The Eastbay 38 was much the same to Grand Banks as DNKY was to Donna Karan or Polo was to Ralph Lauren – sportier, more youthful but retaining the essential premise of the original – quality without trendiness. Hence the status of ‘instant classic’.
Back in 1993, Grand Banks was seen as a yacht for extended cruising. But while the Eastbay retained the same level of finish, style and comfort, it was clearly designed with day and weekend trips in mind.
Built on a modified version of C. Raymond Hunt’s deep-V hull, the 38 offered a dry ride and a good turn of speed. A stepped chine improved efficiency, a short keel added stability and the shallow prop tunnels reduced her draft to just 3’10” – impressive for a 38-footer.
But while these invisible attributes played a central role in the boat’s appeal, it was the rakish yet functional style that drew attention and admiring glances when unveiled in Miami.
While the Grand Banks heritage was evident in the beautiful teak deck, varnished toe rail, optional mast and classic designs, the differences were even more striking – the large and open cockpit, the spacious helm area, the long foredeck. The entertaining spaces were huge – masses of room to stand or sit on two bench seats, portable lounges, a transom door for easy access to the teak platform.
This yacht, with its bimini top and wide, non-slip, side decks had been designed to keep passengers above deck and in the elements where they could enjoy the sunshine, catch fish or do both at the same time.
Once below decks, the Grand Banks DNA became a little more obvious – lots of teak, traditional reds, yellows and blues, and tons of storage space. Timeless style, nothing trendy.
Perhaps the design aesthetic of the boat is best captured in the words, “stylish functionality”. This philosophy was clearly on display in the fully equipped galley that was eminently practical but by no means spartan.
Similarly, the helm station was a study in organisation – a full set of VDO gauges, switches and alarms were visible at a glance while electronics were flush mounted on a vertical panel.
In terms of performance, the ’38 was outstanding at 30 knots and cruised comfortably at 24 – responsive, quiet, smooth and dry – with a range of over 330 miles.
The Eastbay 38 created a new genre of boating for American Marine and was a symbol of life in the ‘90s – young, fast and ready for anything.
In 1996, the launch of the EB49 was a phenomenal success. At the Miami boat show, American Marine broke its history of sales records by selling thirty-one of them!
At the time, this new model offered a combination of seaworthiness, internal space and comfort, performance and style that could not be matched by any other manufacturer.
The ’49 cut through the waves with extraordinary ease and handled rough water so well that owners felt confident to cruise at speed in all conditions.
The low centre of gravity of the boat extremely easy to manoeuvre – a husband and wife team would have felt equally comfortable out on the ocean as when navigating a crowded marina or negotiating a tight slip.
While some argued that the foredeck was excessively long and architecturally out of proportion, most felt it looked cool and defended it on the grounds that it in no way impeded sightlines for the helmsman.
The length-to-beam ratio of this model created voluminous internal and external space which made it perfect for entertainment and longer excursions. There was an abundance of storage and a lack of constraint that inspired a mood of ease and relaxation on board. All of the qualities that had made the ’38 an instant classic were amplified and fully exploited in this
The interior fit and finish was everything that owners expected from a boat that had been built alongside a Grand Banks. There is no doubt that the brands enjoyed a symbiotic relationship born of common values – craftsmanship, ergonomic design, quality materials and attention to detail.
The ’49 secured Eastbay’s reputation as the definitive Downeaster. While other brands scrambled to copy its success, the Eastbay’s combination of a C. Raymond Hunt hull and Grand Banks quality manufacturing made it unassailable on the water and in the marketplace.
It’s unsurprising that Eastbay came to represent 50% of American Marine’s revenue.