Used Boat Review: Grand Banks 38 Eastbay EX

The Grand Banks 38 Eastbay EX backs up a classic look with excellent performance.

The Grand Banks 38 Eastbay EX backs up a classic look with excellent performance.

By Steve Knauth

Bill and Nancy Webster have spent a lifetime boating together, dividing the duties and sharing the work and the pleasures of their avocation. So when it came time to downsize from their much-loved 42-foot trawler, the couple from Clinton, Connecticut, shared the buying experience, too. And the Grand Banks 38 Eastbay EX they bought has already proved to be a good choice: seaworthy, safe, and comfortable.

It wasn’t easy giving up the big trawler they had owned for 20 years. They’d made ten winter trips to Florida and cruised New England from Maine to Nantucket, and although the couple was used to taking care of the 42-footer, the task was proving more time-consuming. “As we got older, maintenance was becoming too much,” says Webster, 80, a retired IBM engineer. “Between varnishing and painting, it was taking us most of the summer to get the boat looking good.”

He also was seeking a different kind of performance. “I wanted more speed,” Webster says. “It can be hard to put two good days together along the Jersey coast, so I wanted a boat that could do it in a day instead of two.”

The Grand Banks 38 Eastbay EX rides a solid fiberglass deep-V hull designed by C. Raymond Hunt Associates (topsides are Divinycell-cored). Prop pockets reduce draft to less than 3 feet. The wide side decks and full-length side rails allow easy movement around the boat.

The Websters also wanted to “bring along” some of the things they’d grown used to in the 42, including a full galley and a roomy, versatile helm area. The raised bridgedeck has a well-appointed helm station to starboard, with a large instrument console and room for a navigation station.

The Websters came across the 1995 Grand Banks 38 Eastbay EX in Stuart, Florida. One test ride and survey later—working with broker Bill Full at East Coast Yachts in Yarmouth, Maine—they made the deal. The price was in the $140,000 to $180,000 range.

“We had looked at several other boats and actually made offers on two of them, neither of which worked out,” Webster says. “When Nancy and I walked up to this boat, it just seemed right.”

Walking around on deck helped convince them that they’d found what they were looking for. “We had grown used to the wide side decks and long handrails on the trawler, and the Eastbay was very safe to get around on,” Webster says. “Nancy felt comfortable on deck, going forward. I liked the sightlines, and the helm area is well designed. I’m a GPS guy, but Nancy likes to use paper charts, and there’s room for her to do so. I also wanted twin command seats, which this has.”

Two cabin layouts were offered through the years, and both include a full galley to port with a three-burner stove, oven, and refrigerator, and space for a microwave and freezer box. There’s a C-shaped dinette/lounge to starboard. The enclosed head compartment is placed to port. The difference is in the forward cabin, with V-berth and island berth options; the former allows for a slightly larger head compartment.

Power is provided by twin Caterpillar 3208 TA diesels, rated at 375 horsepower each. “They had only 1,300 hours on each,” Webster says. “I have never had Cats before, but they do have a reputation for reliability.”

The Websters took possession of Swamp Yankee last December, and they’ve already logged more than 1,500 miles. They took it across Florida from Stuart via the Okeechobee Waterway to what the Websters call a “bit of old Florida” at the Rialto Marina in Alva. They stayed on the boat, did some cruising, and crossed back to the east coast in April, then came up the Intracoastal Waterway to their Connecticut home.

Along the way they came to appreciate the Eastbay’s Hunt-designed deep-V hull. “We crossed Lake Okeechobee in a 25- to 30-knot northerly, and it was choppy,” Webster recalls. “We cruised along at 16 knots, and it was more comfortable than any boat I’d ever been on.”

It was the same off Delaware Bay. “A south wind 25 to 30 knots on an outgoing tide, and we were doing 15 to 16 knots again,” he says. “She was just cruising along. The deep-V hull was a real revelation.”

The true barometer was the couple’s two dogs. “They’ve never liked bad weather,” Webster says. “But they slept through both of these [crossings].”

Now the four of them look forward to cruising New England. “We always like to go to Maine,” Webster says. “Nancy has family north of Boston, so we’ll visit them, too.”

And then there’s just going out for a weekend on Long Island Sound or a sunset cruise. “As a kid, I liked the freedom of boating,” Webster says. “When I was old enough I would row around Cedar Island [in Clinton] by myself, exploring, enjoying the serenity. That’s continued. When Nancy and I go out, we feel as if we’re getting away from the everyday.”

Power & Motoryacht spoke to three brokers who had listed a Grand Banks Eastbay 38 EX online. Click here to read what they each said about them.

LOA: 38’0″
BEAM: 13’2″
DRAFT: 2’4″
DISPLACEMENT: 27,000 lb.
POWER: 2/375-hp Caterpillar 3208 diesels; 2/300-hp Caterpillar 3208 diesels
FUEL: 366 gal.
WATER: 95 gal.
YEARS BUILT: 1993-2006
PRICE RANGE: $163,500-$269,000

Click here for a survey report on the 38 EX.