Check out the "External Link" at the bottom of the "VIEW FULL SPECIFICATIONS" page for a link to a Soundings Magazine story by Jack Sherwood.....Boat Model Review
UNCONVENTIONAL: It was designed and built by Ralph Wiley. Not only that, it's the boat he built for himself to enjoy in his retirement. Having built many sailboats and several power boats as well, Wiley had developed some very unique and practical ways to simplify many of the annoying problems other boats have. Opening ports that do not leak, a rack that holds drinking glasses that is accessible and safe, multiple steering stations, windlass operation from the helm station, and total access to all parts of the boat for simple and easy maintenance. The more you know about Sweet and Low the more you are going to like her and appreciate what Ralph Wiley created.
Please feel free to call me on the cell phone 410-310-3476, text, or email me at any time if you have any questions or there is anything else I can do for you.
David M. Cox, CPYB
Certified Professional Yacht Broker
In 1961 Ralph Wiley, after 30 years’ sailing the Chesapeake Bay and operating the Wiley Shipyard building power and sailing yachts up to 50 feet long, started thinking about his own retirement cruiser. Writing in Yachting Magazine, he summed it up this way:
“The various stock cruisers offered today are undoubtedly what the majority of boat buyers want and they do a fine job of initiating the greatest number of people into the joys of boating. When, however, one belongs to that very small minority of sailboat skippers who take up powerboating in their mellowing years, a suitable craft is hard to find.” (Ralph Wiley)
Sweet and Low is a 3 season coastal diesel cruiser, gunkholer and dayboat. An experienced waterway cruiser, she’s cruised as far north as the Erie Canal and as far south as the Bahamas.
Sweet and Low is the product of 30 years’ experience in yacht design and construction. Sweet and Low, Wiley Shipyard Hull Number 52, was designed and built by Ralph H. Wiley of Oxford Maryland as his personal retirement boat.
Launched in August 1963, she’s passed through the caring stewardship of 7 experienced owners; she’s ready to give another 50 years of peace and cruising freedom.
Now, 56 years later, Sweet and Low is substantially the same boat that Ralph Wiley designed and built for himself. Six subsequent owners have rediscovered Ralph Wiley’s wisdom and responded by caring for Sweet and Low as she deserves. Sweet and Low is structurally, mechanically, and electrically better than the day she was launched.
If you are looking for a motorcruiser with the accommodations of a sailboat, for comfortable living at anchor and easy operation underway, for a boat with a pedigree that will make you friends up and down the Chesapeake Bay, please consider Sweet and Low.
Sweet and Low was designed by Stevens Institute mechanical Engineer Ralph Wiley and her model was tank tested at the Stevens Institute. She was built at Wiley's boat yard (now Cutts and Case in Oxford, Md.) where Wiley lived. Sweet and Low was the subject of articles in Yachting Magazine May 1961 vol. 109 pgs 80-81 and 138-140 as well as February 1966
According to legend, Wiley named the boat " Sweet and Low" because of her sweet lines, low center of gravity, as well as her low fuel consumption and minimal wake.
In February 1966 Yachting Magazine did an article titled "The Other Man's Boat" "Sweet and Low". The story starts out, "Convention is the enemy of progress." Ralph Wiley was definitely not following conventional thinking when he built Sweet and Low. As a competitive racing sailor getting on in years and having built many boats for distinguished clients, Wiley had collected a list of small to large, minor to major attributes and features he wanted to have in his "ideal boat". In the galley for instance, there is a rack for holding drinking glasses above the sink for easy and safe storage. That's not a particularly major item, but it's a nice touch. A more major design feature is that Ralph Wiley understood if you own a boat there will be times when you have to work on it and maintain all parts of the boat, so access to every part of the boat was planned to be reachable and even removable should it need to be replaced or worked on.
The current owner of the boat has been meticulous about maintaining the boat and has invested heavily into preserving the boat in the best possible condition. The addition of a dripless stuffing box now allows him to have a totally dry bilge that is periodically cleaned with a vacuum to pick up the dust.
The helm station is certainly not conventional. It does however have the same "feel" as the driver's seat of a 1960's automobile without an accelerator or brake pedal. Standing up just outside the helm station your left arm has access to all the engine controls, the steering wheel, and the switches for the windlass, so docking or setting the anchor is easily done short handed with complete control. The additional steering station above gives the helmsman another location to maneuver the boat with 360 degree visibility.
As stated in the beginning, Sweet and Low is not conventional and the more you learn about the boat, the more you will understand why Ralph Wiley built her that way. These are just a few examples of the really nice features you'll see with Sweet and Low. If you want to learn more, I have to warn you be careful....she's a really sweet boat and you may end up falling in love.
All of Ralph Wiley’s 30 years of designing, boatbuilding and Chesapeake Bay cruising experience were concentrated into this individualistic classic, his personal retirement motor cruiser.
Sweet and Low is 56 years young; since 1995 her owners have methodically renewed her structure and systems. Since 2010 her present owners have spent over $350,000. Details of her multi-owner renewal and refitting program include:
⁃ hull wooded, renewed, refastened, sheathed in epoxy/fiberglass and awlgripped (2005-2008)
⁃ deck wooded, renewed, overlaid in plywood and sheathed in epoxy/fiberglass, and awlgripped (1995-6)
⁃ cockpit wooded, renewed, sheathed in epoxy/fiberglass and awlgripped (2013)
⁃ house sides and housetops, wooded, renewed, sheathed in epoxy/fiberglassed and awlgripped (2012)
⁃ engine and propulsion renewed end to end, with a main engine zero hour rebuild (2003 through 2018)
⁃ engine compartment sound and heat insulation replaced (2015)
⁃ anchoring system redesigned and replaced (2012)
⁃ upper steering station redesigned and rebuilt (2012)
⁃ wheelhouse instruments and controls redesigned and rebuilt (2014)
⁃ replaced fresh water system (tanks, heater, pumps, lines (2011)
⁃ replaced 120v electrical distribution system (2007)
⁃ redesigned and all-new 12v electrical distribution system (2015)
⁃ 9 ft. 6 in. nutshell pram (sailing version) on housetop with one-person launch and retrieve ( 2015)
Today Sweet and Low is more reliable, more economical, easier to maintain and easier to operate than the day she was built.
Configuration: pilothouse motorcruiser
LOA: 40 ft.
Beam: 10 ft. 6 in.
Draft: 2 ft. 9 in.
Displacement: 14,000 lbs.
Engine: single Ford Lehman 6 cylinder diesel, 120 hp.
Fuel Capacity: 150 gals. (6 tanks)
Fresh Water capacity: 60 gals. (2 tanks)
Designed by: Ralph H. Wiley
Built by: Wiley Shipyard
Hull construction: strip planked cedar over oak and mahogany, all epoxy/fiberglass sheathed
Topside construction: strip planked decks, house sides, plywood cockpit and overheads, all epoxy/fiberglass sheathed
Location: Galesville, MD
Sweet and Low entertains 10 easily , sleeps up to 6 in fixed settee/berths, and coddles a couple. Her wheelhouse is above the cabin, accessed via the Wiley ladder that Mr. Wiley used on so many of his sailboat designs.
The section shows the arrangement of the engine and tanks in way of the lounging deck. All the weights are low in the hull, contributing to stability and easy motion in a long, lean hullform.
“The fishing cockpit aft, though self-bailing, is deep enough to give a feeling of security and there is only one low step down from the fishing cockpit to the lounging deck under the permanent shelter… In the whole arrangement we have tried to give a feeling of “outdoorness”, a feeling a sailboat man will appreciate, especially when at anchor in a quiet harbor.” (Ralph Wiley)
Sweet and Low has a unique arrangement aft; an open air cockpit adjoins a covered “lounging deck”. The cockpit is a simple, open 8 foot square with steps to the side decks. The side and stern decks are low and wide enough to sit on at rest, while still providing plenty of safety under way. A huge lazarette below, accessed through a 2 1/2 foot x 5 foot Wiley hatch, also provides easy access to the shaft seal, rudder gear and autopilot, and exhaust piping.
Starboard or port “boarding staffs” are removed underway and stow in a rack on the lounge deck overhead.
Forward and one step down, the unique “lounging deck”, with berth-sized settees port and starboard, is sheltered by a hard overhead. The fishing cockpit and lounging deck are ideal for impromptu gatherings of up to 10, and the engine box provides a “coffee-table” that owners have used for everything from drinks and hors-d’ouvres to crab feasts. During bug season, side and aft screens snap in place. When it’s rainy or cold, canvas panels keep the lounging deck dry and comfortable or create the privacy of an enclosed aft stateroom.
“Forward, we have stressed a feeling of “belowness”, along with adequate ventilation… Many of our cherished memories of sailing days recall pleasant hours spent below in the snug privacy of a sailboat’s cabin.” (Ralph Wiley)
The salon/galley area is thoroughly ventilated by 7 Wiley ports, flow-down ventilation from the wheelhouse windows and doors, and aft ventilation from the sliding door that separates this enclosed area from the semi-enclosed “sleeping porch”. In cold weather the area is heated by a fan-driven engine coolant heat exchanger underway and an LPG heater while at rest.
Sweet and Low’s main cabin is, by design and intent, sailboat-like for privacy and cozy comfort. Like a sailboat, the cabin is low in the hull and the rectangular portlights give visibility and ventilation while preserving privacy.
The salon is a familiar place for sailors. A sumptuous settee to starboard is directly opposite a 4 place dinette to port. Situated under and around these is a deep bookshelf, two hanging lockers, shelf space port and starboard, and 6 large stowage drawers. The dinette converts to a double berth. The settee divides into two seats bisected by a hinge-down table that disappears into the settee seatback when not in use.
An L-shaped galley is just aft of the port-side dinette, with: an LPG stove and oven, under-counter refrigerator, deep sink and counterspace. Again, stowage is plentiful, with a column of 4 drawers under the counter, a large overhead dish locker and a pots ’n pans compartment under the oven.
Forward is the v-berth with two 6 foot 4 inch berths. Each berth has its own shelf, a large, deep stowage drawer, and a floor-level locker for shoes and boots. There’s ample light from port and starboard Wiley ports, or from the LED reading light at the head of each berth. Underneath each berth cushion at the foot is another storage locker. Forward, through the canvas cover on the bulkhead, is the anchor rode locker. Just aft of the v-berth area is the head to port and a large hanging/linen locker to starboard. Each is lighted and ventilated by its own Wiley port, with an LED light for use at night. Further aft, opposite the galley, is the shower compartment to starboard. It’s a proper compartment with leg and elbow room, a seat, a high small shelf for shower supplies and its own Wiley port and LED light. (Originally Sweet and Low had two heads but a former owner repurposed the aft head, earning every subsequent owner’s approval and blessing.)
“The pilothouse should be low, afford good 360 degree vision and be readily accessible from below or on deck. It must be located so as to be almost entirely free of engine noise, and must seat the helmsman and guests comfortably in such a manner that the guests in no way interfere with the helmsman’s activities.” (Ralph Wiley)
“ …noise level in the pilothouse is extremely low. While underway it is possible to converse in an ordinary tone of voice, a most desireable feature for anyone who has spent many years in sail.” (Ralph Wiley)
Sweet and Low’s sitting pilothouse is every owner’s favorite space. It’s designed for visibility, ventilation and comfort. The three front opening windshield panels and side windows are all UV absorbing glass. (Two opening rear windows provide a view astern.)
It’s a special treat to open up the pilothouse on pleasant days and hear Sweet and Low’s bow wave.
On the pilothouse starboard side the helmsperson sits comfortably, with all controls, instruments and switches easily to reach. Just above on the overhead are mounted the gear and throttle levers. The steering wheel and traditional compass are directly in front. Offset to the right is the control panel with engine instruments and switches, as well as the autopilot control and depth sounder (with a decorative varnished removable cover). The helmsperson’s windshield opens wide, as does the starboard side sliding door providing easy access to the side deck.
The pullout table on the pilothouse centerline creates an underway dinette for the midday meal underway. Before and after lunch, the table is just the spot, right next to the helmsman, for a chartpack or an iPad-based chart plotter. In the afternoon at anchor, it’s the place for a plate of cheese and crackers with a glass of wine.
On the pilothouse port side, two passengers are equally comfortable on their own bench seat, with two opening windshield panels and the portside sliding door.
A full size athwartship pilot berth is immediately behind the seats. It’s a great place to put knicknacks that might otherwise clutter the wheelhouse or a fine place for the off-watch to nap. In doubtful conditions the skipper can spend the night with a clear view of the surroundings and all shiphandling controls just feet away.
Because Sweet and Low’s pilothouse is separate from the rest of the cabin, it can be a retreat at anchor. Light and airy, it’s a comfortable nook to read a book or simply watch the activity in the anchorage.
“The younger generation will doubtless… enjoy the outside control station on the bridge, while old-timers will prefer the cool shade and comfort of the pilothouse, except, of course, on such occasions as navigating tricky channels at night.” (Ralph Wiley)
Sweet and Low’s open upper deck above her salon features a second steering station. The station includes all necessary controls as well as basic instrumentation, in a water-resistant box. (For gunkholing, the steering station also includes a depth sounder repeater display.) A snapped canvas cover further protects the box, steering wheel and throttle/shift levers. The upper deck steering station is just steps away from the side decks; singlehanding docking and undocking is practical and stress-free.
The upper deck is also the location for Sweet and Low’s mast and boom, used to launch and recover her 9 foot 6 inch Nutshell Pram rowing/sailing dinghy. Launching and retrieval can be handled by one person.
The wide side decks make going forward and aft comfortable and safe. There are handholds in board on the housetops and 30 inch high lifelines outboard.
▪ Good electric anchor windlass
▪ Mast/boom dinghy hoist
▪ 31 inch double lifelines
▪ upper helm station with helm controls, instruments and depthsounder repeater
▪ Nutshell pram dinghy (9 ft. 6 in rowing/sailing configuration)
▪ Stern platform with steps and handholds
▪ Emergency tiller
The insulated engine box opens easily for daily engine inspection. For a closer look, the deck panels open up to give unblocked access to every part of the engine, transmission, and ancillaries.
Sweet and Low’s 12 volt electrical system was completely redesigned and replaced in 2015. Her main distribution panel was designed for at-a-glance monitoring and two-switch operation. A master House Services breaker switch energizes all circuits needed for living aboard dockside. A second master Sailing Services breaker switch energizes all circuits needed for underway and at anchor. There is a separate column of always-on breaker switches for bilge pumps and high water alarms; the very high amp capacity windlass circuit is also separately controled. The panel has ample expansion capacity to install additional circuits.
The modern panel is centrally located at the forward end of the salon, but hidden from view by hinged doors.
Under the main cabin deck, accessible via 4 lift-out deck panels, are (from bow to stern) the bilge storage area, pressure water pump assembly, fresh water tanks, and shower sump pump. All are in full view for inspection and maintenance.
Sweet and Low was designed and built for ready inspection, maintenance and eventual overhaul/replacement. Every mechanical, hydraulic and electrical component is visible and accessible.
Now, 5Th 6 years later, Sweet and Low is substantially the same boat that Ralph Wiley designed and built. Six subsequent owners have rediscovered Ralph Wiley’s wisdom and responded by caring for Sweet and Low as she deserves.
▪ Lehman Sabre 6D380 120hp Diesel (rebuilt 2006 by Midshore Engine and Machine)
▪ Borg Warner Velvet Drive Transmission 1.91:1 reduction
▪ Racor 500 FG SS fuel filter
▪ 3 Rule bilge pumps with bilge high water sensors
▪ Sea Fire FM200 engine compartment halon automatic fire suppression system
▪ Hynautic hydraulic steering
▪ PSS Shaft seal
“To a good Irishman a rousing wake is a mark of affluence, but it is a sinful waste of power in getting him to his final destination, and the same may be said of powerboats. If one examines the accompanying photograph of the wake of hull #52 at her cruising speed, there is no doubt of her Scottish ancestry… the hull rides level, the bow does not come up to obstruct vision, and there is a minimum of pounding.” (Ralph Wiley)
Sweat and Low’s cruising “sweet spot” is 8.3 knots at 1750 rpm, burning 1.6 gallons/hr. For Chesapeake Bay cruising, only the forward 4 fuel tanks (100 gals total) are used for an effective cruising range of 466 miles with a 10 gallon reserve. The two additional separately piped stern tanks (50 additional gals) increase her range to almost 700 miles. She will reach 10 knots at 2300 rpm (the maximum continuous engine speed recommended by Ford Lehman diesel owners), but her fuel consumption increases to 2.5 gallons/hr.
At harbor speeds Sweet and Low responds immediately to bursts of throttle ahead or astern; turns tightly and backs straight with a slight curve to port; and can be turned in her own length by alternately backing and filling. At cruising speed she tracks straight, minimizing the load on her autopilot.
Sweet and Low has sufficient battery capacity to spend two days at anchor, depleting her house bank to 50%. (She fully recharges in 2-3 hours underway.) At the dock, a 30 amp shore power connection provides all needed 12 volt and 120 volt electrical power.
▪ 4 Intimidator AGM batteries
▪ Shore power 120v 30 amp w/ 4 outlets
▪ 12v House distribution, w/ 3 outlets
▪ ProSport Battery Charger
▪ LED low draw lighting (9 reading/task lamps, 3 red/white area lamps)
▪ Blue Sea Systems electrical distribution panel
▪ Xantrex 1000 watt 12 volt inverter
▪ Xantrex LinkLite battery monitor
▪ Safe-T-Alert carbon monoxide alarm
▪ Raymarine ST40 depth instrument
▪ Raymarine Smartpilot autopilot
▪ Uniden Solara DSC VHF
▪ Bad Elf GPS (compatible with iPad charting apps)
▪ Netgear EX700 WiFi range extender
▪ Aqua Signal 34 LED running/anchor lights
▪ Seaward F700 Hot/cold pressure water, 6 gal water heater (engine heat/120v shore power)
▪ Air Head Composting toilet
▪ Separate shower compartment
▪ Hiller Range LPG stove/oven
▪ Dometic under-counter refrigeration (12v/120v)
▪ Sig Marine 10,000btu LPG cabin heater
▪ Heater Craft 40,000btu engine coolant fan-driven cabin heater