An insider’s look at how Pacific Mariner transformed a dream into reality.
By Capt. Bill Pike — September 2005
Shortly after Pacific Mariner president Jack Edson synopsized his entire boatbuilding philosophy with the phrase “no compromises,” he nodded to what looked like a giant circus tent arising from the genteel Douglas fir-dotted streets of LaConner, Washington. Composed of a tough, resilient plastic material that glowed strangely, almost supernaturally, amid the misty tendrils of fog emanating from nearby Swinomish Channel, the tent conveyed an eerie presence that represented two radically different things.
The first was positive. Edson could finally breath easy, at least on one score. He had a sheltered workplace within which his employees could begin laying up the hull for his latest project, the 85 Pilothouse Motoryacht, a vessel he hoped would serve as a suitable successor to the 65 he’d been building, selling, and servicing since January 1997.
The second was ephemeral, even worrisome, at least on the nights he lay awake mulling over the project. Unquestionably, Edson’s boatbuilding expertise and experience were substantial, and his family name still counts for much in boatbuilding circles, in large part because his father Orin turned Bayliner into a marine-manufacturing empire. But then again, despite the younger Edson’s experience and family connections, he was sometimes anxiously aware he was “betting the company” on the 85 project, as his dad was want to say when bringing new products to market.
The big, white tent was emblematic of the wager. The fact that it had just recently been erected on a tarmac so freshly paved it was still steaming was an excellent indicator of the scheduling tolerances the project demanded. And the fact that it stood near the immense foundations of two new and expensive buildings that would permanently supplant the tent in a few months and serve as the laminating shop and warehouse for all future 85 production clearly pointed out how far Edson was having to stretch his company to make the 85 a reality. More to the point, in addition to working with LaConner’s local government to get variances for the buildings and overseeing construction of the buildings themselves, he was having to hire an extra 100 employees, more or less, train them, put crews to work evenings and on weekends, and last but not least, coordinate the activities of an array of experts and subcontractors.
Famous naval architect Bill Garden headed up the pack. When, after some serious market research as well as some deep soul searching, Edson decided to give the 85 project a legitimate shot, his first telephone call went to Garden, who soon agreed to design “the best possible running surface” for Edson’s new boat. The reasons why Edson chose Garden were simple. Besides being a long-time family friend, the erudite old denizen of Toad Island, British Columbia, had a superb reputation for fast, fine-bowed, seaworthy vessels, among them some shallow-draft, tunnel-hull speedsters that were quite successfully running the rocky rivers of Alaska.
This article originally appeared in the October 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.