Grand Banks 43 Heritage EU

The Grand Banks 43 Heritage EU marries the best of tradition with modern cruising capabilities.

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A 43-foot Grand Banks Heritage moving along at 23 knots? At first, I thought, “They must be kidding.” I guess I am showing my age. During countless trips from Maine to Florida on the Intracoastal Waterway with my father and, later, as a whippersnapper delivery captain, I always looked at Grand Banks owners as that certain breed who were happy to putt along at 7 knots, or maybe 10 knots if they were going to tie up late for cocktail hour. In my mind, they were salty, recently retired sailors proudly flying the Cruising Club of America burgee — a symbol of someone with superior knowledge of seamanship, but not necessarily someone looking to go full throttle on anything.Grand Banks Yachts

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What I learned in testing the builder’s 43 Heritage EU is that today’s Grand Banks owners are not just a few knots ahead, but also a few steps ahead, of my age-old thinking. Grand Banks has earned an enduring reputation for quality by keeping its boats’ systems as simple as possible, avoiding flavor-of-the-month gadgets and trends, and welcoming smart new technologies. The Heritage series embodies that thoughtful process of innovation and features an iconic design that has been the mainstay of Grand Banks since 1973. Today there are four models: the 41 EU, 43 EU, 47 EU and 54 EU. When I stepped aboard the 43 EU, I knew instantly that I was on a Grand Banks because of her classic teak interior and evident craftsmanship. But once under way, I fully realized I was not on a Grand Banks of the past.Grand Banks Yachts

Grand Banks 43 Heritage EU Master Stateroom

The trend during the past 10 years or so has been to repower Heritage series hulls with higher horsepower motors. Owners gained more speed, but they also pushed more water, lost efficiency and burned way too much fuel. Today’s Heritage series addresses these issues with a new hull design from C. Raymond Hunt Associates that accommodates a Zeus pod-drive propulsion system. Top speed has been increased to an efficient 25 knots without any of the previous drawbacks.Grand Banks Yachts

Master Head

Both the salty ex-sailor and the new yachtsman will appreciate the Zeus pod-drive setup. Yes, curmudgeons still walk the docks extolling the virtues of straight-shaft systems and rudders (I may have been one of them), but pods are here to stay. In the case of the 43 EU, it’s Zeus pods powered by twin 473 hp Cummins QSB6.7 diesels.Grand Banks Yachts

Laundry and Storage on Grand Banks 43

In addition to gains in speed and efficiency, these pods free up hull space. Grand Banks took advantage of this extra room by designing a centrally located hatch in the main salon that opens to a workshop, laundry or pantry area belowdecks. Anyone doing extended cruising will find this additional real estate handy.Grand Banks Yachts

Grand Banks 43 Heritage EU Salon

Also smartly updated is the yacht’s interior look. The paneled teak of the 43 EU has the familiar feel associated with previous Heritage series vessels, but it’s noticeably improved with features such as hidden air-conditioning vents that don’t disrupt the flow of the joinery. Another nice touch is the electronically activated 32-inch TV lift behind the starboard settee in the main salon.Grand Banks Yachts

Grand Banks 43 Heritage EU Guest Cabin

The galley is amidships across from the lower helm station, giving the chief cook and bottle washer plenty of opportunity to critique the helmsman while enjoying the view. A three-burner cooktop stove and convection/microwave oven will keep the crew well fed and happy. A nifty addition to the galley/dining conveniences is the Grand Banks galleyware package, which includes silverware, plates, china and glassware with the Grand Banks logo, specially fitted into a custom stowage area.Grand Banks Yachts

Guest Head

A centerline companionway leads to the lower deck, where the master stateroom is forward with a centerline queen berth and private head and shower. The master shower has a built-in seat for use under way, another nice nod to Grand Banks’ blue-water heritage. My 43 EU’s guest cabin was cozy because of the adjacent utility room, a small sacrifice for an extra work and stowage area. The guest head and shower compartment do double duty as a day head with a smart arrangement of doors to both the companionway and the guest stateroom.Grand Banks Yachts

Flybridge Access

Access to the flybridge is up a comfortably angled stairway with two stainless-steel handrails. The stairs pass though a sliding hatch of Plexiglas that allows light into the aft cockpit even when it’s closed. One of the better options on the 43 EU is the Opacmare davit, another modern upgrade from the block-and-tackle boom arrangement on previous Heritage series models. During my test, the davit had no problem lifting an Achilles 350 tender with a 20 hp outboard. Staying hydrated on the flybridge is easy thanks to the wet bar and Coolmatic fridge.Grand Banks Yachts

Grand Banks Heritage 43 EU stern

David Hensel, director of brand and marketing at Grand Banks, told me the 43 EU’s additional two feet of length (when compared with the 41 EU) are in the cockpit. This gives the 43 EU ample space for line handling or for entertaining. Chocks and cleats are also well-sized.Grand Banks Yachts

Grand Banks Heritage 43 EU Cockpit

The cockpit is where you will find engine-room access. One thing I think Grand Banks could improve upon is the access hatch. It’s set on centerline and is somewhat narrow, leaving manageable room for climbing down the ladder. The engine compartment offers good access to the dual Racor filters, Groco bronze seawater strainers and other regular service items, and there is six-inch clearance above the twin Cummins diesels. On centerline is the 9 kW Onan generator with sound shield, and on either side of the generator are the roto-molded polyethylene fuel tanks. The roto-molding process makes these tanks seamless, reducing the opportunities for leaks and letting you visually monitor the tanks’ liquid levels. Grand Banks has also increased the fuel capacity on the 43 EU to 600 gallons, which is an increase of 100 gallons over the 41 EU.Grand Banks Yachts

Grand Banks Heritage 43 EU Helm

I put all of this machinery to the test when I took the helm and pushed the Cummins electronic throttles forward, maneuvering the 43 EU with the Zeus joystick control. I was pleased to see a Skyhook button, which would allow the computer system associated with the Zeus drives to keep the vessel on station if I had to prepare lines for docking or wait for a bridge opening.Grand Banks Yachts

The Grand Banks 43 Heritage EU running

Under way, the 43 EU is a real joy. One of the first things I noticed was her responsive computer-controlled helm. I got immediate feedback when turning the wheel. It almost felt like I was on a jet boat with a short turning radius. That, plus the deep-V hull form and an impressive top speed, made me feel like I was on a sport-fisher, not a refined trawler yacht.Grand Banks Yachts

Grand Banks 43 Heritage EU Boat Test

Grand Banks wisely continues to treasure its traditional lines and looks while revolutionizing the Heritage series from the deck line down. The 43 EU looks to the future without compromising the strengths that built the Grand Banks reputation — and that's something both new and old salts are bound to appreciate.
Grand Banks, 206-352-0116; grandbanks.com
Gunnar Christensen