Boat Gallery


Boat Review

The Whitby 42 —

One of the Best-Liked Liveaboard Cruisers on the Water

By Joe Corey

Editor's Note: This article appeared in the May 2008 issue of Southwinds Magazine The original article within the issue is available at:

LOA: 42 feet
LWL: 32 feet 8 inches
Beam: 13 feet ½ inches
Draft: 5 feet
Sail area: 875 square feet
Displacement: 22 ,850 pounds
Main Engine: Ford Lehman 80 hp
Diesel: approx. 200 gallons
Potable water: Approx. 200 gallons

In April1999, Lew’s job transferred to Fort Lauderdale from Michigan. He and his wife Deb sold the house and their his-and-her sailboats, a Catalina 30 and a Gladiator 24, and started thinking about another boat to cruise and live aboard. Both experienced sailors and USCG licensed masters, they had a good idea of what they were looking for:
The new boat had to be substantially built, of moderate draft, and capable of being sailed by the weakest crew alone should the other be incapacitated. The Whitby 42 was at the top of a very short list. The one they now own is named Free N Clear.

Designed by Ted Brewer in 1971, the Whitby 42 is a full-keeled, balsa-cored go-anywhere yacht. The first 200 hulls were built in Canada as center cockpit ketches. Production moved to Fort Myers for hulls numbered 200-300, and some modifications were experimented with. Some of the Florida-built boats were rigged as cutters and sloops. Bowsprits were added on some, and I’ve heard some even incorporated centerboards. After hull #300, production moved back to Canada, and the boats built thereafter returned to the original design.

The interior layout can best be described as being luxurious. The spacious galley includes a double sink, refrigeration and freezer, and plenty of usable counter space. Opposite is a well-designed chart table/nav station. Sitting in one of the two starboard-mounted captain’s chairs in the main salon, it’s easy to imagine being in a comfy den. The forward head has a shower (as does the aft), and the v-berth is plenty big enough for two full-sized adults. Aft of the galley, there’s the engine room (emphasis on room), and the starboard side passageway aft that also serves as the commodious workshop. The aft cabin has 6’ 2” headroom, a large double bed and the full head. Deb tells me that she has misplaced things she’s not found in years, which attests to the ample amount of storage space aboard the Whitby.

To offset what some people have complained about—the Whitby’s excessive weather helm—Deb says she and Lew mostly sail with jib and jigger and balance the rig accordingly. The mizzenmast is actually the same spar as the main on the Alberg 30. As a heavily built, 23,850-pound displacement yacht, Lew tells me the boat sails surprisingly well in light air but truly comes into her own when the wind pipes up to 15 knots or more. She may not point as high as a sloop but sails like a witch on a reach. In addition to the roller furled jib, main, and mizzen, Free N Clear carries a mizzen stays’l and a pair of drifters that the previous owners most likely poled out on their return from a five-year tour of the Med.

The previous owners reported that the 1975 boat had just been hauled and had a bottom job and that the bottom was in good condition. Lew and Deb took them at their word and purchased the boat without an out-of-water survey. They were dismayed to find over a thousand blisters when they did have the boat out but were able to re-negotiate, with the help of the broker and had a significant amount of the $10,000 fix paid for. It was, they reported, a laborious task to have the bottom shaved, filled, and epoxied. During this six-month lay-up, they also replaced all the standing and running rigging, added air-conditioning, and updated the reefer/freezer machinery.

Some Whitbys had trouble with the built-in, keel-mounted fuel tank leaking, so Lew says he’s never used it. In 2001, Lew found that the two belly water tanks leaked at the inspection plates. He opened those tanks, removed the baffles, and inserted two tanks into each, thereby making up for the loss of the belly tank by using two tanks for fuel and two for water. To compensate for the loss of water-carrying capacity, he added a watermaker. A common problem with vintage yachts is leaking at the hull/deck joint. Free N Clear was not immune to this, and Lew and Deb later removed the toe rail and rebedded the seam. Deb says she can dispel a rumor that the Whitby’s hull/deck joint was merely pop-riveted and has the photos to prove that they are, indeed, through-bolted!

A striking feature Lew and Deb added last year is the 11’x 11’ enclosure over the center cockpit. The structure is made of a stainless pipe-welded frame and has a Stamoid cover. The side curtains are roll-up Stratoglass, and there is screening for when the bugs are out. Not only does the enclosure provide a solarium-like extra room, it also serves as a platform to support the four 130-watt solar panels. To accommodate the whole thing, the boom needed to be raised six inches. The mainsail had to be re-cut, eliminating the roach and the battens, but Deb hasn’t noticed any decline in the boat’s sailing characteristics as a result. The next big project, Deb says, is to rewire the boat. The previous owner removed all the electronics that was not part of the sale by simply snipping the wiring, leaving bushels of unused wire to be dealt with.

Lew and Deb have sailed their Whitby comfortably all around South Florida and the Keys to the Dry Tortugas and across to the Bahamas, south to the Exumas and north, and up the East Coast to New England. Their home, Free N Clear, is as good-looking as it is comfortable and as sailorly as it is safe. They both strongly agree that their first choice in a boat was, for them, the best choice.