Grand Banks 50 Eastbay SXBy Peter A. Janssen
Delivering The Goods
One step to dialing in the Grand Banks 50 Eastbay SX was a shakedown cruise down the East Coast. Contributing Editor Peter A. Janssen joined the crew, and here’s what he found out.
The wind was building out of the north, behind us, at about 35 knots, and the seas, according to the latest NOAA buoy report, were topping 9 feet. Not particularly a day for the timid. Indeed, at this point veteran delivery captain Mark Mitchell and I were on the only boat visible on our radar, and we were about 10 miles offshore, a bit south of Beaufort, North Carolina, heading for Charleston. The bow of our Grand Banks 50 Eastbay SX (hull number one) was pitching up and down, up and down. The GPS showed our speed slowing to 14 knots as the boat climbed up the back of a wave, and then accelerating to 24 knots as we fell off the other side and white water cascaded over the boat. This went on for some time.
Mitchell had gone below a few minutes before, but I was a bit surprised when he reappeared up the steps and said calmly, “I folded your shirts.” What? I knew that he wanted to test the boat’s washer and dryer before we left Oriental, North Carolina, that morning, and had suggested doing some laundry, but in the midst of our offshore adventure I’d totally forgotten about it. Furthermore, I’d never heard of anybody being able to do laundry in the middle of a pitching gale. “Well,” Mitchell said, “I did have to adopt a three-point stance.” We laughed, and then agreed that the Eastbay 50 is one great boat: solid, sturdy, seaworthy. I sent a silent word of thanks to the pros at C. Raymond Hunt Associates who designed the hull; great job, guys.
We had started this voyage four days before at Norwalk Cove Marina in Connecticut, where the Eastbay 50 (which had been introduced a few weeks before at the Newport show) had been fitted out. Just before we left, David Rosow, the new owner, called me to report how happy he was with it. He’d just taken a trial spin in Long Island Sound and said, “You’ll love the ride. The acceleration and handling are terrific, and the boat’s really quiet. But the ride is the thing.”
Coming from Rosow, this was high praise. An accomplished sailor, Rosow started out racing with a Frers 40 at the Pequot Yacht Club in Southport, Connecticut, was business manager for Bill Koch’s winning America’s Cup campaign in 1992, and competed around the world in one-design International 50s before shifting to powerboats. His first Grand Banks was an Eastbay 38; he then moved up to an Eastbay 49 (hull number one) when it was introduced 14 years ago. Now, a retired investor and entrepreneur, Rosow lives in Palm Beach (where he’s president of the city council) and he wanted a larger boat to accommodate his six grandchildren. As a result, this boat had three staterooms below, with the master forward, instead of two, with the master amidships, per Grand Banks’s original design. Mitchell and I were on a five-day delivery to Charleston, where Rosow and his wife Jeanne were going to pick up the boat and take it home to Florida.
Our trip had started easily enough, as we cruised down Long Island Sound on a quiet Saturday morning at a leisurely 22 knots. The water at Hell Gate, which sometimes can erupt into standing waves, was almost benign, and we simply sped down the East River, past a quiet Manhattan and shortly made a right turn down the New Jersey coast. We quickly settled into a cruising mode, perched in the twin Stidd helm seats, glancing at the two Garmin chartplotters at the helm; a third was tucked away in front of the passenger’s bench seat on the port side (Rosow believes in redundancy). On this hazy day, the radar was so good it was picking up low-flying birds as the Eastbay, powered by twin 725-horsepower Volvo diesels with IPS pod drives, simply ate up the miles. By the end of the day, the water flattened out, and at about 6:00 pm we entered the inlet at Ocean City, Maryland, and eased past the Ferris wheel on the right and fishing boats all around.
At a very tight slip at the Fisherman’s Marina there, Mitchell moved to the IPS controls on the port side of the cockpit for docking (Rosow wanted them on the opposite side from the helm station). Keeping an eye on the extra-large teak swim platform, Mitchell maneuvered the IPS joystick so we gently slid into the slip with inches to spare.
And then I realized that this new Eastbay is true to its Grand Banks heritage. Grand Banks has been making iconic cruising boats for 58 years, first in Singapore and now nearby in Malaysia, earning a worldwide reputation for quality and seaworthiness. The teak interiors and joinery are beautiful; the exterior lines are clean and classic. The long, low lines of this new Eastbay 50 take on a more modern, aggressive look than those of previous Eastbays. The house is sleek and a bit more forward; with its raked windshield and just-right cabintop extension over the cockpit, the boat looks like she’s moving even when she’s tied up at the dock. But, in keeping with the brand, function triumphs over all. Stainless grabrails are just where your hand goes as you climb on the boat or walk forward; the railings are high and the stanchions are reinforced; the cleats are just where they should be—from the two along each side for spring lines to the two in each corner of the cockpit, covered by a lid that lifts up for even easier access. And sight lines from the helm are excellent all around.
Access to the engine room is through a large hatch in the cockpit. Once inside, I found a 13.5-kilowatt Onan generator located forward, the pod drives aft, and the twin Volvos centered with crouching-headroom working space all around.
After dinner in a fun sports bar overlooking the water near the marina, we crashed, Mitchell settling into his cabin with two beds and a large head with separate shower on the starboard side, while I stretched out on the top berth of an over-and-under in my cabin to port. Normally, in the Eastbay’s two-cabin version, the galley would be down. But in our three-cabin version it was up, on the starboard side of the saloon, next to the large, sturdy glass doors opening wide to the cockpit.
During our five days, with conditions ranging from flat water on the Intracoastal Waterway to gale conditions offshore, we came to love and trust the Eastbay 50—a fast, quiet, well-built cruiser, equipped with some very maneuverable IPS pods. When we finally tied up in Charleston, we cleaned the boat, flemished the lines and Mitchell checked the engine room for the last time. It was pristine; the Volvos had not used a drop of oil in five days. As I stepped onto the dock, I couldn’t help thinking what a great time David and Jeanne Rosow were going to have on their new Eastbay 50.
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This article originally appeared in the February 2014 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.