“It has generous side decks to the bow; the large back deck and fly bridge extend the living space year-round; it’s low to the waterline, has good fuel economy and a reliable diesel engine. It has a comfortable cabin, functional galley, a fiberglass hull, and… has a timeless, classic feel.”
Coconut, Grand Banks 32′
Interview with the Captain and First Mate – Aaron Laferriere and Nicole Biergiel
Why did you choose to buy a Grand Banks?
We were looking for a reliable cruiser that was comfortable to live aboard. Grand Banks is a classic and they made a lot of 32s, so there were several to choose from when we started looking. There are both wooden hull and fiberglass hulls; we have a fiberglass. Months before we started looking, Aaron and Nicole watched many broker’s video tours of Grand Banks on YouTube. Nicole loved the cabin: it’s like the ultimate tiny-house living on the water! We meticulously compared the various layouts and features and made lists of what we wanted in our ideal Grand Banks.
What other kinds of boats did you consider before buying this model (and how did they compare)?
We considered Down East-style boats, but couldn’t find one in the right size. We were set on the Grand Banks pretty early on because of its good reputation and comfortable cabin.
How did you come to find/locate the boat before purchasing (and what’s the boat’s history if you know it)?
Aaron found three or four Grand Banks’ in Southern California harbors on Yacht World and we worked with our local broker to tour them. We looked at one in Dana Point, one in San Diego, and one in Newport. Spoiler alert: the first one we saw ended up being our Coconut. The moment Nicole stepped onto the back deck she knew it was our boat. We toured the other two but one was a complete fixer and the other had highly personalized updates. Coconut, then named Mary, had been docked in Long Beach with the same owners most of its life. Just before we bought it, Mary was purchased by its second owner (a professional football player) who brought it up to Dana Point. He loved the Grand Banks so much he ended up purchasing a larger one less than a year after he bought Mary, which he then put up for sale. We were happy to take Mary off his hands!
Who first introduced you to boating?
Aaron is an avid surfer and grew up around the Santa Barbara waterfront, but officially got into boating in his mid-20s when he bought a sailboat. He started racing in the local yacht club races, which quickly led to opportunities to sail in races from Mexico to the Bay Area. He also does a lot of cruising around our own Channel Islands. Nicole’s father’s family owned a Friendship sloop and sailed the Charles River in Boston before moving to the West Coast and Nicole sailed a few times with her dad growing up. Aaron lived aboard his Catalina 30 when they first met over ten years ago and she’s had a lot more boating in her life since!
What boats have you previously owned?
Catalina 30 and a Sea Force 730, a 24’ military rigid-hull inflatable.
What are the features you like most about your boat?
That it has generous side decks to the bow; the large back deck and fly bridge extend the living space year-round; that it’s low to the waterline, has good fuel economy and a reliable diesel engine. It has a comfortable cabin, functional galley, a fiberglass hull, and was beautifully maintained by the same owners most of its life. It has a timeless, classic feel.
What features/improvements have you added or do you plan to add?
Aaron is a finish carpenter, so lots of cabinetry! New stereo, bow plank, windlass, and custom anchor roller with all new ground tackle. Installed some new interior lighting and did canvas repair and installed new screens. We reupholstered the cushions and made new curtains. We replaced the toilet, and galley and head faucets. We installed a new, larger propane tank; replaced the prop, the shifter cables, and raw water pump.
We need to replace our teak decks, which were oversanded at some point, and we’d like new electronics.
How do you typically use your boat over the summer, and where do you go?
The Channel Islands are a special destination close by and we do a lot of coastal cruising.
What is the biggest challenge you have in servicing your boat?
The engine room has limited head-height and is a bit tight. It’s nice that our boat doesn’t have a generator, which allows a little more room.
Do you have any advice for those looking to buy a Grand Banks like yours?
Generally a fiberglass hull is the best bet, but a refurbished wooden hull can be a great boat, too. Look for new fuel tanks because replacing them is a real hassle. Look for a gas range rather than electric. The electric requires a generator that takes up a lot of space in the engine room. The original fridge is nice too, as it is larger and maintains the wooden door. The cabinetry layout seems to be different in every boat. We like the overhead cabinet and drink holder in the galley, which some boats lacked.
What’s the story behind the boat’s name?
Coconuts travel long distances by floating from shore to shore. We wanted our boat to do the same!
Check it Out
Click the gallery below for more photos and information about Coconut!