Banks 64 Aleutian Class — By Capt. Bill Pike
— January 2002
The Next Generation
|Cruise farther, faster, and more stylishly than ever before.|
In a way, Long Beach, on the salty fringe of Los Angeles, is a paradoxical place. Home to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of thoroughly modern military, commercial, and recreational watercraft, it also shelters a veritable icon of seafaring tradition, the Queen Mary. Indeed, as the majestic old Cunarder faded into my rear-view mirror, lost in the mad scramble of California’s morning rush-hour traffic, it struck me that Long Beach was probably the most appropriate venue imaginable to wring out Grand Banks’ new flagship, the 64 Aleutian Class yacht. A thoroughly modern amalgam of American design, Far Eastern boatbuilding, and top-shelf equipage, the Aleutian yet retains an august air of teaky seafaring tradition, undoubtedly in deference to Grand Banks’ long, proud heritage.
I got my first look at the Aleutian behind the offices of Stan Miller Yachts, the Grand Banks dealership in Long Beach. She was lying alongside a face dock with her dramatically flared bow–the first such bow I’d ever seen on a Grand Banks–pointed toward the Pacific. I studied her profile: While the faux carvel planking below her shadow rail was reminiscent of earlier models, almost every other element seemed either new or faintly different. Most notable was the raised pilothouse format–a first for Grand Banks, excepting the old Alaskan series woodies–with a seaworthy Portuguese bridge and seriously elevated foredeck. But there were other first-ever features, like the radar arch, big superstructure windows, squarish ports in the hull sides, and the visor-like brow over the windshield, a signature touch from the boat’s designer, Tom Fexas Yacht Design.
"Not your ordinary Grand Banks, eh?" noted sales rep Bob Phillips as we climbed the gangway. This observation, I soon discovered, was as true of the way the boat was put together as it was of her appearance. Teak decks, for example, were laid via a nifty new technique popularized by Florida’s Teak Decking Systems–bungless planks are secured with "fitting epoxy," rather than screws that pierce and violate the integrity of laminates. Also, the windows were a far cry from what Grand Banks has been doing for years–larger, more stylish, and instead of framed with mahogany or teak, bedded in Sikaflex glazing compound in fiberglass recesses. The latter is another popular technique these days and one that nixes leak problems and offers designers a freer hand with window shapes.
Getting underway handed me yet another surprise: the near-panoramic visibility astern while maneuvering from the lower helm station. Having sea-trialed a few motoryachts in the 50-plus size range over the past year, most with limited visibility from this area, I was gratified to discover that while Phillips kicked the stern away from the face dock, he could easily eyeball the starboard quarter by simply turning to the right and looking back through the galley (with its long see-through openings beneath two athwartship banks of suspended cupboards) and the saloon. While his view of the port quarter was obstructed, primarily because of a tall TV cabinet in the aft, port-side corner of the saloon, he said future versions will offer a shorter cabinet, with a retractable TV.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.