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On board the GB32

The Grand Banks 32 was in production for three decades. When the last one was splashed in 1996, 861 of these venerable cruisers had been built. They were initially built of wood but transitioned to fiberglass construction in the mid-1970s. Little changed during their production run, and from a distance it’s difficult to tell a well-cared-for wooden model from a later fiberglass boat.

All the comforts of home await those who cruise in this classic trawler.

Power comes from a single 6-cylinder, naturally aspirated Ford Lehman diesel of either 120 or 135 hp, which provides a stately cruising speed in the 8-knot range. She won’t win any races, but the semidisplacement hull is seakindly and will keep going in conditions that will have other boats heading for home. Fuel consumption at cruising speed is a miserly 2.5 gph, so it’s possible to cruise all day without breaking the bank.

Make no mistake: This is a heavy boat, with a displacement of 17,000 pounds. A solid layup and quality construction mean that the 32, like the other boats in the Grand Banks lineup, retain their value. You can expect to pay about $100,000 for a late ’80s model.

Most older boats aren’t without their problems, and the Achilles’ heel with the GB32 is mostly centered on the fuel tanks, with leaks a common topic of conversation among owners. Boats with original tanks may require tank replacement at some time, which can be a costly and difficult job.

The layout is seaman-like and thoughtful. Rather than extend the saloon out to the sides of the hull, the 32 has large, proper walkaround decks, as well as a tall and secure rail and easy access to the foredeck, where a short bowsprit has room for two anchors. Early boats had the galley toward the aft part of the saloon, but this was changed to move the galley forward along the port side. There is ample counter space, hot and cold water, a deep stainless sink, an under-counter fridge and a large oven and cooktop. Propane is stored under the seat on the flybridge, where any leaks are vented safely over the side.

The lower helm is to starboard of the galley, and plenty of windows provide good all-around visibility. Abaft the helm and galley is the main seating area, with settees to port and starboard and a sole-mounted drop-leaf table for dining. That sole is one of the first things you notice when you come through the door from the cockpit aft.

Burmese teak is used for the parquet flooring in the saloon and forward V-berth, and it oozes quality, as does the joinery throughout the boat. Teak is everywhere, and at times it’s easy to forget that this is a fiberglass boat. Doors and drawers on Seaglass still close with a reassuring click, just as they did when the boat was built 25 years ago.

The cabin is forward and down three steps from the saloon, and with an infill in place, the berth is huge. The head compartment is to starboard and includes an electric marine head, vanity and, with the use of a curtain, a decent-size shower that drains through a teak grating into a sump.

Hinge-up and lift-out panels in the saloon sole give good access to the main engine, batteries and other mechanical parts. Having a single engine on centerline makes for easier servicing and other routine work. A 12-gallon water heater is to port, and the holding tank is to starboard. Tucked under the side decks are twin 125-gallon fuel tanks; the 5kW Kohler generator and twin 8D batteries are aft.

The flybridge is accessed via a teak ladder on the port side of the cockpit, which like the rest of the deck is overlaid with teak. There are a couple of back-to-back seats, with room for six. A mast set on a hinged bracket makes a good place to mount antennas and radar, and the boom can be used to lift the dinghy into the water or to set a steadying sail to keep the boat head-to-wind in an anchorage.

Grand Banks practically defined the market and invented the trawler for recreational use. With its distinctive clipped shear and handsome features, the GB32 still looks as fresh today as it did 40 years ago.


LOA: 32 feet

BEAM: 11 feet, 6 inches

DRAFT: 3 feet, 9 inches

DISPLACEMENT: 17,000 pounds

TANKAGE: 250 gallons fuel, 110 gallons water

PROPULSION: single diesel

See related article:

- Choosing wisely

August 2014 issue