Grand Banks 70 Aleutian CP — By Capt. Bill Pike —
The stylish Grand Banks 70 Aleutian offers both rousing speed and serious travelin’ potential.
Grand Banks dealer Jay Bettis is a tall, lean fellow. And, although he’s one of Seabrook, Texas’ tried-and-true old-timers, with a waterfront operation that’s been going strong since 1973, he’s about as agile as a cat once he steps aboard a boat. Maybe his Marine Corps training has something to do with this. Or maybe it’s just that he loves boats so darn much he forgets how old he is when he’s around them. Maybe it’s a little of both.
Anyhow, once Bettis had jumped with feline fluidity from his dock down onto the swim platform of our Grand Banks 70 Aleutian CP and turned to take hold of the Pelican case I carry my test gear in, I noted a smile on his face about as big and enthusiastic as the whole Lone Star State. I shot a smile back. Hey! What was there to be glum about?
The 70 was fueled up and ready to boogie. And she was flat-out, jaw-droppin’ gorgeous—a stylishly extended version of the 64 Aleutian I’d tested some years prior (see “The Next Generation,” January 2002), with a cockpit added abaft the after deck and a crew’s quarters spliced between the full-beam master and the engine room. Her faux-carvel-planked hull sides glistened in the dewy morning light. Her stainless steel-shod quarterguards sparkled. Her scalloped sheerline stretched majestically aft from a high, muscular bow, with an extra scallop thrown in to accommodate the cockpit. “Figured we’d run down Galveston Bay way,” Bettis said, leading the charge through a big, electrically actuated Freeman door at the back of the saloon, “…see what we can find.”
I wheeled the boat down Houston Ship Canal from the upper station. And if there was anything especially grabby about the experience, it was the latent oomph I felt snoozing in the engines. While the 64 I’d tested in 2002 had been powered with twin 800-hp Caterpillar 3406Es, our 70 had two 1,550-hp Caterpillar C30s in her belly. And they were ready to rumble, if goosing the Twin Disc electronic engine controls in the occasional straight stretches was any indicator.
Ergonomics were excellent. You can’t beat Stidd helm chairs for comfort and adjustability, and our test boat had spiffy, optional chrome versions—two on the flying bridge and one down in the raised pilothouse. Electronics componentry was installed glass-bridge style, topside and below, with an abundance of Big Bay flat-screen displays for our two Nobeltec radars and navigation software. The Hynautic hydraulic steering was tight and responsive, and visibility was excellent whether I was looking forward or to the sides. The best sightlines aft were available from the pilothouse. Bettis had easily undocked our boat using the helm station there, thanks to visibility-enhancing, electrically retractable cabinetry in the galley and a wraparound array of large, flush-fit windows and doors in the saloon.
Galveston Bay was semirough when we started our wringout. Most of the brown rollers swooping south toward the Gulf of Mexico were running about four feet and capped with tawny froth. Our test boat was seemingly unaware of the rowdy sea state, though. She turned in a top, true-tracking speed of 32.2 mph—sporty, considering our fiberglass fuel tanks were topped off—and handed us an array of lesser velocities that all felt comfortable and produced reasonable running attitudes and efficiencies. The acceleration curve we generated was perfect—no dips, flat spots, or other anomalies indicative of difficulties the Tom Fexas-designed running surface might have achieving plane.
This article originally appeared in the August 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.