Express 330 — By Capt. Patrick Sciacca
Two Days in a Washing Machine
|Grady-White's Express 330 takes on an agitated Outer Banks' inlet and tames some tumultuous seas.|
The Outer Banks of North Carolina is famous for rough inlets and heavy seas, and many boatbuilders' bluewater reputations are born here. The mention of Oregon Inlet can send a shiver down the spine of any boater who has been through it, even on a good day.
Regardless of where they live and what kind of boat they own, many boaters can recollect a couple of days on an ocean that pushed, pulled, dropped, and twisted their boat like it was inside a washing machine, causing them to wonder, "What's wrong with playing golf?" Yet I recently found out that it's possible to be comfortable fishing on a 33-footer with the infamous Outer Banks on spin cycle--cresting six-, eight-, and occasional 10-foot seas--as long as you're on a Grady-White Express 330.
It all started as I cruised down Route 64 to Ocracoke, North Carolina, with my fishing buddy and PMY's Mid-Atlantic Sales representative David "Doughnuts" McGee, who noted during our drive that the wind was southwest at 20 mph and had been that way for several days. As I looked at the stiff-as-a-board American flag flying by the roadside, I should have had a feeling that this was going to be a memorable trip.
Arriving at the marina, McGee and I met our other partners for this trip, Joey Weller, customer relations manager and media representative for Grady-White, Steve Camp, southeast regional sales representative for Grady-White, and Dave Neese, director of engineering for Grady-White. The plan was to fish between 30 and 40 miles offshore, and since our boat test was during an annual Grady-White rendezvous, I knew we were going out whatever the conditions.
On day one we left the serenity of Ocracoke harbor around 7:30 a.m., and as we turned toward the inlet, I saw two walls of white water to either side of the channel markers. Weller was at the wheel as the 330's standard twin 250-hp Yamaha outboards accelerated us to around 30 mph at 4000 rpm. (She would hit an average top speed of 41.9 mph at 5500 rpm during speed trials later in the day on the bay.)
Weller threaded the 330 through the markers as six-foot-plus head seas rolled toward us. I was impressed that I could sit on the port-side benchseat next to the center helm station in these conditions, and McGee, sitting on the starboard seat, actually seemed to be enjoying the ride.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.