Down East Distinction
Grand Banks intros a cutting-edge interpretation of the lobsteryacht – the 46 Eastbay SX.
Way back in 1993, the folks at Grand Banks introduced the very first Eastbay, a salty-looking lobsteryacht that admirers soon began calling a “Down East Cruiser.” She was 38 feet long, with traditional lines, wraparound windows in the superstructure, and, overall, a sort of patrol boat cachet. Moreover, she had a modified deep-V hull and way more horsepower and speed than her trawlerish sisterships. She could really get up and git when you poured the coal to ‘er.
Stylistically, the recently launched Eastbay 46 SX has much in common with the series of Eastbays that followed. But while the same traditional lines, wraparound visibility, and patrol boat cachet are absolutely evident in the 46, there are a host of uummm, let’s say, 21st century features that give her an air of modern-day distinction.
Arguably, the most significant of the lot is the propulsion system. Our 46 test boat had a set of 550-hp QSC8.3-550 diesel engines, each linked to a joystick-enabled Zeus pod-type drive unit from Cummins Marine. The upshot? During testing I managed to maneuver the boat in a couple of different marinas and docked her sideways a couple of times, as well as stern-to a couple of times. My take afterwards was wholly positive—this baby’s got the wherewithal to make even a novice boathandler look pretty darn good.
Our test boat’s layout was conventional for the most part, with a galley down (beneath the windshield for plenty of natural light), a master at the bow, and a guest stateroom on the starboard hand. The arrangement was comfy enough, except for the clearance over the berths in the latter space—it was skimpy. Optional arrangements include turning the utility room (below the helm area behind an articulating stairway) into a crew’s quarters and/or moving the galley to the rear of the saloon so a third stateroom can be added to port.
There were numerous features of the 46 that I especially liked. For an outdoorsy ambience inside the saloon/dinette/helm area, all you have to do is open the center windshield panel (which offers fore-and-aft ventilation once the back bulkhead door’s been opened), slide the side windows back, and retract the sunroof. Breezes waft about like you were on deck. And for a gastronomic experience that’s tops, the galley’s got the goods, from deep, crisply finished cabinetry to appliances that are sensibly arranged and residentially sized.
The first Eastbay was a speedster of sorts and so’s the 46. I measured an average top hop of 32.2 knots under relatively mellifluous conditions in the Pacific Northwest. Turns were sweet, inboard-heeling, and sportboat-like. And while our Zeus joystick had an integrated autopilot, I found it virtually unnecessary given the true tracking nature of a modified deep-V hull form designed by Ray Hunt & Associates.
But how about rough-water handling? Again, sea conditions during our test were pretty flat. But thanks to some rather wild conditions in Deception Pass—imagine a couple of whirlpools sporting amid a thrashing mix of three footers with a few half-floating logs thrown in—I noted only a modicum of pounding while driving the 46 back home, as well as very little spray, and a nose-up attitude (with the power pouring on, of course) that both instilled confidence and imparted a bit of zestiness to an otherwise dull afternoon.
One final detail. Thanks to the immense windshield panels and all the windows in the 46’s superstructure, visibility from the helm is just about total—it’s like driving a boat from inside a fish bowl. Just one more confidence-inspiring reason to like this 21st century cruiser with some serious Down East distinction.