There are few names in the marine industry that carry the prestige of Grady White.
They have been built in Greenville, NC since 1959, and their status is legendary.
Practically, just how good and reliable are their boats?
Here’s How Good Grady White Boats Are:
From the first models that rolled out of their assembly plant, Grady White has had a reputation for superior quality. From construction methods to attention to detail to durability in the worst of offshore conditions, they have earned a reputation that few can match.
A Brief History of Grady White Boats
The company was founded in 1959 by Glenn Grady and Don White to build wooden boats in the coastal Carolina tradition, using local craftsmen.
The emphasis on quality, over-built, and beautiful construction combined with top-notch performance built their reputation right from the earliest years.
By 1968, the company started to lag behind the industry as it switched over to newer fiberglass construction, and it was purchased by Eddie Smith and his father. Eddie brought in new people for the switch to new manufacturing materials and methods and improved the sales and distribution system.
With the rise of sportfishing, Grady White’s reputation was reestablished and cemented as they targeted that sector of the industry.
They incorporated their own experiences and those of their dealers and customers as they continuously improved their boats.
In 1989 Grady White introduced the Marlin 28 and the SeaV2 hull, revolutionizing the design of offshore boats. demand grew, and the company could have expanded to meet it, but instead stayed at their current size so as not to compromise quality.
In 1993, Eddie Smith hired Kris Carroll as president of the company; she had been with them since 1975. She was the first woman to hold that position in the industry.
Since then, the company has continued to innovate and remains at the forefront of quality design, construction, and service. They are among the most expensive boats being made, but they have earned the reputation for being worth it.
How Reliable Are Grady White Boats?
Few manufacturers can match the reliability of a Grady White boat.
Glowing and enthusiastic testimonials are all over the internet. There is an extensive network of support, both from the company and several other, non-official owners’ groups.
The company has won the National Marine Manufacturers Association Customer Satisfaction Index award 18 consecutive times.
The reliability – and high price tag – comes from a number of factors: superior laminates, better hardware, quality foam flotation, wiring and electronics, and the experience to put it all together.
In the 1980s, Grady White developed a dedicated customer satisfaction support team, integrating owner experience with their design engineering. This partnership has built upon their already existing reliability.
How Durable Are Grady White Boats?
In each of the eight JD Power and Associates marine Studies done, Grady White has received their number 1 ranking.
Various factors go into this designation, but the SeaV2 hull design and construction are at the top of the list.
The fact is that Grady White boats are among the most durable on the market. Their construction methods have always been among the best, and they have been continuously improved through feedback and research.
Wood was used in the hull construction up until 2012; from that point on, it was entirely fiberglass. This eliminated the last part of the core that could rot if water got into it.
But even with the wood coring, the meticulous construction process of the hulls gave them unmatched durability. The wood was well-protected between layers of fiberglass and has rarely been an issue.
What About Older Grady White Boats?
There are not many of the oldest models of Grady White on the water now.
This is not a factor of the quality, but the wooden construction. Wooden boats need constant and greater upkeep than fiberglass boats.
You can still find some that fave been preserved or restored, or sitting in museums. These are true works of art.
After the switch to fiberglass construction, though, the durability increased, and it is not uncommon to find Grady Whites from the 1970s on the water still.
As always, you will find some complaints. This mostly centers around older hulls developing cracks, or even in isolated cases, delamination of the fiberglass. This is less common than other brands of boats, however.
As a general rule of thumb, you can expect production fiberglass hulls to develop some problems, such as cracks, after 10-15 years, even if well-maintained.
It is common to see Grady White owners who state that their 30-year-old hulls are still pristine.
Do They Still Make Parts For Older Models?
Parts for recent Grady White boats are easy to find, both from the dealers and several online boating supply companies.
Parts for older models may be more difficult to come by. As older models ceased being produced, if the parts were not incorporated into newer models, they were no longer made, either.
Most parts made for Grady Whites before 2,000 are no longer being made.
If you are looking for parts that are no longer being manufactured, you have a few choices.
The best is to contact a dealer. They can have a supply of parts, either leftover from earlier models or salvaged boats. They can also contact other dealers or the company directly to see if such parts exist in the company anywhere.
You can also try the various owner support groups, both official and unofficial. Many owners willing to help others, and a few also accumulate out-of-production parts to supply those in need.
A few manufacturers still make marine hardware consistent with parts from older Grady Whites, like PERKO Inc.
Finally, you can try searching marina stores and boatyards, particularly older ones.
These places almost inevitably pick up an array of oddball parts, and an old marina on a creek in North Carolina may have just the part you need sitting in their machine shop.
What Are Typical Problems With Grady White Boats?
There are few typical problems associated with the Grady White line, and certainly fewer than other manufacturers experience.
One of the most notable problems occurred in the early 1980s when a bad resin supply caused problems with secondary bonding, and some hulls began to delaminate.
Production was halted for three months as the problem was sorted out, and all of those hulls were replaced.
For an examination of other problems with Grady Whites, check out our article: 4 Most-Common Problems With Grady White Boats
How Long Do Grady White Boats Last Compared To Similar Brands?
Compared to similar brands, Grady White boats have unrivaled longevity.
This of course assumes that a boat has been taken care of over its life; negligence will destroy any boat, regardless of quality.
If you are looking at a used Grady White (or any used boat) pay attention to how it has been taken care of.
That aside, though, you can be assured that a 20-year-old Grady White will be in better condition than most other brands of a similar vintage.
The sheer number of older models still on the water is a testament to this.
Do Grady White Boats Hold Their Value?
Grady White boats are expensive, among some of the priciest in the industry. If you invest in one, even a used one, you want the value to hold.
Grady Whites hold their value very well, particularly in comparison to other, similar manufacturers of quality boats, such as Boston Whaler. Depreciation is inevitable, but not every brand is equal here.
As an example, several Grady White boats made in 2014 were examined in 2019 to calculate their depreciation rate. This rate was determined to be 28%.
A 375 Freedom with a base price of $625,300 would have an average resale price of $453,400. This 28% rate was consistent with the other Grady White models studied.
By contrast, a 2014 Boston Whaler Outrage selling for $445,700 had an average resale value of $300,000; a depreciation rate of 33%. Other Boston Whaler models studied were in the 34% range.
A 28% rate of depreciation is one of the best in the industry.
Are Grady White Boats Still Being Made?
Grady White boats are still being made in Greenville, North Carolina.
They make 10 models of center consoles which range from the 18-foot Fisherman 180 to the 45-foot canyon 456.
They also manufacture 9 different dual consoles. The smallest is the 21-foot Freedom 215, and the largest is the well-known 37-foot freedom 375.
Finally, they make two cabin cruisers, the Express 330 and the Express 370, in addition to a 25-f00t shallow water fishing vessel, the Coastal Explorer 251.
Grady White has received every available accolade in the marine industry as they enter their seventh decade of existence.
Their niche as high-end offshore sport, fisher, and excursion yachts is firmly established and well-earned.
Considering their quality design and construction, and owner relationships, they are great boats of the highest reliability.