Fulfilling another chapter in an already adventuresome life, Onne and Tenley van der Wal are aboard their Grand Banks cruiser headed south from homeport Jamestown, RI. Joining the Waterway Guide Media cadre of on-the-water editors, they are on a mission to visit and document as many ports as practical on their way to the Bahamas. There's a good chance you've seen Onne's work over the past 30 years on the cover of a boating magazine or in a nautical-themed publication. His work is extraordinary. (Photo credit: Pim van Hemmen/Soundings Magazine.)
As an award-winning nautical photographer and Canon Explorer of Light, Onne van der Wal has surrounded himself with water and the nautical world for over 30 years. His imagery speaks volumes to his expertise and vast experience in this challenging, yet sublime, environment.
Once a professional sailor, van der Wal circumnavigated the world as part of an all-male team attempting honors as the fastest boat in the 1981-82 edition of the "Whitbread Around the World Race." His allowance of sparse racing gear didn't leave much room for his novice camera kit – but he talked his way into bringing along an Olympus camera and lenses that the camera company had given to him to document his team's amazing voyage.
When van der Wal, a native Dutchman raised in Cape Town, South Africa, and his teammates aboard the Dutch entry FLYER won the race, his unique and technically impressive photos from the epic journey were instantly recognized by sailing and adventure magazines. They flocked to van der Wal to gain access to his images and the rest is history; he hung up his sea boots and took to a life and career photographing the yachting world rather than competing in it.
His first love of sailing and the boats that take us to the sea culminated in his hands-on restoration of a 36-foot Pearson in 2019. Snoek is a 1972 sloop that van der Wal tackled for the joy of bringing back to life a well-found vessel that needed his devotion. (Video Link)
Now aboard a 32-foot 1986 Grand Banks that has undergone extensive renovation by van der Wal, the leisurely trip along America's east coast is providing him a platform for capturing images, recording stories, and documenting one of the world's most enchanting waterways.
After transiting New England's coast, through New York, across the C&D Canal and now southbound in Chesapeake Bay, van der Wal has joined the company of countless sailors who have scribed their experiences of this journey into their logbooks.
Stopovers in Jersey City, Chesapeake City, Annapolis, Oxford, St. Michaels, Solomons, Tangier Island, Onancock and points south, and eventually into the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, offer a view of the people who live along, and work, the waterfronts that few of us experience.
Van der Wal's images and perspectives from his journey will be featured in Waterway Guide's media channels in the months ahead as he and Tenley voyage south.
Nominated to the National Sailing Hall of Fame, van der Wal's biography can be viewed here: https://nshof.org/nominees/van-de-wal-onne/
The Goose Goes South YouTube video link: https://youtu.be/7wa0ha30n1I