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Some days are simply like this: an east wind of 18 to 22 knots, a painfully bright blue sky, temperature crowding 80 and North Atlantic rollers the size of a Peterbuilt. What's a person to do, stay in port? Prudence may be the better part of valor, but Capt. Mark Mitchell and I feared not. We were aboard the new Eastbay 43 Express.
When you see her sitting quietly at the fuel dock, you don't think such an elegant lady could be as tough and agile as a Navy Seal. Out in the rough stuff, she met each wave with her fine entry and finished it off with her stiff, deep-V midsections. No resonant thuds, no shudders, no rattling hatches or flexing bridge-deck sole. Had I been blindfold, I would have figured her for a bigger boat, 50' maybe, because she rode so well.
|The dining table folds up against the bulkhead when you don't want it cluttering the saloon. An inviting island berth dominates the forward cabin.|
In the sheltered waters of the Intracoastal Waterway, we performed a few no-wake maneuvers. Her behavior forward and reverse, steering with the throttles, was predictably accurate and dependable. Although the wind howled over the superstructure, the 43 didn't blow around enough to defy the helm. This is one advantage of her low profile. She would have been even more manageable if we'd struck the soft top and isinglass side curtains. The sedan and flybridge models offer a great deal more surface area to the wind and will battle you a bit during low-speed maneuvers. The entire Eastbay line has quite a lot of bottom submersed at these speeds, too, which helps keep the boats in place when the wind blows.
Althought the 43 is big enough to houase a single person full-time, it's a smidgen tight for the number of berths she has. An inviting island double berth occupies the center of the forward cabin. Stowage cabinets grow from the topsides, port and starboard, and the space beneath the berth holds deep drawers (accessible from the face of the berth's base), plus deep bins under the matteress. A cedar-lined locker, starboard side, seems deep enough to hang shirts, pants, dresses and sport jackets without their chaffing against the door or the back of the locker. The over and under guest stateroom on the port side is cozy without feeling cramped, and its stowage space ought to satsify most guests during a weekend jaunt. The head, with a separate shower stall, is opposite.
The U-shape galley is snug and efficient. Bracing against the boat's movement ought to be easy, making the galley safe to use while under way. Aromas from the electric cook-top vent overhoard, and a microwave rests conviently above a normal electric oven. The fridge opens from the front and offers space for a few days of cruising, and a separate freezer opens from the top. Opposite the galley is a dinette that seats four adults, three on the settee and one in a chair. I suppose four could sit around the settee, but I'd feel crowded. The fold-down table seems adequately long, but it's only about 20" wide.
This boat has more stowage than I could ever use, but a couple likely would fill all the nooks and crannies. She's a marvel of space effiency: the TV occupies a small cabinet over the double sinks, and the air conditioning tucks into a space beneath the settee.
Real fun began when I stepped onto the bridge deck and heard the CAT 3208TA diesels at 1800 rpm. At 435 hp apiece, they have all the grunt a reasonable owner will ever need. They push the 43 to a top speed of 29-31 knots, way too fast for the conditions we encountered at the inlet and offshore. Wind against tide at the inlet and offshore. Wind against tide at the inlet brewed up a batch of short-standing waves that kept us at 1500 to 1800 rpm, just enough speed to plane. Conditons offshore weren't much better, but the wavelength increased substantially, allowing us to cruise comfortably at 2000 to 2200 rpm.
Eastbays of all lengths come from the drawing boards of C. Raymond Hunt Associates, the inventor of the deep-V and still a master of the form. Although the original design had a constant deadrise of 24 degreees, the 43 has a warped-plane bottom, as all Hunt V's have nowadays, and a deadrise at the transom of 19 degrees. Peter Boyce, head designer for the Eastbay line, told me most of the Hunt Associates bottoms hover around 14-19 degrees at the transom and recieve more or less angle according to the payload and speed potentials. Since the early 1960's, the Hunt V-hull has enjoyed a reputation for good ride quality.
Pure heft and stiffness contribute to the soft ride. Eastbays are overbuilt - a solid laminate below the waterline, coring in the topsides and superstructure - making them a bit heavier than need be. Add full water and fuel tanks, and you have one more piece of the formula.
An express may not be as practical a cruising boat as a sedan, but the 43's low profile keeps her from heeling to leeward in a heavy crosswind. We needed only a touch of trim tab to keep her level. She tracks well across the wind and seas, and didn't ask for a great deal of attention downwind. She's happy at displacement speed, and her shallow propellor tunnels reduce draft by about 5" compared to a similar hull without the tunnels. All in all, the 43 is a very good sea boat and a good boat for puttering around backwaters.
3831 Trappe Landing Road
Trappe, MD 21673