Myths and Legends of Columbia Sailboats

And the Early Southern California Fiberglass Boatbuilding Industry

Ed, he didn't send his last name, worked in the fiberglass boat business in the '60's in SoCal, and offered the following "myths and legends of that time". I have tried to diagram the relationships - now my head hurts.

I have no reason to doubt Ed and I thank him a lot for this contribution, but since I have no other verification of his account, I must stress that this is his account. It's one of those "CYA" things. Again, thanks Ed!

Back in the early 60's and late 50's there was a boatbuilder named McGlassen (sp) who built a 24' sloop (attributed to the board of John Alden) called the Catalina Islander. Hearing about efforts to build boats in fiberglass, he consulted an outfit in Costa Mesa (Richard valdez, Glas Laminates - Eric) that built fiberglass outhouses for the construction industry. The company took a mold off the Catalina Islander (unique feature was the "v" planking) which became the Islander 24. The company also kept a copy of the mold without the "V" grooves (whether intentionally or experimentally) and formed Columbia Yachts producing the Columbia 24. There weren't too many original ideas in those days....Islander widened the deck of the 24 to produce the Bahama and Columbia followed suit with their model (I don't recall the name).

Such goings on were not limited to Columbia. An Islander dealer in Redondo Beach got into some altercation with Islander over commissions or something and "splashed" the Bahama hull, modified the deck and splashed it. The result was the Del Rey 24. He did add approximately 4 to 6 inches of draft and 500# more ballast which, purely by accident, made it the best performer of the group. This is the guy I worked for, who would later be known around the SoCal boat world as "Capt. Splash"...needless to say, he didn't stop at Islander.

The other model in the group of Islander clones were the Gladiator 24, something called the Thoroughbred, and another whose name escapes me.

Rumor had it that the 29's of Islander were the same hull from similar circumstances. Del Rey didn't produce a 29 so I can't attest to the fact or fiction of that.

The reference to the 5.5 was a mold made by the parent company of Columbia for Ericson (they kept a mold for the Columbia 5.5) thus the confusion in one of the posts (on this web site).

I hope I didn't bend your ear too much but I thought Columbia owners might enjoy some of the legends of the past. Incidently, the early Columbia/Islander/Del Rey were super tough boats. None of the builders understood the engineering of fiberglass and followed the "more is better" philosophy hence the heavy layups. Osmosis isn't anything to worry about too much in those hulls as the leaching would have to go on too many years (undetected or ignored) to do structural damage.

Cheers, Ed

P.S. Do you have any idea how many of the Columbia molds still exist? I know the 50 is in Texas along with numerous Islander molds.....kinda ironic.

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