“A legend in it’s own time”, that’s the description John Vigor made about the Alberg 30 in his book Twenty Small Sailboats to Take You Anywhere. And indeed the Alberg 30 has garnered a huge following with an active community of owners in North America. It’s an unmistakably traditional boat with long overhangs, a narrow beam, and a full cutaway keel-attached rudder, a design harkening back to the early 60s that’s forgiving to sail and seaworthy enough to cross oceans. This 30-footer has many circumnavigations to its credit, perhaps the most notable being that of Yves Gelinas, who made an award winning film of his circumnavigation in Jean du Sud.
The Alberg 30 story began, when in 1961, a bunch of Scandinavian style folkboat owners from Toronto’s National Yacht Club got together and approached Whitby Boat Works to design and build them a boat that was bigger. For the design, Whitby Boat Works in turn approached Carl Alberg (1900 – 1986), at that time one of America’s leading yacht designers.
The brief that was given to Alberg was for a boat built from fiberglass that would sleep four. The configuration had to have a full keel, a practical cockpit, and an interior that had full standing headroom interior and a decent galley. The boat that resulted was the Alberg 30 which was introduced in the following year of 1962.
While the boats were being built a group of sailors from Washington DC inspected the Alberg 30 at Whitby Boat Works and left with firm orders for 15. Another group from Annapolis left with orders for 12, the production run continued into what has become a one of the longest runs on record tallying over 750 boats through a 22 year period. Today Alberg 30s can be found scattered over all parts of the world, but mainly concentrating around North America and particularly in Chesapeake Bay where a vibrant owners association has approximately 250 members.
The Alberg 30 is classic design from the 1960s period when many boats were transitioning from wood to fiberglass construction. Narrow beam, low freeboard, large overhangs, and a full keel with a cutaway on the forefoot and a rudder directly attached were the order of the day. When looking at the history of how the boat came to be, it’s not surprising the design is heavily influenced by the Scandinavian folkboat style, Carl Alberg himself being a Swedish born American.
By modern standards the boat’s narrow beam and low freeboard means the insides will seem extremely small and cramped however this traditional approach to seaworthiness pays dividends in rough seas with a hull that is ultimately stable and seakindly.
Berths accommodating a crew of four are divided into two areas, two in the v-berth, and two in the main saloon area. In between is the head.
The galley is situated in the well vented space at the back of the saloon below the companionway where the cook can be a part of the social happenings outside in the cockpit when under anchor.
The boats are solidly built. It was a time when fiberglass was the new wonder material and pioneering a new material meant construction was pretty conservative. That translated into lots of glass fiber and lots of resin. The fiberglass was hand laid and polyester resin was used. Early decks were cored with Masonite, which gave way in favor of balsa after 1970.
The mast is deck-stepped and supported originally by a laminated wooden beam on early boats, which over the years have proven to be a weak point. Boats produced from 1970 changed over to an aluminum beam encased with fiberglass. It’s not uncommon to find early boats to have been retrofitted with aluminum supporting beam.
Though the original design by Alberg called for lead ballast, the boats were instead produced with iron ballast encapsulated inside the keel cavity. This resulted in early boats being quite tender and more ballast was added to subsequent production to correct for this.
The Alberg 30 has been described as a forgiving boat to sail. In its day it would have been considered a relatively quick boat, being designed to be raced under the Cruising Club of America racing rules, but don’t expect modern day performance. The boat will not point particularly high to windward, the best point of sail is reported to be a beam reach to close reach. Expect some amount of hobby-horsing.
As conditions get rougher, the Alberg 30’s seaworthiness starts to shine, with its narrow beam the boat tends to slice through the waves where modern designs which favor beaminess and high freeboard will get thrown around. In more extreme conditions, the classically seaworthy design is well suited for heaving-to or laying ahull without complications.
LOA: 30′ 3″
LWL: 21′ 8″
Beam: 8′ 9″
Draft: 4′ 3″
Displacement: 9,000 lbs
Sail Area: 410 sqft
Designer: Carl Alberg
Year Introduced: 1962
Year Ended: 1987
Builder: Whitby Boat Works
Advice can be sought from the active community of owner associations. Particular areas for inspection are listed below:
- Check the support under the deck-stepped mast for signs of delamination. Pre-1970 models were of laminated wood, check for signs of cracking.
- Its been reported the forward lower shroud chainplates are not well supported and should be inspected closely for signs of movement or stress.
- Check the deck for delamination as well as signs of rot in the coring (creaking sounds).
- On older boats, the heel fitting on the rudder may be worn.
- The rudders on the earliest boats were reported not to be strong enough with the internal reinforcing parting from the fiberglass.
As of 2010, the asking price of Alberg 30s generally range from $15k-$30k USD depending on their condition as much as their year of build. There are the odd examples that are asking much higher prices having undergone very extensive rebuilds and presenting themselves in “as new” condition.
Links, References and Further Reading
» Sailing Magazine, Apr 2002, Used Boat Notebook
» BoatUS, Alberg 30 review by Jack Horner
» The Alberg 30 Association, Information, reviews, photos and more
» Twenty Small Sailboats to Take You Anywhere by John Vigor, (Ch1, p1-6) an in depth look at the Alberg 30. ISBN:978-0939837328