[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

  • Martina C Jones
    Posted at 18:01h, 09 March

    Hi Ken…the Boat is coming together nicely…! I can’t wait to hear of your impressions once on board and maneuvering her versus the Nordhavn. Beeg difference in the weight…and, speed. Nice to have the lower profile as well. Excited for you and Roberta on this next chapter in cruising…!
    Tina Jones

    Posted at 21:21h, 06 March

    Looks Great! Thank YOU for blogging.

  • Valerie Shea
    Posted at 00:14h, 03 March

    Ken and Roberta –
    Regan and I (Valerie) are currently building GB 60-18 (Copper Moon). We have enjoyed reading all of your narratives about decision making on one product or another and can’t wait to see your boat! We have our current boat (Grand Adventure, GB 2010 Heritage Europa 47-86) in our slip in Everett, WA, but are wintering over in our home in Scottsdale, AZ. We will be back in the Sound area in late April/early May and will be headed to Haida Gwaii and then a counter-clockwise navigation of Vancouver Island before heading back to the Sound to put our boat up for sale – it would be wonderful to meet up with you if we are in the same vicinity and see your beautiful new boat. Our boat will be delivered 1/15/2021 to Stuart, FL, so we might see you there if we miss you in the PNW.

    • Ken Williams
      Posted at 00:48h, 03 March

      I wrote you an email. I look forward to talking!

      -Ken W

  • Ole Gundersen
    Posted at 23:36h, 27 February

    Hi Ken,
    This is Ole & LaDonna you met in Petersburg on your trip north. If you make it to Ketchikan before the first of July give us a ring. If it’s after the first of July we will be down by the boarder fishing near Lincoln channel, look us up there, it’s a beautiful place to anchor for the night. Safe travels.
    Ole G.

    • ken@kensblog.com
      Posted at 23:55h, 27 February

      I remember meeting you and LaDonna , and, Petersberg. That was a fun time! Whether or not we make it to Alaska is going to depend on when the boat completes commissioning. My fingers are crossed we can get there!

  • John Schieffelin
    Posted at 15:32h, 27 February

    Everything looks great!

    One of my sons has owned two Palm Beach powerboats — made by Grand Banks — and the after-purchase service has been exemplary. Good people.

    About Dynamic Positioning — there is a long string of comments from yacht owners about that subject right now in the Yacht Forums blog. You might find it of interest.

    • ken@kensblog.com
      Posted at 15:36h, 27 February

      The GB60 has FAR MORE of its heritage in the Palm Beach boats than in anything Grand Banks ever made. (which is a good thing – the Palm Beach boats are incredible)

      I’ll check out the thread on Dynamic Positioning. Thanks!

  • Bob Towery
    Posted at 15:01h, 27 February

    The post looks just fine on my Chrome and Windows 10 setup. And the progress pictures are even better. Hoping to see you two and the boat this summer here in the PNW!

  • Leif Johansson
    Posted at 10:07h, 27 February

    On my Dell using Chrome mail (Version 80.0.3987.122 (Officiell version) (64 bits)), the lines in the mail was cut so the last 10-15 char’s wasn’t visible. If I zoomed out to 65%, all were there but I could hardly read it.
    Your blog on the other hand was perfect as always!
    Thanks for sharing
    Rgds LeifJ/Sweden

    • ken@kensblog.com
      Posted at 14:03h, 27 February

      Thank you! Good info. I have some things to fix before my next blog entry goes out.

  • Ronald+C+Rogers
    Posted at 05:21h, 27 February

    One thing that could be done upon arrival is for the Volvo distributor to send a technician with test equipment to certify the engine installation. Hatteras does this with their engines. A local mechanic does not have the resources that the distributor has. I did thins with a pair of Cummons engines in a used boat. The tech was amazing. The alleged date of engine manufacture was incorrect. The fuel injection systems had never been calibrated, etc, Even the engine temperatures were wrong, but these were used engines. However, the tech said that they were always wrong and had never been calibrated. More modern engines are easier to test, but more complex to support this sophistication.

    • ken@kensblog.com
      Posted at 14:06h, 27 February

      Ron: My boat is GB60-15. The boat before mine, GB60-14, was doing Sea Trials last week. The owner of GB60-14 mentioned that representatives of Volvo and Seakeeper were on-board for the sea trial. I don’t know if this is common or something that was a one-time thing. In addition to the manufacturer reps both he and I engaged a gentleman named Steve D’Antonio (https://stevedmarineconsulting.com/) to examine our boats in detail prior to release from the factory. It is fair to describe Steve as compulsive about small details.

  • Robert Austin
    Posted at 02:08h, 27 February

    Hi Ken,
    Easy to read and excellent photos on I Mac Pro. The boat sounds and looks fantastic. Some wonderful innovations, and she is going to give you both some wonderful voyages! ‘There is so much progress since your last positing! Hopefully we will see her somewhere on the East Coast in the next couple of years.

    Bob Austin

    • ken@kensblog.com
      Posted at 14:07h, 27 February

      Thank you!

  • Chad Parent
    Posted at 02:03h, 27 February

    Hi Ken, nice new website design. Impressive!

  • NoahK
    Posted at 01:40h, 27 February

    Hi Ken! Greetings from NoahK (blast from the past) I am so excited for you and Roberta, the new boat looks incredible I am very happy for you both! Your new blog came out great via gmail client on iOS 13.13.1 on iphone 6s+ (oldie but goodie) although when manually navigating to the web based blog on safari, the blog did not look as good, the pictures did not format so great and were super large.

    Anyways, I am eagerly awaiting your next blog post. I hope you are all well and I wish you both all the best!


    • ken@kensblog.com
      Posted at 14:07h, 27 February

      Thank you!

  • Dean Russell
    Posted at 00:50h, 27 February

    The new soft ware produced an easy to read post on my iPad. The pictures are easy to expand with the usual two finger spread.
    The boat looks great. I am sure you have done the research however, it does look quite tall for a Looper boat.
    I think you will be very happy with your decision to stay here, in the PNW for a while, while the boat gets used to you, and you the boat. I know you will have lots to add to it once you get going and there are many fine yards here, which you can visit while they work.
    Congratulations, it is beautiful

    • ken@kensblog.com
      Posted at 00:56h, 27 February

      Dean – that is great news! Thanks for letting me know. On Microsoft Outlook, at least on my computer the pictures showed up much larger than I wanted. That said, its nice to have them big for looking at them, so maybe it is ok.

      As to the boat height: I just emailed Grand Banks to measure the height. Allegedly it will fit under the 19′ 6″ height needed to do the loop (with the mast tilted down).

      Thank you! – Ken W