Second Wind: The Snoek Refit with Onne van der Wal

Last Updated by Remy Chester, Lucie Raposo on
TitleSecond Wind: The Snoek Refit with Onne van der Wal
Original PostAugust 6, 2019
Updated PostAugust 28, 2019, September 7, 2019
AirdateSeptember 4 at 9 p.m., September 8 at 8 p.m.

From the Arctic to the tropics, Newport-based nautical photographer Onne van der Wal has traveled the world for more than three decades capturing sailing’s most thrilling moments. 

But it's always been aboard someone else's boat.

Snoek transformationNow, van der Wal takes viewers on a different visual journey, returning to his sailing and craftsman roots to refit his very own 1972 Pearson 36 in Second Wind: The Snoek Refit with Onne van der Wal. This Rhode Island PBS Original premieres Wednesday, September 4 at 9 p.m.

The documentary profiles Onne van der Wal personal journey from sailor to Snoek - afterphotographer, and highlights his solo refit of his Pearson 36, Snoek, named for the fish he caught as a child. The film shows  Onne applying his training and skill, and the advice of professionals to finish the winter project in time to enjoy the Rhode Island sailing season with his family.

In the film, Onne describes his early days in apartheid South Africa where he grew up sailing and working on commercial fishing boats as a teenager. A poor student in a traditional classroom, Onne was encouraged by his father to attend a machinist trade school in Cape Town. Using vintage photos and vivid accounts, Onne shares how he became a professional crew member racing large sailboats, and went on to crew aboard the famous Dutch boat, FLYER, in the 1981/82 Whitbread around-the-world race.

While at sea, Onne began documenting his journey through photography. Through some well-timed opportunities, Onne launched what has become a long and successful career as a nautical photographer.

"I've been very fortunate that with my camera I've been able to travel to the far corners of the world. But it's always been on other people's boats. I wanted to get my own sailboat," van der Wal said. "It's a combination of having a beautiful boat to sail with, but it’s also going back to something I love doing - working with my hands."

- Onne van der Wal

Onne van der Wal workingSecond Wind: The Snoek Refit with Onne van der Wal chronicles his 10-month journey from October to July, set primarily in van der Wal’s own driveway where the bulk of the work was performed.
This refit touched almost every system of his boat, proving to be a time-consuming and detail-demanding process. The winter months especially tested van der Wal’s dedication and commitment to his project; with each snowfall came the inevitable need to shovel the snow away from the boat so he could work.
In the end, his project was a success; Snoek was transformed into van der Wal’s vision.
After the premiere, Second Wind: The Snoek Refit with Onne van der Wal encores Sunday, September 8 at 8 p.m.

WSBE Rhode Island PBS transmits high-definition (HD) content over the air on digital 36.1; on Rhode Island cable channels Cox 08 / 1008HD, Verizon FiOS 08 / 508HD, and Full Channel 08; on Massachusetts cable channels Comcast 819HD (check local Comcast listings for standard definition channels) and Verizon FiOS 18 / 518HD; on satellite providers DirecTV 36, Dish Network 36.


WSBE Rhode Island PBS is operated by the Rhode Island PBS Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. WSBE Rhode Island PBS is a viewer-supported member of the PBS network of public broadcasting stations, and uses the power of noncommercial media to educate, engage, enrich, inspire, and entertain viewers of all ages in Rhode Island, southeastern Massachusetts, and eastern Connecticut since 1967. WSBE-TV delivers content on two channels, Rhode Island PBS (digital 36.1) and Learn (digital 36.2). For more information about programs and education services at WSBE, visit