No, we're not kidding. Yes, we know that Grand Banks is probably best known for a trawler yacht design that has seemingly changed little since the 1960s — and that Grand Banks was one of the last boat builders to switch from wood to fiberglass hulls.
However, Grand Banks' all-new Aleutian Class 64 — which made its world debut at the Lido Yacht Expo in Newport Beach, California — offers a brand-new design by naval architect Tom Fexas and is constructed using the latest boat building technology.
The hull is vacuum-bagged, the hull sides are Airex-cored, the house is Airlight-cored, the saloon floor is cored — and all the coring is vacuum-bagged. The result is a light yet strong, rigid hull.
Despite all that cutting-edge technology, the 64's design is not one that will make you think of those sleek vessels moored at European resorts. Instead, it might make you think seriously about cruising to those resorts during a round-the-world adventure aboard this boat.
Grand Banks trawler yachts have long had a loyal following among devotees of long-range coastal cruisers. This Grand Banks is bigger — and can cruise farther — than any of them. The Aleutian Class 64 is an expedition yacht that is truly designed for extreme long-distance cruising — and it is built ruggedly enough to handle just about anything the sea might throw its way.
Cruising With Confidence
We tested the new 64 with Bob Phillips of Grand Banks' West Coast office. Our test boat was provided by Stan Miller Yachts in Long Beach, California. The boat had recently been sold and would soon begin a long cruise off Mexico.
It was an overcast fall day, with flat calm seas. There were four of us aboard the boat for the sea trial, including skipper Doug Kerr.
As we cruised through the harbor, we took the opportunity to try out the 64's wired remote control, as we stood at the Portuguese bridge, forward of the pilothouse. Twin levers let us control the boat's engines, while a joystick allowed us to operate the boat's bow thruster. It was easy, convenient and downright fun to move the bow right and left or the stern right or left, depending on which control we toggled. This system makes even close-quarters maneuvers a breeze.
Once we were out in open water, we put the 64 through a series of maneuvers, throughout the entire rpm range. At all times, the boat handled smoothly and was responsive to the helm. Even in tight turns at top speed, the 64 gave us a rock-solid and dry ride.
This was a remarkably quiet boat under way. With the doors open, conversation was easy in the pilothouse — even at full speed. When the doors were closed, it was quiet enough to hear a pin drop.
While the 64 has a remarkable fuel capacity of 2,238 gallons, our test boat carried a "light" load of 616 gallons (of course, that would be a heavy load on most other boats). We also carried 579 gallons of water in onboard tanks (the total water capacity is 628 gallons).
Our test boat cruised at 13.8 knots, at 1,800 rpm. We reached a top speed of 20.4 knots at 2,340 rpm — however, the boat has achieved a top speed of 22 knots in tests performed by Grand Banks.
A Visit to Tomorrowland
Our test boat's helm was as tricked-out as any we'd seen before. The boat's new owner has a son who is a computer guru, and all the gear was custom installed.
In the pilothouse, a trio of Sony flat-screen color monitors displayed video shot from five onboard cameras, detailed Nobeltec electronic chart plotting images and views from an Interphase color depth sounder. Everything was connected to an onboard computer system with a Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse.
Admittedly, most boaters won't install anything approaching this range of technological sophistication. However, the helm's standard Caterpillar electronic engine management system displays, Furuno GP-31 GPS and Raymarine ST80 log also provide much useful data under way.
In addition, our test boat had a Simrad Robertson AP 20 autopilot, a Standard Horizon Spectrum VHF radio and Morse electronic controls — with the previously mentioned wired remote control unit. An American bow thruster comes standard.
While our test boat had a custom Stidd helm seat, a Pompanette helm seat is standard equipment.
Naval architect Tom Fexas says the hull he created for the 64 requires neither trim tabs nor stabilizers for optimum performance. However, a Naiad stabilizer system is available as an option, should you doubt the master designer's assessment. (Our test boat didn't have it — and it came equipped with just about everything imaginable.)
The flybridge has repeaters for all the boat's electronics, but no flat screen monitors. There's a plexiglass covered chart holder, a Pompanette helm seat and an optional companion seat.
Aft, two L-shaped settees with tables, an optional Jenn-Air barbecue, a sink and a U-Line ice-maker provide a spacious venue for entertaining. On our test boat, the area abaft the settees was equipped with a stainless steel davit and a large rigid-hull inflatable boat. A radar arch tops this area, and there's a canvas enclosure for all-weather use.
The boat's extra-large engine room, accessible through a hatch in the aft deck, is roomy enough to house its own optional full-size Whirlpool refrigerator. It is equipped with an optional pair of Trace inverters, two Onan auxiliary generators (12 kw and 20 kw) and an Offshore Marine Labs water-maker. It is nicely arranged for good access to all mechanical gear, and everything is well labeled. One especially useful feature is the engine room's full-size workbench and cabinet.
This boat also features a custom fuel transfer and filtration system: Fore and aft auxiliary tanks transfer fuel to the engine's tanks at the push of a button on a tank management system display — balancing out the fuel load in those tanks for optimum boat performance. Filters remove water and particulates from the fuel through a 10 micron filter system.
The 64 also comes with a Delta T air intake system, which incorporates a de-mister. Instead of getting salt water over the engines, the powerplants get fresh, dry air. This system will soon become available throughout the Grand Banks line.
The boat's lazarette is large enough to have optional crew quarters situated here — however, our test boat's owner prefers hands-on operation of his dreamboat. The beauty of this boat is, despite its size, it can easily be handled by a cruising couple.
As you would expect from Grand Banks, this boat comes with solidly mounted oval-shaped stainless steel rails, big and beefy stainless steel cleats and wide, practical walk-around decks. The Portuguese Bridge adds an extra measure of security. All portlights have storm ports, for protection in rough weather; and the boat's Freeman doors "dog down" to seal tight.
The Inside Story
The 64's interior offers more than 6 feet, 5 inches of headroom — no matter where you are aboard.
The pilothouse is adjacent to a well-equipped U-shaped galley with one especially remarkable feature: see-through visibility. Instead of a big upright refrigerator freezer, this boat has Sub-Zero refrigerator and freezer drawers built into its cabinetry. The result is good visibility from the pilothouse helm to the cockpit.
Aft, the boat's roomy saloon offers big windows for excellent views under way. It is as nicely appointed and as comfortable as you'd expect from a larger and not-as-cruiseworthy motoryacht.
Belowdecks, accommodations are equally nice. As you descend the stairway from the pilothouse, you enter an open office/sitting area with a desk, bookshelves, a cabinet that conceals optional stacking Asko washer and dryer units, and an adjacent day head. This area can also be turned into a small guest stateroom.
Forward, a door leads to a larger stateroom with a double berth and abundant storage cabinets. It is adjacent to a cedar-lined hanging locker to port; and a large head with a standup shower, to starboard.
Aft, the owner's stateroom is quite large. It includes a queen-size island berth with twin night tables, a settee, abundant stowage cabinets and a TV/VCR concealed behind a two-way mirror — so that the picture becomes visible only when the set is turned on.
A huge walk-in cedar-lined hanging locker is adjacent to the left-side night table. On the other side, a door leads to a king-size private head with a walk-in shower that's about the size of two home-size shower stalls.
There's a "buffer zone" between the owner's stateroom and engine room that adds a bit of soundproofing: It's an emergency shower, located just abaft the owner's head.
From its finely crafted wood joinery and trim to its super-strong, seakindly hull, Grand Banks did just about everything right. Not surprisingly, this high-end flagship has a high-end price tag — and if you have to ask ... well, give Grand Banks a call.
Grand Banks' high-tech new Aleutian Class 64 proves that there's no need to sacrifice comfort to enjoy long-range cruising. Welcome to the future.
Grand Banks Aleutian Class 64: Specifications
|Fuel capacity||2,238 gallons|
|Water capacity||628 gallons|
|Propellers||34 by 43 inch pitch five-blade|
|Maximum head room||6'6"|
|Maximum power||Twin 800-hp Caterpillar 3406E diesels|
|Price with twin 800 hp Caterpillar diesels||$2.2 million|
|Top speed||22.2 knots|
|Miles per gallon at 18 knots cruise||.35|
|Fuel cost for 100 miles||$571.43|
|Range at 18 knots cruise||783 miles|
|Sound level||80 dB|
Questions For Your Dealer
Can overhead cabinets between galley and pilothouse be removed or replaced with drop-down storage, for an even better fore-to-aft view?
Interior design by A La Mer, American bow thruster, Marine Air air conditioning with individual controls throughout, Aquadrive shaft couplings and engine mounts, Morse controls, Glendinning Cablemaster, Maxwell Windlass, Onan 21.5 kw auxiliary generator, 4,000 watt inverter, Teak stairway to flybridge, lighted steps throughout, Bose stereo system, Headhunter Royal Flush toilets, Corian counters.
Options on Test Boat
Orberdorfer fuel transfer pump and Racor filtration system, Sub-Zero refrigerator/freezer drawers, additional 11.5 kw Onan generator, Asko washer and dryer, Miele electric ceramic cooktop, Nutone central vacuum system, Jenn-Air barbecue on flybridge, Marquipt davit.
Hand-laid fiberglass hull with solid fiberglass bottom and Airex-cored sides, three watertight structural composite bulkheads, molded structural grid. Hydrex resin skin coat, epoxy barrier coat. Full-length keel extends below running gear.
Years in business: 36
Number of employees: approximately 950
Boat lines: Grand Banks, Eastbay
For More information
Grand Banks Yachts Ltd., Norwalk, CT; (203) 845-0023; www.grandbanks.com
West Coast Office: Aliso Viejo, CA; (949) 362-4952; www.grandbanks.com
Grand Yachts Inc.; Vancouver, B.C.; (604) 687-8943
Grand Yachts Northwest Ltd.; Bellingham, WA; (360) 676-1248; www.grandyachtsnw.com
Grand Yachts Northwest Ltd.; Portland; (503) 224-2628; www.grandyachtsnw.com
Grand Yachts Northwest Ltd.; Seattle; (206) 282-0211; www.grandyachtsnw.com
Jay Bettis & Co. Yacht Sales; Seabrook, TX; (281) 474-4101; www.jb-yachts.com
Oceanic Yacht Sales Inc.; Sausalito, CA; (415) 331-0533; ww.yachtworld.com/oceanic
Stan Miller Yachts; Long Beach, CA; (562) 598-9433; www.stanmiller.com
Suncoast Yachts & Charters; San Diego; (619) 523-0080; www.suncoastyachts.com