Good things do come in smaller packages. Following last year’s successful launch of the 251 Coastal Explorer, Grady-White introduced another model that’s a little smaller but still big on all-around performance. The 191 Coastal Explorer is not exactly a bay boat and it’s not a water-sports runabout, either. It is in the hybrid class that executes a lot of tasks exceptionally well.
Longtime Grady dealer Cannons Marina, on Longboat Key, Florida, had a 191 in stock, and nearby Sarasota Bay and the Gulf were the perfect venues for our test. The backwaters were slick, except for boat wakes, but once we slipped outside, a sizable beach break pushed rollers right at the bow. I braced my knees for impact as we punched through the first one, but the jarring slam never came. The SeaV2 hull sliced the froth and settled gently, like it was easing into a beanbag chair. That welcome sensation continued with each wave, regardless of heading, as the 191 rode like a boat twice its size.
It was fun and responsive to boot, with quick acceleration and nimble handling. Our test boat was rigged with a Yamaha 150 hp four-stroke, which allowed us to pop on plane quickly with very little bow rise. Top speed was nearly 50 mph with that package. Add some more horses (maximum power rating is 200 hp) and this Explorer will get you out to the fishing grounds in a hurry. With the standard 52-gallon fuel capacity, it’ll have plenty of range, too.
Like all Gradys, the 191’s layout focuses on fishing, starting with the large bow casting deck. It has plenty of room to fire off a topwater plug or throw a cast net for finger mullet. Underneath, a deep insulated 149-quart fish box chills the catch or serves as dry storage. The inset also has a storage bin, plus a dedicated rack for the anchor and sufficient rode.
Forward of the console is a cushioned seat that doubles as a 70-quart drink cooler or can be plumbed as a 17½-gallon baitwell. Triple rod holders on each side complement four more in the covering boards. The aft casting deck offers comfortable seating with removable backrests for more crew. Below is another insulated fish box that can also be converted into a roomy release well to temporarily hold that tournament winning redfish or striper.
The well-proportioned console holds everything necessary for operation without being cluttered. The large dash includes the gauges and system rocker switches, all scannable and within easy reach. A wraparound acrylic windshield adds protection, while the standard leaning post, also with a removable backrest, offers a comfortable perch. A folding footrest comes standard and a 72-quart cooler fits in the frame beneath. The dash also accommodates a large electronic display easily. A port hatch provides more storage along with access to the helm wiring. Compartments in the transom corners house the battery and switch, as well as the fuel/water separator, for instant access.
Like all previous models, the 191 is solidly built by experienced North Carolina craftsmen. The thick, hand-laid fiberglass follows precise glass-to-resin ratios. The no-rot, computer-cut stringer system is glassed in the hull and allowed to cure in the mold for a uniform shape. The reinforced transom is constructed with two hefty layers, and the box-grid structural assembly with added foam ensures durability. The 191 is backed by a five-year hull warranty and extensive customer service network.
With its lower freeboard and the stowaway port boarding ladder, the 191 handles catch-and-release duties or accommodates wading anglers. The shallow draft and ample seating make it ideal for family outings at the beach. Trolling motor rigging, a raw-water washdown and 10-gallon freshwater tank with cockpit shower are options. Add in the soft, dry ride and the quality, overbuilt construction and you have a boat that will fish and play hard for many seasons.
Certainly no one boat can do it all. But for the nearshore angler who also loves to spend time on the water with the family, the 191 Coastal Explorer comes pretty darn close.