Onne and Tenley van der Wal did not waste any time once they purchased their 1986 Grand Banks 32. After clearing out all the gear from the boat and bringing his tools aboard, Onne gave the bilge a good scrubbing and then turned his attention to the dirtiest job of all, the head.
Initially, Onne intended to refurbish the vintage Wilcox Crittenden Skipper marine toilet, which back in the day sold for more than $1,000 and some people claim can flush a raincoat. Used ones still sell for hundreds of dollars, and never used ones are listed online for $1,600. Onne was going to order new parts for the old throne, but when he discovered that all the assembly bolts and screws were corroded and wouldn’t budge, he decided to install a new head.
Once he had the original toilet out, he had to move the plumbing for the new one, so he made a cardboard template and from that made a cover that would hide the old holes. He then installed the new head on top of the cover plate.
The next order of business was to make working inside the boat on cold winter nights a little more tolerable. Onne likes to listen to NPR or classical music while he is aboard, so a quality audio experience was a top priority. On his previous boat, the 1972 Pearson 36 Snoek, he’d installed a traditional stereo system, but he wasn’t happy with it. “I wasted quite a bit of money on Snoek’s stereo,” he says. “I put a car stereo with nice speakers on it, but it didn’t sound good. That’s when my kids said, ‘Dad, just go with Bluetooth.’”
On the Pearson, Onne replaced the car stereo system with Bose Soundlink Revolve+ speakers, which he mounted on custom aluminum and wooden brackets he made in his shop. He repurposed the speaker wires from the old stereo system by adding USB connectors and then used them to power the Bose speakers off the boat’s 12-volt system. Music was supplied by iPhone via Bluetooth. When Onne walked onto the boat, he used the Bose app on his iPhone to wake up the speakers and then used Spotify or a classical radio station to provide the audio. “It sounded great on Snoek, so I did the same thing on Snow Goose,” Onne says. “On this boat, it sounds like a bloody concert hall.”
Interior lighting was next on the to-do list. When Snow Goose was built in 1986, incandescent lighting was the norm, but Onne wanted brighter, more efficient LED lighting. He and Tenley selected Imtra Orlando 85 LED lights because of their slim design and because Onne liked the spring-loaded retainer arms that make installation easier. They also preferred the wide flood cast of the 85s over a spotlight. “It gives a very even light,” Onne says. “Plus another huge advantage is that they use 10 percent of the power of an incandescent light.”
The installation process involved a lot of milling, drilling, cutting, gluing and varnishing of each of the individual custom teak and plywood boxes he constructed. For a finish he used Total Boat Halcyon Clear water-based varnish. “It’s a lot of work,” Onne says about the scope of the lighting project, “but when it’s all done it looks great.”
With the cabin lights finished, he decided to give the engine room a lighting upgrade, too. He says the original 1986 130-hp Ford Lehman diesel with its 3,000 hours appears to be in good shape, and hopefully won’t demand long hours in the engine room, but he will have to regularly check the oil, change filters and clean strainers, so he needs to be able to see what he’s doing.
“It has to be safe with no spark,” Onne says. He picked Imtra’s German-made Frensch LED lights to replace the old Grand Banks incandescent lights because they are small and the LED light is much brighter. “A major transformation,” Onne says. “And such a simple install. It went from a dark cave to photo-studio-like lighting.”
This article was originally published in the April 2021 issue.