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Thread: Whitehall or Wherry?

  1. #1
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    Jan 2022
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    Default Whitehall or Wherry?

    Newbie here, although I've been boating on and off my entire 68 years. The time has come to build one more boat. Purposes include recreational fixed-seat rowing, and maybe drop a line in the water once in a great while. I want something for casual tandem rowing for my wife and I. By 'casual', I mean we want a compromise between stability, comfort, and rowing ease. We're not out to set any speed records, and as old age creeps in, our balance ain't what it used to be. The days of gingerly climbing into a sliding seat splinter are well past us.

    The two designs I keep coming back to would be a classic Whitehall, such as Gardner's 17' model, and a similar size wherry, such as a stretched version of the Duck Trap Wherry. I'm looking for real-world experiences, as I've never been in either model. I think the Whitehall wins on looks, and straight-line tracking (maybe too good), whereas I think the wherry might be a bit easier to build, more maneuverable, and better for beaching, which we would do often. I believe the Whitehall would be a tick faster, although does that really matter if you're spending the day on a 3 mile long lake?

    I want a classic, vintage looking boat to build out of glued lapstrake plywood. It will live on a light trailer indoors, so it will only be exposed to the elements when in use. I don't think feather-light construction would be a huge advantage, as a bit more weight increases the stability and the ability to shoulder through power boat wakes. Being up in the SC hills, 'home port' would be several small lakes in the area, plus road trips to the coast, and FL's west coast. I know stitch 'n glue will get me on the water faster, but I've discovered over the years that I actually get more pleasure out of building boats than I do using them. That said, I'm not going to go traditional methods, as there's too much maintenance after the fact.

    Any thoughts about these two models? I'm primarily concerned about stability, as if it is too tender, we won't feel comfortable, and it will end up sitting in storage too much. We're not feeble (yet), but I hope to get some more good years out of what I have left. Thanks for any and all input!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 1999
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    Hyannis, MA, USA
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    Default Re: Whitehall or Wherry?

    I've more time in a Whitehall. The wherries I've rowed tended lighter and slimmer than Whitehalls I've used but both row well, are stabile, and seaworthy. Most iterations of same LOA wherry to Whitehall show more load bearing capacity for the Whitehall.

    So if you're out for a gentle row with the love of your life and a picnic basket, the wherry might be a little less work to launch but not as would make a practical difference. And light or laden the Whitehall is no slug, so personally I'd go with the extra capacity. Especially if conditions get a bit windy the Whitehall's tracking is a treasure. I had the use of a Whitehall when I was moored in Boston and did not find it hard to maneuver in and out of a very tight dock so while my memory of a wherry is that she might be a bit more able to wiggle about, it's but the slightest difference.

    Neither shape is as easily beached as something with a flat bottom, like a dory. And even with rollers (I used cylindrical fenders) dragging a 500# or so boat up a beach is misery. So I carried about 200' of anchor line and two anchors. I'd reave the line through a large shackle on one anchor and pay out both parts as I approached the beach.

    I usually actually hit the beach broadside to avoid disembarking over the bow.

    Once off-loaded, I'd join the two ends of the anchor line with the boat's painter and just haul the boat away from shore. Then make the anchor line fast to the anchor on shore so everyone stays put.

    No heavy lifting and much easier on the boat's bottom.

    G'luck

  3. #3
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    Jan 2022
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    Default Re: Whitehall or Wherry?

    The Duck Trap wherry has a (small) flat bottom; enough to stay upright when beached. I would hope that neither boat would even be half of 500 lbs. In glued-lapstrake; I'm thinking more like 200# or so, plus a little gear. We travel pretty light, unless we went beach camping somewhere. I would stretch the wherry; Duck Trap says it can be stretched to 18' on the same molds. The beam is almost identical to the Gardner Whitehall, with both boats being a couple inches over 48". I don't want to go to a much wider boat because I doubt my petite wife could handle 10' oars. Even 8 footers may be a challenge for her. Although she has about a million miles on Concept2 rower, I don't know if she's ever rowed an actual boat before.

  4. #4
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    Oct 2008
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    Default Re: Whitehall or Wherry?

    I think you'd be happy with either the Gardner Whitehall or the Duck Trap Wherry, though I have no direct experience with either of them. As another alternative you could consider the Oughtred Acorn 15, stretched to 17'. I recently completed mine and had it out for a few rows. I can say that it has most of the qualities you are looking for in comfort, stability, and performance. My wife and I are about your age. I'm fairly mobile but she has some knee issues but even so she is comfortable with the stability. The Acorn tracks very well, so quick turns are not likely without some creative oar work. Here's a few pictures:

    19a.jpg37.jpgIMG_1429.jpg
    - Anything you can't have fun with is not worth taking seriously.

  5. #5
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    PNW, an island west of Seattle
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    Default Re: Whitehall or Wherry?

    I suggest you consider Eric Hvalsoe's Hv13 or 16. I built the 13 using glued lap ply with Eric's permission. His plans call for conventional clinker using cedar. The lapped and epoxied ply make for an exceptionally stiff hull. I am not young anymore and wanted a comfortable and stable boat that is still easy to row. The Hv13 provides that very well. If you want a bit more speed and more capacity, then choose the 16 footer. Here's my 13:

    1st Launch - 5.jpg

    By the way... Eric is very easy to work with and is a font of knowledge.

    Jeff

  6. #6
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    Jan 2004
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    Default Re: Whitehall or Wherry?

    Quote Originally Posted by gazzer View Post
    I think you'd be happy with either the Gardner Whitehall or the Duck Trap Wherry, though I have no direct experience with either of them. As another alternative you could consider the Oughtred Acorn 15, stretched to 17'. I recently completed mine and had it out for a few rows. I can say that it has most of the qualities you are looking for in comfort, stability, and performance. My wife and I are about your age. I'm fairly mobile but she has some knee issues but even so she is comfortable with the stability. The Acorn tracks very well, so quick turns are not likely without some creative oar work. Here's a few pictures:

    19a.jpg37.jpgIMG_1429.jpg

    Nice looking boat and very nicely finished.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
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    Sound Beach, NY
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    Default Re: Whitehall or Wherry?

    I haven't built or rowed either. I have used light weight tenders and daysailers, a little ballast adds a lot of stability. I've used water jugs, sand bags, shot bags and plastic covered exercise weights. Helps with trim too. Good luck, have fun, keep us posted.

  8. #8
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    Sep 2008
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    Victoria, BC, Canada
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    1,684

    Default Re: Whitehall or Wherry?

    I built a Kurylko Alaska in glued-lap 3/8" ply construction some years ago and rowed and sailed it for a number of years. The boat is 18' long and about 4'8" wide if memory serves. When I weighed the hull before any interior was installed, it came in at exactly 200 lbs. While not strictly a whitehall, it is derived from one. In rowing-only configuration it would make a fine stable and fast two-person rowboat and could certainly be built with a simpler interior than in sail configuration. It tracks like its on rails, which is good but also has the turning and landing drawbacks that Ian mentioned.
    P1000137.jpg
    Alex

    "The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.
    - Vincent van Gogh

    http://www.alexzimmerman.ca

  9. #9
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    Jan 2022
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    Default Re: Whitehall or Wherry?

    Really beautiful boats and craftmanship! The Acorn 17 looks a lot like a Whitehall to me, at least in overall shape. I know that true Whitehalls are built a certain way; I'm more interested in the general shape rather than being traditional. IIRC, Oughtred plans are rather expensive, although I understand that they are very good. Currently, you can't order plans through the website for some reason. I have the lines for the Gardner 17 already; they're in the book. My current thinking is to build a large scale model, maybe 5:1, which will help me puzzle through some of the details and work on the spiling and plank shapes so I make less mistakes working with the expensive stuff. I originally thought I would strip plank the hull instead, but finding suitable, affordable wood is presenting a challenge. I'm also concerned about keeping it fair over 24" mold spacing. I think a well-lined lapstrake is handsome in its own right, and it would probably come out lighter and cheaper.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Whitehall or Wherry?

    Contact John Brooks about the Peregrine 18 or Merlin 16 as alternatives. He may have developed glued lap kits by this time: http://www.brooksboatsdesigns.com/styled-8/rowkits.html
    "A man cannot be said to succeed in this life who does not satisfy one friend."Henry David Thoreau: Journal, 19 February 1857

  11. #11
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    Oct 2008
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    Default Re: Whitehall or Wherry?

    Quote Originally Posted by MushCreek View Post
    Currently, you can't order plans through the website for some reason. I originally thought I would strip plank the hull instead, but finding suitable, affordable wood is presenting a challenge. I'm also concerned about keeping it fair over 24" mold spacing. I think a well-lined lapstrake is handsome in its own right, and it would probably come out lighter and cheaper.
    You can order plans directly from Iain through email (iain.oughtred@gmail.com). He accepts payment by PayPal. Yes, a glued lapstrake hull would likely be much lighter than a strip-planked one.
    - Anything you can't have fun with is not worth taking seriously.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Whitehall or Wherry?

    The Peregrine 18 could be a strong contender. Reasonable, too, considering it has full-sized mold patterns. At first, I thought it was too racy, but with a 48" beam, it should be a good picnic boat. I have no interest in a kit, BTW. As I said before, building the boat is as much (or more) fun for me than actually using it. I'm sure any kit would be well beyond my meager finances, too. I build everything I can; I designed and built our house, pretty much single-handed, so a mere rowboat is a small project by my standards.

  13. #13
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    Sep 2015
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    "Driftless" Wisconsin
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    Default Re: Whitehall or Wherry?

    Your posts've struck a nerve in me.

    I'd planned on building a Whitehall after plans in Gardner's book back in the '80's, then learned of Oughtred's Acorn and MacGregor canoe designs (for which I have plans yet for both) but a 30-year house remodel AND working full-time kept those plans from ever becoming real activities.

    Then a friend turned me towards Chesapeake Light Craft's available kits so I spent some time pondering which of a couple designs might be suitable for use around where we live now; the remodel got sold on 2014. I ended up buying probably the first of their Waterlust expedition canoe kits the day they introduced it as a kit back late in 2016, finally got started building some three years later then launched this past August:

    Floats!.jpg

    Been 40-odd years since I learned to sail so this is turning out to be a learning exercise. Adding ballast seems to aid something considerable in stability... with both sails set and no reefs in it's a tender thing in any kind of conditions my earlier 14' scow home-build was fun to sail in. So I'm adding the ama 'training wheel' accessory for next season, hoping that will engender longer sails & less time practicing capsize recovery....

    I still have the sheets of 6mm okoume I bought back in the '80's and there's a strong urge yet to start another boat project that I can fill my half of the garage with while my Waterlust spends its winter months hoisted to the rafters above. Glued-lapstrake-from-plans is an appealing prospect yet I may yet make an attempt at adding oars to the canoe just to see if it's possible despite the rather high freeboard she carries.

  14. #14
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    Sep 2007
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    Benfleet Essex UK
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    511

    Default Re: Whitehall or Wherry?

    I have a stretched Cosine wherry, she is 17ft & by far the best rowing boat i have ever had, stable & fast & with a lugsail for off the wind is blisteringly fast.
    I previously built a Culler Whitehall, pretty but too extreme really.

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