Because I’d sea trialed the Grand Banks 60 out in Australia some while back, I was quite interested in taking a look at the new Skylounge version of the boat—the 60SL—at the Ft. Lauderdale boat show. And when I stopped by, I immediately noticed that the SL, like her predecessor, was long and sleek—you might even say lithe-looking—as she sparkled there in the sun, temporarily hemmed in by docks, finger piers and bulkheads, and overrun with sightseers itching to check out the second new yacht from Grand Banks to redefine and modernize the old, iconic, long-standing brand.
Which was kinda odd, actually. I mean, I was not at the time, nor have I ever been, a big fan of skylounges. For my money, they often look like unwieldy, sometimes even unsightly, add-ons and, what’s more, they almost always set me to wondering crustily: Why the heck would you cover up a perfectly fine flybridge with windows and fiberglass walls, when you could stick with top-down-convertible ambiance and great, 360-degree visibility?
This particular skylounge seemed pretty nice, however. So, I buttonholed Hank Compton, the COO of Grand Banks’ new service facility just a few miles north in Stuart, Florida, and asked him, “How come?”
“Most skylounges look boxy and slab-sided in my opinion,” he began. “They look like afterthoughts, at least to me. And we knew that, in order to blend an enclosed bridge into the profile of the 60, which is a rather low and sleek thing as you can see, we had to do a few subtle things.”
The first of the lot, Compton continued, had entailed moving the flybridge slightly aft of where it’s positioned on the original 60: the point being to make the angles of the lower and upper windscreens line up perfectly, thereby avoiding the boxy look that two deckhouses out of alignment might engender. The next was less dramatic; it merely added a couple of style lines to the sides of the skylounge, along with some extra-large, opening side windows (within a wraparound charcoal-gray mask), both to address the boxiness issue and also to break up the slab-sidedness Compton had just deplored. Then, finally, the overhang of the roof was extended so it appears proportional to the cockpit overhang below.
“So, now,” Compton concluded, “we have a decent-looking profile and, with the windows and hatches open, I think we’re getting about as close to an open bridge as you can get in a skylounge.”
The subsequent tour supported Compton’s claim. After examining the boat’s lower decks and her salon—except for the absence of a lower helm station, it was very much like what I’d seen of the flybridge version in Australia—I went up the interior stairwell and ultimately topped out in a sort of carefully-crafted, cushily-carpeted wheelhouse, with an L-shaped settee in one back corner, a day head in the other, and a couple of plush Stidd seats at the helm. Breezes were wafting faintly through the two open, cross-ventilating side windows, the open hatches in the overhead, and the open window and door at the rear.
“Very outdoorsy,” I told Compton, glancing aloft. “And the coachroof up there keeps things reasonably cool.” —Capt. Bill Pike
Displ.: 63,383 lbs.
Fuel: 1,530 gal.
Water: 300 gal.
Standard Power: 2/900-hp Volvo Penta D13-900
Cruise Speed: 27 knots
Top Speed: 36 knots