The shapely Alberg 37, the bigger sister of the popular Alberg 30 and 35, was penned in the mid-1960s by Swedish-born Carl Alberg (1900-1986) for Kurt Hansen’s Whitby Boat Works in Canada. Originally designed as a racer cruiser, the Alberg 37 is better known today as a medium-heavy displacement bluewater capable cruiser. She’s strong, seaworthy, and best of all very affordable.
Introduced in 1967, the boat came in sloop and yawl options and was popular enough to enjoy an update to a MkII model which primarily improved the interior layout and streamlined production. A total of 248 boats were built before the recession of 1987 reduced customer demand leading to the cease of production in 1988. Today the Alberg 37 has many fans and an avid following from owner communities, a few boats have circumnavigated.
At a glance, the Alberg 37 is unmistakably a classic yacht of the 1960s, drawing much influence from Scandinavian folkboats. There’s long overhangs, low freeboard, and soft sheerline. Below the waterline is a cutaway full keel, with a large raked rudder hung from the trailing edge of the keel. All very standard stuff for Alberg designs.
The beam is incredibly narrow beam at 10 feet 2 inches and with slack bilges the hull does not contribute much form stability. Indeed the Alberg 37 is initially quite a tender boat, this helps her extend her waterline when she heeled to windward or reaching.
Whitby Boat Works had a reputation for building strong boats and Alberg 37s have proven themselves overtime. A 1977 hull (Good News), for example, was beached in a hurricane suffering only minor scratches. Paul Howard recalls a story in Canadian Yachting Magazine of a single hander’s 37 surviving three days of pounding on a reef in the South Pacific before escaping by jettisoning his supplies. He then sailed 2,000 miles before repairs.
The hulls are of solid fiberglass up to an inch think at the bilge. Half of the boats had balsa coring amidships just up from the turn of the bilge as a measure to provide extra support when the boat rested on a cradle over the off-season (remembering the original design as a racer/cruiser). The fiberglass work was well executed and consistent, and though the fiberglass was resin rich by modern standards, Whitby Boat Works hull scantlings were among the heaviest in the industry.
The deck was balsa cored, and joined to the hull via an inward flange. The ballast is lead and is encapsulated inside the keel cavity.
The MkII model in 1971 saw a change of construction with the introduction of a fiberglass interior pan, which streamlined production, aided hull stiffness, though sacrificing hull accessibility. The interior was improved with better use of interior space in the form of a larger head and galley, more storage and longer berths. The original teak toe rail was replaced by a fiberglass one change, a dodger splash guard was added and the cabin sported longer port lights which is the easiest way to spot a MkII model.
The Alberg 37’s narrow beam results in a small interior by modern standards, but the boat is fully functional for bluewater sailing and many cruisers have lived aboard for extended time.
The standard layout include v-berths forward, followed by opposite facing head and hanging locker. In the saloon there’s an L-shaped settee to port and a straight settee opposite. There’s plenty of storage with numerous drawers and lockers. Further aft is the galley to starboard which has a three burner stove, an oven and icebox and a quarter-berth/chart table combo to port. A few MkI boats have a midships galley which makes room for twin sea-going quarter-berths aft.
The Alberg 37 is best in heavy seas, but in light winds and well trimmed sails she can maintain 6 knots. The boat is well balanced, to the point where the helm can be left minutes at a time without a self steering unit. She is not very close winded and is relatively tender, though the extra heeling helps her extend her waterline length and therefore hull speed. There is also a tendency to hobby horse.
The Alberg 37 has an easy motion through the water, sea kindliness pays important dividends in offshore work where reducing fatigue is key to safe passages.
Most boats were delivered with either the 23hp Volvo MD2D or the 27hp MD11C which are underpowered, a 40hp Westerbeke 4-107 was an option, this is the one to go for (or similar power rating if it’s been repowered). As with any boat of this ages, look over the rigging, wiring and plumbing, and check for softness in deck, sure signs of water damage to the balsa coring. Owners report the original wiring was not well thought out and needs reworking or updating. Poor quality seacocks are another comment, it’s worth replacing them if bluewater work is on the agenda.
The interior of MkII models have more space and storage, a vital asset in any bluewater boat, but equally important is access to all areas of the boat for maintenance, and owners of MkI models without the interior pan love this, especially access to the deck fittings.
» Used Boat Notebook, by John Kretschmer (p176-180), an in depth look at the Alberg 37
» Alberg 37 International Owners Association, Information, photos and more
» A review of the Alberg 35 and 37 by Tom Zydler, Cruising World Magazine, July 2002