Boat Review by: Richard Crowder
In 1959, Glen Grady and Don White began building small, tough, high quality wooden boats for coastal boating. Eddie Smith, Jr. purchased Grady-White in 1968, completed the changeover to fibreglass production, and today is Chairman and CEO. “Our company's only focus is offshore sportfishing boats. We are fiercely dedicated to safety, performance and dependability with a fervor that simply can't be matched by a subsidiary of a conglomerate.”
“Grady-White boats are products of a unique combination of North Carolina's saltwater heritage, a culture of long-term private ownership, a dedication to safety, and a keen knowledge of sportfishing gained over years of experience. Since 1989, the leading edge naval architectural firm of C. Raymond Hunt Associates has designed Grady-White running bottoms and advised us on structure and materials. Today, all Grady-Whites have Hunt hulls and Hunt is associated exclusively with Grady-White in our product category. SeaV2® hulls are designed exclusively for Grady-White by C. Raymond Hunt Associates, the originators of the modified vee.”
For 2013, Grady-White Boats of Greenville, North Carolina, just inland from the Atlantic ocean’s famous and potentially treacherous Cape Hatteras, offers twenty-seven models of Center Consoles, Dual Consoles, Walkaround Cabins, and Express Cabin boats from eighteen to thirty-six feet. The Chesapeake 290 subject of this review is the second largest of six Walkaround Cabin models from twenty to thirty feet. What is interesting is that Grady-White built its first walkaround model thirty-eight years ago in 1975, the Hatteras 204-C Overnighter.
At 28’6” centerline length (29’9” LOA with bow roller) on an almost ten-foot beam, this mid-cabin offshore cruising/fishing machine has a lot to offer. In fact, so much is standard equipment that, for a boat of this size and type, the option list is quite short. The roomy self-draining cockpit provides amenities for both intended purposes of the Chesapeake 290 – fishing and cruising.
A small integrated stern platform area with folding, telescoping boarding ladder beside the standard twin Yamaha F250 4-stroke outboards provides immediate water and motor access. A short step up and through a starboard side transom door leads into the cockpit. A 265-quart insulated fishbox and a storage box are both located within the transom and accessed from the top. A fold-away cushioned aft bench seat neatly forms the front of the transom and an area behind this seat within the transom is reserved for installation of the optional 4-kw diesel generator set.
The forward port side of this lower cockpit area contains a 35-gallon insulated and illuminated livewell, while on the starboard side opposite this is a second 132-quart insulated fishbox. Both of these are provided with removable cushions for aft-facing cockpit seating. Up a step to the upper forward cockpit area underneath the standard hardtop finds a pair of Deluxe II horizontally adjustable helm and companion chairs. Lockable storage is provided under the helm chair and two tackle drawers under the companion chair.
The hardtop features a radio box, storage nets, spreader lights, rod holders, and outrigger plates. Full canvas enclosure including front, side, and aft drop curtains in navy or ivory are standard equipment. Other standard items in the cockpit include surrounding bolsters, a transom freshwater shower, six horizontal rod storage racks, raw water washdown, and dockside power with galvanic isolator. The three-tiered helm layout has the Yamaha digital engine instrumentation along the top with dc rocker switches and the binnacle motor controls on the lower level along with the stainless steel steering wheel. Hydraulic trim tabs with indicators are standard. This reserves the large, flat center portion of the dash for a couple of large-screen electronic components. The ventilated tempered glass windshield has twin wipers with a freshwater washer on the starboard side.
A lockable bi-fold door with screen leads down onto the teak and holly sole of the cabin. To port is the galley with Corian® countertop, sink, microwave, electric glass top stove, refrigerator, plus storage cabinets and shelves. To starboard is the enclosed head compartment with mirror, sink, integrated shower, and manual marine toilet with holding tank. Forward is a circular cherry table serving the convertible dinette / V-berth with storage areas. Aft and below the raised helm area is the mid-cabin with double berth. Hot water is standard and the cabin has two opening, screened, and curtained side windows. A forward opening, screened deck hatch adds additional ventilation and natural lighting.
About the only factory options include cabin air conditioning, anchor windlass, bow thruster, power steering, a 19” flatscreen TV/DVD player, a satellite-ready stereo system with MP3 port, amplifier, and six speakers, port and starboard side-mount cockpit seating, helm and companion chair upgrades to Deluxe III with flip-up bolsters, electric marine head, an outrigger kit, extra rod holders, and a painted hull.
Add some electronics and ground tackle and your Chesapeake 290 Walkaround Cabin is ready to enjoy.
|Length:||28' 6"||8.69 m|
|Beam:||9' 11"||3.02 m|
|Dry weight:||7,650 lbs||3,470 kg|
|Fuel Capacity:||206 US gals||780 L|
|Base Engine / Drive:||Twin Yamaha F250 4-Stroke Outboards|