Grand Banks 42

By Jack Hornor

Revised by BoatUS editors in October 2012
Grand Banks 42
Principal Dimensions & Specifications
Measurements should be considered approximate and the manufacturer’s specifications may be relied upon. Bow & stern appendages are generally excluded.
Length Overall42' 7" - 43' 3"
Maximum Beam13' 7" - 14' 1"
Maximum Draft4' 2"
Displacement/Weight34,000 lbs
Fuel Capacity300 Gallons
Water Capacity300 Gallons
Speed Range8 - 20 Knots

In a world where boats that have worked just fine for years are cast aside to satisfy market demand for more modern styling, the Grand Banks 42 has changed little in her three and a half decades of production. Though still a niche market, trawler yachts have experienced a revival in recent years. And, known for it's timelessly handsome style and solid construction, few, if any, are more recognizable or in greater demand than the Grand Banks 42 Classic.

Drawn by Ken Smith, the original Grand Banks 42 Classic design remained unchanged until 1991 when the company retooled and made the hull longer by eight inches and wider by six inches. While the GB42 Classic featured here is unquestionably the most popular model, there have been several variations on the original Classic model. The Motoryacht model extended the aft cabin to the hull sides and transom, eliminating deck space in favor of a larger owner's cabin while the Europa model eliminated the aft cabin all together in favor of a larger main saloon and covered aft deck. The somewhat rare Sport Cruiser model resembled the Europa but eliminated the covered side decks and the extended hardtop over the aft deck.

All Grand Banks models are built by American Marine Limited which began operation in Hong Kong, later moved to Singapore and finally to Malaysia where production is now headquartered.

Originally the GB42's were built of wood utilizing traditional carvel planking and sawn frame construction techniques. Beginning with hull #353 in 1973, the hulls of the GB42 have been built with hand-laid fiberglass with an integral, full-length keel that protects underwater running gear. The hull is supported by a system of fiberglass stringers embedded with dense, closed cell foam. The construction is not high tech but is strong and well done. Even though Grand Banks has built their boats of fiberglass for more than 27 years, to this day, they retain the molded-in planking lines reminiscent of their wood heritage. Another signature of Grand Banks, the teak planked transom, adds to the classic wooden boat appearance of the GB42.

It is not uncommon for older, fiberglass GB42s to suffer some degree of osmotic blistering if they have not been previously protected with a moisture barrier coat. Boats that spend a significant amount of time in warmer, tropical waters seem to suffer more than those that spend most of their time in colder water. The hull thickness of the GB42 is substantial and I have never seen any blistering condition that I would consider to have structurally weakened the hull to the point that it was unsafe for normal service. However, the condition can significantly effect a boat's salability and value. Repair of a blistered hull is very expensive, commonly costing between $10,000 and $15,000 but may be a worthwhile investment to protect the boat's value and long term structural integrity.

Grand banks 42

Photo by Don Martin

Decks of the GB42 are composite constructed with fiberglass over a plywood core with a teak overlay. The teak deck is fastened with screws and is a potential source of serious problems and considerable maintenance expense as these vessels age. Deck fastenings and bedding compounds loosen over time and water eventually migrates into and damages the plywood deck core. Fasteners and seams must be maintained at the first sign of wear or aging. If left unattended until an extensive repair or replacement is necessary, the cost of repair can easily top $25,000.

Window leaks, another annoyance to Grand Banks owners, can usually be kept under control with annual maintenance and cleaning of the tracks and drains around sliding cabin windows.

The quality of joiner work of Grand Banks has become the benchmark for this class of yacht and, although often copied, quite frankly the quality is seldom matched by competitors.

The forward, side and aft deck areas of the GB42 are small and not suited to sitting or lounging, but they are exceptionally secure with high bulwarks, numerous handholds and they are uncluttered to allow quick and easy access 360 degrees around the vessel. The teak rails used for many years have been slowly replaced with stainless steel and, on more recent models, the bronze life-rail stanchions, cleats, deck plates and anchor rollers have been replaced with stainless steel.

Two steps along the port cabin house take you to the deck area over the aft cabin where there is room for storage of a 10' dinghy to starboard. The boom for the steadying sail serves as a convenient davit for raising and lowering the dinghy to and from the deck. There are steps from the aft cabin top to the flybridge area over the main saloon. Early models had a ladder from the aft cabin top while later models have molded-in steps that are part of the cabin structure. This also serves to improve the interior headroom at the companionway form the saloon to the aft cabin. The flybridge is nearly 15' long with seating for six or more and affords excellent visibility in all directions.

Grand banks 42

Photo by Don Martin

Inside the GB42 Classic, the layout features a two-stateroom/two-head arrangement divided by midship saloon and galley. There have been very few changes over the years to the basic interior arrangement although in recent years Grand Banks has reduced it's use of teak veneered plywood in favor of lighter colored Formica. The GB42 has large cabin windows that let in plenty of light so the interior never appears dudgeon-like even on older models that feature more teakwood paneling. Lockers that used to be lined with teak veneered plywood are now lined with Formica and are much easier maintain.

The arrangement of the GB42 is centered around the main saloon with entrance companionways on either side. The saloon is spacious with an L-shaped dinette aft to starboard and an opposite side settee. The galley is arranged on the port side forward and, although is a bit short on counter space, storage is ample and easily reached. Forward and to starboard is the lower helm adjacent to the companionway and there is a small bar between the dinette and helm.

From the main saloon you go down several steps to the forward cabin that feature a large V-berth, head to starboard and hanging lockers to port. There are ample drawers and storage below the V-berth, headroom is well over 6' and there are opening ports and an overhead deck hatch for natural ventilation. The master stateroom is aft of the main saloon and again down several steps. The traditional aft cabin layout features a double berth to starboard and single port berth, a large head and shower forward of the double berth and a hanging locker forward of the port berth. An optional layout offers a queen-size island berth, a desk in the port aft corner and the head and shower are separated on each side of the forward entrance to the cabin.

The hull form of the GB42 is a semi-displacement design meaning that given enough horsepower planing speeds can be attained. In fact, Grand Banks now builds the GB42 with engine options that offer top speeds of more than 20 knots (23 mph), although at a whopping reduction in operating efficiency. Powered by a single engine, cruising speed ranges from 7 to 10 knots depending on engine horsepower from 120 to 375. The long, deep keel provides excellent directional stability at all speeds but the turning radius is not good and bow or stern thrusters are a very desirable addition on single engine models to enable better maneuvering in cramped quarters.

Although standard equipment on the GB42 has always been and still is a single diesel engine, the majority of original buyers seem to have opted for twin-engine installations. Ford Lehman's 120 and 135 horsepower models dominated in the 1970s and 1980s although some models from this era will be found with other engine options. Since their introduction, 210 hp Caterpillar engines have been a popular choice among Grand Banks buyers due to their ability to operate very efficiently at displacement speed and still yet have the reserve power for planing performance when the situation demands. For example, with twin 210 Cats, the GB42 cruises comfortably and economically at about 10 knots on about 9 gallons of fuel per hour. However, she is capable of a top speed of 15 knots at 23 gallons per hour. This is a 50% increase in speed at the cost of nearly a 200% increase in fuel consumption and reduced cruising range but it's nice to know you have it if you need it.

The engine space below the main saloon cabin sole is roomy and laid out for easy access to the auxiliary generator and other equipment. Until about 1991 commercial grade, square, acoustic tiles were used for engine room insulation. Although effective, they were not very tolerant of moisture and have been replaced with a more marine quality insulating material.

Most GB42s have a rather dated mechanical steering system with sprocket, chain and stainless steel cable. Although it can have a somewhat sloppy feel, the mechanical system is sound and effective. All cables and components of the system should be visually inspected at least once a year to ensure it remains in good condition. Beginning in about 1995, a hydraulic system was offered as an option. Grand Banks also provides an emergency tiller in the event of steering system failure but the system is not very practical, as the helmsman has no forward visibility.

Fuel capacity is 600 gallons with two steel tanks outboard of the engine. Corrosion can be a major problem with these tanks and if replacement is necessary cost can easily range from $4,000 to $6,000 each, so it is important to keep tanks dry, protected and insulated from wood and frames and supports.

The Grand Banks 42 is not the right boat if you want a full displacement ocean-going motor vessel, but it certainly fits the need of the vast majority of boaters who don't intend to venture far offshore or cross oceans.

The Grand Banks 42 easily accommodates a dozen people for cocktails, six can dine in reasonable comfort and when it's time to turn in for the evening she provides privacy and comfort for four. This is may be why many who are willing to travel at a leisurely, slow pace consider the Grand Banks 42 Classic a near perfect coastal cruising powerboat.

Naval architect Jack Hornor was the principal surveyor and designer for Marine Survey & Design, Co., based in Annapolis, MD. He was on the boards of the American Boat and Yacht Council, the National Association of Marine Surveyors, and the Society of Boat and Yacht Designers. He and his wife sailed their Catalina 42, Legacy, based on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

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