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Arawak: 1996 Grand Banks 42 Refit

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If you haven’t followed the adventures of Arawak in the pages of Soundings’ sister magazine Power & Motoryacht or at, here are the basics. In 2013, the AIM Marine Group launched a project known as My Boatworks, in which a 1996 Grand Banks 42 would be given a thorough refit with the help of sponsoring partners.

To say Arawak had seen better days is an understatement. After 15 years of chartering in the Virgin Islands, the old girl had fallen on very hard times and was home to a group of vagrants. Once she was scrubbed from stem to stern, the real work began. New engines, a fuel-polishing system and new props were installed. The air-conditioning system was replaced. A new generator was added. The saloon benefited from new windows. A bow thruster, windlass and underwater LED lights were added. Of course, nothing worthwhile is ever easy, but Arawak is well on her way to being as good as new.

And here’s the best part: You can glean the hard-won wisdom of a complete top-to-bottom, hands-on refit without writing a single check or getting your hands dirty. Go to myboat for the full story — or just the part of the refit that’s most relevant to your current plans. You’ll find articles, original how-to videos shot on board with experts from the manufacturers and clear, helpful insight and ideas.

Arawak’s looking good.

There are a lot of moving parts involved in any major refit. In Arawak’s case it’s a massive effort, and we’ve proceeded cautiously, with the help of many experts. For much more, visit

1. Generator

Northern Lights 9kW M773LW3

The first step to determining the correct-size generator is having a trained technician evaluate your load requirements. This is especially important on a boat such as Arawak, which is upgrading or replacing many of its electronics and systems. Today’s helm electronics are more energy efficient than their predecessors, and an upgraded vessel may have lower power requirements, use a smaller generator and free up added space below deck. The biggest factor in determining the ideal generator is the size of the air- conditioning unit it will supply. Another important consideration is the footprint of your previous generator. Replacing a physically larger model with a smaller, more efficient one might well cut down on installation time, but to determine exactly how long it will take, technicians need to physically crawl around your engine room, examine where your water and exhaust hookups are and sometimes get creative with the types of mounts employed. An added benefit: Modern rubber mounts will reduce the noise and vibration of your system.

Northern Lights, (800) 762-0165.

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2. Underwater LEDs

Aqualuma Gen III 3 Series

Underwater lights are becoming more practical for smaller vessels, now that LEDs are being used. Modern LEDs below (and above) the waterline sip power, compared to their halogen predecessors. Aqualuma’s largest lights only use 2 amps at 12 volts or 1 amp at 24 volts, so boaters can leave them on while using their generators without fear of wearing down the batteries. Today’s LEDs also boast a superior life span. Aqualuma lights, for example, should shine brightly for upward of 50,000 hours, which would allow you to run the lights 24/7 for more than 5½ years. But please don’t do that.

Aqualuma, (954) 234-2512.

3. Props

24 x 18 Michigan Wheel 3-blade

A significant difference in rotational engine speeds was at the very heart of the prop challenge. Although Arawak’s original 210-hp Caterpillar 3208NA engines closely matched the new Yanmars in terms of horsepower, they were larger, much heavier and turned considerably fewer rpm per given amount of horsepower. More specifically, wide-open throttle for the old CATs was just 2,800 revs; top hop for the new-age Yanmars is 4,000 revs, a disparity that dictated some critical modifications. The old transmissions needed to be replaced with up-to-date ones that offered a deeper gear ratio. After a few calculations were made, a set of new 24 x 18 Michigan Wheel 3-blade props was ordered and substituted for the old 28 x 22½ Stone Marine 3-bladers that were standard issue when Arawak was built.

Michigan Wheel, (616) 452-6941.

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4. Air conditioning

Split DX System Technicold by Northern Lights

Choosing the right manufacturer is the first and sometimes most important decision to make. When researching providers, two things directed us toward Technicold. First was a wealth of service centers up and down the East Coast, where we’ll be doing most of our cruising. Second, we were impressed by the robust construction. Where some companies use components fabricated from molded plastic, Technicold employs stainless steel, and not just for the condensers but also for ancillary components, such as fasteners, shrouds and the drain pan. This should help the system withstand the hot and humid engine-room environment. Custom two-part enamel paint on the system provides yet another layer of protection. A standard one-year warranty on parts and labor and a two-year warranty on all parts also inspired confidence in our new split DX system.

Technicold, (800) 843-6140.

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5. Engines

Twin 220-hp Yanmar 6BY3 diesels

There are a host of details to contend with if repowering entails swapping out a naturally aspirated power plant for a set of modern common-rail, high-speed diesels, such as the 220-hp Yanmar 6BY3s. These include developing engine beds that are compatible with a contemporary diesel footprint; picking out, sizing and purchasing adapters and other components that will facilitate electrical, raw-water, electronic and prop shaft hookups once the new engines are properly installed; and resolving stability issues that can sometimes arise when hefty engine weights are exchanged for lighter ones. There’s one more issue: the synergy that must be established between the new engine and the propellers. We tackled it all with the help of the experts.

Yanmar, (770)

6. Windows

Vetus Custom Made Comfort Series

Arawak needed new windows, so we went with custom-made saloon windows from the Vetus Comfort series. They use a clamp profile, fastened from the inside with screws through the aluminum counter flange, so no screws are visible from the outside. Inside the boat, the screws are covered by a black or gray decorative strip, which is supplied. They’re available in fixed, sliding, hinged, half-drop or combination versions with single glass or as fixed, hinged or combination versions in double glass. Each window is delivered with a seal for fitting (no sealant required) and all fastenings.

Vetus-Maxwell, (410) 712-0740.

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7. Windlass

Maxwell HRC 10, Max Claw Anchor with chain stopper

After consulting the experts, Arawak was outfitted with a Maxwell horizontal rope/chain anchor windlass. We were strongly urged to use a swivel, which allows swing and prevents kinks, secured to all-chain rode. We added a snubber, which not only absorbs the shock of wave action at anchor but also works adds a measure of safety when secured at one end to a bow cleat and the other to the anchor. It can also be run through the anchor and secured at one end to a starboard bow cleat and at the other to a port bow cleat. Safety first!

Vetus-Maxwell, (410) 712-0740.

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8. Bow thruster

Vetus-Maxwell thruster with joystick control

Using engineering formulas combined with years of experience, the experts from Vetus-Maxwell looked at Arawak’s dimensions (including her windage) and new Yanmar propulsion package to determine the optimum-size thruster. If we’d been installing the thruster without a joystick, they would have chosen a 95-kgf (kilograms of force) 8-inch model. But because we were also installing a Glendinning joystick, we needed an oversized thruster to overcome the torque of the props and decided a 10-inch 160-kgf model would be best. Since Arawak will be using a 24-volt thruster, Florida Bow Thrusters installed two 12-volt batteries and a separate 24-volt charger (in the area under the forward berth) connected to the AC side of the house panel.

Vetus-Maxwell, (410) 712-0740.

9. Fuel polishing

ESI Total Fuel Management

Arawak’s CFS1000FRE fuel-polishing unit will remove (via a Racor 1000MA filter with cellulose/glass-fiber media) all particulate matter down to an exceptionally fine 2 microns; will separate (versus absorb) 99.95 percent of water, both free and emulsified; and will permanently nix all yeasts, algae, fungi and other organisms via a De-Bug L-1000 multimagnetic array. Moreover, the unit has a high-flow, continuous-duty pump that is tweaked to optimally agitate contaminates in the boat’s fuel tanks during the system’s operation, thereby facilitating total, as opposed to partial, processing. Now that’s clean.

ESI Total Fuel Management, (703) 263-7600.

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10. Electronics

Simrad networked system

Arawak’s helm features a Simrad system that uses the NMEA 2000 protocol and Ethernet to link and share all components on one networked backbone, including sensors, displays, cartography, and engine and navigation data. Four black boxes connect to everything: the GPS, SonarHub audio, AIS, Broadband 4G FMCW radar for both long- and short-range signal, and two VHF radios (RS 35 fixed-mount at the upper helm, an HS 35 wireless second station mounted below) with full DSC capability. The NSS evo2 multifunction displays have the same functionality, but different-size screens: There is one in the pilothouse and another on the flybridge. Sirius Weather and a GoFree WIFI-1 Wi-Fi module for iPad connection round out the versatile system.

Simrad, (800) 324-1356.

11. Paint

Interlux and Awlgrip products

Arawak had a lot of scratches and dings to repair, patch and fair. That took the better part of a week with three to four guys working continuously. Her hull has planking lines that make her look like a planked boat, but they required hand-sanding. Most boats typically just need a heavy primer and finish primer, then a topcoat. Talk to the yard to determine which products have the best properties for your job. Make sure the crew removes wax and preps the surface first, as sanding wax will heat it and grinds it into the hull.

International Paint, (800) 468-7589. Awlgrip, (888) 355-3090.

12. Satellite TV

Intellian Technologies i5 system

The i5 system from Intellian ($5,995) was designed specifically for boats of Arawak’s size and range. Previously, the only options that would perform throughout the Bahamas were 45cm and 60cm domes. The i5 provides the same coverage, but in a 53cm (20-inch) dome that fits the boat’s aesthetic profile. On older satellite-TV domes the LNB (low-noise block) had to be swapped out from region to region. The i5 has a standard “All-Americas LNB” that works with all major providers. When mounting any TV antenna or satellite communications, remember that the LNB will get cooked by the radar if the two units are too close.

Intellian Technologies, (949) 727-4498.

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13. Hatches


Any moderately handy boater can replace hatches. All you need is the correct replacement hatch and an understanding of how to properly bed equipment. On Arawak, the hatches were swapped with replacements from Vetus’ Magnus line (starting at $293.75). In many cases, no cutting is required. Place the hatch and mark the position of the mounting holes. Tighten the screws until sealer begins to appear but don’t overtighten. If the bedding has failed or is cracking on the old hatch, consider having a surveyor check for water intrusion. Dealing with previous bedding and sealing materials — specifically a permanent sealer— will require more elbow grease.

Vetus-Maxwell, (410) 712-0740.

This article originally appeared in the June 2016 issue. Don't miss the whole story at



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