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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

Grand Banks 45 Eastbay SX

There's nothing like a boat-show breakdown: big guys swinging giant hammers knocking out the massive pins that connect the floating docks and staffers in single-outboard-powered skiffs with bow-mounted cow catchers pushing those docks around so fast it looks like they're backing down on a marlin. Boats are everywhere, heading for home, the next show, and to new owners. This controlled chaos makes for some interesting close-quarter maneuvering as a vessel's once-stable home is dismantled like a toddler taking apart a Lego set. But this scenario afforded me an opportunity to see how one of those departing boats dealt with real-world tight-fit conditions.

Capt. Oscar Breeding, who was waiting to deliver the Downeast-style Grand Banks 45 Eastbay SX from the Palm Beach Boat Show to Savannah, Georgia, handed me the wheel just after exiting our slip so he could take in lines and fenders. I instantly felt comfortable. First there was literal comfort, thanks to the standard Stidd Admiral Series Low-Back helm chair. But it was the torquey 567-hp Caterpillar C9 ACERT diesels, easy-to-feel detents of the Cat single-lever controls, and the bite of water-chomping 29x31.5 five-blade ZF wheels that made me smile. A parade of boats buzzed around the 45 as she effortlessly held station with just a little bump from the throttle here and there. Only once during the 15 minutes or so I danced with my test boat in the bottlenecked channel did I need to employ the optional Side-Power bow thruster.

The 45's close-quarters handling was enhanced by outstanding visibility and virtually no blind spots. Three raked 4'x3' tempered-glass panels separated by two four-inch-wide mullions offer excellent sightlines between 10 and 2 o'clock. The house's nearly seven-foot-long side windows slide open for cool breezes, and that brings me to the sightlines finale, a retractable 3'x3' window in the optional port-side aft galley (a galley-down setup is standard) as well as a Dutch door next to it. Together they open up the back of the boat and provide an unobstructed look all the way to the five-foot-deep teak swim platform. Docking in almost any slip should be trouble-free with this true 360-degree view. And don't worry, you will still be able to get a tan even though you're inside the boat—just retract the standard clear sunroof.

But our crew had to put plans of tans and thoughts of cool breezes on hold thanks to a wind topping 25 mph. The inlet was showing steep four- to six-foot rollers, so we had to button up all windows and doors for our speed trials.

I readied my radar gun as Breeding pointed the 45's modified-V, fully cored Hunt-designed hull headlong into the rollers. In about 25 seconds the 45 was averaging 36 mph (31.3 knots) at 2460 rpm while consuming 60 gph. At this pace the Eastbay sees a range of just under 280 statute miles, but really, how long can you run at WOT? We had to pull back when some solid six-footers broke over the bow and spray blocked our view ahead. Yet her entry was soft into the steep head sea, and in a following sea she ran slightly bow proud without tab input, but not so much as to detract from forward visibility. (I can't confirm her trim angle, as my inclinometer broke on test day.) Even with the rollers directly on her stern, the 45 easily made a cruise speed of 26 mph (22.6 knots) with the Cats eating a relatively miserly 35 gph for a range of 342 statute miles. Chances are you'll run out of fuel before this boat does.

The 45's modified deep-V nature and hefty powerplants enhance her ability to get up quickly and run at an admirable speed, but her relatively lightweight (42,726 pounds) yet durable build is also a factor. The hull's high-density, closed-cell foam core is covered with hand-laid fiberglass, and the formidable engine stringers are just about 20 inches high and 71/2 inches across. That coring, which is also used in the deckhouse and bridge, is said to be impervious to rot from water penetration.

Her building materials may be modern, but the 45's interior is traditional. It's a festival of standard satin-finish teak. From that aft galley to the forepeak master, soft and warm wood abounds and is reminiscent of bygone boating days. It made me just want to take off my shoes, open up a book, and sit back on the port-side U-shape settee and relax.

However, this 45 had a schedule she needed to keep, so there would be no leisure time for reading. And when she got there, I was sure her classical lines would turn as many heads as her close-quarters handling.

Could a boater really ask for more?

For more information on Grand Banks, including contact information, click here.

Onboard stowage space is always at a premium regardless of what size boat you’re running. To maximize available cabinet space on the 45 Eastbay SX, Grand Banks installed this two-tier lazy Susan under the counter. Compared to standard shelving, more of the cabinet’s interior volume is utilized because you can actually see and reach everything that’s inside. No more stores lost and forgotten in some dark corner.—P.S.

This article originally appeared in the June 2007 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.