|Grand Banks 54 Heritage EU|
Pam hosted our 2010 Great Loop going away party on October 2 on her boat. In attendance were Mark Fidanza, our next slip neighbor, Dick Hoffman, Mark and Brad. On October 3, Dick followed Guided Discovery out of Belmont and took photos of our departure. Most recently, Mark visited us with his children, Jon Marco and Helena, in Sarasota and again connected with us last week in Hingham. Dick, as you recall, crewed for me when we ran the boat north from Fort Pierce to Hingham (See the three part series "Onward to Hingham" published two weeks ago).
We made a lot of good friends on I-dock.
Now to the 2014 Grand Banks Heritage 54 EU.
- Overall Length: 54.4 feet
- Max Length: 61.6 feet (with bow pulpit and swim platform)
- Max Beam: 17.9 feet
- Max Draft 5.0 feet
- Air Draft: 25' 11"
- Displacement: 83,335 pounds (1/2 load)
- Fuel Capacity: 1,500 gallons
- Water Tank: 270 gallons
- Holding Tank: 100 gallons
- Engines: MTU S-60 825 HP
- Top Speed: 21 knots
- Cruise: 17 knots
So how does this boat compare to the 63 Outer Reef? While the GB is shorter by 9 feet she is wider by 9 inches. Grand Banks says she has the space of a 65. Beam makes a big difference. Hence, she is almost as roomy, overall, as the 63. That extra 9 inches translates into some very desirable features such as dual helm seating on the flybridge, slightly more room in the salon and a settee with a large table across from the galley. What's missing is the lazerette. a complete jitchen and the abundant storage found on the 63 (which makes sense given that we have 9 more feet of length).
|54 open layout looking forward from the galley to the pilothouse|
|Galley and dining area with settee and two chairs (comfortable seating for 5)|
|Galley equipped with stove top, dishwasher, drawer type refrigerators and microwave|
The double draw freezer is located forward of the sink
|Another view of the dining area|
|Master head and shower|
|Guest head and shower|
|Looking from the master stateroom at the washer, dryer, refrigerator, storage and accessed to the engine room|
|Walk-in engine room with 6 feet of head room|
Running the 54 at trawler speeds makes the most sense. The 825 HP MTUs burn about 16 gallons per hour at a speed of 8.2 knots. That yields 84 hours of run time or 691 NM range (with the 10% reserve). This is very different than the 63’s capability of 1178 NM at 8.4 knots; her best range versus speed setting. Essentially Grand Banks, by installing bigger engines, trades speed for range. In order to match the 63's "best range" of 1178 the 54 needs to be run at 1000 RPM. That yields 7.3 knots and 1231 NM of range. She has to run slower to get more range due to the larger engines.
Every knot translates into 24 NM of range over 24 hours or plus or minus three hours of run time at trawler speeds. To match the economy of the 63 the 54 has to run slower. That said, the 63 is not that efficient as compared to our friend's 50 foot Ocean Alexander single engine trawler that cruises at 8.0 burning 4 gallons per hour. It's all about trade offs.
Displacement of the boats is very similar. Grand Banks represents displacement for the 54 at half load or 83,334 pounds. The 63’s empty weight is 73,000 pounds. Add 4550 lbs for 650 gallons of fuel and 1600 lbs for potable and black water (200 gallons) and the 63 comes in at 79,150 pounds. Both boats are semi-displacement fully stabilized trawlers. They should have very similar see keeping characteristics. We’ll see if this is true as we experience the different seas on our run.
The next question is whether Pam decides to take a leisurely run up the coast with stops every night or run the distance to Newport, which in this case is 1308 nautical miles. The theoretical difference is 6.5 additional days (i.e., 13 days with stops every night versus 6.5 days running 24 hours per day).
I say theoretical because in long distance cruising the wildcard is weather. As readers know, I like to take advantage of weather windows and prefer to run at 24 hours/day with good (well OK good enough) weather rather than sit at a dock overnight. The weather is going to change. It is rare to get 6 days in a row of favorable weather (which I've come to define as winds under 20 knots and seas under 5 feet).
The run up the east coast is further complicated by the ever present Cape Hatteras. The combination of its location at the convergence of the Gulf Stream and Labrador currents and its 17 mile Diamond Shoal, that must be circumnavigated, present an interesting obstacle. Running the Cape with at trawler speed (8.5 knots) requires traveling at night to cover the 200 NM distance between Morehead City and VA Beach as there are no usable inlets. The alternative is three days on the ICW. Unfortunately, when bad weather (i.e., high winds producing heavy seas) dictates the ICW route the likelihood that the run will be more than 3 days increases due to the Alligator River Swing Bridge and Currituck Sound, both of which are effected by high winds. Throw in a 3 mile long river with 5 feet of depth at MLW and you have lots of potential for delay.
In any case, I’m not up for a leisurely cruise up the coast. Been there, done that (actually two times – the Great Loop on the entire 1000 mile ICW and the 2014 spring run to Hingham – which took 35 days). However, Pam needs help. So I volunteered 6 days which she can use as she pleases. If we run only during the day we will comfortably make Charleston by Wednesday (June 3).
Pam, at my suggestion, installed a complete Garmin system. I hope to share with her my "Garmin" knowledge, which should have the benefit of greatly shortening her learning curve. That said, the Garmin system is incredibly user friendly. I've managed to master the system over the last 15 months but at times it was stressful due to sea conditions and the need to solve a problem. Rarely, have I used the owner's manual, which was helpful when I needed it but not well indexed.
Now back to weather. The forecast as of Friday morning for the coast between Fort Lauderdale and VA Beach shows a ridge of high pressure over the Appalachian Mountains that will continue though weekend. The high is forecasted to produce winds of 15 to 20 knots and sea of 3 to 5 feet with a wave period of 9 seconds over the Florida waters. At Cape Hatteras the forecast calls for a frontal boundary to move southeast through the waters by midweek. Winds are predicted to be 5 to 10 knots with seas of 3 feet through Wednesday when they build 3 to 5 on slightly higher winds.
Again, I consider the conditions along the Florida coast as reasonable and the weather north of Florida to VA Beach as very favorable. Assuming an early Friday AM departure on Guided Discovery I would be rounding Cape Hatteras Monday evening on calm seas (a first). The potential to go from VA Beach all the way to Newport is very favorable assuming one is willing to put up with 3 to 5s.
Oh well, we'll (or shall we say, she'll) see what the weather brings after Wednesday.
Written by Les.