Grand Banks 38 Eastbay EX

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Illustration by Jim Ewing

The 38 Eastbay EX was something different when it debuted in 1993 and launched Grand Banks’ new line,­ a radical departure from the builder’s well-known cruising trawlers. The dark-blue hull, trunk cabin and distinctive windshield stood out against the sleek, curvy Euro-styling that was popular at the time. Its traditional profile evoked Maine lobster yachts, and it had something of the trawler tradition in it, too.

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The Eastbay’s performance, however, was most un-trawler-like. The express rode an 18-degree deep-vee hull designed by C. Raymond Hunt Associates and cruised at 20-plus mph with a standard pair of Caterpillar 3208 TA diesels, 375 hp each.

Then there was Grand Banks’ expert joinery to complement a first-class interior with all the cruising comforts. The basic cabin layout — two were offered over the years — included a full galley with a three-burner stove, an oven and a refrigerator, as well as a C-shaped dinette/lounge. The enclosed head compartment included a shower.

Looking back over its decade-long production run, one observer called the 38 Eastbay EX a “game-changer.” It certainly helped spawn the Down East phenomenon of the 1990s, which produced such modern classics as the Hinckley Picnic Boat. That traditional look, combined with modern performance and creature comforts, made the boat irresistible to upwardly mobile young couples and a comfortable alternative for older ones coming over from sailing. More than 140 38s were built — a hardtop was introduced in 2002 — before it was replaced by the 39 Eastbay in 2006.

The 38 Eastbay EX has been followed by several other models in ever-larger sizes: a 40-footer in 1996, a 43 in 1998, a 49 in 1999. Today, six models from 45 to 55 feet are offered, including flybridge versions.

— Steve Knauth

March 2015 issue