OYC and Grand Banks Boats
The OYC is well represented along the Alaska Inside Passage, where Grand Banks trawlers have become a common sight. Several OYC members own these interesting vessels – and have cruised them to Alaska. Grand Banks trawlers got their start in the late 1950s, when Robert J. Newton and his sons, John and Whit, were custom boat builders on Junk Bay in Hong Kong. They worked with noteworthy marine architects such as Sparkman & Stevens, William Garden, Nat Herreshoff and Ray Hunt. Eventually their company, American Marine, moved beyond these custom-design architects, introducing the concept of a production trawler yacht to the world of recreational boating. The first production model, the “Chanteyman” (spelled “Chantyman” in some articles), was built of wood in American Marine's Hong Kong yard. Diesel-powered, the 34-foot boat had a raised pilothouse, and high bulwarks. It was unlike the hard chined semi-displacement models that would follow. In 1962, the Newtons commissioned Kenneth Smith to design a prototype workboat-like cruising yacht. The result was a 36-footer named “Spray.” A year later the Newtons left custom yacht building to focus on producing the line of trawlers that would come to be known as Grand Banks. In 1965, the Grand Banks 42 was launched – and other lines soon followed. With the introduction of fiberglass, a factory in Singapore was built in 1973 and the next year the Hong Kong yard was closed, ending production of American Marine wood-hulled yachts. In 1975, with a change in management, the name of the company was changed. Today, Grand Banks Yachts is supported by a total work force of about 1,300 employees in Singapore and Malaysia.
For the Kluh Family, Grand Banks ownership has become a cherished tradition. OYC members Ted and Sissy Kluh bought their first Grand Banks, a 32-foot wood boat, in 1973. They cruised it extensively, including two trips to Alaska. Long-time members of the club, they owned five Grand Banks vessels over the years. In 2004, they gave up their final Grand Banks, a 36-foot sedan that they loved dearly. Their other three boats were a 38-foot Grand Banks Eastbay (fast and sleek), a 42-foot Grand Banks Europa and the 42-foot Grand Banks Classic, now in its OYC boat house. Kathy and Greg Kluh joined the OYC in 1984, and with their two sons Matt and Alex and their wives Susanne and Courtney, are partners in the 1989 Grand Banks Classic once owned by Ted and Sissy Kluh. They are the boat’s fifth owners. The 1989 Grand Banks Classic was built in Singapore for Greg's parents, who had traveled there to watch the construction and attend to details. The boat has been restored and is showered with compliments and attracts attention from onlookers when cruising. “Thank goodness we have a boathouse to keep it in!,” Greg noted recently. “Kathy and I, Matt and Susanne and Alex and Courtney are keeping the family tradition (began by Ted and Sissy).” Similarly, access to a boathouse was one of the reasons that Lin Hines joined the OYC. Lin and Maryke joined OYC with a 34-foot CHB (moored in the former shed), then bought their “Chanteyman” from OYC member Larry Zessin. Lin explained that “we have a framed certificate proudly displayed in the boat from Grand Banks Yachts that M/V WANDRIAN is the ‘Oldest Grand Banks Yacht in the Northwest.’" Gary Ball also appreciated access to an OYC boathouse. He and Judy moored their boat at Swantown and “being outside was hard on the bright work so we wanted a boathouse and we heard that OYC was a great community of folks.” They have a 1995 Grand Banks. Grand Banks owner PC George and Cindy Smith joined OYC in 1982. Many of their boating friends were joining and they wanted to store their vessel in a boathouse. They bought their Grand Banks – a 1970 Woody – in December of 2004. George wanted a “sturdy and economical” boat “to cruise to Alaska.” Grand Banks are known for their meticulous craftsmanship, artful design, and seaworthiness – and they are an important part of the OYC’s heritage.
The following OYC members own Grand Banks (sorry if we missed anyone): 36' VOYAGEUR Gary & Judy Ball 42' CAROL B Bobby & Carol Brown 35' WANDRIAN Lin & Maryke Hines 42' KLU MARU Alex Kluh & Courtney Widener, Greg & Kathy Kluh, Matt & Suzanne Kluh 42' AVENTURA PC George & Cindy Smith
Pictured: OYC boats “Voyageur” and “Wandrian” cruising north and flying OYC burgees, along with a Grand Banks ad from 1980