Grand Banks 60 Skylounge

Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too?

by Craig Ritchie
It’s big enough to handle the open ocean, and its range of more than 2,500 miles is enough to circumnavigate Lakes Michigan, Huron and Erie on just a single tank of fuel.

Specifications

  • LOA: 65'4"
  • Beam: 19'2"
  • Draft: 4'4"
  • Weight: 61,730 lbs.
  • Fuel Capacity: 1,530 gals.
  • Water Capacity: 300 gals.
  • Power: T-Volvo-Penta IPS 1200s
  • Price: Contact Grand Banks

grandbanks.com

It’s trim enough to tuck into small harbors and shallow anchorages. And it’s luxurious enough to please a prince. Can the new Grand Banks 60 Skylounge really be the ultimate long-range cruiser?

I decided to find out in December when I was invited to a sea trial in Fort Lauderdale. The Grand Banks 60 is a truly innovative yacht that delivers eyebrow-raising interior space, driving performance and fuel economy while remaining true to the company’s classic style. 

While the brochure talks about its wide-open entertaining areas, supremely comfortable furnishings and three staterooms, what really sets this yacht apart is its exceptional handling, long range, seaworthiness and the fact it can still be easily handled by just two people. Plus, thanks to the Skylounge, it’s completely climate controlled, allowing comfortable access to the bridge no matter the weather. 

Built for drivers

The exceptional performance of the Grand Banks 60 Skylounge reflects a unique combination of time-honored design principles and space-age technology. The yacht’s hull is designed to deliver an ideal balance of beam and depth, allowing it to carve the water easily without the need for extraneous strakes, steps, tunnels or other corrective elements. The design sweeps from a fine entry at the bow to a transom with only six degrees of deadrise. Engines, tanks and other equipment are carefully positioned to reduce bow rise on acceleration and provide an optimal running attitude at all speeds.

While the 60’s hull is constructed of hand-laid E-glass and vinylester resin, pretty much everything from the rubrails up is crafted from lightweight carbon fiber laminates with Corecell foam cores. This allows the 60 Skylounge to maintain the low center of gravity that is fundamental to its impressive stability, handling and fuel economy. 

What does “impressive” mean? For starters, the 60 Skylounge can really cruise along for a mind-blowing 2,555 miles between fuel stops. Yet if you’re in a hurry, it can achieve top speeds in the mid-30-knot range while maintaining snappy handling with the optional Volvo Penta IPS 1200s. While sea trialing the Grand Banks 60 Skylounge on a greyish overcast day, my review boat seemed eager to play and effortlessly carved a series of delightful, tight figure-eights while running at 28 knots, which is not at all what you’d expect from a 60-foot luxury trawler. I should mention that my review boat was rigged with shafts and rudders; the available IPS power option would’ve given it even more zip. 

Running the boat in calm seas, with twin Volvo Penta D13s, three adults and approximately 290 gallons of fuel onboard, we reached 31 knots at 2350 RPM, burning 87 gallons per hour. Easing that down to 20 knots at 1680 RPM yields a more economical 37 gallons per hour. Its efficient hull holds plane at a remarkably low RPM, and thanks to bow and stern thrusters, the boat manages tight turns into the slip with ease. Built for drivers? You better believe it.

Room with a view

Stellar performance is only part of this boat’s charm. Step aboard the broad aft swim platform and it’s immediately clear that this is a yacht designed for enjoying the great outdoors. A wide Kenyon grill mounted right on the transom and accessed from the swim platform makes a clear case for an al fresco lunch with a view. An adjacent storage locker on the transom top provides a convenient spot to stow wet gear like snorkels and swim fins between stops.

A starboard-side, inward-opening transom door leads to the expansive aft cockpit, which in our test boat featured a full teak sole to match the swim platform. A near full-width transom seat faces forward toward an elegant pedestal-mount table with a teak top. To starboard, a storage cabinet with a Silestone countertop houses a refrigerator, freezer and storage, while a matching cabinet to port accommodates a sink and faucet, with more storage space beneath. With the convenient fridge, plenty of space for additional seating and the sun protection of an overhead hardtop with integral LED lighting, the cockpit on this yacht really is an ideal lounging or entertaining space, day or night. 

A large hatch in the cockpit sole opens to provide access to the engine room and an enormous lazarette. The engine room is not especially tall, but it is spacious, providing easy access to the twin Volvo Penta D13 diesels, twin Fisher Panda gensets and other mechanical equipment in our test boat. 

Wide twin side decks, each accented by a stainless steel railing, lead forward from the cockpit to the bow. An available sunpad can be added to the bow deck if desired, creating a quiet spot for soaking up the sun with a good book.

If you’d rather step inside, a beautiful teak-and-glass sliding door takes you from the cockpit into the salon. Grand Banks offers the boat with a choice of aft-galley or forward-galley floorplans. I usually prefer aft-galley layouts since they permit serving the salon or cockpit with equal ease, but must confess that the forward-galley layout in our review boat seemed positively ideal for the space. As you enter from the cockpit, a large L-shaped settee to port surrounds a pedestal-mount table with a teak top and adjustable leaves, allowing it to be easily configured for dining or drinks. To starboard, a pair of facing loveseats share a teak coffee table, while just ahead of them a large HD TV on a lift stows in a discreet teak bulkhead. 

The entire salon is bathed in light thanks to large windows that wrap around the space, many of which can be opened to provide outstanding ventilation. The bright environment and 360-degree views create a particularly attractive galley. Thoughtfully outfitted, the galley features a U-shaped Silestone countertop, a deep, undermount stainless steel sink with a residential-grade faucet and cavernous storage space below. Miele appliances, including a three-burner induction cooktop, oven, refrigerator and freezer, complement the high level of construction detail. A discreet panel of rocker-style switches allow the chef to open the side window for fresh air, or lower overhead shelves to provide access to dishes and cookware.

Opposite the galley, a side-opening door allows direct access to the starboard side deck, while an elegant teak and stainless steel staircase leads up to the Skylounge.

All the comforts of home

As a yacht designed for extended cruising, the Grand Banks 60 Skylounge offers all the comforts of home — in this case a three-bed, two-bath home for an adventurous couple and their guests.

While full-beam master staterooms have become all the rage in cruising yachts, Grand Banks has gone one better and positioned this suite along the boat’s port side. I found this approach immensely appealing, offering all the floor space of a full-beam suite while providing a wide rectangular window above the headboard, which floods the suite with morning light. The owner’s stateroom includes an equally spacious ensuite head, with a shower that deserves special mention, being particularly roomy and bright with its oversized glass door. The heated towel rack points to Grand Banks’ exceptional attention to detail. The far end of the owner’s suite is dominated by a substantial closet that includes several drawers and plenty of space for hanging clothes. Facing the island bed is a large, wall-mounted HD TV.

Guests will be forgiven for thinking they’ve been treated to the owner’s stateroom themselves, as the VIP suite in the bow is nearly as large and opulent. The bright guest accommodation features a large island bed, an overhead hatch and two side ports that provide plenty of sunlight and fresh air. Guests enjoy ensuite access to the day head, which, like the owner’s suite, includes a particularly spacious shower and that wonderful, heated towel rack.

A wide companionway leads aft to a third cabin with two single beds in a staggered L-shaped arrangement for greater privacy. The younger members of the crew will love this space; so too will empty nesters, who are more likely to use it as an attractive storage spot for additional supplies and gear. 

The sky’s the limit

As you walk through the Grand Banks 60, you can’t help but feel a sense of luxurious refinement. That’s particularly true when you ascend its curved teak staircase to the aptly named Skylounge. The Skylounge does more than simply provide cruisers with the ability to operate the boat from a protected upper pilothouse in both cold and warm climates, it also allows Grand Banks to take full advantage of the available living space on the main deck.

But rather than a simple pilothouse, you’ll find a smaller, more intimate version of the salon below. As on the main deck, a large and comfortable L-shaped settee to port (which can serve as a watch berth during a night passage) faces another teak table with adjustable leaves. A refrigerator in a small galley unit keeps a refreshing drink always close at hand. A spacious day head negates the need to go downstairs when nature calls, and full 360-degree wraparound windows (some electrically retractable) bathe the space in fresh air and natural light. 

The joinery work in the Skylounge — and everywhere, for that matter — is top-shelf, giving the Skylounge the feel of a luxurious private retreat. Only the twin pedestal-mount Stidd captain’s chairs and the neat helm console reveal this area’s true purpose.

A wide centerline door at the rear of the Skylounge provides access to a second aft cockpit, which is typically set aside to accommodate the 13-foot tender and standard ES1000 Steelhead Marine crane. It’s a neat arrangement that provides easy access to the tender without giving up space on the swim platform, while keeping it securely stowed and out of the way.

The challenges of any skylounge model are the additional weight and the possible blemish to a yacht’s lines if it’s not designed with a keen eye. 

“The proportions of the design are very important to us,” says Grand Banks CEO Mark Richards. “We’re not in the business of designing ugly boats so we spent a lot of time ensuring the Skylounge looks like it belongs on the 60. And our emphasis on weight reduction and strength in the build process ensures we’re not compromising the 60’s performance, while still keeping a very low vertical center of gravity. The whole package comes together and works extremely well.”

He’s absolutely right. So who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too? The Grand Banks 60 Skylounge is an extraordinary long-distance cruising yacht with the protection of a fully enclosed helm. And with luxurious accommodations, outstanding handling and superlative performance, it’s hard to imagine a serious cruiser wishing for anything more.







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