Old-world craftsmanship and modern technology combine in the iconic builder's latest model.
On an overcast and rainy day on Chesapeake Bay, I boarded the new Grand Banks 60 Skylounge for a test drive. The GB60 is a big vessel with a length overall of 65 feet, 4 inches, and we were in a tight spot in the marina, tucked between pilings with a sailboat side-tied directly ahead. As I threw off the lines, Capt. Graeme Mellor, Grand Banks’ delivery captain, eased the boat forward with the optional Yacht Controller. From his position on the sidedeck, he was able to gently pirouette the boat out of the slip and guide it through the tight marina. Once clear we both retreated to the Skylounge to relax in the twin Stidd helm seats.
The Grand Banks 60 Skylounge quietly and purposefully sliced through the water as we headed around the point. In the more open waters of the bay, a short 3-foot chop building ahead was nearly imperceptible as we ran our numbers. The GB60 accelerated smoothly with little or no bowrise. It carved turns easily, a slight lean barely perceptible because of its low center of gravity. There was little or no bow spray as the boat cut through the chop and not a drop reached the windshield.
High-tech construction is combined with a unique warped hull form on the GB60. A fine entry cuts through the water, which then streams along the hull in an even, unencumbered fashion. There are no hard chines, strakes or tunnels to disturb water flow as the hull transitions smoothly and flattens aft to around 8 degrees of deadrise. The result is a semi-displacement hull that moves cleanly through the water and allows a boat with a lot of accommodation space to still be fast and efficient. Full-displacement hulls require effort to push water out of the way. Planing hulls expend propulsion energy trying to lift the boat out of the water. Neither of these issues occurs with the GB60, which is designed to slice easily through the water.
With twin Volvo Penta D13-800 diesels turning shafts, the GB60 cruised easily at 22 knots, where the D13s burned 49.5 gph, for a range of 613 miles. Slowing to 19 to 20 knots brought the fuel burn below 40 gph and increased range by another 100 miles. Top speed was a respectable 28 knots, but buyers looking for a faster top speed should know that manufacturer tests with larger engines reached a top speed of 36 knots. At trawler speeds, the 60 has remarkable range. Even in our somewhat lumpy test conditions, at 10 knots the yacht’s range was 1,661 miles; reducing speed to 8 knots pushed its range beyond 2,500 miles.
Our test boat had Volvo Penta D13-800s, but D13-900s will soon be standard, and Grand Banks will offer D13-1000s and D13 IPS 1200s as options. Few builders offer both IPS and shaft options on the same boat, and by doing so Grand Banks can satisfy buyers regardless of their preferred drive type.
Forward visibility is excellent from the helm, whose teak-clad wheel is centered and controls are within easy reach. An electronics package features twin Garmin 8617 MFD flat panels connected to a variety of devices. Rear visibility is excellent via a camera feed on the MFDs, and the Yacht Controller helps when docking; a cockpit station is another option. Opening windows on both sides and sliding hatches overhead deliver good ventilation to the captain and companion.
The Skylounge has 6 feet, 5 inches of headroom and covers 134 square feet, as measured by my Bosch 165 laser tape measure. It contains the helm, a large seating area with a table, and a day head. Access is via an internal stairway, and an exterior cockpit ladder is an option. A door leads aft to a large open deck that’s home to a Steelhead ES1000 davit and a 12-foot AB Aluminum RIB with a 40 hp Yamaha outboard. When the tender is lowered, the aft deck can be used for entertaining.
An open flybridge with a hardtop and no day head is standard, but the climate-controlled comfort of the optional Skylounge was welcome on a muggy test day. The Skylounge is a quiet, comfortable spot to run the boat; I measured 53 decibels at idle while we waited for a bridge. The additional accommodations provide a great place to get away from dockside action and retreat, and with the day head the Skylounge provides a semiprivate extra cabin.
Grand Banks is an iconic brand that has built thousands of boats over the last 60 years, but that does not mean the builder is stuck in the past. New leadership (see Evolution of a Brand sidebar) is combining the best of new and old. The GB60 SL’s performance is modern and efficient, but at heart it is still a Grand Banks. Abundant high-quality teak flows throughout the interior, with nary a dark spot to be found. Joiner work is impeccable, and built-in furniture, contoured doors and wall panels with contrasting fabrics highlight the wood. Large salon windows bring in light to the fully equipped galley and its Silestone counters.
Two galley arrangements are available: aft or forward. The aft galley is convenient for serving passengers in the cockpit area. The Skylounge model I tested has the galley forward and to port; the internal Skylounge stairs are opposite, beside the door to the covered sidedecks. Both layouts work well and provide similar seating and dining areas.
Belowdecks the master stateroom features a king bed athwartships, large hanging lockers and an en suite head. Teak floors in the master extend into the head where a large shower compartment features a glass door, a teak sole with a stainless drain, a corner bench and convenient shelves. The forward cabin has a queen bed, a hanging locker and an opening overhead hatch for ventilation. A second head with a separate shower is accessed from the corridor. To starboard, a twin cabin features a single bunk along the hull, and a step-down cabin with a single athwartships bunk is tucked beneath the salon stairs. This cabin should be fun for kids, but the bunks are big enough for crew or other adults. A washer/dryer combo is in one of the cabinets.
Quality workmanship is demonstrated throughout the boat. Highly finished interior panels and fixtures, polished stainless rails, smooth and even glass work, a well laid out engine room, and precisely run and carefully labeled wiring all show the dedication Grand Banks has to excellence. The yacht’s styling is salty and distinctively Grand Banks, yet its performance is nimble and efficient. The Grand Banks 60 Skylounge is an excellent example of combining the best of old-world craftsmanship with modern design and technology and is a serious contender for anyone looking at a boat of this size and class.