[kensblog] Construction Progress Update

Greetings all!

Cygnus being prepped to be painted We are very curious to see her after she emerges from the cocoon
Cygnus being prepped to be painted We are very curious to see her after she emerges from the cocoon

Roberta and I just received four new pictures of our new boat!When pictures arrive we rush to our home theater and display each image on our oversized (big) tv screen. We zoom each picture in and out examining them pixel by pixel. There’s nothing in particular we are looking for; we are just looking, and looking, and looking.

We wish that we could see the boat personally. If this were a normal year we might jump on a plane and fly to Malaysia where the boat is being built. However, we have a lot happening in our personal lives right now and need to stay home. Plus, our visiting wouldn’t really accomplish anything. At this point the boat is what it will be. Any changes would just slow down the process, and that would not be good.

Our cruising schedule

Roberta and I have not given a lot of thought to where we’ll cruise this boat. We have a bucket list of places we’d like to go, and a bucket list of places we’d like to return to. And, as I’ve mentioned before, we sold our Nordhavn and purchased this boat with a specific goal of being able to cruise places that our Nordhavn couldn’t take us.

Our original plan was to have the boat delivered to the East Coast of the U.S. and cruise there this summer. The East Coast, and the Great Loop are still part of our plan, but now we are thinking that it would be better for our first few months on the boat to be spent in familiar waters: The Pacific NW.

Short term, our cruising plans will flow from when our boat is ready for cruising. Our hope is that the boat will arrive early enough this summer that we can run the Inside Passage (a route mostly in protected waters running along the west coast of Canada up to Alaska). The sooner we get the boat, the more of the Inside Passage we’ll be able to run.

At the end of the summer cruising season we are planning to load the boat on a freighter in Victoria Canada and ship it to Florida, where Grand Banks has a ship yard. My educated guess is that we’ll have a list of upgrades and fixes by the end of the summer and that we’ll keep Grand Banks busy this winter.

When does the fun begin?

Our contract calls for the boat to be factory complete just a few days from now. That clearly isn’t happening, but we’re optimistic that it won’t be too much longer.

An excerpt from an email I received earlier today from the owner of the GB60 completing just before ours:”I am more impressed with the GB team with every encounter. After 9 days there I’ve met most of the managers. They really do want to build the best possible boat. Good for us!” Mike D

I’m in regular communications with the owners of the boat being built just before ours. Their boat is in the water, but still a few weeks from completion and our boat has been tracking a couple months behind theirs. Our two boats have much in common and include features that are new to Grand Banks. Specifically, I’m referring to the tilting mast, the hot tub, Northern Lights generators, a larger than usual Seakeeper, chilled water air conditioning, an electrical system designed to be at home in both the U.S. and Europe, the passerelle, extensive use of Maretron and more. Each of our boats will be amazing when complete, and Grand Banks has been incredibly open to new ideas.

Our current plan is to take delivery of the boat in Alaska. That said, we are keeping everything loose. No plans can really be made until we know the date when the boat will arrive in the United States.

Once our boat is complete at the factory a freighter will be scheduled to deliver the boat to the United States. Grand Banks (the company building our boat) seems certain that they will have no trouble finding a freighter. Hopefully they are right. Sometimes you have to wait for weeks for a freighter that is going the right direction with room to carry your boat. Once the boat is aboard a freighter it will arrive within two to four weeks at Victoria Canada.

On arrival in Victoria the boat will be taken to a nearby marina for commissioning.

Commissioning is the final step before we can go cruising. I’m not sure what will still need to be done when the boat leaves the factory. Our previous two boats were purchased from Nordhavn and when they arrived in the United States there was plenty to be done. My recollection is that commissioning took three or four months.

Grand Banks has said that commissioning their boats typically takes only a couple weeks. I hope they are right. When we purchased our Nordhavn 68 it arrived in the United States with many of the electronics and monitoring systems not yet installed. Our Grand Banks will have virtually everything installed before leaving the factory; all electronics, monitoring systems, carpets, mattresses, appliances, the reclining chairs in the main salon, lettering on the stern, etc. I’m not sure what will still need done during commissioning. There can always be surprises, and with a boat surprises are the one thing you can absolutely count on, but I am expecting that commissioning will pass fairly quickly.

And, some more pictures

View from the back of Cygnus
View from the back of Cygnus

These pictures came to us with no explanation so I somewhat need to guess at what is happening. In this picture you see the aft end of Cygnus looking red and splotchy. I assume that is them “faring” (smoothing) the boat. The traditional look for the stern of Grand Banks boats is to have wood planking on the stern. We wanted something a little more modern looking and asked for ours to just be left plain. It will be painted the same Glacier Blue color as the rest of the boat and have raised backlit lettering for the boat’s logo and name.At the forward port (left) corner of the cockpit you can see a ledge that extends from the interior of the boat, through the window, and into the cockpit. The galley is at the back port corner of the main salon, and the window slides down to disappear like a car window. That ledge you see is an extension of the galley counter and will have two bar stools in front of it. It’s where I’ll sit to talk to Roberta as she makes lunch or dinner.

On the fly bridge you can see the davit, to the left side of the picture, and behind it is the hot tub. I wish I had a top-down picture. It looks like they have a panel removed from the side of the hot tub revealing the plumbing.

On our prior boat we had a diesel-powered furnace which provided virtually unlimited hot water. It worked incredibly well and heating the hot tub was fast and simple. As we were designing this boat I was on the lookout for opportunities to reduce complexity and get rid of any equipment I could live without. I elected to go with electrical heating for the hot tub. To make this work quickly we are replacing the 120v 1kw heating element that came with the hot tub with a 240v 4kw heating element. I also asked them to allow heated water from the boat’s hot water system to be plumbed to the hot tub. This will allow me to kick start the heating of the hot tub with 40 gallons of 130 degree water (but, no one will be able to take a shower for a few hours.) Heating the tub quickly is critical because of the way we use the tub. We do not run the boat with water in the tub. That would make the boat too top-heavy. Instead, we tend to drop anchor, fill the tub, go in at night, and then drain it in the morning before moving to our next anchorage (unless we stay a few days in which case we leave the warm water in the tub).

Cygnus starboard side
Cygnus starboard side

The only thing worth noting in this picture is the size of the person standing on the fly bridge relative to the size of the boat. Roberta and I keep thinking of Cygnus as a smaller boat than our prior boat. We may be downsizing, but Cygnus is still a very large boat.Cygnus is only three feet shorter than our prior boat, Sans Souci, yet it weighs one fourth as much (30 tons as compared to 120 tons). Cygnus will be a powerful boat, with three times the horsepower of our prior boat (640hp vs 1,800hp). It will also have a much shallower draft and is much lower in height, making possible places we couldn’t get to on Sans Souci.

Boattest.com recently tested the Grand Banks 60. To read their review: https://www.boattest.com/boat/grand-banks/60-2020

The light weight and high horsepower will give Cygnus a top speed approaching 30 knots. We’re not speed demons and are very unlikely to ever cruise anywhere near that fast. We’ll enjoy knowing that the option to get home fast is there if we need it.

Interestingly, our prior boat topped out at 10kts at which speed our range dropped to around 1,200 miles. Cygnus, running at 10kts has a range of around 1,200 miles. We should have a nice balance of speed when we want it and range when we have long distances to travel.

The Grand Banks 60 has a Class A rating, the definition of which is: “A Class A yacht ( boat ) is a vessel that is built to navigate the open ocean and surpass a force 8 on the Beaufort scale and surpass waves higher that 4 meters. These yachts are constructed to be self sufficient in hostile seas.” That said, there is no doubt in my mind that if ever we were to cross the Bering Sea again, we’d rather be doing it in Sans Souci, our prior boat. Even though both Sans Souci and Cygnus have the same official seaworthiness rating, I have little doubt that Sans Souci would handle an ocean crossing in bad weather better. Any way you look at it weight does matter and there is a lot to be said for Sans Souci’s 120 tons. Cygnus may not be Sans Souci but it is Category A rated and will withstand rougher seas than 99% of the owner operated pleasure craft out there, and far worse conditions than we foresee tackling.

One last thought on operating Cygnus. Roberta and I have never driven a Grand Banks 60. We are VERY curious to see how it feels and how maneuverable it is in tight quarters (eg. Entering a marina). In particular, I am curious about the Dynamic Positioning and Joystick. Cygnus will have a button I can push that will cause it to hold its position. Allegedly, the wind can be blowing 15 kts, there can be a current running through the marina, and I can press a button and the boat will stay put while I put out fenders and lines. I asked the owner of the other GB60 like mine who is now test driving his boat about this feature. He has only used it once but said he was impressed with its performance. The system comes with a joystick which I’ll have at all the drive stations. I have been somewhat skeptical about how the joystick will work and almost asked that they skip it on the cockpit drive station. But, everyone I ask says that it is incredible and that I will find docking the boat infinitely easier. Regular readers of my blog may remember the frustrations that Roberta and I experienced trying to dock Sans Souci in Europe where high winds were common and Med Mooring (backing the boat to the dock between other boats only inches away) is pervasive. It was a process not easily accomplished with only Roberta and I onboard. The joystick will allegedly revolutionize the effort required.

Cygnus views from port aft side
Cygnus views from port aft side

The slot is that is on the port side of the swim step is a scupper (an opening which will allow water to exit the cockpit).

That’s it for this edition of the blog

This is my first time sending a blog entry on new blogging software. I am uncertain what you will be sent via email. If this email arrives looking wrong, my apologies. It will hopefully look better next time.

As always, the best place to provide feedback on this blog entry is on the web-based version of my blog: www.kensblog.com/blog. All feedback is welcomed!

Thank you for sharing our adventure,

Ken and Roberta Williams (with Toundra and Keeley our doggy/furry traveling mates)
Grand Banks 60, Cygnus

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