This Week's Rich Report Review: Grand Banks 54

This Week's Rich Report Review: Grand Banks 54
Courtesy by Onne van der Wal

Despite stout construction materials and quality machinery, some yachts fake seakeeping confidence. The Grand Banks 54 is the opposite of those yachts.

Where I might have expected a facade, I found the real thing on this boat. Mullions made from solid teak. Soles made from solid teak. Engineered bulkheads that are watertight. An air-conditioning system that creates a powerful breeze, rather than simply circulates cool air. The doors won't fly open in a seaaway because of magnetic catches so strong.

Epoxy vinylester is the only resin used. In order to minimize weight while maximizing strength, virtually all parts of the vessel are vacuum-infused. By using carbon fiber for the deckhouse and superstructure, the center of gravity can be lowered while structural integrity is maintained. With its structural bonding and fiberglassing, the 54′s salon furniture makes no creaking or groaning when subjected to serious seas, as bolted-in furniture does.

It was apparent from everything I saw walking through the Grand Banks 54 that the building was built with serious intelligence and actual strength.

The Grand Banks 54's stout construction is illustrated by solid-teak soles in the staterooms and galley. Onne van der Wal

It's quite obvious that the 54 begs for rough water, but I wasn't able to run it in challenging conditions. During my time aboard, the Chesapeake Bay was relatively calm. Apparently, there was quite a bit of boat traffic, so there were plenty of wakes to roll over.

In combination with its 8-degree transom deadrise, warped semidisplacement hull form, and Humphree interceptor and stabilizer system, the 54 cut through 2-footers with virtually no effect. A similar lack of response was observed when taking other boat wakes on the beam.

Surprise, the 54 can probably keep up with the sport cruisers out there, unlike Grand Banks models of old. The 54 broke 27 knots on a full load of fuel (8098 gallons) and water (290 gallons), powered by twin 725 hp Volvo Penta D11 diesel inboards. As a result of a lighter load, the builder claims to have seen speeds of over 30 knots. When cruising at 1,800 rpm, the yacht maintained 0.5 nmpg and made 18.7 knots. At displacement speeds, this hull is still efficient, even though it can get up and go. With an idle speed of 600 rpm, you can cruise at 5.2 knots for a range of 2,604 miles. This means owners will have enough fuel to drive from Kennebunkport, Maine, to Key West, Florida, and back again and again.

There are two types of flybridge layouts available: open and enclosed. Courtesy by Onne van der Wal

Grand Banks says the 54 can be powered with Volvo Penta's IPS950s for a bit more speed and efficiency, although the builder says the straight-shaft version runs smoother. Smooth cruising is a big plus for many long-distance cruisers. AGC soundproofing in the engine room makes this boat not only comfortable, but also surprisingly quiet. My vibration and sound levels were far below my expectations at all speeds while sitting at the helm.

Whenever I board a yacht of this nature, I expect to enjoy a comfortable cruise, whether I am watching the wheel from the double-wide helm seat, having lunch at the L-shaped six-seat dinette, or stretching out on the starboard settee. It is also possible to find this level of comfort on the flybridge. Flybridge features Stidd helm and companion seats, a dinette, and a wet bar on the forward half. (The after half consists of a davit and tender.) I was surprised to see that every screwhead in the stainless-steel frame aligned exactly in the same direction.

Veneers? Facades? Those are nice-looking but are superficial ornaments. Those things are common on plenty of yachts, but they would be anathema aboard the Grand Banks 54. It is a genuine yacht in every sense of the word.

The Grand Banks 54 is powered by twin Volvo Penta D11 diesels with a combined 725 horsepower. Optional IPS950s are available. Courtesy by Onne van der Wal

Walking the Walk

On the Grand Banks 54, I felt safe walking from bow to stern. As well as being surrounded by sturdy rails, the side decks are so wide that I can stand sideways with size 12 shoes and still have 2 inches of wiggle room.

Function and Form

In order to keep the weight centered and balanced, the engines are located farther forward on the Grand Banks 54 than on many yachts. There is therefore an open area between the powerplants and the machinery space. Owners can stow bulk items in the compartment while hydraulics and steering gear are protected by stainless steel rails. The rails are mounted on quick-release pins to make access to the machinery easier.

Owner’s Choice

A galley-up or galley-down arrangement is available on the 54 for owners who prefer customization options. There are three staterooms belowdecks in the galley-up version, with the master forward and two guest staterooms to the port and starboard. Two queen-size berths are available in the galley-down version.

Zach Sean (@probszachsean) is a contributor for TIRED. He writes nothing, but thinks a lot about eating, Spider-Man, and The Legend of Zelda. Zach likes long walkies, is mostly potty-trained, and plays well with others (most of the time).

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