Greavette Montique powered by MercruiserBy Andy Adams

Craftsmanship and luxury are hiding out in Muskoka. It’s a fibreglass I/O but it smells like varnish.

I have often wondered if boats used to be somehow more friendly or more fun, or had more character. I won't say they were better, but after driving the Greavette Montique, I’m tempted to say they were.

It all started in Gravenhurst, where in the 1920's, the Ditchburn boatworks and later the Minett works were situated.

The lakes were small with no really large open areas, but with over 1,500 miles of shoreline, there was a lot of ground to cover in getting from place to place. The roads were bad or worse and extensive travel by boat was clearly the best way to go.

These two boat building houses and several others in the area built boats for the people who lived there and summered there. Somehow the area still goes on without yielding to the effects of progress and change the way other vacation spots have. It's common to see a boat built 30 or more years ago, cutting through the water with a load of laughing men and sunbathing ladies.

The Greavette boat works in Gravenhurst and still carries on the tradition of hand-made wooden boats. Progress and change have come to bear on the boats, and have left their mark, but some unmistakable characteristics remain.

If you think that, at this point, my professional objectivity has gone right out the window, you're right. Of all the boats that I have been exposed to in the last few years, the Greavette Montique is my favourite. It has a fibreglass hull. It also has a modern MerCruiser stern drive. That just about sums up all the contemporary as-pects of the boat. The rest is pure tradition.

The first thing you'll notice when you meet the Montique is the smell. Varnish. The deck is varnished mahogany, clean, uncluttered, and shining. Yellow caulking highlights the dark wood and from the passenger’s seat, no one would guess that the boat was new. It looks like someone's freshly restored pride and joy. The driver knows it’s new by its performance.

Greavette Montique hullThe Montique is powered by the new MerCruiser 470 stern drive. It's an aluminum block. four cylinder engine of 170 h.p. and it's sufficient to push the Greavette along at 45 m.p.h. At that the engine was only turning 4,000 r.p.m. with the 131/2 x 23 stainless steel prop, so a two blade cupped prop and another 500 revs could see it over 50.

The fuel economy was good too at 6.8 m.p.g. cruising at 30 m.p.h. That was 3,000 r.p.m. and when trying to determine where the boat came off the plane I discovered another interesting aspect of the Greavette’s performance. It will slow down progressively without the bow ever coming up. It planes off the same way. When the throttle is opened the boat simply moves forward and rises to the surface of the water but it's attitude doesn't change significantly under any circumstances.

The boat's handling is also unusual. When underway it is best to trim out for your speed, the same way as you would with any boat, but the Greavette is very sensitive. The steering never becomes tight like some boats, instead the trim will actually steer the boat. If it's trimmed a touch too high, the boat goes right, a bit low and it goes left. When it is trimmed the right amount it goes straight.

If you bank it into a corner, then let the wheel go, it will straighten out and continue to run a dead straight line. It had been running hands off for several minutes and finally did over six miles without a steering correction, including going over some very large waves left by a cruise ship that passed nearby.

Cranking the Greavette hard over into a corner will cause it to slide a slight bit at the stern, and it will bank over steeply if you run it in tight. It's possible to make it cavitate but by then you will have spilled your drink. Rough water won't deprive you of a drop though.

The Greavette is not as gentle in big water as the SeaRay or some of the other deep vee boats, but it's so solid and the seats so thick that you would hardly know what you were passing over.

As I mentioned, the Montique has a fibreglass hull, but it is braced and built the same way it would be if it were wood. The under floor area is full of knees, braces, stringers, and bulkheads. When you step into the boat you can't help but notice that there is no give, and if you jump in flat-footed you’ll find that there is no more sound than when you stepped in. It's a solid boat, and the seats in your Cadillac should be so plush.

Greavette Montique helmGood as a fibreglass hull can be, nothing will absorb shock, vibration and sound like a wooden hull. What Greavette has done with the Montique is to sheath a wooden boat in a fibreglass skin. The glass is thick heavy mat and roving bonded to a regular series of ribs and braces. In theory anyway, one could order the boat sheathed in marine plywood or mahogany plank instead, since the basic form is the same, but the low maintenance of the fibre-glass hull makes it practical to own.

A full mooring cover is available to protect the mahogany deck and with that I suspect that the boat would be as weather proof as a fully fibreglassed boat. Make no mistake, the Montique feels like a wooden boat. It's so solid and quiet that it gives you a secure feeling that you would have to experience to understand. You feel you can trust this boat, and I like that.

So far then I have said that the Greavette Montique is a beautiful, luxurious boat that has strong performance, great handling, and really good economy. Is there anything bad about the boat? Well no, but to be fair to all the other boats in that size and price range, I feel I should say that the Greavette is only available from the Greavette factory.

In other words it is a hand-built boat that is very expensive for its size, but is priced within reach of most buyers in the 18-ft. to 19-ft. range because there is no distributor or dealer markup. If it were marketed the same way as other boats then it would not be priced anywhere near the competition.

As it is, a new Montique costs $13,500 f.o.b. Gravenhurst, and everything is standard equipment. A stereo sound system is the only option unless the buyer wants some custom work. Greavette will build in a liquor cabinet with crystal glasses, a hardtop, or special seats, or anything you want to pay for.

Bring them a design for a wooden boat and they'll build that - they even have a mahogany plank boat called the Greavette Executive that is a stock type custom job that they will build. For $13,500, the Montique is a lot of boat. If you don't mind going to the shop and waiting for it, it just might be the boat for you. It’s not fair to the competition, but if you're a consumer, do you care?

Originally published in Canadian Yachting's January 1978 issue.

Specifications:

Price (as of 1978): $13,500

Model: 1978 Greavette Montique 

Engines:  Engine and drive MerCruiser 470.  Aluminum block, four cylinder engine of 170 hp by Mercury. Prop 131/2”. 

Length: 18’6”

Beam: 84” / 2.13m

Weight: 2,900 lbs / 1315.42 kg

Fuel Capacity: N/A

Fresh Water Capacity: N/A

Photo Captions:

Photo 1 - The Greavette Montique is powered by the new MerCruiser 470 aluminum block which pushes it to about 45mph. Decks are varnished mahogany.

Photo 2 - The Montique hull is a straight, traditional hull with gentle strakes for lift aft and spray de-flection forward.

Photo 3 - Instrument lay-out is conventional but convenient, seating position is good. It’s still possible to own a runabout with a varnished deck.

 

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