By Kevin

The Brewer 12.8: A Refined Whitby 42

When we began looking for a roomy, mid-to-heavy displacement bluewater cruiser to safely carry our family through the Bahamas and to other Caribbean islands, the Brewer 12.8 was not on our shortlist. In fact, I had never heard of a Brewer 12.8.

But, I had heard of a Whitby 42 and that fine cruising vessel was on our shortlist. Our discovery of the Brewer 12.8 was dumb luck, as so many important discoveries are. We found a Whtiby 42 listed for sale by Pepper Rodda in Fort Lauderdale and scheduled a time to view it. We happened to also schedule a viewing of a Vagabond 42 listed by Tom Harney of Jordan Yachts on the same trip and we mentioned to Tom that we were visiting the Whitby 42. Tom is a very knowledgeable sailor and astute boat broker and immediately connected us to their Brewer 12.8 listing, Fantasy Island.

After extensive research, many nights scrolling through sailing forums and boat listing sites, we discovered that the Brewer 12.8 is best thought of as an semi-custom, improved and modernized (by 1980’s standards) version of the venerable Whitby 42 medium displacement, full keel world cruiser.

The primary improvements to the Brewer 12.8 over the Whitby 42 are:

  • 3/4 “Brewer Bite” keel instead of full
  • Skeg mounted rudder instead of keel mounted
  • Cutter rig instead of a ketch
  • Pull pull steering instead of hydaulic
  • Improved hardware and interior
  • Better construction standards


According to my research, the original Brewer 12.8 was specially commissioned by a group of very experienced Whitby 42 owners who, around 1982-3, came to Ted Brewer with a list of modifications that they believed would make the Whitby 42 a faster, safer and better handling vessel. This original Brewer 12.8 design included a 4′ 6″ draft and a centerboard.

After the original design, though, many options came about and the boat was offered on a semi-custom basis. That is one of the reasons it is so difficult to compare apples to apples when looking at different boats.

Real Life‘s Specifications

Year: 1985

Hull: Fiberglass

Designer: Ted Brewer

Builder: Ft. Myers Yacht & Shipbuilders

LOA: 42 feet

LWL: 33 feet 9 inches

Beam: 13 feet 6 inches

Depth: 5 feet 2 inches

Displacement: 23,850 lbs

Ballast: 9,000 lbs

Bridge Clearance: 60 feet (62 feet with masthead instruments attached)

Auxilary: 76 HP Yanmar 4JH2TE (new in 1999)

Fuel: 45 gallons in one tank (the other tank is disabled)

Water: 200 gallons + watermaker

Holding: 20 gallons

Rig: Cutter

Further Resources

For more information on the Brewer 12.8, see:

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