Grand Banks 44 Eastbay SX

Like having four aces in your pocket.

by Capt. Tom Serio
Let’s face it: We all want the best. When it comes to boating, we want smooth seas, calm winds, cold drinks and slips that are easy to get in and out of.

Specifications

  • LOA: 48'1"
  • Beam: 14'6"
  • Draft: 3'4"
  • Weight: 32,000 lbs.
  • Fuel Capacity: 581 gals.
  • Water Capacity: 200 gals.
  • Power: T-Volvo Penta IPS 600 435 hp Diesel Engines
  • Price: $1,054,000

grandbanks.com

But life isn’t perfect and we need to play the hand we are dealt. On the day I sea trialed the new Grand Banks 44 Eastbay SX, the inlet was choppy (to put it mildly), there wasn’t a cold drink in sight, my ride was nestled in a slip with a yacht across the way that gave a mere few inches of clearance, and the breeze was on the beam from the wrong direction.

Lesser boaters would have wanted me to reschedule. But the 44 Eastbay was up to it, as was her pilot, 15-year veteran Captain Bob Philburn.

With a couple of nudges and twists on the joystick, Capt. Bob gingerly, but with some authority, maneuvered out of the slip without scratching the sides or the behemoth wall of fiberglass in front of us. This, my friends, was a true test of the agile yacht. Let’s be honest: Anyone can drive a boat straight ahead in a wide area. It’s the tight maneuvering that really shows the aptitude of a yacht. And as double proof, Capt. Bob returned the 44 Eastbay to the same dock, backing in around a dogleg path, much to my surprise.

Handsome hull

You have to look below to understand the level of Capt. Bob’s sure-footedness. And I mean all the way below, as in underneath. I was able to see the 44 Eastbay out of the water and I could tell by just looking at the hull that this is a fast, dry hull with a sharp entry carried aft. It’s a lethal combination — it allows the hull to slice the seas, get up on plane due to the multiple strakes and maintain a stable ride thanks to the slightly downturned, large chines.

Twin Volvo Penta IPS 600 435-hp diesel power plants are coupled to pod drives with counter-rotating props, delivering not just commanding handling but also the power to get out — or out of trouble. We were able to run the 44 Eastbay up to speed despite the snotty conditions, topping out at 33 mph in a following sea.

Above the waterline, it’s nothing but style, comfort and a bit of ingenuity. From the cockpit, drop through a hatch to access the engine room. This feature is great for checking fluids and such. Need better access? Flip a switch and a large section of the teak deck raises without having to remove components. Nice!

A full transom L-shaped settee and aft-facing bench offer ample seating with storage underneath.

Grand tour

Inside, Carvey Iannuzzi, sales professional at Grand Banks, gave me the grand tour with a dabble of history. First are the side and aft windows, which are large and unobstructed for great viewing. But look, they open! Yes, fully open! All three of them! That’s right: The side windows fully retract, creating an open environment vessel for those perfect summer days.

Complementing the open concept is an on-deck galley to starboard, allowing for food prep and serving to occur from basically mid-ship. Fitted with a Kenyon two-burner induction stovetop, Samsung convection microwave, fridge/freezer drawers, single lever faucet and “Tigris Sand” Silestone quartz countertops, the cabinetry is finished in satin teak — the same wood as the rest of the cabin, thereby blending nicely. Silverware, china and glassware all have their own fitted storage drawers and are supplied, making this a real turnkey yacht.

To port is a large, U-shaped settee with drawer storage encircling a hi-lo teak table with flip-up leaves. Lift up the chart pad on the port dash and you’ll find a Samsung flat screen TV.

Running the 44 Eastbay is pretty effortless. Visibility is great in all directions with three large forward windowpanes and side aft glass. Even running at cruising speed, the bow can be trimmed down slightly to maintain a forward view of the sea surface and not the sky.

Eastbay designed the starboard helm station to not just blend in with the overall style, but to be simple in function. The raised leather-wrapped console houses two 16-inch multi-function Volvo Glass Cockpit displays, with the dash having ample room for a VHF radio, switches, trim tabs and throttle controls. A Volvo joystick controller is mounted on a right side ledge. Leather bench seating and a wooden ship wheel add a classy touch.  

Influential and evolutionary

During my time aboard, we ran for a bit with the side and aft windows open, allowing the afternoon breeze to flow through while transiting the river. Iannuzzi explained the rethinking going on at Grand Banks. A very seasoned company that started back in the 1960s, the Grand Banks name is now recognized worldwide. In the mid-1990s, Grand Banks got into lobster boats — affectionately referred to as the “Downeast” style — with the Eastbay series.

In April 2014, Grand Banks acquired Australian boat builder, Palm Beach, and named Palm Beach’s founder, Mark Richards, as CEO. Richards is an award-winning sailor and has participated in several America’s Cup events. He knows the water.

Richards also brings with him a legacy of designing and producing high quality and very efficient yachts, and is now incorporating that influence into all the Grand Banks brands and models.

“He is an evolutionary builder,” Iannuzzi says, as he points out the professional craftsmanship and style. “The side windows were Mark’s idea, with a super simple design of rope and pulley,” eliminating major mechanical components that could fail.

But perhaps more importantly is the customer and their view. I had a chance to meet the owner of my test boat during the haul out and I was a bit surprised. The gentleman stood at 6 feet and a few inches, but was comfortable on-board, thanks to the generous headroom throughout. As a repeat Grand Banks owner, he knows what he wants and what he is getting, and is confident in the product. According to Iannuzzi, Richards’ theory is that having happy employees make for happy customers, too.  
 

Touch of elegance

The three-stateroom accommodations include a forward VIP with queen centerline berth and 32-inch TV, twin bunks and a single bunk. Opt to change out the twin bunks for a larger single berth if you’d like, or convert the single bunk into a utility room. As fitted above, all areas are finished in teak wood and leather wall/ceiling panels. Two heads have basin sinks, fiberglass shower stalls, Tecma Silence Plus heads and overhead skylight hatches.

Take a walk around the exterior and you’ll see that Eastbay is as serious about the outside as they are the inside. Non-skid surfaces are everywhere you walk and are easy on the soles. Side decks are wide enough to safely traverse with grabrails along the house and high-welded railings. Cleats are in line with the teak caprails for unobstructed movement. The deck widens forward, offering easy access to the anchor gear, or just to take a seat and catch the setting sun.

You’ll find niceties throughout the 44 Eastbay. Of note is the centerline salon ceiling grabrail. Blending in with the teak inlay, it’s there for your stability because, you know, boats do rock. Twin overhead hatches over the helm usher in a fresh breeze and give practical airflow throughout. Teak and holly flooring adds elegance and is easy to maintain. Want more teak? The aft deck and swim platform are finished with it.

What else do you get with the Grand Banks 44 Eastbay SX? You get dealt a great hand. It’s like having four aces!

 

South Shore JUN17
South Shore JUN17