It’s amazing how much you can do with a small boat. Rick Davis and his wife, Lindsay, along with their 5-year-old daughter, Cate, certainly get enough fun per foot out of their Grady-White Tarpon 190.
“Midcoast Maine is great,” says the 37-year-old Bath, Maine, firefighter. “Bath has great boat launches, and the waters are wonderful. We go from Bath to Boothbay Harbor and hit many restaurants along the way. Our favorite place is probably Five Islands — good food, easy to get to and just a great ride. We also hit Robinhood Marina quite a bit. They have a great place to eat called the Osprey Restaurant with great fish tacos.”
One day, he and his shift from work hopped in the boat and headed to Sebasco Harbor for golf and then back to the Osprey for dinner. “Four guys, four sets of golf clubs and a huge cooler in the boat,” Davis recalls. That’s getting a pretty good bang for the buck fun-wise from a boat that’s not even 20 feet.
Davis bought the 1983 Grady-White Tarpon 190 (called the Tournament beginning in 1984) in 2011, replacing another favorite small boat, a 15-foot Boston Whaler Sport with a 50-hp Johnson. “We took that little boat everywhere, and it was great for just the two of us,” he says.
With their daughter getting older, they wanted something a little bit bigger while staying under 20 feet. “My vision was a few buddies out catching fish and having fun,” Davis says. “Lindsay’s was a nice ride to a wharf for lunch and shopping. I told her no carpet, and she told me comfortable seats and a Bimini.” The parameters were set.
They located the Tarpon 190 dual console, powered with a 2003 Mercury 135-hp OptiMax V-6, in New Hampshire using craigslist. There was bow seating with cushions, two cushioned seats at the stern next to the engine well, two pedestal seats and an open deck for fishing. Davis could reach over the gunwale to grab a fish, and the hull sides are high enough that a toddler would be safe. “So, padded seats for the wife, dual console, no carpet,” Davis says. “I was sold.”
Seeing the boat firsthand was important, too. “Honestly, it was nice to meet the owner and see his home,” Davis says. “He kept everything in great shape, and he had a clean garage. I know that sounds odd, but you could tell he was the kind of guy who took good care of things. When we looked at the boat it was perfect.”
That left just a few cosmetics to take care of. Big additions have been the Bimini top and a Garmin GPSMAP 440s GPS/sounder. “I love this thing,” Davis says. “Maine is very rocky, and this thing is a lifesaver. The sounder is great when going for baitfish.” He also added a removable live well.
The 8-year-old, oil-injected OptiMax 135 needed little more than routine maintenance. It has delivered perfect performance. Davis runs at around 27 mph (4,000 rpm), and although he doesn’t keep exact numbers the fuel economy “is better than expected,” he says.
The Grady-White goes fishing when some boats don’t, too. The bluefish were in, but the seas were rough, Davis recalls. “I was nervous and stopped at the mouth of the Kennebec River,” he says. “As I sat there, a guy in another Grady-White went by and headed out. We followed him and were taking 4- to 5-footers for the entire trip around Small Point. The boat did great. We were soaked, and a few times I thought it was over. When we got around [the point] the other guy came up alongside of us and said, ‘You wouldn’t have done that in [another brand of boat].’ ”
Even little Cate loves the Tarpon 190. Trips to Five Islands for lunch, catching mackerel, anchoring off the beach — these are just a few of the things the 5-year-old likes to do. “It’s a great boat for kids,” her father says. “She can walk all over the deck, and she’s taken naps on board after a long day. She feels safe in it.”
Davis also enjoys seeing his daughter “turn on” to the water. “I feel I am passing on the love of the water to her,” he says. “It is nice when you ask your 5-year-old what she wants to do today, and she says go boating.”
The Tarpon 190 has done everything the family could have asked of her. Memories include landing a 38-inch striper, a crazy day of fishing for blues, Cate holding a mackerel and looking as if she’d caught a swordfish, and Lindsay behind the wheel, throttle wide-open. “One day as we tied up in Boothbay, a guy from Arkansas came up and said, ‘Does it get any better than that?’ I could only answer no.”
When it comes to boats, good things can come in small packages. “We do love our boat,” Davis says. “It is almost part of the family. I guess that is because so many of our best moments are when we are out on it.”
The Grady-White Tarpon 190 rides a deep-vee hull with a sharp entry and moderate Carolina flare. The single outboard is mounted in a well, leaving room for a half swim platform on the transom. The dual-console layout means there’s seating for at least six, with a pair of padded seats aft, cushioned seating in the bow, and matching helm and companion pedestal seats. The helm is to starboard, with a destroyer wheel, an instrument panel and space for electronics. There’s storage in and under both consoles. The cockpit takes up most of the boat, with plenty of room for fishing or entertaining. There’s under-gunwale storage for rods and other gear, and the aft seats are removable. The layout also includes a cooler under the bow cushion and an anchor hatch forward.
In the 50-plus years since Glenn Grady and Don White opened their North Carolina shop, Grady-White has focused on outboard-powered fishing boats. Today, the builder offers a variety of express, center console and walkaround models from 18 to 36 feet. Eddie Smith Jr. took over the company in the 1960s and, under his direction, built a reputation for seaworthiness and quality construction.
Grady-White introduced the outboard-powered Tarpon 190 in 1980. It was renamed the Tournament 190 beginning with the 1984 model year, and it has proved popular over the years, remaining in production through 2003. It was replaced by the Tournament 192 with Grady-White’s SeaV hull. Retired in 2004, the 192 was reintroduced in 2010, and the dual console line is now called Freedom. The 190s can readily be found on the used-boat market, and prices for early models generally are less than $10,000.
LOA: 18 feet, 11 inches
BEAM: 8 feet
DRAFT: 1 foot, 2 inches
WEIGHT: 2,075 pounds
POWER: single outboard to 150 hp
FUEL CAPACITY: 40 gallons
BUILDER: Grady-White Boats, Greenville, N.C.,
PHONE (252) 752-2111.
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March 2013 issue