Refit for a king

AIM’s collaborative project turns a 1996 Grand Banks into a model of what a big DIY job can accomplish
The rebirth of Arawak took 21 months and involved workers from a variety of technical disciplines.

The rebirth of Arawak took 21 months and involved workers from a variety of technical disciplines.

A roster of industry players collaborated on a mutually beneficial project that brought new life to a tired and sunburned 1996 Grand Banks 42.

Named Arawak, the former St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, charter workhorse became a project boat for Active Interest Media and editors from its marine publications Power & Motoryacht, PassageMaker and Soundings, who recruited a roster of manufacturers of engines, systems, hardware, electronics, accessories and marine coatings to bring the shine back to Arawak so she can start the next phase of her career.

“The goal was to educate our readers through print and digital platforms across multiple magazine titles about undertaking a big DIY project, whether the boat owner does it themselves or they just want to be better informed when working with a boatyard,” says Gary De Sanctis, group publisher of the AIM Marine Group. “As with any refit project there were surprises and hurdles we had to overcome, but in the end we had a nice collaboration among industry players and more than a dozen sponsors.”

Box upon box filled with electronics, from satellite phones to radar, and gear ranging from a dinghy to emergency equipment were brought on board Arawak for thorough testing while the boat was cruised north through the Florida Keys and up the state’s west coast for more work. As the project progressed, anyone who was interested could follow it at a dedicated website,

The project was completed in 21 months in St. Thomas and in Florida, and as far north as New York’s Long Island. Arawak was subsequently showcased at the most recent Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, Yachts Miami Beach, the Palm Beach International Boat Show and several other shows.


Sponsors say donating their products and expertise was an investment that paid dividends for their companies. “Pure and simple, we saw this more as a method to generate engaging content to the audiences of AIM’s marine titles and through our platforms,” says Jay Stockmann, CEO of Vetus Maxwell Americas, which provided a Vetus Maxwell thruster with joystick control, new hatches with retaining arms, custom sliding ports, and windows and windshield wipers. “It gave us the platform to install and create compelling content around that. That’s more in-depth than simple advertising, print or digital marketing.”

Matt Anzardo, North American marketing manager for AkzoNobel, says his company’s Awlgrip and Interlux brands are well known and respected within the industry and among consumers, but the project offered a chance to show off its products on a larger scale.

“The boater can see their reflection, the way the sun and water reflect off the coating, that it is easy to maintain. And since Arawak travels, it is also an opportunity to showcase our Micron Technology antifouling performance and how well it protects up and down the coast,” Anzardo says. “We reached the customers at a different level of engagement. It is a different opportunity than what we have done in the past to showcase the performance, durability and quality of product that we deliver to our customers every day.”


Daren Cole is global brand director for Simrad Yachting, which provided the entire electronics suite, including an NSO processor/control panel combo, 4G radar, AIS, SonarHub, Wi-Fi module, Sirius Weather and an RS25 VHF radio.

“The obvious first reason we got involved is positive brand exposure on a national and international level,” Cole says. “The second is sort of the ‘star’ factor. We need the Simrad Yachting brand to be recognized as a star. One way to do that is to partner on projects where other great brands are involved. Grand Banks is certainly one of those iconic marine brands. With the Arawak project we are reinforcing a leadership position in state-of-the-art marine electronics, combined with a deep history of nautical experience.”

During the winter the boat spent a month at Yacht Service, a full-service marina and boatyard in Amityville, N.Y. Owner Todd Brice had a crew perform fiberglass repairs, priming and painting, and some woodworking repairs.


“It was a lot of hard sanding for our guys, but I’ve been able to use the project in some of our advertising, so it helped get our name out there a bit,” Brice says.

Arawak is heading back to the Virgin Islands, where she will be available for charter and further use by the project’s partners.

“We at AIM brought together sponsors both big and small, but they all were important contributors to this project,” De Sanctis says. “And we all achieved our collective goal to underscore to consumers that they can refit an old boat.”


Project Details

1996 Grand Banks 42

LOA: 43 feet, 3 inches

LWL: 41 feet, 1 inch

BEAM: 14 feet, 1 inch

DRAFT: 4 feet, 2 inches

DISPLACEMENT: 34,000 pounds

FUEL: 600 gallons

WATER: 240 gallons

ORIGINAL GENSET: 8-kW Westerbeke

ORIGINAL POWER: twin 210-hp Caterpillar 3208NA diesels




HOME PORT: St. Thomas, Virgin Islands


  • 16-inch NSO
  • 16 4G Radar SonarHub
  • WIFI-1 Wi-Fi module for iPad connection
  • SonicHub audio
  • Sirius Weather
  • RS25 VHF radio
  • NAIS400 AIS, + NSPL AIS splitter
  • IS40 instrument and autopilot integration

NEW WINDLASS, ANCHOR CONFIGURATION: Maxwell HRC10 Maxclaw Anchor with chain stopper

NEW BOW THRUSTER: Vetus Maxwell thruster with joystick control

NEW OVERHEAD HATCHES: Vetus Four MAG 6363 SL hatches with retaining arms

NEW SLIDING PORTS/WINDOWS: Vetus Custom-Made Comfort Series



NEW ENGINES INSTALLED: twin 220-hp Yanmar 6BY3 diesels

NEW FUEL FILTRATION SYSTEM: ESI Clean Fuel System 1000 Series ESI DE-Bug Fuel Decontamination

NEW GENERATOR: Northern Lights 9-kW M773LW3

NEW A/C: Technicold

NEW PAINT AND VARNISH: Awlgrip and Interlux

SILENCER AND FUELSEP: Walker Engineering

This article originally appeared in the June 2016 issue.


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