Coastal Passagemaker 45

Coastal Passagemaker - Fibercraft Story

Fibercraft was founded as a partnership in the fall of 1979, for the purpose of building commercial fishing boats specifically for Alaska waters. For the first few years, it was a wintertime only venture, to supplement incomes of the two principals, who were both commercial fishermen in Prince William Sound, Alaska. From the beginning, it was a goal to build a higher level of finish into the boats than was generally being offered in the commercial community. Fibercraft soon established a reputation for quality and reliability within the fishing industries of the Northwest and Alaska. As this became evident, inquiries started to come in from the Charter industry, as well as from individuals wanting pleasure craft that were built to hold up to the rigors of use in Alaska waters. Although very limited advertising was done, word of mouth references generated sales sufficient to afford a decision of either building boats year round, or continue status quo. The decision was made by one of the partners to sell to the other. Dick Johnson eventually went on to make boat building his sole career. With the partnership buy-out in 1987 the business became a year round operation.
A small, hand-picked crew of shipwrights was assembled, most of whom continue as part of the Fibercraft family to this day. Their input and ideas are solicited in a continous, ongoing basis. Who better to know how to improve the product than the ones building it? Their attitude and abilities are reflected in the quality craftsmanship of the finished boats. Dick Johnson and his crew at Fibercraft understand that quality, detail and reliability, as well as the way customers feel that they have been treated, are the keys to the company’s future. The list of repeat customers as well as relationships developed with past clients attest to this fact. It is no accident that over the years Fibercraft customers have returned to have their next boat built by Dick and his crew. One customer has had six boats built in the Fibercraft yard! Such is the loyalty and confidence that Fibercraft's customers have in the boats that the yard produces.
In 1997, long-time charterboat operator and Alaska fishing lodge owner, Larry McQuarrie, was looking for a new charterboat to replace his fleet of five half wood/half fiberglass 37 footers operating in remote Southeast Alaska.(Sportsman's Cove Lodge)

The boat he wanted, an all molded fiberglass vessel, was no longer being built - but he knew where the tooling and molds were located. He knew because in the late 1970's and early 80's his bustling charter operation in Westport, on the outer coast of Washington, operated a fleet of up to 15 such boats. They were the renowned "Delta" charterboat, designed by Seattle Naval Architect Lynn Senour and built by Delta Marine Industries. Federal court decisions had long since decimated the Northwest's offshore salmon fisheries and Delta had moved on to building megayachts for the rich and famous. McQuarrie knew the molds for the two well-known charterboats (43' and 50'), as well as the 37' commercial fishing boat were languishing in Delta's back lot. Because of his story in the charter business he was on a first name basis with the principals at Delta, Ivor and Jack Jones. He also knew that the Jones boys were reluctant to scrap the tooling for the fine vessels that had served them and the charter industry so well, and had been partly responsible for putting Delta on the map during it's formative years.

McQuarrie approached the Jones' to see if they would sell the molds for the 37 footer he needed. They refused. Then, to his surprise they said they would not sell just the 37' tooling, but if he would consider taking ALL of the molds for all three models, they would sell the lot. The lodge owner/charterboat operator was well versed on these Cadillacs of the charter fleet. He had first-hand of knowledge of their fine sea-keeping qualities and all around performance. His own personal experience had spawned a long standing love affair with these sleek greyhounds of the offshore charter fleet. He wasn't sure yet what he was going to do with them, but he could not let this opportunity slip by.

The five boats of McQuarrie's lodge fleet had been built in Blaine, Washington by Fibercraft, Inc. McQuarrie had a ten year relationship with Dick Johnson and his versatile crew at Fibercraft. He knew the pride of craftsmanship that went into every one of their boats, and he knew the kind of common sense approach that went into boats built by people who had earned their living on them. In short order a working arrangement was established with Fibercraft, the molds for all three charterboats were purchased, and the first four custom boats were produced: a 37' commercial "light boat" for the California squid fishery; a 37' charterboat for McQuarrie's Alaska operation; a 53' fast trawler yacht, also for Alaska and a 43' fast trawler yacht for California.

While all this was going on, McQuarrie was working with a respected Seattle yacht designer named John Anderson, with whom he had shared a drafting table in the corner of Ed Monk's office in the old Smith Tower Building twenty-five years earlier, designing McQuarrie's first USCG certified charterboat. He had an idea in mind for a line of production fast trawler yachts based on the famed charterboat hulls. John Anderson had an eye for what he called "shippy looking yachts" that the rest of the world called trawlers. Within a few months Anderson had drawn up study plans for three fast trawlers based on the three Delta charterboat hulls (See "Future Coastal Passagemakers"). The concepts that Anderson came up with were so in tune with what McQuarrie had envisioned that hardly a line has changed since the original.

Now came the decision. Which one to build first? Resources for the project would not allow all three to be developed at once. The decision was made to start with the middle of the line. The 43 foot charterboat hull had now become a 45 footer, the result of deepening the hull by raising the sheer above that of the charterboat which was, after all, designed for sportfishing, not passagemaking. Once the decision had been made to build the 45 footer, the services of Janicki Machine Design, in Sedro Woolley, Washington were contracted. The technicians at Janicki would "map" the hull using incredibly accurate laser measuring technology in preparation for developing a computer model of the boat based on John Anderson's drawings. Once the computer model was completed to the satisfaction of Anderson and Janicki's experts, the information was fed into the gigantic computer controlled router that would precisely shape the "plug" that would then be used by Fibercraft to build the mold of the deck, topsides and bridge. This highly sophisticated technology ensured absolute accuracy and precision of fit and finish of the major components of each Coastal Passagemaker.