Anyone have experience with a Whitehall 17' : LUSENET : Open-water rowing : One Thread

I am looking for comments, opinions regarding the seaworthiness (rough/very rough chop) and general handling of a Whitehall 17' fixed/sliding seat rowboat. Has anyone rowed this boat? Any recommendations for a sliding seat seaworthy boat that does not have a drop-in unit would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance for your time and comments!

-- Kari B. Kastango (, November 03, 2001


Dear Kari,

I don't know if I've rowed the specific boat that you're refering to, but I have rowed a number of Whitehalls. Some were fast. Others weren't. All were seaworthy. They all tracked, some stubbornly. The best article I've ever read on Whitehalls was written by Robert W. Stephens and appeared in the WoodenBoat Sept/Oct, 1995, issue #126. It was one of the most thorough and honest pieces I've read on classic rowing craft. Anyone thinking of buying or building one of these craft would do well to read it.



-- Andre de Bardelaben (, November 05, 2001.

I have rowed a 15 foot whitehall for the last 15 years. It's a tradtional cedar on oak boat. It's a love hate relationship. The hate part is sanding the frames and tueninga 450 pound boat over to do bottom work. A whitehall dos what it wa designed to do very well. Dock to dock or dock to vessel the boat or as a platform for photography, remember according to John Gardner's book the boat was used by reporters and policemen in both Boston and New York Harbors as well as a livery vessel. That I fell is the height of it purpose and development. The researve bouyency in the the stern is mind blowing. One can step from a dock to the cockpit or stand while under way on the stern sheet with the boat being as steady as a church. What I 've found a whitehall isn't is a beach boat, though I've done considerable camping and weekly beach going with mine. The deep draft (for a small boat) requires hip boats here on Cape Cod come Nov.1. Th dory guys run their boats right up on th sand and can wear sneakers year round. Whitehalls like to be anchored where there is enough water to float oroherwise they pound and lean on their bilges when on the hard. For a straight line in a chop the boat is great. Likewise fllowing seas. They just slip under the boat. However the whitehall is not a surf boat. They want to broach and a pitchpole with it's plumb stem might be the end of the boat and the rower. In any case whitehalls are head turners everywhere and with all people from commercial fishermen to little old ladies. I hope this has been helpful. For pics of whitehall check out the Cape Cod Viking Rowing site either from the links provided by OPEN WATER ROWING or rember whatever the boat ROW IT LIK

-- Capt. Rehab (, November 05, 2001.

I got the copy of WoodenBoat Sept/Oct, 1995, issue #126 that is refered to above and it is an excellent article on the history and intended uses of Whitehalls. It is not a replacement for actually rowing/sailing the boat but it should give you an idea of what to expect.


PS As a bonus there is an article on the Hurricane boats used by Outward bound. A row boat, yes, but not for me.

-- Gary Powell (, April 28, 2003.

To address the second part of your question, alternative sea kindly boats with a sliding seat but not a drop in unit.

Makes A 16ft dory, and a 17ft Jersey Skiff which should be considered in the same context.

I have photos of the dory at:

What would determin the appropriate boat type would be its usage, as outlined in the previous answers. -Gary-

-- Gary Powell (, May 17, 2004.

Whitehalls ( Whithall St.) built and used as a method to ferry on the East River to bring the goods to anchored ships in NY Harbor, tracked straight and quick.Fastest with the mostest carried pleasure goods to sailors for profit I'm told. I have rowed a few and sailed one. All fixed twarts and the one with center board the best for rowing. Tender if no center board.This Sail version was slow coming about but moved right along when set.Beautiful design and served its originalpurpose I guess.The more rowing stations the better to adjust to wind conditions as these are intended to be light weight boats.Fun time

-- Ben Minik (, July 20, 2004.

I finally got to row this exact boat (A Whitehall 17) with fixed seats and centerboard. This boat moves right along even in a chop. What it does is split the wave as it arrives, then rises. It's very stable when on its waterline as the boat is fairly wide very quickly in the bilges. With two rowers it was easy to row at 4.5knts (GPS), with 3 we hit 4.9 without much trouble.

It has what I would consider, not a lot of freeboard compared to a dory. This keeps from being blown around too much in the wind. Note: the chop I was in was just 1ft harbor stuff. Also the 1 1/2" keel keeps the boat tracking in a very straight line. Turning this boat is a bear. Fun to row though. -Gary-

-- Gary Powell (, September 14, 2004.

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