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Grand Banks 42 Classic

Illustration by Jim Ewing

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When the Grand Banks 42 was introduced in 1966, the distinctive powerboat was hailed by The Rudder magazine as a “hefty long-distance cruiser.” It also proved a long-lived one.

By the time it was retired nearly four decades later, 1,650 of the salty yachts would be built for a public attracted to comfortable long-distance cruising. Along the way, the Grand Banks 42 helped put the word “trawler” in the recreational boating lexicon, helping create one of the most popular boat types in the world.

Connecticut designer Ken Smith had already produced 32- and 36-foot cruising boats for Grand Banks, basing the design and look on the hardy fishing trawlers of Newfoundland. The 42 was another step in the evolution of the trawler, a semidisplacement vessel with a long and deep keel for stability and tracking, a single engine (Ford Lehman was favored), 7- to 10-knot speed and a range of 1,200 miles or more. (Many owners opted for twin engine installations, as shown here.)

The look is iconic: Its tall bow, broken sheer and sturdy pilothouse topped with a flybridge are instantly recognizable, as are the bulwarks, the three-panel windshield, wide side windows and the wheelhouse side door. One of the reasons she looks so good is that she started out as a wooden boat, with carvel planking on sawn frames. The teak transom and molded-in plank seams in the fiberglass versions hint at those origins.

Spacious accommodations complete the package. Layouts feature forward and aft staterooms, a full galley and a spacious saloon, with available dinettes and bunk-bed cabins in some model years. Workmanship was paramount from the beginning and the expert joinery set the standard for this new kind of yacht.

“Few [boats], if any, are more recognizable or in greater demand than the Grand Banks 42,” says naval architect and writer Jack Hornor. “It is a near-perfect coastal cruising powerboat.”

April 2013 issue


Illustration of Grand Banks 42 Europa

Classics: Grand Banks 42 Europa

Designer Ken Smith’s Grand Banks 42 is an acknowledged classic, a salty trawler yacht with an aft cabin, sturdy  wheelhouse and workboat-inspired profile that was built for nearly 40 years. The Europa version was an offspring.


Grand Banks 42 Europa

We all know the feeling. Walking off the dock after a day on the water, you can’t resist turning around and taking one last look at your boat.