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, Conn., shared the buying experience, too. And the Grand Banks 38 Eastbay EX they bought a year ago 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 10 winter trips to Florida and cruised New England from Maine to Nantucket, Mass., 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.”
They 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 Websters came across the 1995 38 Eastbay EX in Stuart, Fla. 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.”
The layout below includes “everything we need,” Webster says. “There’s a decent galley, and that’s important; we eat on board a lot. I like the V-berth setup and, although it would be nice to have a separate shower, it isn’t that big a thing.”
Power is twin Caterpillar 3208 TA diesels, rated at 375 hp. “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-vee 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. She was just cruising along. The deep-vee 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 [incidents].”
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 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.”
The Grand Banks 38 Eastbay EX rides a solid fiberglass deep-vee hull designed by C. Raymond Hunt Associates (topsides are Divinycell-cored). Prop pockets reduce draft to slightly more than 3 feet. The wide side decks and full-length side rails allow easy movement around the boat. The raised bridge deck (with engines below) has a well-appointed helm station to starboard, laid out with a large instrument console and room for a navigation station. Both command and bench seating were available.
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, and it’s equipped with a marine head, sink and shower. The difference is in the forward cabin, with V-berth and island berth options; the former allows for a slightly larger head compartment.
Standard power included 300- and 375-hp Caterpillar diesels, the bigger engine allowing for a 20-knot-plus cruising speed. Additional features include teak decking, a swim platform and a hydraulic-assist deck hatch for engine access.
Upscale elegance and traditional styling came together in 1993 with the debut of the Eastbay powerboat series. It was a new take on the lobster yacht concept, conceived and built by Grand Banks, famous since the 1960s for its trawlers. The 38 Eastbay EX’s immediate popularity led to more models: a 40-footer (1996), a 43-footer (1998) and a 49-footer (1999). A hardtop version of the 38 was offered beginning in 2002, and more than 130 of the express boats were built during a decade-long production run that ended in 2004. Prices on the used market start in the $190,000 range and rise to $300,000-plus for well-kept newer models.
LOA: 38 feet
BEAM: 13 feet, 2 inches
DRAFT: 3 feet, 4 inches
WEIGHT: 27,000 pounds
HULL TYPE: deep-vee
PROPULSION: twin 375-hp Cat diesels
TANKAGE: 366 gallons fuel, 95 gallons water
DESIGNER: C. Raymond Hunt Associates
BUILDER: Grand Banks Yachts, Seattle
PHONE: (206) 352-0116
This article originally appeared in the September 2011 issue.
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