We’re pleased as punch that Small Boats Magazine was able to come out to Gig Harbor and do a detailed review of our 14′ Whitehall rowboat that we build here at Gig Harbor Boat Works! Chris Cunningham did a thorough sea trial, putting the Whitehall through her paces in a variety of configurations.

We pulled out some choice quotes that captured Chris’ experience which he articulated very well in the review. The complete review is worth a read (it goes into very good descriptive detail), but we compiled a few snippets that stood out below (emphasis ours).

Our Unique Full-bench Sliding Seat and Clean Interior Design Stands Out

“The Whitehall has an uncluttered, easy-to-clean interior. The sliding thwart offers the rower freedom of movement from side to side and keeps its tracks out of the middle of the boat where those of a standard sliding seat would be in the way of getting in and out of the boat.”

Small Boats Magazine, April 2023

Reassuring Stability

“Areas of non-skid texture are molded into the interior of the hull and the tops of the seats, so I had good footing getting in and out of the boat. The stability was reassuring, and I could drop down from a dock into the boat without feeling unsteady.”

Small Boats Magazine, April 2023

Whitehall Solo Rowing Speed Test with Sliding Seat

“The Whitehall’s 55″ beam provides enough span between the standard silicon-bronze oarlocks to row 8′ -long oars effectively without an overlap of the handles. I maintained a GPS-measured 4 knots at a relaxed pace, 4.7 knots at an aerobic-exercise effort, and hit 5 knots in a short sprint.

Small Boats Magazine, April 2023

“The Whitehall tracks well and I never had to adjust my course by pulling harder on one oar than the other. Turning 360° in place took only seven strokes—pulling on one oar, backing the other—several fewer strokes than I expected. The cutaway skeg evidently helped strike a good balance between tracking and turning.”

Small Boats Magazine, April 2023

Tandem Rowing on Fixed Seats

“With a partner taking to a second pair of oars at the forward rowing station, I slid the sliding thwart to the aft position and locked it there with a pair of pins. I took the footboard out to use the aft compartment’s bulkhead as a foot brace. The spacing between the tandem stations is a bit tight, but it didn’t take long for the two of us to adjust the length and rhythm of our strokes and row well together without clashing our blades. We did 4.3 knots at a relaxed pace, 5.2 knots at an exercise pace, and 5.5 knots in a sprint; good numbers for a 14′ boat.”

Small Boats Magazine, April 2023

Ease of Handling

“Before we pulled the Whitehall out of the water, I wanted to see if I could lift it. I stood amidships, set the turn of the bilge on my thighs, and leaned back. The Whitehall rose clear of the water without much effort on my part. I wasn’t tempted to do more than that, but I was impressed that the boat’s 125 lbs was so easy to handle. Two adults should be able to lift and walk with the boat if that’s required. A popular option is a stainless-steel keel guard to take the worst of the wear when the Whitehall needs to be dragged ashore. The weight of either of the hull layups result in a boat that can be launched from and reloaded on a trailer singlehandedly.”

Small Boats Magazine, April 2023

The Bottom Line

“Making a composite Whitehall was a good idea . . . the care I’m compelled to take with the New York Whitehall that I built in the traditional manner limits what I do with it and the Gig Harbor Whitehall performs just as well, if not better. It is lighter, tougher, and better suited to rugged service.

Small Boats Magazine, April 2023
Click the Small Boats logo to follow the link to the full review