The Mission of the Grand Banks 54 Heritage
The mission of Grand Banks has always been to signal one and all that its boats are built for veteran yachtsmen who consider themselves salty coastal cruisers and want a high-quality boat. But the new 54 Heritage EU is taking a giant step beyond that. While she is a replacement for the 52EU, she does not have a Ken Smith-designed hull under her as the Heritage Grand Banks trawlers have used for decades. Rather, she has the same hull shape as the Grand Banks 53 Aleutian RP. As a result the new 54 has a CE "A" classification which means she meets the requirements of the British Marine Federation as part of the Recreational Craft Directive for boats sold in Europe. For an "A" classification the vessels must be able to theoretically be able to handle 23' waves and winds up to 10 on the Beaufort Scale (48-55 knots).
Other Sea Changes.
Powered by twin 900-hp optional engines she should be able to cruise in the high 20-knot range. But perhaps the biggest sea change found in the new 54 Heritage EU is her lounge and high-low table nestled in the middle of her trunk cabin on the foredeck, something usually seen only on big, sexy Italian motoryachts. Not only that, but she also has an optional sunpad large enough for two or three people on her flying bridge -- complete with electric-actuated back lift. This is not your father's Grand Banks.
•The Genuine Trawler Vessel.
Since Grand Banks invented the concept and look of the recreational trawler it has been the caretaker of the "trawler" image and feel for over four decades. While there are many imitators, there is only one trawler brand that is the genuine article and that is Grand Banks. The rake of her stem, her molded-in faux planks, her nearly vertical windshields and boxy shape are all part of what trawlers are "supposed" to look like. Try as they may, no one has truly knocked-off the secret sauce, and the new 54 Heritage EU keeps to that tradition.
•Plenty of Teak.
In the beginning Grand Banks were built all in wood in Hong Kong where there was a ready supply of teak from southeast Asia. When the company moved to Singapore it switched to fiberglass hulls and decks but kept its lavish use of teak in the interiors. Over the years Grand Banks' teak took on a distinctive look -- glossy, finely crafted, and plenty of it. Grand Banks takes great pride in its teak and works hard to make sure it and the finishing of it is best in class.
•Simplicity of Design and Systems.
One of the secrets of Grand Banks yachts through the years was keeping the boats and systems as simple as possible. By having basic systems and not complicating construction with complex equipment and flavor-of-the-month gadgets, the builder has been able to keep its boats reliable and easy to work on when maintenance is needed.
This is a detail that most people would consider minor, but we think is important because of what it says about the builder. On most Grand Banks boats we have cruised in there are teak hand holds nearly everywhere they might be needed. In fact, we have never been on a boat with more of them than Grand Banks. To us they symbolize the builder's understanding the realities of getting around a boat in a seaway and its commitment to making the boat as functional and as safe as possible.
•Part of A Bigger Family.
Grand Banks builds 15 models in three distinctive lines that each appeal to a different market niche of yachtsman. Years ago management realized that it's trawlers could not be all things to all cruising people, so it developed first the Eastbay Series for boaters who wanted an elegant, more sporty-looking, much faster, yet still classy express cruiser. It wisely chose the Downeast style and its sales now are on a par with those of the Heritage series. Finally, Grand Banks introduced the Aleutian Series which extends to 76' (34.5 m) and is designed for more aggressive passages in much bigger boats. These are pilothouse boats that are robust, with more luxurious amenities, and are in many ways a logical extension of the GB trawler concept to bigger boats.
Comparison with Competitors in Class
When we compare the new 54 Heritage EU with eight other well-known brands in the trawler class we discover some interesting differences. First, the 54EU has the second greatest displacement, at 76,033 lbs. (34,560 kg.) dry. (The heaviest is a single-engine vessel with lead in her keel intended strictly for displacement speeds.) Even though the Grand Banks has twin engines and is designed to plane, she is still heavier than some other single-engine trawlers in this size range and all of the twin engine vessels. That says to us that Grand Banks 54EU should have the good rough-water riding characteristics that only a big, heavy boat can provide, but not be so heavy that she can't get up on a plane in the 20-knot range with the proper power.
Second, only one other boat in class has a greater beam than the 17'9" (5.41 m) that the 54 carries. Most boats in class are a full foot to nearly two feet narrower in the beam. These narrow designs combined with lighter displacement will mean that they are faster than the Grand Banks 54 Heritage EU with the same power. It also means that they are smaller inside and have less volume which accounts for their lighter displacement.
The Grand Banks 54EU carries 1,500 gallons of fuel which is more than four of the eight boats compared and the same as two others. When it comes to water capacity, the Grand Banks 54 EU is at the low end with 300 gallons (1,140 L) of fresh water. (However, she is set up to accept an optional watermaker.) At 100 gallons (380 L) the 54 EU was about average for black water capacity.
This is the place where an owner must bite the bullet and declare what sort of cruising he really wants to do, displacement speed, moderately fast or faster. Of course every engine option permits the boater to travel at displacement speeds, but small engines or single engines can't generate the muscle to do the opposite. For that reason, the standard engines on the Grand Banks 54 Heritage EU are twin Cummins QSM-11s rated at 715-hp, which we put in the "moderately fast" category. At press time engine options were not finalized, but our guess is that the standard engine will be bracketed by both lesser and greater horsepower alternativesNo matter what the options, the engines are all V-drive configurations which permits the room forward for the utility room and midships tanks. We have not tested the boat so we can not give you speed and fuel consumption numbers.
Which one to choose?
Our experience is that it is most fun cruising at a moderate speed, say something like 10 knots. It allows time to enjoy the passing shoreline and other boats, gives the skipper more time to figure out what is going on in front and consult chartplotters and paper charts, and saves a ton of fuel. But Grand Banks well knows that our view is a minority one and most buyers will want to go 15 to 20 knots or even faster. It is for that reason that they have picked as the standard twin Cummins QSM-11 engines rated at 715-hp. For those who want to poke along at 10 knots, simply pull back on the throttle.
The Grand Banks 54 Heritage EU has a waterline length of 49'1" which gives her a displacement speed of 8.4 knots when using 1.2 as a factor. That means that she should be easy to push along at 8 knots, and 10 will require more coal, but nothing like getting her up to something like, say, 17 or 20 knots. We live in a world of options and Grand Banks will provide them. We have not tested the boat, so can make no statement about what speeds and fuel consumption she actually has.
Grand Banks has been building boats as long as most anyone in the business so has the process down pat. It uses hand lay-up of standard fiberglass materials and epoxy barrier undercoat and three Hydrex skin coats to stop osmosis. The 54 Heritage EU has three watertight bulkheads which we like and is a bit unusual. The keel is lower than the props which are tucked up into prop pockets. Below the waterline the hull is solid fiberglass. Above the waterline it is cored with closed-cell PVC foam. This is the traditional way of building and is one of the reasons that the 54 Heritage EU is heavier than other boats in the same size range. There is a lavish use of teak in the interior, another thing that makes her heavier.
The engine room is coated in AWLgrip for a clean smooth surface. Fuel tanks are aluminum, ball valves are used in through-hulls above the waterline, and Groco Safety Seacocks for engine raw water intakes are standard. We like these seacocks because in an emergency they are easy to use to dewater the engine room with the most powerful pump on the boat -- the engines' raw water pumps.
The boat comes standard with a varnished teak transom which sets the vessel apart and proclaims that it is a genuine Grand Banks yacht. Maintenance is not that difficult or expensive. The teak where it is standard on the deck is not screwed down, rather it is epoxy bonded which mean no holes in the deck.
There is an automatic fire suppression system in the engine room that shuts down the blowers and has a manual over ride. Other standard equipment that we like or that is a bit unusual in class-- •Oil change system •Water purification system •Electric bow thruster •Onan 21.5 kW generator •Isolation transformer •Glendinning cablemaster aft with 75' of cable •Delta-T engine room vent demisters •DC windlass for anchor with remote •Teak swim platform •Two Stidd admiral low back helm seats
Differences between the Grand Banks 54 Heritage EU and 53 Aleutian RP
From our perspective the differenced between the two Grand Banks models are pretty much explained by the different lines they are in. Each is intended to better serve the needs of different activities. However, with the upgrade to the CE "A" classification rating the 54 Heritage EU somewhat blurs this blue water vs. coastal cruising distinction. Nevertheless, the 53 Aleutian RP is more for long distance cruising with a couple or two, or a small family, and the 54 Heritage EU is set up for more active entertaining for many more guests aboard. With its 715-hp engines the Aleutian can cruise at 15 knots, but when dropping down to a displacement speed of 7 or 8 knots she can go much farther on a load of fuel and that is how the boat fulfills her function best.
The MSRP of the 54 Heritage EU is $1,762,900. Having observed Grand Banks for four decades we can say that the new wrinkles in the 54 Heritage EU are exciting, and none more than her adoption of the 53 Aleutian RP hull. With a table on the bow and an optional sunpad, we wonder what the builder will have in store for its next new boat. We think it is significant that hull #1 was sent to the Med, and with the table and the sunpad, and an optional control station on the aft deck to ease Med mooring it looks to us as if Grand Banks is setting its sights on European boats more so that ever before. With so many sleek-looking so-called cruising boats floating in marinas in the Med, the traditional-looking 54 Heritage EU will certainly signal an owner's true intentions. The CE "A" classification is huge more for what it says about her handling characteristics than for any other reason because she does not have the fuel capacity for transoceanic work. But she certainly has enough range to go down island in the Caribbean, go cruising in the Indonesian archipelago, or circumnavigate the Med. Both that and the accommodations layout of the 54 Heritage EU have been proven in the 53 Aleutian RP so that takes a big question mark out of the equation. The boat is both practical and blue-water tested.
Standard and Optional Features
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!