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