running surface where no two places have the same deadrise: It’s 20 degrees at the transom and 30 degrees amidships. Grady left the original sharp entry and was satisfied with the way the strakes and chines knocked down spray. In addition, SeaV2 has a series of sea-cutting wedges that “also provide buoyancy as the boat moves through or up and over waves,” says Weller. I’d fished a Marlin 300 several years back during a Grady outing at Hawks Cay in the Florida Keys. On that trip I noted excellent seakeeping in both calm seas (straight and true tracking) and rough seas (little or no pounding once the proper rpm and speed were attained). During my time on the new design, I noted minimal yawing or wallowing in the heaving seas we had for most of the day.
Grady-White also continues to hand-lay the hull and deck and fabricate the stringer system from marine plywood that is guaranteed not to rot for the life of the boat. The plywood is encapsulated in heavy woven fabric and closed-cell foam and glassed to the hull. There is also end-grain balsa coring above the waterline and, as with all Grady boats, basic foam flotation.
This article originally appeared in the February 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.