Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions 2017-08-29T13:08:20+00:00

Here are a few answers to some of the most Frequently Asked Questions. Can’t find what your looking for? Please feel free to call us or send an email.

We sell direct without Dealers. This benefits our customers in many ways. Clients communicate directly with experienced knowledgeable sales people who have hands-on experience with all of our models plus great input from hundreds of Whitehall boat owners. Purchasing direct also means dealer markup is avoided so one gets a top quality boat for less money. Our workmanship is guaranteed and we have a track record of complete customer satisfaction including delivery right to their door in our custom delivery truck.

If you have any other questions that come up please give us a call or send an email. We have over twenty years of experience relating to these boat models and input from hundreds of boat owners to call upon regarding all aspects of use and ownership.

Rowing models are strictly for rowing and are all set up for traditional oars with bench seats and bronze oarlock sockets on the gunnel. Slide seat units can be installed in any model from the 11’6″ Westcoast and larger, to convert a traditional rowboat to a rowing shell with the added benefit of a full body workout in a safe seaworthy boat. A slide seat unit includes the teak base, slide seat, tracks, adjustable foot brace and hinged bronze outriggers and oarlocks mounted on the gunnels. The slide seat base is removed by pulling four pins, and replacing the removable bench seat converts it back to a traditional rowboat, all in about five minutes.

Sailing models row identically to the rowing models, and can also be fitted with optional slide seat units and feature integral centerboard wells and mast step assemblies. A “pre-sail” model has these integral features included, but is purchased without the mast, lug, boom, sails, rigging, bronze centreboard, and rudder system.

There is no performance compromise whether the boat is used as a traditional rowboat, a slide seat rowboat, or a sailboat.

The fine lines of a Whitehall rowing boat represent several hundred years of refinement in an ongoing quest for efficiency in all areas. It has a fine entry, gently curved midsections and a tucked stern with an elegant wineglass transom. It also features a tracking keel to aid in directional stability. Early examples date back to the Thames River boats in the 1600s. Smaller models were used to transport people, while larger versions moved people and gear.

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The Dory evolved from a need for economic, easily built rowboats that could pack a load (often hundreds of pounds of fish) carried low in the hull. The original dorys were flat sided with high freeboard and featured a flat bottom. The sides are brought together to a steeply angled point at both ends. Dorys could be stacked nested together such as on the deck of a fishing schooner. Modern recreational rowing dory designs retain the flat bottoms but have lower freeboard and vary somewhat in the shape of the sides and many are very attractive. Narrow designs tend to be unstable.

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Yes, with the customized heavy duty roof-racks shown here it is possible to car top a Solo 14™. Scott Bessho of Seattle says: “Here is a picture of the car-top setup I have. It’s a Thule base rack and kayak saddle system with a Maine Roll-On roller on the back attached to an INNO rack extender that gets the roller back beyond the rear hatch of my car for loading and unloading.” All of these options can be seen at http://www.orsracksdirect.com.

Bear in mind that the boat weighs 150 lbs (68 kilos) so care must be taken when handling.

Absolutely. A 14′ model is slightly easier to row than a 17′ model because it has slightly less wetted surface area. But if you have a large family or on occasion wish to row with several people a 17′ model works both while rowing alone or with four or five people aboard.
Yes, but only in the fixed seat rowing mode. The Solo 14™ comes complete with two fixed seat rowing stations that allow two rowers with 71/2’ traditional oars the option of rowing together at the same time. In slide seat rowing model there is space for only one rower, however two more persons or pets can be accommodated at the same time.
All of our sailing models are excellent for teaching kids to sail. Our favorite is the Westcoast 11’6″ model because it has very good performance characteristics and can be fitted with a bowsprit and a jib. It carries three adults or kids, The elegant Whitehall Spirit 14 sails really well but is a little harder to learn to tack because of its long tracking keel. It has finer ends and carries the same payload as the Westcoast 11’6″. The Whitehall Spirit 17 sails well with up to five adults or six kids aboard and is great for row/sail camping. The Tyee Spirit 14 will easily carry three or four adults or kids and sails very well. All of these models row exceptionally well. Rowing adds to the skills for boat handling or maneuvering in close quarters plus enables kids to enjoy the boat when there’s no wind. More importantly it’s easy to get back if the wind dies completely. You are welcome to call us as we have plenty of experience to draw on to help you make the best decision. Our toll-free number is 1-800-663-7481.
All models including the Minto will carry people of large stature and weight. As an all-around beach boat or yacht tender that can be fitted out for slide seat rowing, the Westcoast 11’6″ works well. Many owners who are big people love this model. If a boat is intended for optimum slide seat rowing the Whitehall Spirit 14 or Tyee Spirit 14 should be considered. Many owners are very pleased with the rowing and sailing characteristics of the Tyee Spirit 14. It is a “fuller” hull design which supports more weight particularly at the bow and stern. Because of this it is also ideal for carrying the weight of a small outboard on the transom. For pure slide seat style rowing, the Whitehall Spirit 14 will accommodate persons from the smallest up to the largest. The Whitehall Spirit 17 can handle two slide seat rowers of any size or a single person of any size. All of these classic models are still the best ever designed for load carrying, ease of handling, and seaworthiness in any sea conditions.
Definitely! Many of our owners have made rowing their Solo 14™ a big part of their fitness plan. They are thrilled with the results because it’s an enjoyable way to reach their goals.

Sliding seat or fixed seat rowing is an easy form of exercise, however if you are new to it we recommend starting slowly, being very careful in balancing your weight when getting into and out of the boat and keeping your rowing time down to under half an hour for the first few times out, regardless of how good it feels.

Teak is without a doubt the best wood for marine use due to its beautiful appearance, superior strength, longevity and lowest maintenance. It is the main reason we know our boats are easily capable of lasting 100 years or more. Finely crafted teak is also the reason these boats look so great and command high resale values. Teak has a natural oil that prevents decay and enables easy maintenance. It is treated with three coats of all-purpose exterior grade oil with UV and mildew inhibitors before delivery. Re-oiling is fast and easy and takes only an hour or two at the most, and need only be done once or twice a year depending on how much sun and water exposure your boat receives.

A stainless steel keel strip greatly prevents the keel from damage if it hits rocks, concrete or other hard surfaces. It also greatly prevents gelcoat wearing off the keel from constant beaching particular in the bow area. Over a few years even gravel will cause wear through abrasion. The keel strips installed on these models have a curved shape and wrap around the keel somewhat, particularly in the bow where it’s most needed. Keel strips are through-bolted into the keel and the bolts sealed and glassed into the keel to insure against leakage when the bolt head contacts rocks etc.

When the wind gets up and a smaller sail would feel more comfortable or safer a jiffy reefing system allows you to quickly reduce the area of the mainsail. If you sail in an area where there are unpredictable winds or use the boat as an offshore tender, jiffy reefing is a recommended option. How jiffy reefing works is two reefing lines run from each end of the boom up through an eyelet set in special reinforced sections of the mainsail a given distance up the sail and back down to the boom. The main halyard is partially loosened. Simultaneously the forward reefing line is taken up until the eyelet is lowered down to the boom. Then it’s made fast to one of two designated cleats installed on the boom. The main halyard is tightened and re-cleated and then the aft reefing line tightened and cleated. A section of the mainsail has been lowered and the boat is slowed down and easier to handle. There is a demonstration of this in the DVD/video ‘Whitehall Sailing’ available from us and also supplied with each boat purchased. It is important to note that unlike many small sailboats all of our models allow the mainsail to be completely dropped and shipped aboard without going back ashore.
The prices are higher because they are not built like any other boats and are superior, more complex designs. They are built by highly qualified trades people who are dedicated to producing the best work, much of which is performed by hand and eye, in our expertly equipped woodworking and fiberglass shops. The teak breast hooks, knees, gunnels and seats are pattern cut but hand fitted and finished in time-honored fashion. The hulls are also built to last and feature two layers of external gelcoat; hand laid interior skin coat, which after curing is followed by three more laminations of mat and roving. The lapstrake planking pattern of the hull extends to the keel and replicates a wooden hull but more importantly stiffens and strengthens the hull. They will easily last for fifty years of normal usage but we see no reason they wouldn’t last fifty more. We have been building Whitehall designs since 1985 and we find that after 10 years these boats resell for more than their original price! We build expecting them to become collector’s items worth far more than that over time. We have never had a complaint from anyone who received a boat sight unseen. The usual comment from a new owner is, “Wow It looks even better than I thought it would.”

Because this is such a unique and innovative product it is difficult to compare it to other boats. Note that these are top quality boats. We believe a boat should do exactly what it’s designed to do and should be built to last. Therefore, the hull is thermoformed from co-polymer plastic, tougher by far than more inexpensive polyethylene and much more impact proof than fiberglass. (See the video) There is a layer of UV proof “Solartkote™ ) acrylic bonded to the exterior of the deck and hull so degradation by sunlight is virtually eliminated. This material stays shiny and does not chalk over time like non-maintained gelcoat.

Included with the boat is all the gear found in a racing shell but built even tougher to handle rough salt water conditions. Inside the hull is another interior structural support grid which further stiffens and strengthens the boat enabling it to withstand the forces imposed by rowing and carry quite large loads. The rower and the boat both get a great workout!

The forces involved in rowing whether in slide seat mode or traditional rowing are much greater than most other marine activities. Also included is the movable fixed seat and it’s rowing gear, nonskid, a drain plug and reinforced towing or lifting eyes. It’s a lot of boat, and well worth the price but you don’t have to take our word for the value of these boats, just read the loveletters posted by the owners themselves.

So far they have been produced only in white. We can provide the boat with coloured decks in the case of a volume order of 12 or more boats. Clubs or Resorts may appreciate this option. However 8 weeks lead time is required prior to shipment to allow for receiving a special order from the plastic suppliers.
The polymer plastic used to produce the boat is extremely impact resistant, which means the likelihood of putting a hole in it is extremely unlikely. See the Solo 14™ video with the part showing the hull being hammered several times in the same spot by a 3lb. (1.36 kilo) steel hammer with no resulting damage. Fiberglass would not handle direct impact of this sort.

Like all boats, the exterior can be scratched on sharp or abrasive surfaces, such as barnacles, or sharp edges. It can also abrade over time on sand and we recommend handling your boat carefully to avoid this. An optional stainless steel keel strip is recommended for rough beach landings. In beach situations a dolly, boat slider track or trailer will help suffice to help keep the boat scratch free. Boats kept out of the water on a bunk or lift, that are launched directly into the water and are not landed on beaches will stay pretty much pristine.

Minor scratching can be easily buffed out. Major gouges can be filled. For boats that will be landed on concrete or rocks we recommend the factory option of a stainless steel keelstrip. Major repairs are likely an insurance issue however unless the damage is so extensive the boat is a complete write off almost any damage can be repaired by our professional factory staff.

Stability is needed in two areas, the first is when boarding the boat. Compared to a canoe, kayak, rowing shell or stand up paddle board the Solo 14™ is much more stable. A rower can easily step into the boat and sit down. In calm water it is quite possible to stand, for example, to fly fish. In rough water and larger waves the Solo 14™ exhibits another type of stability allowing waves to pass underneath while remaining steady in the water. Rowing skill is required for manoeuvering or making headway in wind and rough waves. The Whitehall’s lines, dating back to the 17th century, that the Solo 14™ hull is derived from, is renowned for handling rough, choppy wave conditions. It is regarded as one of the most stable, seaworthy hulls ever designed.
We hardly ever see any used boats as they are so loved by their owners. However, we do occasionally have someone upgrade, so contact us to find out more and we can add your contact information and the specific model requested to our “wait” list. In NA call 1 800 663 7481.
We don’t supply boats complete with a trailers for two reasons. First there are different registration forms required for different states & provinces. Registration is very difficult without the correct forms. Second, it is very expensive to ship a trailer due to size – it would cost about as much as the trailer itself. The good news is these boats fit on any number of conventional small bunk-style trailers available pretty much everywhere. One we recommend is the EZ Loader 12-14 1000 or 14-17 1250 bunk style galvanized trailer. Additional items for easier handling are: A tongue jack, an additional keel roller and a piece of nylon angle edge installed on the aft cross-beam. The bunks can be adjusted.
Many people think they should have the option of using an outboard but when we check with a few months them later almost all do not use one as the boat rows so well under oars. So we recommend trying the boat out before spending money on an engine. However, if you are using the boat on a river where there’s a need to overcome a current or for traveling a few miles to a fishing spot or finally to get off a lake or water that is subject to wind squalls an outboard motor could be helpful. The transom height determines that it needs to be a “long shaft” with 21” or so to the cavitation plate. This will keep the prop in the water in wave conditions. If you are out alone there must be a steering tiller fitted so you can sit on the slide seat or the fixed seat to balance out the boat. The overall weight of the motor should be under 25lbs (11.5 kg.) Most people find a 2hp gasoline outboard works best. An Electric OB will also work well. There are many types but the new lithium battery powered “Torqeedo” is self-contained and the latest technology. Model 401S with a 23” shaft is recommended. (Read more and purchase the Torqeedo Electric Outboard here).
Unlike modern boat designs, the Whitehall Spirit hulls are easily driven through the water and are very seaworthy, although they will not achieve planing speeds. A long shaft gasoline-fueled outboard in the 2 hp range will propel a Whitehall Spirit 17 at a speed of 5-6 mph when running at half throttle.

As for electric motors, we now carry an electric motor option that pairs well with our boats. The Torqeedo Travel 1003 3 hp long shaft will deliver the needed thrust at a very light weight. You can learn more about this motor by clicking on the link above or by calling us to ask us questions directly.

Many owners do this and enjoy a tour of our facilities at the same time. On a factory pickup all sales are subject to Provincial (PST – 7%) and Federal Canadian taxes (GST- 5%). Deliveries to the US are not subject to any Canadian taxes so delivery via our truck can often cost less. Local delivery to non-Canadian registered yachts “in transit” is also exempt from all Canadian taxes. You can also arrange for a pickup in Blaine WA. Here is a link to a map of the Blaine WA pickup location.

When ordering their boats most owners take advantage of our “door to door” delivery service as part of the package. Occasionally, to accommodate these your needs, our driver will meet up at a pre-arranged time and location (such as Blaine or elsewhere) and you take delivery and transport your boat to its destination. See the check list for what’s needed that also applies to boats that are picked up at the factory.

The Solo 14™ with it’s “Whitehall” style tracking keel tows very well even in rougher conditions. The bow eye is designed to be strong enough for towing or hoisting the boat. See the “Loveletter” and photos on towing the Solo 14™ sent by a happy owner that uses his as a ships tender.
Boat Trailer: You will require a suitable road legal trailer. Suitable trailers and trailering tips are listed on our website at Trailering your Whitehall Spirit boat and also (for a Solo 14™) at What trailer is best? in the FAQ section. You are legally required to use tie-down straps. A red flag is also suggested for the stern.

Car topping a Solo 14™: Classic models are not recommended for car top transport. For car-topping your Solo 14™, the roof rack must have a width of a minimum of 50 inches in order to accommodate the 46 inch beam (upside down). If the vehicle roof is long and flat, the racks must be high enough to account for the “rocker” or curved shape of the gunnels (7½ inches over 14 ft. or 19 cm over 4.27 m).

A minimum of two (2) tie down straps as well as bow and stern (2) ropes to secure the ends are also required. A red flag is also suggested.

For a suitable “upright” car-top racking system see more from these FAQs.

Padding or cushioning is sometimes required for car-top transportation and is expected to be provided by the purchaser. Our driver does not normally carry extra lines or tie-down straps. Straps or lines can be purchased from us and shipped with the delivery. Call or email to arrange this if required.

Please have your cell phone on and at the ready in order to rendezvous with our driver at the agreed location and time.

Please feel free to call the toll-free line at 1-800-663-7481 if you have any questions.

Wearing a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) is a personal responsibility. The laws regarding wearing PFDs vary from country to country. For rowers and standup paddlers the most suitable type of PFD is the inflatable belt type which is ultra light and super comfortable. Most importantly the belt type of PFD does not interfere with the oar stroke or paddle stroke. So don’t be surprised if well meaning people ask, “Where’s your lifejacket?”, as these belt type PFDs are sleek, small and hard to see. The old fashioned vest type can be used, however many people find this type too bulky and uncomfortably hot to wear in warm weather.