A Grand Banks 32 serves as a reminder of the way boats once were built
Tommy Dickey, a longtime fixture at Texas Corinthian Yacht Club in Kemah, cared for the wooden Grand Banks 32 from the minute he purchased it in 1983 until his death in January 2019, said Tony Smythe.
“He completely restored the boat,” Smythe said. “He put her in showroom condition, absolutely beautiful. It was a real labor of love. I bet he spent at least 2,000 or 3,000 hours on the engine.”
The trawler-style yacht, now named Lady, is in many ways a testament to the way boating once was, Smythe said. Now, boaters along Galveston Bay would be hard-pressed to find experts who know how to fix wooden boats.
But there was a time the vessel that now is anchored at the Seabrook Marina and Shipyard was one of the world’s premier boats, said Smythe, who has owned three of the vessels during his life, including overseeing Lady since Dickey’s death.
“It is extremely well-built,” Smythe said. “It’s beautiful, and rugged and comfortable. And some of its construction material, like its teak, is the best in the world. It’s a very unique boat by a unique company.”
First founded in 1957 as American Marine, Grand Banks has been building motor yachts for more than 60 years, according to its website.
This particular Grand Banks 32 was built in 1971, near the end of the years when the company built wooden yachts, Smythe said. Starting in 1973, the company began making its yachts using fiberglass instead.
Lady has existed in waters along Galveston Bay since at least 1979, when another local purchased the boat and named it Singapore Lady, because it was constructed in Singapore, Smythe said.
When Dickey first purchased the boat in 1983, the previous owner asked him to retain the name and he shortened it to Lady, Smythe said.
More than 800 of the Grand Banks 32 models were built. The trawler yacht includes large side windows for views of the water, and can seat up to six people.
The vessel is powered by a diesel engine and has a range of about 500 nautical miles.
While the Lady is exquisitely beautiful to look at today, it doesn’t look that way by accident, Smythe said.
“With wooden boats, you have to stay ahead of the game,” Smythe said. “Once a problem starts, you need to jump on it and fix it. Otherwise, it will mushroom into a big problem.”
And, for almost 40 years, that’s exactly what Dickey did — keep Lady as a beautiful reminder of the way boats once were made, Smythe said.