Cascade Owners Unite


Cascade Owners Unite

This is a group for Cascade Yachts (Yacht Constructors Inc.) owners and fans. Based in Portland, OR, they build the Chinook & Cascade sailboats lines.

Location: Portland, Or
Members: 10
Latest Activity: 20 hours ago

The First Fiberglass Production Sailboat
The following is an excerpt from an article by Scott Gibson published in the Freshwater News (November 1984) on Yacht Constructors and the Chinook 34, the first model they built in 1956. The 'Cascade' line began production out of the same facility in 1961 with the Cascade 29, followed shortly by the Cascade 42 in 1964, and thee Cascade 36 in 1967.

Boating historians usually cite 1959 as the year that the first production fiberglass sailboat was produced, referring to the Pearson Yacht Company introducing the 28-foot Triton at the New York Boat Show that year. By then Yacht Constructors had been in business for two years building the Chinook 34!

In 1955 eleven Portland sailors wanted newer, bigger sailboats. Thinking of a joint building effort, they looked around for a design acceptable to all. Merl Starr and Tom Green, today's owners of Yacht Constructors, Inc., were two of the original group.

Tom and Merle were very impressed by the potential of fiberglass as a boat building material, in spite of its shakey reputation. They persuaded three of the original group that a design for a 34-foot wood sloop by well-known Philadelphia naval architect Frederick Geiger could be built in fiberglass. This was a daring proposition; no one had ever built such a large boat in fiberglass before.

Building your own fiberglass boat has one very big disadvantage - you must first invest a great deal of time and skilled labor in building a "plug" and then from the plug building a mold. Once you have the mold you can use it to form one or many identical boats. That is why no one wanting to make only a single boat is likely to do so in fiberglass unless he can borrow an existing mold. But it becomes worthwhile when five people pool their labor and money so each can end up with a boat at great savings.

It took the five sailors about eight months to build the plug and mold. They began in April of 1955 and finished in November of 1955. After converting the designed-for-wood plans into plans for a fiberglass construction, they went into production with Tom and Merle directing operations. Their three co-workers were Wade Cornwell, Henry Morton, and the late Dr. Jarvis Gould. During the next year they produced five identical boats, one for each guy. They called these boats Chinook 34.

Chinook hull #1 was launched April 20, 1956. Merle Starr got hull #5, launched in July 1957. It was Christmas before he built the mast and rigged the vessel. He sailed PYXIS the first time during a mild spell in January 1958. Merle still has PYXIS now, 27 years later, and she is in excellent shape.

They might have sailed off in different directions and that would be the end of the story, but three of them did not.

Yacht Constructors took their first order in the fall of 1957. They built a Chinook 34 for the late Dr. Donald Laird of Portland. This was the first of over 700 boats to come from the plant. They continued building the 34-foot Chinook until 1968 when they shipped the 70th hull to Maryland and terminated the model.

Yacht Constructors is a remarkable company in many ways. Most unusual, perhaps, is the fact that they have survived and even prospered for almost 30 years. Many other fiberglass boat-building ventures were launched in this period, but many foundered. Yacht Constructors is the oldest American fiberglass boat building company under continuous ownership.

Discussion Forum

Hi rob.. I'm out here..

Started by Roy Gault Nov 30, 2012. 0 Replies

Comment Wall


You need to be a member of Cascade Owners Unite to add comments!

Comment by Edward Hart 20 hours ago

 Hi Jerry, I used a Avon Redcrest for a tender. Nice and small and compact. I had a 2 hp. Suzuki  outboard.  She was a KISS boat. not much in the way of equipment. 

 Had a hand GPS, stove, depth sounder, compass and a Monitor wind vane. Not much else.  I am going to go on some of the other forums and let the Cascade owners about this web page. see if we can get some action going here.

Comment by Jerry Lehner on Thursday

Hi Ed.  Welcome to the group.  It would be great to get some conversations going about our boats.  So far no one has responded to each other much.  I'd love to glean from your voyaging experience in Hooligan.  For example, what did you use for a tender?

Comment by Edward Hart on August 27, 2014 at 8:14am
I'm Ed Hart and own a 1964 Cascade 29. I just bought her and have not named her yet. I owned another 29, Hooligan, and circumnavigated in her. My boat is now on the hard in Rock Hall Maryland. According to the paper work, the hull was laid up in Japan. Does anyone know about that? I did not know that Cascade had
Hulls made in Japan.
Comment by Tim Hryciw on May 19, 2014 at 11:59am
I own Maria Victoria a Cascade 42 hull number 49. I keep her on the north Portland harbor
Comment by Brian Nappe on May 16, 2014 at 2:12pm

Hello, SV Omily here in Portland OR.  Cascade 36 hull #51, finishing major multi year refit, launched Mar 2014

Comment by Jerry Lehner on March 20, 2014 at 9:04pm

Hey Doug

How exciting!  There is life on this group after all.  I had looked all over the interweb for a Cascade owners group and this is the ONLY one I could find.  Just bought Cabernet last summer and haven't yet got that acquainted with her.  She's a 29' and number 337.  The other boats I have had are a 17' Montgomery and 19' Compac.  This one now is a bit of another world.  I'm down at St. Helens at Yacht's Landing Marina.

Comment by Doug Crombie on March 20, 2014 at 8:04pm

Anybody out there?  Not much traffic on this site!!  I own 2 Yacht Constructors boats and am writing and filming a documentary about the pioneering boat company.  Live in Portland, Oregon and a would like some contact with fellow Cascade/YC owners.

Comment by Roy Gault on December 1, 2012 at 5:16pm

Roy  here in Charleston Oregon USA,, Just signed up,  Will be buying a 42' Cascade this winter/spring.. HAVE A 33  Yorktown now that is for sale..

  Really like the Cascades build .

Comment by Roy Gault on November 30, 2012 at 8:57pm

Ok,, got it,,

Comment by S/V Compadre on June 3, 2010 at 10:36pm
I just pulled the starboard aft toerail on Compadre. Have some rot in the shear clamp from water migration down the screws into it from the toerail and the stanchions. No good!!! I have to scarf in new timbers. Ugghh!
I am thinking of using penetrating epoxy in every hole, let it dry, then squirt boatlife in them before putting the screws back in.
How did you solve the issue?

Members (10)


Latest Activity

LOLA commented on Andrea's photo

On the road again ;)

"Good to hear"
5 hours ago
LOLA commented on Andrea's photo

Sailboat art

"Love it"
5 hours ago
LOLA commented on Andrea's photo


5 hours ago
LOLA commented on Andrea's photo


"What a beautiful child."
5 hours ago
Edward Hart commented on S/V Compadre's group Cascade Owners Unite
" Hi Jerry, I used a Avon Redcrest for a tender. Nice and small and compact. I had a 2 hp. Suzuki  outboard.  She was a KISS boat. not much in the way of equipment.   Had a hand GPS, stove, depth sounder, compass and a…"
20 hours ago
Daniel McHugh is now a member of SeaKnots
Mike Brown replied to Michael Boyle's discussion Undiscovered leak on Beneteau 43 in the group Beneteau 40 & 43
"We have had a leak in heavy rain or big seas at the STBD stays base plate. Although it drips down the chain plate rod it is a possibility. Not sure this is your problem but you can access it by removing the small cover held in place by velcro. I…"
Michael Boyle added a discussion to the group Beneteau 40 & 43

Undiscovered leak on Beneteau 43

I have a 2010 French made 43 with teak deck, guard rail and adjustable genoa car. A leak has occurred that manifests from the forward of the two 240 sockets into the locker in front of the nav table. It also appears behind the rear socket on the shelf above instrument panel locker. I have re tightened the genoa car track but still leaking.A. Any ideas of where it is enteringB. Has anyone ever tightened the stations or guard wire gate.C. Ideas for how to find leak from deck.The fibre glass…See More

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