Thank you David for asking this question!
So why did we chose a Whitby 42? There are a myriad of choices out there that would have met our requirements in one form or another and at one time or another we have seriously considered most of them. I will try my best to outline how and why we arrived at the choice of a Whitby 42. A lot of what follows may or may not be 100% accurate in that all of the choices you make are based on your experiences and your desires and personal taste has a habit of clouding ones judgement at times.
The first time I seriously decided we were going to become blow boaters I remember quite well as the Admiral does I am sure. It was during the middle of the night as we were adrift in the North Channel of Lake Huron in our first boat, a 14′ runabout, after the engine had caught fire. We were cold, the wind was howling, I almost lost Andrea overboard, the waves were gigantic compared to our little boat to the point that we had to lay down on the sole in order to lower our center of gravity and keep the boat from capsizing. As I was laying there I said to myself, never again. The next time something like this happens we will have a proper head so that we won’t lose anyone overboard as they hang off the side in order to relieve their bladder. We will have proper berths that we can lie down in. We will have a galley where we can at least make a pot of coffee and for heavens sake, people have travelled the globe under sail, if we had a sailboat now, we could still get to our destination despite not having an engine. And so it began.
Once we made it out of that ordeal, the research began. Hours upon hours upon hours of searching the internet. Reading everything I possibly could about sailing and sailboats. I had piles of printouts of specs on different boats and I started to learn quite a bit about them, the different characteristics of fin versus full keels, capsize ratios, theoretical hull speed, design elements, and on and on. I read every book that the library and all of the surrounding libraries had on sailing. The only one that I never made it completely through was Sail Power by Wallace Ross. So I bought a copy and promised myself I would finish it. Not to brag or sound boastful but I was starting to learn a hell of a lot and I was applying that knowledge to my selection process.
Now reality is always a bitch of course and as a young family we didn’t have unlimited funds to go out and buy our dream boat so in that first year I probably travelled to see over 100 used sailboats on the weekends. I looked at everything from Hughes 29’s a block a way from where we lived to Alberg 35’s just outside of Chicago. Every boat I looked at I took a lot of pictures and I added these to my ever growing stack of research material.
During all of my research one boat in particular kept rising to the top of the pile as I evaluated from different angles and no matter how I approached the subject, the Alberg 30 was always at the top. In those days the market was strong and a used Alberg 30 in good shape was in the $30000 price range. This was my ultimate, end of all ends, never to be replaced gold standard. I could taste it. I spent every night going over every square inch of the Alberg 30 in my mind. I printed out a picture of a nice A30 with a dark blue hull and I taped it onto the back of our bedroom door. Every morning and every night it would be the last thing I saw and I promised myself we would own one. The Alberg 30 by the way was one of the boats I had never been on in all of my searching. By the way, $30000 might as well have been $300000000 as we did not have it and in all likelihood in those days never would have it.
So as luck would have it we stumbled across our first sailboat on a trailer on the side of the highway with a for sale sign on it. We could just scrape together enough money to buy it and so we did. It was a British made Halcyon 23. Great little boat although very small. We spent every weekend on it as a family including the dog. You could not stand up inside but it had everything on my list. A coleman stove inside. A porta potty under the v berth and 4 berths to lay down in. Okay guys, here is the key. Pay attention now if you are at this point in your boating life. The Admiral hit her head inside. Not once, but every bloody time she went below in a crouched position. After one particularly good encounter with the cabin top, she uttered the words “we need a bigger boat!” There it was. Our fate was sealed. I was adamant that Sea Gypsy was all we needed and we would be perfectly fine but once she had let it slip, she could not back down. Anyway at the same time there were 2 boats in the marina that I was falling in live with. Carillon, a beautiful Alberg 30 and Moonshine, a CT 41 that the owner had crossed the North Atlantic with. There was also ButtonCap, a Mirage 29 I think that I became good friends with the owner of. Bruce and I spent many an hour talking about the merits of different types of boats and their intended usage and my choices were continually being narrowed.
Okay, skip ahead 12 years and back to my explanation now that you have a bit of the background as to how my decision process started. As mentioned, we could not afford an Alberg 30 let alone a Whitby 42 in those days but sometimes in life things change for the better I guess.
So here is a list of our requirements for our last boat and a brief explanation for each in no particular order:
Full keel with internal ballast- better tracking, safer when you run aground, protected propeller
Internal diesel – no more drowned outboards
Ketch – easier to handle the sails as we grow older, more sail combinations for varying weather conditions
Full galley – self explanatory
Full head – self explanatory
Spacious interior (not to the point of being dangerous) – we need the space if it is a liveaboard
Lots of internal handholds – some of the modern “offshore yachts” do not have any handholds and are 15′ wide
Separate cabins – The Admiral insists that although we get along just fine, there is no way she will be trapped in one cabin with me for any period of time.
Roller furling headsail
Windvane self steering and electric backup
Moderate draft – the Caribbean can be shallow and we like to tuck into tight spaces
Big enough to comfortably have guests – the second head on the Whitby makes this even more practical
Large enough displacement to handle all of the gear and provisions for extensive periods away from the dock
Low maintenance exterior – read this as NO exterior wood. We do love the look but have learnt our lesson, we do not want to spend all of our last days sanding and varnishing
Electric windlass that can be operated manually
Proven offshore boat – Whitby 42’s are all over the planet for a reason
Proven resale value – in 1976 the asking price for a Whitby 42 was just over $100000. A 1976 Whitby 42 in mint condition can still fetch upwards of $100000 today.
Large Owners group – for help and education on issues with the boat
An aft cabin – to provide the distance the Admiral insists on – this also led to a center cockpit otherwise the aft cabin is typically very small and hard to stand up in
Affordable – it needed to be a project boat that we could regain some of the cost through sweat equity and learn all of the systems intimately
Small opening cabin ports, and lots of them to allow for a lot of light – large ones can be dangerous in large seas
Keel stepped mast – I have had issues with other boats with compression post problems
Roomy cockpit – we like to entertain
Refrigeration – we like cold beer 😉
Big – but small enough that either one of us can still handle it by ourselves
Good sea berths – closest to the center of motion as possible, the king sized bed in the aft cabin will be nice at anchor but I think pretty much useless while underway
Quality build – After owning an Alberg 30 we are intimate with the build quality of Whitby Yachts
Wooden interior – we are traditional when it comes to boats and mirrored ceilings and neon countertops just don’t do it for us
Simple systems – manual flushing heads – when the batteries go flat, I still want to be able to flush
Lots of storage – Remember my chart collection of over 400 charts?
Lots of fuel and water storage – we plan on being away from the dock as much as possible
Water Maker – same reason as above, and concerns over poor water quality in some of our planned cruising grounds
Dedicated try sail track – I still believe in storm sails
Inner forestay for hank on sails and storm jib – This will need to be added to Akupara as she currently does not have one
I can continue on but I think you can get the major ideas of why we chose the Whitby 42. And of course ultimately, the right boat came along at the right price at the right time. I am sure every point above can be argued 15 ways to Sunday but it also comes down to personal choice eventually. We love the look of the Whitby 42, we love the size and the creature comforts, others may think she looks like a big old turd and they would only be happy with a 65′ Macgregor. More power to them, and in the end, it does not matter if you are in a 23′ sailboat or a 123′ motoryacht, if you are both in the same anchorage and you are both comfortable and enjoying the scenery than you both win. Of course I will scream at you to turn your damn neon name boards, and 55″ flat screen TV off…
By the way, the Admiral has already hit her head inside! No bloody way am I falling for that again! 42 is the largest we will ever need, until of course the grandchildren….no, no, no – 42 is all we will ever need!
I hope that answers the question, why did we chose a Whitby 42. If not, let me know and I will continue to ramble 🙂