Boats. Bill Williamson has owned them — sail and power — in a boating life that’s taken him from Wisconsin’s lakes to the waters of Florida’s east coast. “I started as a kid in a flat-bottomed, home-built boat my dad bought,” says Williamson, 73, of Vero Beach, Florida. “My granddad got me a 2-1/2-hp Johnson outboard, and I went all over the place in that. Didn’t care what the weather was. That was on Lake Geneva in Wisconsin. Later I had a Lyman runabout.”
He had a passion for sailing, too. Williamson graduated from his local sailing school at age 7 and went on to race in the region’s competitive scow regattas. “That was in an M16. We sailed it all over the place,” he says. He also sailed an M20 with a friend throughout Wisconsin and northern Illinois.
“I have always had the sense of how to operate a boat,” says Williamson, who was also part of a water-skiing team. “We even did a show.”
Williamson later cruised the Great Lakes on bareboat charters, and after moving to Florida he and his wife, Linda, sailed to the Bahamas and the Virgin Islands. In the process, the couple got more and more interested in cruising. “We decided we wanted to do more of that but in our own boat,” he says.
“We had a 24-foot Robalo at the time,” says Williamson. “It was a great boat, but the outboard engines were out of date.” What they had in mind was a bigger boat that they could take out for weekends. “I don’t fish as much as I did up north. We just wanted to cruise a little and anchor out.”
SPECIFICATIONS LOA: 30 feet, 2 inches BEAM: 9 feet, 6 inches DRAFT: 3 feet WEIGHT: 5,800 pounds HULL TYPE: SeaV2 PROPULSION: twin 225-hp Yamahas TANKAGE: 206 gallons fuel, 32 gallons water BUILDER: Grady-White Boats, Greenville, North Carolina, (252) 752-2111. gradywhite.com
In 2005 they found their cruiser at Vero Marine Center — a Grady-White 282 Sailfish. The seller had owned the 2005 twin-outboard walkaround for only a matter of months. The price was just over $120,000.
There was a lot to like in the Grady-White, including the 225-hp 4-stroke Yamahas. “The size was right, and I definitely wanted two engines,” Williamson says. “I liked the fact that it had a V-berth and a bunk, and there’s a nice area for cooking in the cabin.”
The sea trial impressed. The 282 Sailfish delivered a smooth ride, and the 4-strokes ran quietly. “This was so much better than what I was used to,” says Williamson. “I knew a lot about Grady-White, too. The owner of Vero Marine Center was a good friend, and he convinced me that a Grady-White was the boat for me.”
The 282 is designed primarily for fishing, but Williamson went about equipping it for weekend cruising. Cabin amenities include air conditioning, a water heater, a refrigerator/freezer and a teak dinette table. The galley is equipped with a propane stove, microwave and a refrigerator/freezer. “All the things I did, I did to make it more comfortable for cruising,” says Williamson.
The Sailfish proved the perfect boat for cruising, as the Williamsons covered the coast north and south of Stuart and along the ICW on overnights and weekends. The galley allowed them to cook on board — there’s also a gunwale-mounted grill — the enclosed head has a shower, and they always had hot water.
“We took a trip with the Grady Bunch [owners ’ association] to just south of Daytona,” says Williamson. “There were eight or nine other boats, and we just had a great time talking about our boats and getting to know each other. Those get-togethers are always a good time.”
Grady-White’s SeaV2 hull is designed to run to and from the fishing grounds in a variety of conditions, but the boat also is an easy-riding cruiser. “It handles great, both into the wind and waves and in following seas,” says Williamson. The boat has proved itself in another important area, as well. “Around here, we deal with going in and out of inlets, so it’s important how a boat handles them. Between natural waves and boat wakes, you have to be on top of it. Fort Pierce inlet can get rough, but it never bothered me.”
The counter-rotating Yamahas give the boat a cruising speed of around 33 mph and are “very easy on fuel,” says Williamson. “In fact, the engines are absolutely wonderful. With regular maintenance, I have had no problems with them.”
It’s been a 10-year love affair. “The Grady-White has more than lived up to its name,” says Williamson. “I like the looks of the boat, but you’re seeing just the exterior. When you work on the boat, do things to it, you can’t believe how sturdy and well-built they are.”
The 282 Sailfish is a versatile fishing platform with enough comforts to spend a night or two aboard. The walkaround design gives the boat deep, wide side decks, and side and bow rails add a measure of safety. The helm is to starboard, with a bench seat (and companion to port) and a molded fiberglass instrument panel.
The aft rigging station and fixed bench seat in original models were exchanged in 2005 for a fold-away cushioned bench and a fishbox. Fishing gear includes a 40-gallon live well under the helm seat, two fishboxes with cushions, a raw-water washdown, an insulated cooler and gunwale rod holders. Outriggers were offered as an option.
There’s a swim platform with a transom door, and the lighted cockpit has bolsters for the bench seat. This area also includes two aft-facing seats, along with a cockpit shower.
The cabin sleeps four in a V-berth and a curtained midcabin and includes basic amenities. The galley has a microwave and a fridge, and the enclosed head has a shower. The dinette doubles as the V-berth. Grady-White boats are known for their fit and finish, as evidenced by the teak cabin sole. Top speed with a pair of 225-hp Yamahas is 40 mph.
This article originally appeared in the May 2016 issue.