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It was choppy and overcast the morning we tested the Eastbay 43. In fact, we were the only boat under way in Southern California’s Alamitos Bay, and the only pleasureboat in sight once we left the harbor.
The skies were gray and threatening rain (and soon it DID rain -- for two days straight). However, our Eastbay 43 Flybridge gave us a comfortable ride on this uncomfortable day.
We tested the Eastbay 43 with Ian McGhie of Stan Miller Yachts in Long Beach, California, who furnished our test boat. It was Hull #28, and the crew at Stan Miller Yachts had cleaned and waxed the boat until it sparkled and shone. If we hadn’t already heard the forecast, we would have assumed that boat wash had brought on the impending storm. (Doesn’t it ALWAYS rain after you’ve just washed the boat or the car?)
Despite the weather, throughout a variety of maneuvers, turns and offshore runs, our Eastbay 43 tracked solidly and remained stable and comfortable. The hull made its way through major league chop without pounding, and we barely noticed those big waves.
Our ride was dry, thanks to lifting strakes that divert spray away down and provide more lift up front. Steering was effortless and handling was precise, and there was no wandering: our 43 went where we put it, and it stayed there.
With a pair of optional 420 hp Caterpillar 3126 diesels, our test boat cruised at around 24 knots (at 2,200 rpm) and reached a top speed of 30 knots (at 2,800 rpm). That’s surprisingly peppy performance for a 29,000 pound boat.
At lower speeds, the Eastbay offers impressive cruising range and the solid, steady cruising attributes of a heavy displacement boat. “You can just chug steadily along all day – or you can get up and go at higher speeds,” McGhie said.
Own this boat, and you’ll continually surprise your friends and fellow boaters, McGhie said. “This is a traditional-looking boat, so no one expects it to be this fast.”
With seemingly acres of warm, honey-hued, hand-rubbed teak in its interior, accenting its exterior and gracing the cockpit deck, the Eastbay 43 is a boat that would please any traditionalist – and it has won many fans among former sailboaters. While it has design elements of a “Down East” lobster boat, the Eastbay 43 is quite practical for contemporary boaters.
The 43’s classic look camouflages its advanced construction and equipment. This traditional boat has the best of everything on its standard equipment list – including efficient high-performance diesel engines, Corian countertops, VacuFlush heads and an advanced C. Raymond Hunt hull design. Hunt, credited with popularizing the deep-V hull on some of the most notable boats of the 1960s, gave the Eastbay 43 hull a 29 degree entry to reduce pounding and ride flat and dry.
Big windows and a high profile make for a full 360 degree view at the pilothouse-style saloon’s lower helm station. Above it, a big flybridge offers an even better view, plus full controls and instrumentation.
The 43’s large cockpit offers enough space for sportfishing – plus, easy access to wide, skid-resistant walk-around decks and the boat’s long foredeck. Belowdecks, a comfortable master stateroom, a smaller guest cabin and a galley and dinette offer right-size accommodations for weekend cruising.
We piloted the 43 from the lower helm station on this chilly day, and enjoyed excellent visibility. The center windshield panel opens for ventilation when you need it, but we kept it closed. We appreciated the boat’s standard articulated swing arm windshield wipers with speed adjustment and the windshield washer system.
A full array of VDO instrumentation and cable-operated Panish controls are standard. Hydraulic controls are optional -- and very popular.
There’s plenty of room for mounting optional electronics in a wood panel adjacent to the teak captain’s wheel and in a three-panel compartment above the windshield. We also liked the pull-out footrest beneath the helm seat.
A side door is adjacent to the helm, to starboard, for ready access to the rail-protected walk-around sidedecks and foredeck. In the saloon, a teak grabrail is conveniently placed in the center overhead.
A chart table is built-in opposite the helm, to port. It is adjacent to a pair of teak chairs, a compact settee and a cabinet with a TV and stereo. To starboard, there’s a large L-shaped convertible settee and an inlaid wood high/low fold-out table.
The saloon/lower helm has one of the boat’s two independent Marine Air air conditioning/reverse-cycle heating units. The other serves the staterooms belowdecks.
Three hatches in the saloon’s teak and holly saloon sole offer ready access to the engine room. While it is compact, it’s not difficult to reach any major component. Along with the twin Caterpillar diesels on our test boat, we found an 8 kw Onan auxiliary generator, single Racor filters, big sea strainers, an oil change system and neatly routed color-coded wiring.
Up on the flybridge, you’ll find all the controls and gauges of the lower helm. The gauges are protected by a plexiglass cover and are adjacent to a stainless steel captain’s wheel.
A pair of optional Pompanette helm seats were provided on our test boat, along with a rear bench seat with storage underneath.
In the cockpit, three hatches offer ample storage. The hatches are built with a unique design that includes a built-in drain trough around the edges.
Other niceties in the cockpit include a hot and cold shower and washdown system, a manual bilge pump outlet and a locker that offers storage for an optional propane tank.
Two steps down from the saloon, the boat’s galley offers a teak-trimmed Norcold refrigerator, a sink with a Grohe faucet, a Princess three-burner range and oven, an optional microwave/convection oven, a top-load freezer box (which can be fitted with a cold plate) and abundant storage cabinets.
The forward stateroom is available with either a double island berth or a V-berth. Our test boat offered the V-berth, because of the advantage of having two hanging lockers in this layout.
The guest stateroom offers upper and lower bunk-style berths, and is located opposite the galley.
A head compartment is abaft the master stateroom, to port; and a separate shower compartment is to starboard.
While the accommodations are definitely not large enough for full-time liveaboards, they are comfortable for a couple who enjoys weekend cruises, and even an occasional week-long adventure.
Rich History, Bright Future
The first Grand Banks trawler yacht made its debut more than 30 years ago – and more than 4,000 are cruising today, worldwide. The boats made a name for themselves for their long-range cruising ability, their high-quality construction and their expertly crafted teak joinery.
In 1994, Grand Banks introduced the Eastbay line of “Down East”-style cruisers. The first model, the Eastbay 38, was an instant hit – and today, well-maintained older 38s often sell for more than twice their original price.
Eastbay still makes the 38 – along with the 49 and 43. Production of these craftsman-built boats is limited: Only around 30 Eastbay 43s are expected to be built this year.
Because of this, you might have to wait eight to 10 months before you can take delivery of the Eastbay you order today. But that’s OK: Good things are worth waiting for.
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