I have a confession to make: I am a boat stalker. If you invite me over to yours for happy hour, you should know that (in addition to feeling tremendous gratitude to you for playing host) I’m secretly hoping you’ll invite me below deck for a tour.
Are you a boat porn addict, like me? If so, today is your lucky day!
Nightingale Tune is a 1979 Whitby 42 ketch, built in Ontario, Canada. She came to us in impeccable shape for her age. Her interior design represents what was considered to be the height of sophistication for sailboats in the early 80s, and she is a well-preserved tribute to the yachtie culture that was alive and well in that decade. When we bought her, we felt a little lost as to how to make her feel like home, since our personal style on land was decidedly modern and bright. Ultimately, we chose to embrace her “boaty” style, which we’ve accented with very small touches of nautical kitsch.
Ready to come aboard? Great! If you’re a landlubber there’s one thing you’ll want to know before you begin (sailors, feel free to skip this next part).
[Landlubbers, please read!] Relative directions, like left, right, front, and back get confusing on a boat because they are based on one person’s vantage point (do you mean your left? Or mine? Or hers?). Instead, sailors have fixed nautical terms based on a standard orientation: when standing with your back to the stern (very back of the boat), facing the bow (the pointy part with the anchor in the front), the side to your left is always called “port” and to the right is always “starboard”. Even if you turn to face the opposite direction, these labels stay put. Likewise anything in front of you, towards the bow is considered “forward” and everything behind you is “aft”, no matter where you are aboard. If you get mixed up, just turn to face the bow.
Now that you know the lingo, welcome to the tour of Nightingale Tune! We’ll begin starting in the middle of the cabin, facing forward:
The salon (aka living room), looking forward. If we have waking hours below deck, we’re spending them here. To port there is a table that folds down, and to starboard there is an air conditioning unit that only works when we are plugged into shore power (which is practically never).
Moving forward, we come to the V berth (guest room). It’s the frontmost space in the boat, named for it’s V shape, and it sleeps two people. There is a small space between the door and the sleeping berth where one person has enough room to change clothes while standing up. To port (left), there is an en suite door with a private entrance into the forward head (boat bathroom #1) and to starboard (right) there is a locker (closet), which we use for tool storage. When we don’t have guests aboard, we unmake the bed, remove the cushion and supporting wooden panel nearest the door, and stow it on the bar above the pillows, creating an inlet for easier access to cabinets over the berth. We keep Nico’s litter box (a top-loading ModKat, which I recommend to anyone living aboard with a cat) in that inlet as well . We work very hard to resist the temptation to let the V-berth become our junk storage “garage” while not in use, but there are are some items that live there, including our friend Bo’s guitar, spare blankets and pillows, and rolls of Sunbrella fabric, when we’re working on a sewing project (which is almost always).
Just aft from the v-berth on the port side is the forward head (front bathroom). There are two doors to this head giving access from the v-berth and the salon. We used the forward head as a shower room while we were living aboard in NY and going to our jobs, now we just shower outside. The head (toilet) is a manual pumping model that is flushed with sea water. We never use it because we prefer to use the composting toilet in our aft head – it’s just for guests. We also used it to stash cases of beer that we purchased in Florida, until we ran out.
Comfortable salon to port.
The salon features settees (couches) to port and starboard. A murphy table conceals extra storage and seats six people for dinner when fully unfolded. I use the shelves to store baking supplies (six different kinds of flour – don’t judge!) and crystal wine glasses that only come out on special occasions. I love having the ability to fold away our table whenever we want more space. It gives us room for projects and makes the cabin feel less cluttered.
One of two bookcases, filled with cookbooks and wine references. Our original collection contained over 300 titles, most of which were sold at stoop sales before we moved aboard. This micro-collection contains titles by NYC chefs, some of my favorite wine study books, and others that inspired me to cook professionally for a while. Our attachment to them is nostalgic, we treat them more like photo albums than cookbooks/references. A plexiglass guard prevents contents from flying around while the boat is underway. We also have tons of boat reference books and charts aboard – they are stashed in one of the cabinets next to the bookcase.
Settee to starboard, with Nico in the shot, yet again. He follows us around the boat and somehow managed to position himself in both salon photos. He’ll make a final appearance later in the tour.
Many Whitby 42s feature a compartment for liquor storage. The sign that hangs inside was a gift from Brian’s former business partner. It used to hang above Brian’s desk at work.
My preference for a sparse, uncluttered kitchen is reflected in the galley. The giant fridge is concealed beneath the butcher block countertop, the lid lifts up and hooks to the wall for access. The equally giant freezer is also under the counter, to the right of the fridge in this photo. I love this fridge and freezer, which are solar powered and extremely energy efficient (we love our dual-cooled Frogoboat system) and hold enough food for us to go seven weeks without shopping and without ever opening a can. There is a SodaStream water carbonator next to the fridge, just out of frame.
I have a lot of love for our giant stainless steel sink. Brian custom-designed it for a fabricator in Chinatown, NYC who builds custom restaurant fixtures. It has three faucets – filtered drinking water, unfiltered fresh water (with a very restrictive tap – easily goes to just a trickle!), and raw (salt) water, which we pump using our feet while we do the dishes.
Our dishes were purchased specifically for the boat and everything (except a few porcelain mugs) is unbreakable. I scoured the internet to put together a set of navy piped Falcon enamelware that we use daily. The hammered copper mugs are from Etsy.com.
A lid set into the countertop next to the sink lifts up to reveal a sizable compartment that we use as a pantry.
The three-burner stove and oven are powered by propane. The stove is gimbaled – a hinge can be set to hold it in place while we are sitting at anchor or the dock, and can be released so the stove swings freely (keeping the stovetop level while the boat is heeled over) while underway. Baking pans are stored in the nook below the stove, and pots go inside the door below that. There’s so much space for storing pots on a Whitby that I was able to bring all of my All-Clad stainless cookware aboard.
The starboard side pass-through hallway leads aft to the sleeping birth at the rear of the boat. To starboard there is a workbench (that sits atop one of our two diesel tanks) with lots of compartments for tool storage. The double doors to the engine room are to port. This hallway is my least favorite part of the boat, because it always looks unkempt and grubby, even when it’s clean. I think it has something to do with the rugs not fitting well.
On the port side of the pass-through, through a set of double doors is the engine room. Whitby 42s are known for their luxuriously large engine rooms and we’re huge fans of ours! Most boats this size do not provide easy access to the engine from all sides, with room to spare. We’ve also got the fridge compressor, three solar controllers, three batteries, and more storage space behind our 80 horsepower Ford Lehman engine (the same kind that power older-model diesel farm equipment) in here. The previous owner had a generator next to the engine – something we’ve never needed because our solar panels kick ass!
You’ll need to duck your head just slightly to pass through the doorway from the passthrough into the aft (back) berth, where Brian and I sleep.
View of the aft cabin from port looking starboard. There’s a little built in nightstand atop one of the many storage compartments. We store all of our clothes and shoes here, along with tons of spare boat parts. There’s also a ton of storage under the bad.
View from the aft berth, looking forward. Our boat has two companionways (ladders) leading to the cockpit above. This is a really nice feature when we’re making night passages, since we lock Nico out of this room when we’re underway (so he doesn’t get sick in our bed) – we can just pop up and down the aft companionway for our sleeping shifts, to change clothes, or use the head. There’s a hatch above the berth, which provides excellent ventilation and natural light. The stripy sweatshirt is hanging from a hook on the en suite head door.
The aft berth (master bedroom), viewed from the top of the companionway (ladder).
Adjacent to the aft cabin is the aft head (bathroom #2). This is the one we primarily use. When we bought the boat, we replaced the conventional head with an AirHead composting toilet, and we’re nothing but happy with that decision. There are no sewage odors/chemical treatment smells on our boat, and that’s the way we like it!
The placement of every object aboard demands strategic thinking about how it will behave once the boat is heeled over or in rough seas. We place rubber, non-skid mats under trays filled with objects – like these toiletries – to keep them from flying when we go sailing. PS, Swedish Dream hand cream is the best!
As you can see, there are a lot of reasons why we love calling Nightingale Tune home, but I still haven’t mentioned the best thing of all from a living standpoint- the massive amounts of storage space all over the boat! We don’t have a storage unit or an apartment back on land, and save for exactly four boxes of clothes, keepsakes, and a KitchenAid that currently reside with our parents, every possession we own is aboard with us. That’s a lot of stuff. It’s taken us a year to sort out exactly where things go, but we’ve finally figured out a place for everything, and for the most part can find things whenever we need them.
I hope you enjoyed this little peek into our floating home!