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Memory Maker

Just in case you haven’t heard, the editors of Power & Motoryacht are restoring an abandoned and neglected Grand Banks 42. It’s been a crazy adventure from the moment we towed the decomposing craft out beyond the tentacles of the mangroves. During that maneuver, I was attaching a tow line to the windlass while simultaneously calling the home office to inform management that this project was a really bad idea.

Admittedly the drawn-out nature of the refit strained a few relationships, caused a few rock solid individuals to lose their sanity, and it certainly presented much more of a challenge than we anticipated. Consequently, I’ve not always been kind to the old girl in these pages—I’m feeling rather bad about my behavior. Alas, my attitude is on the mend!

I’m in Arawak’s saloon late at night in Miami Beach with an unseasonable chill blowing through the hatches, music playing quietly overhead, while I relax on the settee reading Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton. The disheveled and unsanitary environment we found in St. Thomas two years previously is a distant memory. I realize what we have actually accomplished. Sure, Power & Motoryacht and the project’s sponsors (see the complete list at here) have created informative content around the various refit projects, and an old boat is now fully operational. But the accomplishment I’m referring to is not exactly tangible.

You see, while completely relaxed and in my Zen moment, I realize that we saved a boat from the boneyard, and in turn created a platform to create magic moments like these for another 25 years.

This realization came into laser focus the next morning while cruising to the Florida Keys with my friends and coworkers Gary De Sanctis and Bob Bauer. It was blowing hard from the southeast so we decided to cruise on the inside to Islamorada. A water taxi passed heading to the boat show as we cruised along Miami’s famed Brickell Avenue. Suddenly a few readers recognized Arawak from these pages and began giving us an enthusiastic thumbs-up. “She looks beautiful!” bellowed one of her admirers. (Gentlemen, if you’re reading this, thank you. You made my day.) Then I dialed in the Simrad NSS12, put on some tunes, and settled in for a magic morning on the water.

Past Key Biscayne, the Yanmar diesels purred along as we sipped 8 gallons an hour at 9 knots. Gary’s son Louie napped in the saloon, while Bob took advantage of the time to install new windshield wipers. Gary and I enjoyed a salami sandwich and a cold beer on the bridge. I absorbed the gentle motion of the boat, gazing at the vivid contrast of the turquoise water against the freshly varnished caprail. Below us, Bob sat on the cabin house completely content with his project.

Life had returned to Arawak and she was a wonderful, grateful host. Within an hour of leaving Miami Beach, there in front of me lay the rhythm of shipboard life, each one of us decompressing from a long few weeks and just happy to be boating. Arawak was paying us back for all of the work with this golden memory. I had been so caught up in the project’s P/L, yard negotiations, arguing with contractors, and organizing all of the content components that I’d forgotten the true benefit of the project … creating a boat for friends and families to enjoy. It’s hard to put a price tag on this.

After pulling into Plantation Yacht Harbor in Islamorada, I called my wife to check in. She noticed a calmness in my voice, replacing the rapid-fire tone of our conversations from the previous few days. “Sounds like you had a nice day with Arawak, honey,” she said. Indeed, I had.

Sure, Arawak is still rough around the edges and the work list is still several pages. But she’s ready to treat her guests to a wonderful day on the water and soothe the soul. Stepping off the boat, I turned to Gary on the aft deck. “You know; this project was a really good idea.” Look for Arawak at the Palm Beach International Boat show and come on over to see our progress. See you on the water.