|In 1954, Tom Green, Merle Starr, Wade Cornwell, Jarvis Gould and Henry Morton decided to use a new material called fiberglass to build large sailboat hulls. To prove the strength of the material, a sample was laid-up and tested for strength. The final test was done by shooting bullets from different fire arms at it from a 10 foot range. |
The company they founded was Yacht Constructors, the design they chose was the Vigilant Class, from Frederick Geiger of Philadelphia.
In 1955, a contract was drawn up to share hours and labor to build five boats. A wooden plug was made according to the Vigilant design, and a fiberglass mold was completed by early September. Hull No. 1 was laid up with steel bars in the keel area, and the interior work progressed. The group selected CHINOOK as the name of the class.
Hull No. 1 was launched on in the spring of 1956. All five members of the group sailed her during that summer, and at the same time, work progressed on Hull No. 2 and No. 3. Hull No. 2 was accidentally dropped 15 feet during launch but suffered no damage, proving the strength of the hull material and the construction standard they had adopted.
By 1957, with the first 5 boats sailing, the yachting community was beginning to take notice. An article in 'Yachting' magazine, brought a lot of inquiries.
After the sale of the 9th boat, the remaining founders decided to expand. A corporation was formed, a new larger work place was located and the first paid employees were hired to accelerate the work. Progress was slow by later standards. But by 1960, the 15th boat had been completed and sold.
A new model, the CASCADE 29, designed by Robert A. Smith, formerly of Sparkman & Stephens, was introduced in 1961.
By 1963, 48 CASCADE 29’s and 34 CHINOOK 34’s had been completed and sold. With the enterprise so firmly established, Wade Cornell, one of the original founders, resigned his previous job at Union Carbide and went to work at Yacht Contructors full time.
In 1964, the company built it's own factory. The CASCADE 42, and the CASCADE 36, (both designed by Smith), followed soon after.
By now, the time-and-race-tested construction process was well-known throughout the sailing world. From a Yacht Constructors, Inc. brochure:
“Cascade cruisers or racers can always be identified by our hand lay-up method of construction in the hull. We use woven roving and cloths, lay each piece in and wet it out with resin, then hand squeegee excess resin to keep the content low. Our resin content in the finished hull is approximately 50%, as compared to nearly 70% resin found in many of the hulls made today with mat (chopped fibers) and chopper guns. The use of mat and chopper guns, while greatly reducing construction costs, have not improved the quality of hulls. Compared with woven fiberglass, these methods use a large amount of resin which adds weight and bulk and makes the laminate more brittle.”
Time has proven both the process and design. Both are legendary. The bullet proof sample is still in the office since 1954. Many Cascades won important races during the past and several have made circumnavigations.
Yacht Constructors, Inc. continued to prosper, and in 1987, Merle Starr died, leaving the company in the hands of Wade Cornwell and Tom Green.
A change was made to the CASCADE 42 mold, pushing out the sides to widen the beam from 11’ 2” to 12’, and a section was added to the top of the mold to raise the sides 12 to 14 inches. The letters HS were appended to the name, and ever since all 42 foot hulls have been designated CASCADE 42 HS.
In 1989, Hans and Irene Geerling bought the assets of Yacht Constructors, Inc. and changed the name to Cascade Yachts, Inc.. There were so many Cascade yachts in service by now that a few were showing up on the used boat market, and Cascade Yachts, Inc. began to serve as brokers in the resale of used boats. In addition, purchasers of new and previously-owned Cascade hulls and boats could now rent spaces in the boatyard and finish or re-finish their boats.
In 1990 Cascade Yachts took over several molds from Heritage Boats of Hood River, OR. The Benford 39, now the Cascade Classic 39, a full keel boat, drew interest and several were built in the following years. In addition the Mini-Tug 20 (Benford 20) was built in several versions, including the lengthened version named the 24’ Harbor Master.
Buiilder MIC code: YCS (before 2007)
CAS (after 2007)