BUILT TO SUIT

THE GRAND BANKS EAST­BAY 44 IS A POCKET CRUISER THAT COM­BINES A NO-FUSS AT­TI­TUDE WITH HANDSOME LINES.

Yachting - - CONTENTS - BY KEVIN KOENIG

The Grand Banks East­bay 44 is a Downeast cruiser with cus­tom lay­out op­tions and a sur­pris­ing amount of in­te­rior vol­ume.

Tthere’s a cer­tain in­ef­fa­ble joy to be found when form and func­tion com­bine to cre­ate some­thing greater than the whole: the way a race car’s wide back tires help it stick to the pave­ment while mak­ing it look like a big cat gear­ing up to pounce, or the ef­fort­less­ness of Ken Grif­fey Jr.’s swing, its power gen­er­ated from grace, and vice versa. In some ways, the East­bay 44 from Grand Banks joins this rar­efied class. Its lines are mas­cu­line with­out be­ing bulky, clas­sic with­out be­ing old-fash­ioned. They not only look good on the out­side, but they also open up her in­te­rior to make this pocket cruiser us­able and cruis­able — not some­thing that can be said of ev­ery boat of this size and class.

The East­bay 44 is built in the in­dus­trial city of Jo­hor Bahru, Malaysia, along­side her sis­ter lines, Grand Banks Yachts and Palm Beach Mo­tor Yachts. One might be tempted — as I orig­i­nally was — to com­pare the East­bay 44 to the Palm Beach 42 and won­der why a boat­build­ing com­pany would pro­duce such seem­ingly sim­i­lar mod­els. How­ever, the mid­size Downeast­ers don’t ac­tu­ally have all that much in com­mon. Whereas the Palm Beach 42 is meant more as a day boat, the East­bay 44 is ca­pa­ble of longer jour­neys and overnights.

I tested this boat off the coast of Sydney, Aus­tralia, with her owner, who heads a fam­ily of five that he likes to take up the coast to his in-laws’ house, as well as to Pittwa­ter, a pris­tine es­tu­ary and pop­u­lar cruis­ing des­ti­na­tion 25 miles north of the city’s busi­ness dis­trict, where the fam­ily does their overnights. He or­dered his 44 with three state­rooms, a rel­a­tively un­usual op­tion for a model this size. The fore­peak mas­ter is par­tic­u­larly spa­cious with rich, warm teak through­out. And there’s stowage pretty much any­where you could imag­ine stowage might be. As I picked my way through the state­room, open­ing and clos­ing each new com­part­ment, the owner, with clas­sic Ozzie un­der­state­ment, smiled wryly and said, “Yes, she has quite a few cab­i­nets.”

His two sons use the dou­ble-berth state­room aft and to port, while his daugh­ter takes the sin­gle­berth state­room aft and to star­board. She shares the space with a sur­plus re­frig­er­a­tor and freezer, which come in handy dur­ing longer pe­ri­ods aboard. Two heads are amid­ships with the gal­ley-up op­tion. Own­ers can also or­der the gal­ley down, in which case

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