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Grand Expectations

Raised in a small, coastal New Jersey town dotted with marinas, I spent my teen years laboring at boatyards filled with Garden State-built boats. Ocean Yachts, Egg Harbors and Silverton convertibles filled the slips, with Post and Pacemaker builds sprinkled alongside fishy models from Henriques, Topaz and Viking Yachts.

Many of the nameplates may be forgotten by the cruising cognoscenti, but I’m certain that mid-Atlantic boaters of a certain age share my fond memories of these boats. Chance encounters with any of the mothballed brands always brings me back to those early years. I’m left feeling reflective and bittersweet.

That same nostalgic feeling of yearning and pleasure is what led Rick and Merrie Fricke to purchase a boat in the late 1980s that they had admired as children, growing up in boating families in Los Angeles. Nearly 35 years later, Tonina—a 1963 trawler drawn by renowned designer Art DeFever—has become been an integral part of the Fricke family, with cherished memories from cruises to Alaska and southern Mexico. We profile Tonina in “SoCal Starlet” on page 46.

“DeFever’s design influence cannot be overstated,” Rick Fricke said, reflecting on today’s modern trawlers. I agree: Tonina’s classic lines, informed by the working boats DeFever penned, are a benchmark of modern trawler design.

And, I would add Grand Banks Yachts to the short list of brands whose boats enjoy both universal appeal and an outsize influence in modern trawler design. Bucking tradition has worked for Grand Banks since its inception as American Marine in a tiny, Hong Kong shed in 1957. The builder’s new 85-foot flagship, which graces our cover, bears little resemblance to the coveted classic GBs that are still plying waterways around the world, or even to the more recent Grand Banks Aleutian and Heritage builds. But like those other boats, the 85 breaks new ground.

Grand Banks continues to modernize its design language while embracing vacuum-infusion and semi-monocoque construction, and while incorporating carbon fiber for lighter, stronger vessels that will run faster and longer with less horsepower. The exquisite interior stays, as does the brand’s born-to-cruise credo. Our review of the 85, “Grand Voyager,” starts on page 36.

In a few decades, the 85 will perhaps trigger a flood of memories for today’s new boaters, just as the 1967 Pacemaker Sedan Cruiser I recently spied did for me.

This article was originally published in the July/August 2022 issue.