Updated Monday, Jun 23, 2009
History (or lack thereof);
The Islander Yacht Corporation
Compiled by: Skipper Wall,
Islander 36, 1973, #154 “SnowFlower”
Click to enlarge
was my original intent to learn about the Islander Yacht Corporation. Such as all the sizes of boats manufactured, numbers of boats built in each size, dates of production, naval architect and anything else of interest to an Islander Yacht owner.
I have talked to many people who were connected with the Corporation through the years and learned smidgens of information. But in reality, not very much for the simple reason it has been eighteen years the Islander Corp closed it’s doors and everyone involved have gone on to other endeavors and interests and have long forgotten their involvement.
I have edited lots of material from many sources.
In the first part of May 2009, after many years of basically no new information I received e-mails from Charlie Underwood and Robert Perry. These e-mails are in red at the end of this “history”. Charlie’s and Robert’s e-mails give a very definitive, detailed and informative and a most welcomed addition to my very sketchy history.
As I have stated, these “remembrances and personal comments” are theirs alone and must be read with almost 35 years of time gone by! Thru-out the “history”, Charlie has edited my comments (in red). I think each of you will find Charlie’s e-mails to be very interesting and enlightening, I did!
rom Justin Thompson of Sail Info,
The following from Ralph Brown;
McGlasson went into bankruptcy sometime prior to 1963 and
Ralph Brown and Ben
, changed the name to Wayfarer Yachts(?) in the middle 1960’s and sold it in 1967. Cosmodyne Inc becoming the “parent” at this time..
During this period they produced the I21, the I24 I24B and bought Excalibur from Tom Pearson and Joe McGlasson built the I29. Joe designed all these boats, He built the molds in his backyard and “Islander made the plugs.
The Islander 37 was built during The Wayfarer period.
The I33 (which is anI32 with a flush deck) was built prior to the I29.
We bought the molds of the Lapworth44, built 1, Then it became the I44 and built 10.
From Jim Gravelyn’s web-site about all the Islander yachts the following was originally gleaned.. Webmaster is now ; Brain Soderberg of Islandersailboats.com
He is an I28 owner.
This is a very good web-site about all the Islander Yachts.
In the mid 1950’s Joseph McGlasson (died 1993) designed and
built a 24foot wooden sailboat, the “Catalina Islander”. In 1961 approached Glass
Laminates to help him produce this 24 footer in fiberglass. The mold carried
the lines of the planks of the wooden 24 and became the signature feature of
the Islander 24 and other Islander models later. In 1962 Glass Laminates and Joseph
McGlasson went their separate ways. Glass
Laminates changing their name to Columbia Sailboats and introduced their
As an aside, Along with McGlasson & Columbia building
fiberglass boats in
Then Westsail began building the Westsail 32 heavy
displacement cruising sailboat. So at this point in time,
By 1963, the McGlasson Sailboat Co. was incorporated as the Wayfarer Yacht Corp. with McGlasson as principal owner and designer. Wayfarer was bought by a Ralph Brown sometime in the mid 1960’s. And in 1967 we start seeing the name Islander Yachts with the white “swoosh” sail in the black rectangle for a logo.
Ralph Brown had a friend in the marketing department of
This friend did all the advertising design for Islander. One of his creations was “our” logo the “swoosh”. Ralph Brown said: “We gave him a boat for his work”.
In 1968 Wayfarer sold Islander Yachts to Cosmodyne, Inc. A relationship that lasted only three years. In 1971,Cosmodyne sold Islander yachts to Radlon Inc.
As a subsidiary, Islander sold kit boats under the name of Yachtcraft. Ed Carter, an owner of a Yachtcraft Islander 37, says the kit boats were generally discontinued models, constructed in the same place that current models were constructed and by the same workers. The Islander 36 replaced the Islander 37.
At some point in the early 1970’s, Tradewinds Marine, also
Nordic Yachts(see later comments about Nordic) & Mariner
Yacht Co. fit in to picture somewhere.
The Islander 48 supposedly began life as an east coast built Mariner 47.
Then there is a person who owns what looks like an Islander 32, has I32
specifications, Islander 32 manuals but his title has “
Islander Yachts Inc. closed its doors in March 1986. Buster
Joan Richards, founder of Odyessey Sail in
A letter to Frank Butler of Catalina Yachts had the same “no information” results. We had been led to believe he had purchased many of the files of the bankrupt corporation.
We have been told that the files after the auction were
probably tossed in a dumpster and now lay buried under twelve years of landfill.
But according to Don Wilson (Islander Dealer in
Svendsen’s Boatworks in
The best source for the Islander 36 files may have been with
Mr. Luke Chang,
hat we do know, construction of the Islander yachts was last in
The original name was the McGlasson Boat Co. then the Wayfarer Marine prior to becoming the Islander Yacht Corp. This would have been in the 1960’s.
In Irvine California, the headquarters building with 30,000sf to include all engineering, purchasing, accounting, marketing, executive offices and the 70,000sfproduction area. From Ralph Brown regarding plant sizes:
he following is from Glenn Martin (2014) who started working at the Islander 36 Yacht Corp in the fall of 1974. Started grinding decks on the Islander 30 until 1979 where he replaced John Stuwe as foreman on the Freeport 41. Become a "leadsman" at the birth of the Freeport 36. His comments are: We were building beautiful boats and says they were the best production boats built in its time. It all came together upon moving to Irvine. Good crew front office, supervisor and the guys that built the Islanders, Spanish, S. Americans, Vietnamese and us long-haired(his word) Americans. Worked under John Stuwe and Tim Price. At the peak of production working with John Stuwe on the Freeport 41, John made a bet with the front office our crew could build 4 Freeport's in 30 days. They did and was awarde a 4 course dinner, drinks and a live show. This cost the front office $1,500. Under the roof at Islander there was a unique feeling building those sailboats and as I look back now we were making history in a time we'll never see production sailboats like that again. Glenn went on to become a successful artist in 1980 and is now retired on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua and looking for an Islander!
ust met with Matt Lerner, former Director of Marketing and he has given me some more information about the Corporation.
After Wayfarer Marine, the company was sold a few times to
different corporations. When Matt Lerner was there, the company was controlled
by David Trumble of
The Company did go into Chapter Eleven.
As an aside, the Ericisons, Pearson’s and Islander’s were all built in the same locale. So whenever either of the factories was slow the workforce would move from one to the other. However, Islander management generally did not hire employees from boat builders like Ericson, which had a labor union.
ccording to Brian Parker, the last
Operations Manger for Islander, the company closed its doors in march 1986
never to build another Islander yacht. Contrary to speculation the company did not file Chapter 11
before it closed although it did have serious financial difficulties. The I28, I34 and I36 were built right up
until the end. In fact all work in process had been completed and finished
boats were sold. Some of the tooling and
raw material inventory was sold to Catalina and some of the molds were shipped
ustin Thompson, Sailinfo has helped clarify much of the information below.
Justin has over 2500 plans of boats. If you are curious
about a boat you can reach him on-line: Internet:email@example.com.
n an e-mail from Leif Beiley, he said “I liked working there
because quality and performance were high priorities and all the boats in the
line were pretty, especially the 36.”
orror of horrors!!! In the August 97 issue of “Northwest
Yachting” was a picture of a 34’ powerboat with the name “Islander”. Sheerline
similar to a sportfisher. Manufacturer most likely the Islander Co. of
ith the above, everything listed below, please take with a grain of salt…
Now having covered myself, if anyone knows more than what I have listed, I would like to have any information such as:
1. Time frame for the production of each boat,
2. Numbers of each boat built,
3. Naval Architect of each design,
4. Corporate Officers thru the years, particularly at time of bankruptcy,
5. Dates the various companies that ended as the Islander Yacht Corp.
Wayfarer & McGlassen are two that we know.
he following are people that we have talked to or we are
reasonably sure were involved with the Islander Yacht Corp at one time or
Buster Hammond, Last President (deceased in 1995?).
Hank McCormick, (deceased), Sales Manager.
Joe McGlasson, Original founder Islander, first as McGlasson Marine
Ralph Brown, National Sales Manager & owner of Wayfarer Yachts.
Ken Wetzel, Kit boat manager.
Joe Artese, Industrial designer.
Charlie Underwood, Chief Engineer; currently Senior VP of Viking Sport Cruisers, Joined Islander in 1970, Left in 1977 as V-P of Manufacturing.
Matt Lerner, Director of Marketing,
Ed Noina, In charge of the production in the factory.
Steve Muszlay, Director of Engineering (Deceased).
Leif Beiley, In-house designer in 1975 & 76. Now Naval Architect in
Phil Arnold, In-house designer after Leif Bailey?
Don Wilson, Major dealer in the SFO bay area.
City Yachts @ Gashouse Cove in
President before Rolland
At the beginning of the I36, the most popular 35/36 footer was the Erickson 35.
I chose Alan Gurney and Joe Artese. I was responsible for several Islander designs: I41,I40 motorsailer, I30, mark2. And finalized the demise of the I55.
Another note, When Ken took over there was no documentation on any of the boats they were building. No bill of materials. He assigned Tork Johansen to construct a bill for every boat being built. Everything was in some bodies head prior to this time!
Ben Cantor, Another name associated with Islander Yacht Corp.
Bill Gorman & Jack Meager; Bill Gorman Yacht Brokerage.
Mary Blair, purchasing Dept. Later worked @ Skipjack Boats.
Jon Peters, purchasing and Materials Manager. Now owner Mission Hardwoods.
Kame & Amy Richards, Had in their files a Spring 1979 copy of “Islander
Breeze”. Lots of useful information about the boats in
production at the time.
Jim Clough, Quality Control manager.
Jack Sinclair, 1974-78; Purchasing Agent and Senior Buyer.
Robert Emy, Stockroom manager, 1970-73. Now director, Service Operations, Sara Lee Coffee & Tea.
Tork Johansen, Engineering.
Greg Smith, Engineering.
Marty Novak, Product Development.
Jerry Henry, Production Manager.
Steve Ribeau, Purchasing Manager.
Pete Temple, Controller.
There are still several people who may have information such as, Jim Dewitt, Skip Elliot. Someday I’ll contact these people and pick their brains.
A Diane Beeston 1979 Yachting calendar featured 3 months with Islander 36’s shown.
The following men were in charge of the various designs/production areas:
1. Bahama Tommy Wilson.
3. The “inside lady” Corine Stuart.
ist of boats as we know at this time:
Kit versions of Islanders were known as Yachtcraft according to Justin
Islander 56 A 1992 Islander in name only. A Lavamos design.
Saw advertised for sale in the October 1999 Cruising World.
Islander 55 Bruce King, NA; Joe Artese had a thousand hours of
design work on this boat before it was shelved.
Only some hulls were built. No deck molds were laid up.
In a 69 issue of “Sailing Directory” there was one of these
boats shown under sail.
From Leif Beiley; Molds sold to Tradewinds Yachts in
approximately 1975. He was commissioned to design
virtually a new boat using the existing hull. At least three
A built-in hand carved wine chest dating from the 1600’s.
The overhead was lined in cream-colored suede.
In February 1981 this boat left on
a around-the-world cruise. Mr. Rae Bordua sailed to
A third boat was built “Good
News”, owner; Wes Gary, presently in
From Matt Lerner, one sold to the
Kennedy Family and he believed it was raced in the
There is presently another green hull boat named “Green Norseman” now in the BVI’s. This boat is a center cockpit model.
The Islander/Tradewinds 55 was one of the last boats
designed by King to the old CCA rule. Considered a rule
beater because of the 38’ waterline. Lots of speed
potential what somewhat compromised because of the
center cockpit and deluxe accommodations.
Wayfarer Yachts; 1969 @ $75,000.
A third boat “Vantage” owned by
Robert Grant in
Jim Gravelyn says a fourth boat is
Islander 53 Bruce King, NA: There is one, “Polaris” Cutter rigged, afloat
We’ve been told four were built.
Islander 53 Bruce King, NA. 1979 center-cockpit, advertised in the
December(?) & July 2000 issue of latitude 38. Sloop rig.
1st year built, 1967. Last 1978.
Islander 48 Ted Brewer, NA; Produced from 1982 to 1985.From Justin Thompson; This boat was originally the Mariner 47 and
built on the East coast. He has sailed on this model.
In the late 1980’s, This boat became the Islander 48C.
From Steve Wolf the following:
The first boat was built for Al Wolf who had gone to Ted
Brewer with some ideas for a 47’ ketch. The molds are sitting
a parking lot in
Islander 44 C. William Lapworth, NA; Principally a kit boat. Maybe ten
were sold. Idea was to get people into a boat for under
$10,000. This was probably in 1972.
Maybe a couple were fully outfitted.
Wayfarer Yachts; 1969 @ $40,000
1st year built; 1965
Molds purchased by Yachtcraft.
Excalibur 44 1st year built, 1967.
Islander 41 Alan Gurney, NA: An IOR design. Only six were produced.
Molds purchased by Yachtcraft and one built by
Yachtcraft. 1st built, 1973. Probably the only year in
production.. One boat named “Osprey/Coverage/Brass Tacks”
Islander 40 Doug Peterson, NA
Islander P40 Listed in one of the boat directories. #1 hull launched in
early 1979 to Ron Greenberg. One of these first boats was sold to a North executive Dick Deaver. The boat was named “Fast Track”. Matt Lerner had worked with Dick Deaver on the deck layout and that Deaver was very positive and pleased with the delivery.
He also said he knew of no litigation as I had previously stated.
As of the Spring of 1979 twenty-six people had made
deposits on the “Queen of the Islander Fleet”.
Islander 40 Charlie Davies, NA. predecessor
About 18 were built before this model was redesigned into the
Islander 38C Robert
Perry, NA; Listed as an Islander but in reality is a
with Robert Perry someday.
1st built, 1972. Last 1974.
Islander 37 Bruce
King,NA; 10 to 12 sailing on
design class on the
Wayfarer Yachts; 1969 @ $25,000
1st built, 1966. Introduced at the NY boat show. Sold 20 for $19.995.00. Last built1972.
The molds were purchased by Yachtcraft and several
were built by Yachtcraft. Sold as kit boats.
Islander 37 Bruce King, NA; Listed in one of the boat directories.
Motorsailer Same hull as the I37.
Islander 36 Alan Gurney,NA: Presently living on the Isle Of Islay off
cruiser. Now an author, currently finished writing a book
“Below the Convergence”. Sailing magazine says it’s a
“cracker to read”.
Ken Smith, President of Islander was responsible for introducing the
I36 to the sailing public and had a very close hand in her conception.
Alan Gurney designed the hull and rig.
Joe Artese designed the deck and the interior.
See a copy of an e-mail about Islander from Joe Artese at the end of this “history”. Joe conceived radical changes to the conventional outward appearance of the cabin sides and top of a cruising/racing yacht. He introduced the segment of an ellipse in lieu of the usual circle to form the cabin top. He sloped the aft end of the cabin and cabin sides inward from the usual vertical. More ergonomically fitted cockpit combings provide a sleeker more graceful look to the boat.
The following compiled by Art Fowler, owner of “Zenith.”
Don Wilson is another gentleman
who was actively involved with the I36 in its early days. He sold over 150,
more than any other dealer anywhere. His involvement started at the SFO Boat
Show at the
Of course, equally important were
all (us) buyers. And the first I36 buyer
The qualities they saw in 33 years ago have endured the tees of time.
Don sums it nicely, “ I’ve been a dealer for many boats…but I never had a relationship like I had with Islander Yachts. I believe today I would have great success selling new Islander36’s”.
From Art Fowler: And many others would have to agree. For the purpose of this information there are three terms that define the Islander 36; “Pedigree”; Background, history, or origin of something;
“Legacy”; Something that is handed down or remains from a previous generation or time ; Classic; Top quality, generally considered to be the highest quality or of lasting value”.
In an article in the February 2000 Cruising World, Robert Perry quoting from another article in the 1985 Cruising World series on yacht design: Explained how Joe Artese’s breakthrough interior for the Islander 36 forced designers to incorporate architecture and interior design into boats. “The sailboat interior was no longer going to be allowed to be the ‘boy’s cabin in the woods’” he wrote. “It was on its way to becoming the ‘condo’”.
There are +/- 150 on the
There were approximately 770 built. But in an article by Peter
Bohr in “Sea”, January 1988 it was said that “slightly more
1000 left the Islander Yacht’s
Aluminum mast extrusion was produced and supplied to Islander by Clint Berkey of Le Fiel Engineering and Islander’s in- house rigging specialists fabricated the spars and rigging. The masts at Ken Smith’s time were aluminum tapered with streamlined spreaders. Previously Islander masts were not tapered.
One of the most successful run of a production boat.
Molds were sold to Newport Offshore Yachts. Molds
location was unknown until just recently when I received
an e-mail from a Capt. Greg Hunter, Head Hunter helmuts
in Perris, CA. Don’t know how long they will be there.
The labor time to manufacturer an Islander36 was +/-700
hours. Part of the reason for this time was for the rather complicated interior liner and the use of secondary molds to create the shapes that Joe Artise had designed. The boat had four primary molds including. the two hull halves, the deck and the liner.
(The Swans are also built in port & starboard halves).
The San Francisco I36 Association is now 33years old.
The Association races one design cruises to many locations in and
around the Bay area including the near coastal waters.
In the Spring 1979 there were sufficient I36’s sailing
Cost; 1975; $29,932: 1978;$47,400
As of the Spring 1979 560 had been launched.
in 1979 “Sehigh” made the crossing to
Jerry Sehi owners.
Years of production were 1971 thru 1986 with a gap of
three years from 1980 to 1983. 770 built.
Islander 34 Robert Perry, NA: 14 built. Molds sold to Nordic Yachts.
The boat resurfaced as the Nordic 34.
According to Leif Beiley Yachtcraft purchased some I34
molds and produced a couple as kit boats.
Islander 34 Saw a brochure of a lapstrake/bowsprit design. Wonder
if this is the one who J. McGlasson is the NA?
Also known as the Yachtcraft 34, kit boat.
Bill Gorman did not think any of these were ever built.
Brochure had interiors which could have been very good
renderings. We know of one boat like this. Owned by
Another I34 has surfaced that is ketch
and has a bowsprit.
Islander 33 Listed in Cruising World’s boat list. At least one on SFO
Bay. Built by Wayfarer Yachts in +/-1965. 1969@ $14,950.
Wayfarer(most likely, J. McGlasson) listed as Naval
Architect. 1st built, 1964. Last 1971.
Islander 32 Robert Perry, NA; Production drawings by Leif Beiley.
One owned by Matt Mikkelborg.
Molds are located at Capt. Greg Hunter’s: Head Hunter
in this I32 mix is a model built by
Islander 32 Mark II Robert
Perry, NA. Introduced in 1976. with about 400 built.
Robert Perry told John Kretschmer
The 32 was inspired by his I28. A good review of this boat
Is in the March 2003 issue of “Sailing” magazine.
These boats came with a tiller or a wheel.
Islander 32 “Wayfarer” Designed by J.H. McGlasson, NA; First built1963.
Last built, 1967. A narrow beam, long keel design.
Islander 30 J.H. McGlasson,NA; 1969 @ $9,450
As an experiment, two were fitted with outboard motor
wells. Matt Lerner owned one from 1969 to 1972.
PHRF of 228. He said he won everything in sight!
In the “Sea” January 1988 article about the Islander 36
it said “in unit volume it(I36) was outsold 2 to 1 by the
Islander 30 Mark II Bob Finch, NA Same boat as the Bahama 30.
First built,1971; Last built 1985. 500 built.
Islander 30A Alan Andrews, NA: Pure racer. First year built, 1983.
Islander 29 J.H.McGlasson, NA; Wayfarer Yachts. 1969@$11,950
Listed in Cruising World’s boat list and saw one racing
in the 1997 Double Handed Farallons race.
Islander 28 Robert Perry, NA; He considers this boat one of his best
Excalibur 28 Robert Perry, NA: Last year built, 1985.
Islander 27 A.S. Pendell, NA; Wayfarer Yachts. 1969 @ $6,950
Newport Offshore Yachts marketed this boat as a trailerable
Boat in 1988 after the bankruptcy. We have been told it was a
proto-type. We do have brochure, Sort of, not well printed.
Excalibur 27 listed in a boat directory. 1972.
Islander 26 Robert Perry, NA; Listed in a boat directory.
Production drawings by Leif Beiley. 16 built; Last year production 1977.
Excalibur 26 1st Year built, 1966.
Islander 24 J. McGlasson, NA: Same hull as the Bahama 24, but different deck & cabin layout.
Year production; 1961,, Last 1967. We
have been told that 3 of these have sailed around the
world! First models were from a mold made
from the original wood 24. One sailed to
Islander 23 W.I.B. Crealock, NA; Wayfarer Yachts. 1969 @$2,750
built in the
Islander 21 J. McGlasson, NA; Listed in a boat directory.
Islander 17 Know
of one in
Islander 16 Listed in a boat directory.
Bahama Group: Not much known about these boats:
Bahama 21 One owned by a Vallejo YC member.
Bahama 24 J.H.McGlassen,NA: 1969 @ $4,295; 500 built,
1st Year production, 1964, Last 1970.
Bahama 26 Listed in a boat directory.
Bahama 28 Robert Perry, NA; Last year built; 1985.
Bahama 29 J. McGlasson, NA: Last year built, 1969.
Bahama 30 Bob Finch, NA Same hull as the Islander 30MKII.
When the deck mold got to old a new deck was designed
in-house and it became the Bahama30. Last built 1985.
Islander dropped the
At this time, the F36 was reconfigured to the I(F)38C.
Their website is: http://groups/yahoo.com/group/FOGgers/
Three medium sized windows at raised salon.
1st Built, 1977. Last 1984. 150 built.
Center cockpit boat
for a charter company in
Never delivered as the company went bankrupt.. Same hull as the F36.
In the Fall of 1981 Bob Perry found six under construction.
Robert never received a commission.
Five are “known” to exist. All 1982 model year.
This from Tom Hieronymus, Owner of “Mojito” located in SFO
From Justin Thompson: basically an F36 with the
“B” interior and the quarter berth from the “A” interior.
Extra length is added length in the bowsprit. A different
rig, longer boom, mast a foot forward, two large
windows in the salon. Main salon & settee slightly
larger. Only produced for two years.
Robert Perry, NA.
stage of development.
Islander Yachts, NA
The following were designed but never built to Justin Thompson’s knowledge:
Islander 31 Robert Perry, NA.
Islander 37 Robert Perry, NA.
Islander 58: Bruce King; NA. Called the “Westlawn Project”. Never Built.
The following were the Corporations addresses at their respective times.
Wayfarer Yacht Corporation
Joseph McGlasson, Owner & Designer (deceased 1993)
Division of: in the spring of 1974:
Cosmodyne Inc. and later
Radlon, Inc 1922 Barranca Road
Tradewind Yachts Founded by: Bob Lynch (deceased)
Out of business early 1980’s
From an e-mail from Industrial Designer, Joe
Artese, to Skipper Wall; Dated
It seems that as I read the history you posted on the web, that much of the history that I gave you several years ago was not there.
I ran into Charlie Underwood, the young chief engineer during the development of the I-36, at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show 3 or 4 years ago. He was then president of one of the East coast production sportfish builders, which, I believe, was Viking.
A little more history concerning the time that I was working with Islander.
When I was originally contracted by Ken Smith in 1969, he had just left his post as regional sales manager at Columbia Yachts to be president of Islander.
When I was contracted to design the 36, I was also told that there would be 3 initial designs, two Gurney designs of 36 & 41 feet. The 3rd boat was a cruising design by Charlie Davies originally known as the Islander 40 motorsailer.
The I-36 had so much new thinking in it that it was problematical for the engineering team. I had to fight for each & every design feature. They tried to “simplify” things by developing an alternative layout that was more conventional but didn’t work a the couch would have stuck out the hull. Fortunately, the original I-36 design survived with a couple of exceptions such as hull ports at seating level which Gurney objected to.
Soon after getting the development of the 36 underway, Smith had a heart attack and was replaced by a temporary manager, I don’t remember his name.
Although Islander told me that if I came in low on the I-36 design fee, that Islander would “make up for it on the next boat”. This was only a verbal agreement with Smith however, and I was not included in the design process for the next boat after Smith was no longer in the driver’s seat.
According to Islander’s then in house naval architect, Torkiel Johanson, Underwood wanted to design the second boat of the new group, the Gurney designed 41, himself. Unfortunately for Islander, the I-41 was an unmitigated disaster and only 3 boats were sold before it was taken off the market. The first of these boats was named “Rubber Duck”.
The 3rd boat was the Davies designed I-40 motor sailer was similarly doomed. This was a center cockpit layout with an aft cabin. This boat was distinguished by parallegram shaped, 4 paned windows in the aft quarter topsides and a row of “great cabin” windows across the transom. This was an attempt at old world romanticism but the center cockpit layout divided the space into tiny unworkable spaces. The small salon had a dinette to port and a galley opposite. One had to go out on deck into the weather to enter the small aft cabin.
I must admit that I was more than miffed at being squeezed out of the equation by those that took over in Smith’s absence. And I did take some peasure in the fact that the failure of these two boats highlighted the relative success of the I36.
One day, the redeeming phone call came. I got a call from Hank McCormack, Islander’s marketing manager. He said, “Joe, the I-40 motor sailer is dead in the water. The pipelines are filled. Our dealers can’t unload the boats they have. We finally recognize that it was you that made the I-36 go for us and we were wondering if you could turn things around for us with a redesign of the I-40”?
Knowing what the
problems were in the I-40 I knew that I could do the fix that Hank was looking
for. We met to hash out a deal. He offered me a royalty and a design fee to be
determined on the complexity of the redesign. With the best lawyers in
The redesign proposal was simple but very effective. I scrapped the molded interior liner which allowed me to lower the interior farther down into the hull. This accomplished 3 things. It lowered the center of gravity, improving the performance but it also radically lowered the ungainly height of the cabin visually transforming the boat. But most importantly, lowering the interior allowed me to create a passageway under the deck that contained the galley and connected the previously unconnected spaces. This totally opened up the interior and allowed a very sculptural approach. I finally got the portholes at seating eye level that I had treid to incorporate in the I-36.
Two weeks later I presented the resigned proposal to Islander and put up the drawings on the engineering trailer walls. They were very excited. Knowing that I was protected by our agreement I left the presentation on the walls at McCormack’s request. He wanted the new owner of Islander, Dave Trumble, who no one had met as yet, to see the presentation.
A week later, Hank called again to tell me that Trumble had seen the redesign and was “ecstatic” and wanted me to “come in and discuss the real nitty gritty”. I assumed that he meant the design fee as the royalty had already been agreed upon.
When I got to the meeting I was met by Bob Pool who had been my chief engineer when I was senior production designer at Columbia Yachts. Pool had been hired by Trumble as a consultant for this project. Bob & I had a good deal of respect for one another and I was flattered when he told me that my “preliminary proposal was so complete we didn’t need any more from you”. Bob didn’t know that I had a few more tricks up my sleeve that were not depicted in the preliminary proposal. This soon became academic however as I met with Trumble for the first time.
After an initial exchange of pleasantries, Trumble surrised us all by stating that he didn’t know of anyone who was paying an interior designer royalties and that he wasn’t going to be the first to start. He handed me a check for $10.000 in lieu of our agreement. I gave the check back to him since, by my reckoning, the design would bring about $60,000 in royalties and I reminded him that Islander and Artese had a contract and that Islander was free to incorporate my design or not but if they did, they were obligated to pay me if they used my design in whole or in part. Trumble said that he would think about it and get back to me. A week laterI got a letter from Islander thanking me for my proposal but basically saying, “that Islander had decided not to accept my proposal”.
A few months
later, I opened up Yachting magazine and was dumbfounded to see an Islander ad
showing my design, now called the
I, of course,
sued Islander and after several years of depositions and counter suit s, we stood
before the judge in the preliminary hearing where the judge indicated that he
thought the settlement would be around $80,000.That very day that we arrived in
court for the trial, the judge informed us that Islander had just informed the
court that they had filed Chapter 11. We would have had to chase Trumble
After doing the
Prior to doing
the redesign of the
Buster Hammond moved into the driver’s seat at Islander.
Email to Skipper Wall of
Dear Islander Association:
I read with interest the letter from Joe Artese concerning his role
in the history of Islander Yachts. I know Joe and I have a lot of respect for
his design talents. My problem is that his recollection of his involvement in
I had met Buster Hammond, Hank McCormick and Bob Babson at the Long
Beach Boat Show in 1973. I insisted to them that they needed me as their house
designer. I almost said it as a joke. Buster came back at me with: We have been
thinking about a 28’er. Would you be interested?” I went back to
When I designed the I-28 there was no attempt on my part to copy Joe
Artese. I had far too much self confidence in those days to think I
needed copy anyone. I just drew a 28’ hull that I had been working on for
some time, with a dish like midsection and relatively narrow BWL. The layout,
like all my production boat layouts came about after consulting with the
builder and going back and forth thru a series of preliminary designs. The style of the interior of the I-28 was
very much the work of Hank McCormick. We followed the same design sequence in
producing the I-32, I-26 and
The last time I saw Joe Artese he was working in a HOME DEPOT
hardware store near
That’s how I remember it.
The purpose of my letter is to provide the Islander 36 Association and you with a brief history of Islander Yachts during the time that I was employed by the company.
At 26 years old in January 1970, I was hired by Ken Smith, who was President of Islander Yachts, as Islander’s Chief Engineer with responsibility for Engineering and Product Development. As a third generation boat builder I had come from Kettenburg Marine where I was trained as a Naval Architect by Paul Kettenburg and my father, Charles Underwood, while studying Engineering at San Diego State College. When I joined Islander Steve Muszlay, Engineer, and Tork Johansen, Naval Architect, were employed in the Engineering Department. Product Development was led by Marty Novak and Mike Howorth. Mike later went on to co-found Pacific Sea Craft and Cabo Yachts. Other key management then in the company included Hank McCormick, Sales Manager; Jerry Henry, Manufacturing Manager; and Steve Ribeau, Purchasing Manager. At the time Islander was a Division of Cosmodyne, Inc., a small conglomerate in the aerospace industry. It is still a mystery to me why Cosmodyne would have wanted to be in an industry so different from their core business.
Ken Smith, who had joined Islander a couple of years earlier,
had come from nearby Columbia Yachts where he was responsible for marketing and
sales. At the time
Yacht Craft had been established by Islander in 1969 as a
separate company to sell kit boats based on out of production Islander
models. Duncan Macintosh, who currently
owns Sea Magazine and the Newport Boat Show at
In January 1970 Islander was producing the Bahama 24, I30 Mark
II, I32, and I37 in large open buildings located at
The I36 was the first new model that we developed after my
arrival at Islander. The design had
already been completed by Naval Architect Alan Gurney and the interior layout
and deck were designed by local Industrial Designer, Joe Artese. At the time Alan’s architectural services
were in demand because his boats, including “
While it is relatively common today to team industrial designers with Naval Architects and Production Engineers in designing and developing new models, in 1971 it was a rare occurrence. Unfortunately from the beginning there was little or no teamwork in the design process. First Alan Gurney designed the boat, then Joe Artese designed the deck and interior and finally the Islander Engineering and Development team took Alan’s and Joe’s designs and developed the I36 for production. Alan was not pleased with Joe’s modifications to his structure and Joe was not interested in compromising his layout and styling so that it could be produced in a reasonable way. Ultimately, however, we were able to work through the issues with neither Alan nor Joe quite satisfied. However, the overwhelming success of the final product with 770 boats produced was quite an accomplishment for all involved. Introduced in 1971 the Islander 36 hit its target market dead center as a competitive racer, a comfortable cruising boat with a state-of-the-art interior and attractively priced. Joe’s outstanding I36 interior would continue to influence Islander’s interior design for years to come.
Shortly after the introduction of the I36 Ken Smith suffered a
heart attack and was away from the office for a number of months. During that period Ken advised me that he had
commissioned Charlie Davies, a local Naval Architect to design the I40 Motor
Sailor, which was a traditionally styled center cockpit ketch. In fact, Ken first showed me the drawings at
his home in
Not long after Ken Smith’s return to Islander in 1971 as President, the company was sold by Cosmodyne to Radlon, Inc. a very small conglomerate that was owned by Rolland and Clifford Mayotte. The Mayottes, who had been involved in the movie industry and more recently owning a house trailer builder, were new to the boat business. It was also during this time that Engineer Steve Muszlay left Islander to pursue other interests. Steve was eventually replaced by Greg Smith, Ken’s son.
After Islander’s acquisition by Radlon, Islander continued under the management of Ken Smith until sometime in 1972 when Ken and Controller Pete Temple left Islander on short notice. We were subsequently advised by Cliff Mayotte that Radlon and Islander were having cash flow problems. Rolland Mayotte then assumed the position as Islander’s President and his brother Cliff became Controller. Islander’s financial situation began to improve as sales continued to be relatively strong.
Sometime around 1972 Bob Babson joined Islander as Regional
Sales Manager working for Hank McCormack.
Bob had been living in
Directly after the introduction of the I40 Motor Sailor we
began engineering and development of the I41, which had been designed by Alan
Gurney. This was to be a racing/cruising
design with emphasis on racing. Gurney’s
initial design featured a high sheer line with a low deck house that looked a
bit utilitarian. The final design, which
featured a well integrated deck with a uniquely curved deck house and an
attractive spacious interior, was styled by Tork Johansen under my
direction. The first two I41’s were sold
as bare bones racers and were constructed by the Development and Engineering
staff in a remarkably short period of time.
The first boat went to Dave Cuckler of Newport Harbor Yacht Club and the
second one was sold to another avid racer in
In 1973 shortly after the first I41 was introduced Jerry
Henry, Manufacturing Manager, and his assistant Heinz Lebrenz left the company
to join a
During the same year Cosmodyne ended up with control of
Islander again as Radlon continued to endure financial problems. Vic Scopack, an executive with Cosmodyne,
became President of Islander and asked me to assist him as General Manager
until the company could be sold. With
little knowledge of the boating industry Vic was a good interim manager who
kept Islander going in the right direction.
As part of the change Steve Muszlay also returned to Islander, this time
as Chief Engineer. Of Hungarian descent,
Steve, who had a great sense of humor, was a talented engineer and inventor who
became a key player in the Islander’s engineering and product development effort. Steve was always coming up with innovative
ideas for new hardware.
Fortunately it was not long before Islander was acquired by Mission Marine and Associates, which was headed by David Trumble. Mission Marine also owned Los Angeles Marine Hardware and California Marine Hardware. In the beginning Dave made an excellent decision in hiring Buster Hammond in 1973 to become President of Islander. Buster came from Jensen Marine where he had founded Ranger Yachts, builder of a successful line of racing/cruising boats designed by Gary Mull. For Islander Buster was like a breath of fresh air. Not only was he a seasoned industry veteran he was an outstanding manager who knew how to get the very best out of people through positive motivation. Under Buster’s management Islander’s culture changed dramatically through his establishment of professional policies and procedures to management training and by fostering a more positive atmosphere. Buster was a boat builder, a racing sailor and a great guy to work for.
Unlike Islander’s previous two owners Dave Trumble was
interested in both short term and long term profitability and upon analyzing
the company’s needs he demonstrated that he was willing to invest in the
future. Shortly after his acquisition of
Islander, Dave contracted Bob Poole, former VP of Engineering for Columbia
Yachts to find a new manufacturing facility for Islander and to design a
factory layout. Islander’s new site
would be a modern facility located at
Over the next several years we were able to improve production
efficiency by 20% while increasing production three fold as a result of:
· Increasing sales.
· Moving into a more efficient facility.
· Acquisition of new machinery and equipment.
· Supervisory training and implementation of an incentive program.
· Moving to modular interior construction.
· A more tightly controlled production schedule.
Development of an excellent production team.
Soon after Buster took the helm in 1973 he began to look for a
Naval Architect who could take the company forward in the development of
racing/cruising models that would be as successful as the I30 and I36. At the Long Beach Boat Show that year he met
26 year old Robert Perry who was there to promote his Valiant 40 design. As Bob explains in his excellent book, “Yacht
Design According to Perry”, he boldly said to Buster, “You need a new
designer.” After Bob sent Buster an
outstanding design proposal for an I28 Buster agreed to hire Bob. However, Bob’s first project was the redesign
of the I40 Motor Sailor into the
In reviewing Joe Artese’s letter on your web site he claims
that he designed the
By adding a foot to the bow, a much improved interior layout
with a passageway from the salon to the aft cabin, a lower deck house and a
more powerful rig the
In his letter Joe Artese contends the I40 Motor Sailor would have been a more successful boat if he would have been initially involved in this Charlie Davies design and he may have been right. However, ultimately the Bob Perry designed Freeport 41 not only had a great interior and attractive exterior styling it also performed better than the I40 Motor Sailor with a more efficient and powerful rig. It would have been great to have Perry design both the I40 Motor Sailor and the I41 from the beginning but he wasn’t around then.
As soon as we completed development of the
The I28 would be the first boat that we would develop with
modular interior construction in that the interior of the boat was fabricated
in the Mill and assembled on a fixture outside of the boat and installed in the
open hull before the deck installation.
This not only saved time in assembly, it also saved weight as opposed to
building the boat with a fiberglass interior liner and it gave the interior a
warmer look with the increased use of wood vs. fiberglass.
A great performing boat, the I28, which was first launched in July 1975, proved to be an absolute success for Islander. At the peak our manufacturing team, with George Lonza running the production line, was completing an I28 every eight working hours. Of all the new models that we developed the I28 was definitely one of my favorites. In fact, Buster Hammond and I owned and raced an I28 together. Although I have to admit that Buster was by far the better helmsman. As a matter of coincidence my father had built two Kettenburg sail boats for Buster’s father in the 1950’s, the last was a K38.
Next was the design and development of the I32 which was
introduced in 1976. This was a larger
version of the I28 in terms of layout and style. With a higher sheer line and proportionally
greater beam the I32 had a commodious interior compared to the I28 and most
other competitors at the time. With more
space in the interior there was room for a much larger head and more stowage. Like the I28 the I34 was built with a modular
interior. It was also during this time
that Islander, at Hank’s urging, began to design a retro look into the
interiors of the boats with stained oak counter tops and wicker fronts on the
traditionally styled teak cabinet doors.
Bob Perry called this the “
Following the I32 Buster asked Bob to design an I26, which was conceived to target a lower price point than the I28. While the I26 carried over the family appearance of other Perry designed Islanders, the I26 design was less complex in terms of exterior and interior layout and construction details. The I26 was powered by a Volvo gas powered engine with an integral drive system that penetrated the hull bottom. While this was a good sailing boat and very competitively priced it was not particularly successful with only 16 boats sold. The message was clear – stay on track with sophisticated high quality, good performing boats with innovated layouts and stylish good looks.
The last development project that I was briefly involved with
in 1977 was the
During the years that Mission Marine owned Islander Yachts, at least through the 1970’s Islander became one of the largest and most profitable boat builders in the country due primarily to:
· Innovative new models designed by Bob Perry and engineered by Steve Muszlay and his group.
· An intelligent product development effort by Don Brendlinger and his team.
· A strong dedication to improving efficiency by our manufacturing organization.
· Great support by John Peters and his purchasing and materials people.
· A tireless marketing and sales effort by Hank McCormick and Bob Babson.
· A fine effort by Harvey Deeter who was responsible for quality assurance and customer service.
· Dave Trumble provided excellent strategic direction and the opportunity to succeed.
Another factor that I believe was important in Islander’s success during these years was that so many of our team personally owned and sailed the product that we built. This enabled us to better understand the product and our customers.
With Islanders financial success, Mission Marine took
advantage of an opportunity to acquire other companies and elected to do so in
the form of a “leveraged buy out.” In
1976 Pacemaker Yachts and Egg Harbor Boat Company were purchased from Fuqua
Industries. Together Pacemaker and
While Pacemaker and
In his letter to the I36 Association, Artese states, “We heard
from McCormack that Dave Trumble had looted several million from Islander and
the surrounding community and had built several houses on the waterfront in
Long after the dust settled at Mission Marine in the late 1980’s, during the time when I was President of Trojan Yachts, I was pleased and honored to have the opportunity to hire two of Islander’s former key employees including my mentor Buster Hammond, who became our West Coast Sales Manger and Tim Price, Islander’s last Operations Manger, who became Trojan’s Manufacturing Manager.
Good people associated with Islander Yachts designed, developed, built, sold and serviced some great boats over the years. It gives me great pleasure to see so many Islanders still being sailed and appreciated. Buster Hammond, Hank McCormack and Steve Muszlay among others from Islander who are now deceased would be proud.
Senior Vice President
Viking Sport Cruisers, Inc.
In a following e-mail( 9 June 2009) from Charlie Underwood he talked with Matt Lerner about his association with the Islander Yacht Corp and the following is part of it:
In about late 1972, working as a yacht broker in
Motor Sailor to the Levitz(furniture) family. As a result of
this experience Matt got to know the strengths and weakness of the boat and
discussed them extensively with hank McCormick, who was Islander’s
In talking to Matt he brought up another point thatled to the
demise of Mission Marine & Associates, which I had forgotten. During the
late 1970’s Los Angeles Marine Hardware in San Pedro began to experience problems
with the company’s union. In an effort to break ties with the union David
Trumbl3 elected to close the store in San Pedro and open a new marine hardware
Matt Lerner (81 years young), still works a a Yacht Broker in
Here is some info
on a few boats that have been sailed actively in the
They raced actively
She came back to
She was then bought
from the insurance co. by Torresen Marine in
The other I-41/Gurney
was in Bay City/Saginaw on
My stepson and
family bought an Islander 40 about 3 yrs ago that has been around
There was another
I40 down state in
There are quite a
few Islanders around
All for now -- Eric Lind