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: 26
Latest Activity: Aug 2, 2021

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

Keel epoxy coating flaking off

Started by john simpson. Last reply by john simpson Mar 14, 2020. 2 Replies

29 Cascade Owners

Started by DJ Wardrop. Last reply by DJ Wardrop Jul 21, 2018. 3 Replies

Stanchion holders

Started by Tad. Last reply by S/V Compadre May 19, 2016. 4 Replies

Comment Wall


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

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?
Comment by stvbryant on December 1, 2009 at 5:18pm
I have been in the process of getting ready to do a refit of my Cascade 36 Puff which was hull 21 from Yacht Constructors Inc. I want to put the aluminum toe rails that Cascade has used on many of her sailboats. I repeatedly called & emailed the new owner of Cascade Yacht LLC and received no response. After trying to run down may leads I found the Chinook Composites was the company that is still in the original location and that they still are happy to help Cascade owners when the can. They are going to be ordering toe rail in 25' length around the end of the year and should have it in stock shortly. David can be reached at He has been with chinook for several decades and doesn't think he will be leaving any time soon. What a nice guy he is
Comment by rob plaisance on November 12, 2009 at 12:14am
hello anybody there..................( crickets )

Members (26)


Latest Activity

Kerim N replied to Randy Brown's discussion Beneteau 40 Black Mesh Window Covers in the group Beneteau 40 & 43
"Hello Randy, New to the group, going through the posts, I have come upon this thread.  I was considering tinting my windows of my Beneteau 43 with a darker tint, but I really like your idea.  So I will copy with…"
Jan 6
Kerim N joined CAN DRAC's group

Beneteau 40 & 43

A place to exchange thoughts, ideas and discussions about the Beneteau/Oceanis 40 and 43 models.
Jan 6
Kerim N is now a member of SeaKnots
Jan 5
Mike Brown replied to Larry Witty's discussion B43 Windlass Drainage in the group Beneteau 40 & 43
"Larry good luck. And remember to use the KISS Method when troubleshooting. Keep It Simple Stupid haha. It’s an old and basic concept that dictates you always do the easiest and obvious stuff first. Then if it doesn’t fix it get more…"
Dec 23, 2021
Larry Witty replied to Larry Witty's discussion B43 Windlass Drainage in the group Beneteau 40 & 43
"Thanks Mike, good advice which I will follow."
Dec 23, 2021
Mike Brown replied to Larry Witty's discussion B43 Windlass Drainage in the group Beneteau 40 & 43
"Sounds like you need to give that windlass some TLC. I used to clean and apply a light coating of grease to all the surfaces in and under the gypsy. It remained smooth over a 10 year period. Five of those years were spent cruising full time on the…"
Dec 23, 2021
Larry Witty added a discussion to the group Beneteau 40 & 43

B43 Windlass Drainage

Doing some maintenance on my B43 Quick Antares windlass this year. After removing the windlass, I knew instantly that I should have been doing this at least ever other year.  The windlass was preforming weak and slow with a noise which made me think the motor brushes or a bearing was going out, thus the reason for removing it.What I found upon removal was a tremendous amount of salt and sand on the top part of the gearbox, literally packed in. Upon cleaning everything up, luckily all bearings…See More
Dec 23, 2021
James Taylor replied to Robert & Sandy's discussion DOLPHN 40 AMP BATTERY CHARGER in the group Beneteau 40 & 43
"Happy Holidays to you and yours. Happy to hear its working properly."
Dec 17, 2021

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