Grady-White's reputation for building big, comfortable boats with innovative features, with a nod to the fisherman, has taken a 180-degree turn with the Canyon 366. This 36-foot center console was developed with C. Raymond Hunt Associates as a fishing boat first and foremost. Complementing that focus are enough of the expected Grady-White creature comforts to extend the 366 range to multiday forays: The canyons off the Northeast, the run from San Diego south to Magdalena and Cabo, or the crossing from South Florida to the Bahamas are all within reach.
The 366's fishing pedigree is evident in the 85-square-foot cockpit. The 291-quart aft fish box spanning the transom has its own refrigeration system. A 4 kW Fischer Panda diesel generator drives the temperature in the fish box down well below freezing. The starboard end of the box, adjacent to the transom door leading out onto the swim platform, is fitted with hot and cold washdown hoses.
The tackle center behind the helm pedestal holds a 41-gallon livewell to port, with a matching starboard well available as an option. Undercounter storage in the bait-prep center is slotted for tackle trays, and the top is supplied with a cutting board hiding additional tackle storage or, as an option, a 1,300-watt electric grill.
"There's lots of room here for the sundown cocktail crew, but this is foremost a fishing boat," says Jim Hardin. He ought to know. Hardin, Grady-White's compliance officer, has been with the company a long time, but he has been a fisherman for a lot longer.
Covering boards come fitted with 10 rod holders, and there is undergunwale storage for 10 rods, six in the aft cockpit and four in the bow. Rocket launchers over the rigging station accommodate yet another six outfits.
At the bow, pop-up cleats and lights, along with a recessed handrail, provide a snag-free surface to ease fishing all around or throwing a cast net.
An optional cherry-wood table flanked by 263-quart fish boxes sits in the walk-through to the anchor locker. Lowered with a motor, the table can be covered by cushions to do duty as a sun deck.
Easing out of the Morehead City, North Carolina, marina with a 3-knot current running hard through the slips, the Lewmar bow thruster made short work of tricky conditions. We headed out into Bogue Sound for a little shakedown and handling cruise. The twin Yamaha F350s took 7.41 seconds to bring the boat from idle to plane, and we then reached an ocean-eating cruise of 4,400 rpm, doing right around 35 mph - a little higher than the performance specs, running as we were with a friendly current and a breeze over the transom. Performance figures with twins show a top speed of 46.4 mph. With the optional triple F350s, the top-end jumps to 55.3 mph.
The 366 sports a huge enclosed console/helm. The T-top is Imron-coated, welded aluminum of an aerodynamic foil design, domed to shed water off the sides rather than the back edge. With an eye toward the hot climes, a pair of cold-air blowers provide a welcome blast of air to the helm; a swing-out windshield and an overhead hatch scoop the breeze while under way. Electronics are cached in a raise-up panel for security, with plenty of room for the pair of Raymarine C-series 14-inch widescreens that graced our test boat.
Spreader lights are white; cockpit lights red, and the overhead LEDs recessed in the T-top are selectable to white light for maximum visibility, red to preserve night vision or blue, just for stylin'.
The interior of the 366 console is spacious even for 6-footers; light, courtesy of a smoked-glass skylight in the ceiling; and comfortable, thanks to a solar-powered, fresh-air intake fan and air conditioning. Amenities include a refrigerator, a shower enclosure, rod storage, a flat-screen TV, an iPod-compatible stereo, cherry cabinetry, a Corian counter with a sink, and a VacuFlush head. The bunk is sized for holding rods or sleeping a couple of friendly people.
"Usually you don't think of a center console as an overnighter," says Hardin, "but you could really do it on this boat."
The next morning we cruised out Beaufort Inlet to the open Atlantic. The run provided plenty of time to gauge the 366's seakeeping, and the building swell and squall lines provided ample opportunity for weaknesses to show through. They never appeared.
The big console kept the rain off four of us when we punched through the squall line. We kept a steady cruise of 34 mph at 5,200 rpm as the swell built to five- to seven-footers, then to big enough that occasionally someone involuntarily said "watch it" as we came over a wave without a back to it. The 366 invariably landed softly. Through everything - except the rainstorm - Hardin sat on the fold-down transom bench seat and rigged ballyhoo.
Once we were on our mark, the Taco outriggers swung into place, and we shortly had a spread working in the wake.
Long story short, the Canyon 366 did what it was designed to do: It caught fish. And as we headed home with dolphin on ice, it was hard to find a place where this big center console didn't make good its promise as a whole lot of comfortable, serious fish boat.
Grady-White Canyon 366
With twin 350 hp Yamaha four-stroke outboards
Grady-White Boats / 252-752-2111 / www.gradywhite.com