Grand Banks 42 Classic Boat Test

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By Steve Knauth

For those who want to slow down and spend their days on the water, it’s tough to beat a Grand Banks 42 Classic.

It came time for a couple of lifelong sailors—cruisers and bluewater racers, at that—to make the switch to a powerboat, and they had their misgivings.

Turns out that Essex, Connecticut, residents Jack and Ann Young couldn’t be happier with the 42-foot Grand Banks Classic they found a few seasons ago in Maine. It’s kept them cruising—from Maine to Nantucket, Cuttyhunk to the Connecticut River—and kept them on the water.

It takes a special powerboat to get to a sailor’s heart, but that’s just what the 1976 Grand Banks 42 has done. “It’s ridiculous how fond we are—and I am, especially—of this boat,” says Ann Young. “It’s my child.”

Even Jack, at age 90—a Cruising Club of America member and veteran of 15 Bermuda races, eight of them in his 43-foot C&C yawl—admits that the big powerboat isn’t so bad. “I still like a cruising sailboat better,” he says. “But this has been a lot of fun.”

The love affair started in 2004 in a shed at Rumery’s Boat Yard in Biddeford, Maine. The Youngs were looking to replace their first attempt at switching to power, a 36-foot trawler they weren’t quite happy with. Ann just happened to ask if there was a Grand Banks around at such-and-such a price, as she relates the story. “It was a figure way lower than what I thought was right, but I asked anyway,” she says. “The broker said ‘Yes, and I have it.’”

Inside a shed was the great gray hull of a Grand Banks 42 topped with a distinctive black stripe. It was love at first sight, says Young. She was in great shape, refit by her Canadian owner before being laid up (Awlgrip, teak decks, parquet flooring inside, a headliner, varnish, etc.). “I couldn’t believe what she looked like,” she says. “This was the boat I’d been looking for.”

They sold the 36-footer in ten days and bought Storm Runner for around $185,000. They took a shakedown cruise to Robinhood, Maine, and then brought her home. Since then, they’ve cruised from Block Island Sound to the shores of Nantucket, and many points between. They spend a month on the boat every August, calling at such favorite New England ports as Cuttyhunk, Martha’s Vineyard, Narragansett Bay, and Newport, Rhode Island.

Along the way, Storm Runner has proven herself every inch a comfortable, capable cruising vessel. The original 135-horsepower John Deere diesels propel the 42 at 8 knots, together burning a total of 5 gallons an hour. “We are very happy with them,” says Young.

The layout includes a guest cabin forward with a V-berth and a master en suite cabin aft.The galley has an electric stove, two refrigerators (with teak doors), and plenty of counter space. Stowage—a prime consideration for a cruising boat—is plentiful, and Jack says the teak joinery throughout the boat is “superb.”

The couple installed a new holding tank and generator, and upgraded the electronics. “Santa Claus brought me a bow thruster one year,” says Jack, who handles the boat around the dock. “That’s a big help here on the Connecticut River, where there’s always a current.”

They spend plenty of quality time on the boat: There’s a mooring to catch in Hamburg Cove for a summer dinner, or the Essex waterfront, where the boat is docked, to enjoy around sunset. “I’ve always lived on or very near the water, and I don’t anymore, and I miss it,” Ann says. “So we come down and have evening cocktails on board.”

The Grand Banks 42 profile changed little during a 39-year production run. Discontinued in 2004, the boats are distinctive for their tall bow, deep forefoot, smoothly broken sheer, and upright pilothouse topped by a flying bridge.

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With more than 1,500 built, the Grand Banks 42 was one of the most successful cruising designs ever produced. It first appeared in the 1960s as a wooden boat and made a successful transition to fiberglass in 1973. The 42’s seaworthiness and spacious accommodations made it popular with cruisers and former sailors. It was altered during its four-decade production run, lengthened and widened a few inches in 1991 to allow for a larger galley and saloon.

Several layouts were offered through the years. Most had a V-berth forward, a pilothouse saloon with a steering station, a spacious galley to port and an L-shaped lounge/dinette to starboard, and a master cabin aft with its own adjacent head compartment with shower and, in some boats, a tub. Other notable features include protective bulwarks, wide side windows, and a wheelhouse side door. In addition to the Classic edition, the builder also offered a Motoryacht model with a flush aft deck and optional third stateroom, and a Europa model with covered aft and side decks.

Standard power on the earlier models comes from a pair of diesels; the older ones had smaller twin 135-horsepower engines for an economical 8-knot cruising speed. Later, bigger engines, such as the 375-horsepower V-8 Caterpillar, pushed the cruising speed to 13 to 15 knots.

Boaters looking for classic lines and an economical long-range cruiser may find just what they’re after in the Grand Banks 42 Classic. “I have to be out on the water in something,” Ann says. “I’d be bored to death without a boat.”

We spoke to three brokers who each had a Grand Banks 42 listed on BoatQuest.com. Here’s what they had to say about the boats and the market for buying and selling them.

LOA: 42’7″
BEAM: 13’8″
DRAFT: 4’2″
DISPL.: 37,400 lb.
FUEL: 600 gal.
WATER: 271 gal.
POWER: Various twin-diesel configurations from John Deere, Cummins, Ford Lehman, Caterpillar, and others up to 435-hp each
YEARS BUILT: 1965-2004
PRICE RANGE: $79,000-$398,000

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