January 19th 2012. By Tom Tripp.

Grand Banks 53 Aleutian Raised Pilothouse: Boat Review

The newest incarnation of the Grand Banks Aleutian series might be the perfect boat for a couple looking to move up into a luxury pilothouse yacht.

Standard power on the Grand Banks Aleutian 53 RP is twin 600-hp Cummins QSC8.3 diesels, providing a high-cruise speed of 15 knots.

The 53 Aleutian RP retains the grace and elegance of the original Tom Fexas-designed Aleutians from 10 years ago, but incorporates some high-tech hull refinements that help it achieve some challenging design goals in a smaller package.

Perhaps the biggest challenge was the need to place the engines well aft to allow for an unusually large accommodations plan. By using V-drives, prop pockets, and flatter aft hull sections, with a clever strake placement on the lower hull, Grand Banks has produced a spacious, seakindly, modified deep-V hull that has room for three staterooms and a utility space — all forward of the engine room. They’ve also met a performance challenge to cruise efficiently at both displacement speeds and higher speeds of 15-18 knots.

Interestingly, that utility space could optionally be configured as crew quarters. But since the 53RP is easily handled by a couple, I think the preferred use for most owners is for a larger washer and dryer and additional refrigeration and storage.

The level of craftsmanship and finish in the saloon is typical of the Grand Banks line – very high.

While we’re below, let’s look at the cabins. Forward, as in most yachts of this size, is the VIP stateroom. It has a large near-queen island bed with lots of room to move around and plenty of storage, including hanging lockers. It has its own en suite head, also accessible from the companionway. The third cabin is across from that head, on the port side, and features high-low twin bunks. The master stateroom is athwartships, with the head of the bunk to port and a large head taking up the starboard side of the cabin.

Aft of the master suite is access to the utility room, and the engine room is aft of that, with a watertight door for entry. Outside access to the engine room is through a hatch in the aft cockpit deck.

Standard power on the 53RP is a pair of Cummins QSC8.3 diesels with 600 hp each. The company says maximum speed with standard power is 20 knots, with high-speed cruise at 15 knots. At a slow cruise of about 8.5 knots, the 1,000 gallons of fuel should take you about 1,000 nautical miles, with reserve. If you want more speed and don’t mind spending more on fuel, choose the optional Caterpillar C12 ACERT diesels with 715 hp each. Top speed climbs to 24 knots and high-cruise to 18 knots.

The interior helm station is on the centerline, with a U-shaped settee alongside for crew comfort and conversation underway.

The interior of an Aleutian RP is the epitome of nautical tradition, and the new 53RP carries the torch nicely. The teak and holly deck in the main saloon is complemented by an inlaid table and matched-grain cabinetry. Typical layout for the saloon has an L-shaped settee to starboard and a straight settee to port. Large windows on both sides let in lots of light.

Three steps up forward to port take you into the pilothouse, with the galley along the aft end and a U-shaped settee along the port side. A single helm chair is forward and centered. Stairs heading below are to starboard, while aft to port are the stairs up to the flybridge. All of the materials, fixtures, and appliances are top-of-the-line, complemented elegantly by polished granite countertops. A galley-up configuration like this works well as a social hub when everyone is inside, and makes it easier to pass refreshments up to the flybridge when that is in use.

Speaking of the flybridge, a hardtop is an option, and Grand Banks says most owners order it. It’s a good choice because it includes lots of flexibility for lighting and speakers. There’s room topside for the whole crowd, with plenty of room for an electric grill, the davit, and the tender. If you want to be in the sun, there’s an expansive foredeck with a built-in cushioned bench seat on the forward side of the Portuguese bridge bulkhead.Grand Banks Aleutian 53 specifications

Grand Banks yachts are not inexpensive, but they are built to the highest possible quality standards, with the best materials and equipment. That’s why they have been so highly sought after since before their hulls were fiberglass, and why they hold their value so well in the used market. You may shell out a little more at purchase time, but you won’t regret a penny of it, especially since you’ll be aboard one of the finest coastal cruising yachts available.

For more information, visit Grand Banks Yachts.


Tom Tripp

Tom is the publisher of www.OceanLines.biz, a website about passagemaking boats and information. He is also a contributor to Chesapeake Bay Magazine who has been at sea aboard everything from a 17-foot homemade wooden fishing boat to a 1,000-foot-long, 96,000-ton, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.