The seeds of a boating life are sown early. Brian Torrance has been on the water for as long as he can remember. “I was on my father’s boat before I could walk,” the 60-year-old sales rep from Prince Frederick, Maryland, says.
That first boat was a 25-foot Lone Star aluminum cruiser, a late 1950s model. “It had twin 35-horsepower Evinrudes — the biggest engines he could find back then, if you can believe it,” Torrance says. “We spent weekends on it. He even took it down the ICW.”
As a teen, Torrance bought himself a 12-foot fishing boat. He later bought a 15-foot Mako center console that he fished for 15 years. The boat he has now — a 2003 Grady-White 270 Islander — might be the best of the bunch. “This is the biggest boat I’ve owned,” Torrance says. “I wanted a boat that could do just about anything — fishing offshore, cruising, going just about anywhere.”
Torrance bought the walkaround eight years ago for $45,000 through Commonwealth Boat Brokers (commonwealthboat brokers.com), which specializes in the sale of repossessed vessels. “I had been looking for a used Grady-White for three or four years,” he says. “It was on the Internet, and my cousin went to see it. He called and told me to look at it, and I did.”
When he first inquired, Torrance was told the boat was in the process of being sold. He says he told Commonwealth to call him if the sale fell through. It did, and he was able to make a deal. “You never know,” he says.
The Islander had the right combination of fishing gear and cruising comforts. “It was small enough to trailer, yet big enough to do the things a much larger boat can do,” Torrance says. It was also in excellent shape. “Like new, mostly,” says Torrance, who has added outriggers, new electronics, additional grab rails and rod holders, custom covers and a stereo system.
LOA: 29 feet, 4 inches • BEAM: 8 feet, 6 inches • DRAFT: 1 foot, 5 inches • WEIGHT: 5,594 pounds • HULL TYPE: SeaV² continuously variable vee • PROPULSION: single or twin outboards to 250 hp each • TANKAGE: 150 gallons fuel, 32 gallons water • BUILDER: Grady-White Boats, Greenville, North Carolina, (252) 752-2111. gradywhite.com
Repowering the boat right after the purchase was the biggest project. Torrance replaced the 250-hp outboard with a pair of Yamaha F250s. “I went with twins,” he says. “A single outboard is more than adequate for the [Chesapeake] Bay, but when you get into offshore fishing, you want the twins. The boat had been designed for a single outboard or twins, and the transom was beefed up to handle them.”
Torrance runs the boat at 4,100 rpm, cruising at around 34 mph and using about 17.4 gallons of fuel an hour. Top speed is 50 mph. As for handling, “it’s an excellent sea boat,” Torrance says.
It’s also a good fishing boat. “I fish in the Bay a lot, trolling for rockfish around Solomons and Breezy Point,” he says. “My cousin has a place in Ocean City, and we trailer [the boat] down there and keep it at his place and go fishing offshore out of Ocean City Inlet.”
The 270 Islander has chased marlin off
Norfolk Canyon, tuna at Washington Canyon and dolphin “here and there,” as Torrance puts it. “I like offshore fishing. It’s a lot of fun.”
There are usually three or four people on board, and they use the boat’s cabin for snacks, drinks and gear stowage. It’s a trailerable boat that can go out for a day of fishing offshore, but also handle a weekend cruise. “We’ve been 70 miles offshore; we’ve gone down to Hatteras with a fleet of Gradys for a week,” Torrance says. “I’ve even circumnavigated the Delmarva Peninsula.”
The cabin has a V-berth, an enclosed head with a shower, and a compact galley with a sink, microwave, refrigerator and butane stove. “It’s all there for cruising,” Torrance says. He has also been involved with the Chesapeake Bay Grady-White Club, which he calls a “great source of boating knowledge and information, and a good group to do things with together.”
Boating is a way of life for some, and the Grady-White 270 Islander lets Torrance live that life. “This boat is so versatile,” he says. “I’ve gone water skiing behind it. I’ve been out to the canyons. We’ve towed it to Florida and gone offshore fishing. It’s gone above and beyond.”
The Grady-White 270 Islander has a “roomy cockpit, top-shelf construction with premium amenities and agile handling,” the PowerBoat Guide states. The boat rides the builder’s SeaV² continuously variable vee hull (18 degrees of transom deadrise) — designed for coastal and offshore use — and can be powered with a single or twin outboards of up to 250 hp each. Twin 225s deliver a 40-mph top speed, according to Grady-White.
The 270 Islander’s fishing gear is extensive, including an insulated fishbox, a 34-gallon live well, gunwale rod holders, a transom door and a folding seat aft. The hardtop has a locking electronics box and space for rocket launchers and outriggers. The recessed walkaround decks and bow pulpit are designed for safe fishing all around the boat.
The helm station — with twin pedestal seats — is raised for good all-around visibility from the wheel. Below deck are a V-berth, an enclosed head with a shower and a galley with a butane stove, microwave and refrigerator.
Grady-White’s walkarounds are a staple in the midsize fishboat market. The 270 Islander had a four-year production run through the mid-2000s. One reason was its versatility. The boat is trailerable, can be powered with single or twin outboards and is well suited to coastal and offshore fishing, while providing cruising comforts when the tackle is stowed.
This article originally appeared in the January 2017 issue.