Trawlers on the Hori­zon

Soundings - - Just Yesterday -

AGrand Banks 42 cruises the coast­line in this idyl­lic scene cap­tured in 1969. Nowa­days, the trawler-style cruis­ing yacht is such a fa­mil­iar sight around the wa­ter­ways of Amer­ica that it’s hard to imag­ine a time when this clas­sic de­sign wasn’t around. The trawler-style cruiser made its de­but in the early 1960s with the Chan­ty­man, a wooden boat that Robert New­ton built half­way around the world at Amer­i­can Marine Ltd. in Hong Kong. Just un­der 35 feet long, it looked like a fish­ing boat as it was husky and high-sided, with a wheel­house set for­ward like an Alaska trawler’s. With a big diesel engine, it bore lit­tle re­sem­blance to the mo­to­ry­achts of the day. And yet, the builder saw the pos­si­bil­i­ties in the de­sign. It was sea­wor­thy and, with an 8-knot cruis­ing speed, easy on fuel. There was a lot of room on board, and it had a rugged, salty look. The Chan­ty­man proved to be a ground­break­ing de­sign. Au­thor Robert M. Lane, in A Brief His­tory of Grand Banks and Amer­i­can Marine, wrote, “It was a de­sign that in­tro­duced the con­cept of a pro­duc­tion-type trawler yacht to the boat­ing world.”

New­ton went on to com­mis­sion marine ar­chi­tect Ken Smith to im­prove on the Chan­ty­man idea. Smith pro­duced a 36-footer that was diesel-pow­ered with the same work­ing trawler look, but with more room in­side and the ad­di­tion of a fly­bridge. The first hull of that trawler made its de­but in 1963. A year later, Amer­i­can Marine aban­doned its cus­tom yacht busi­ness to fo­cus on the trawler. In 1965, the com­pany in­tro­duced the 36 as a pro­duc­tion boat. It was named Grand Banks, af­ter the famed At­lantic fish­ing grounds. The recre­ational trawler mar­ket was born.

Not long af­ter, the Grand Banks 42 de­buted, re­fin­ing the con­cept of the recre­ational trawler. It be­came one of the most suc­cess­ful trawler de­signs ever, en­joy­ing a 30-year pro­duc­tion run. —Steve Knauth

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