I was reminiscing recently with my old friend and former design client, Ken Denison, about the “golden age” of motoryacht construction. Not the big boom that bombed in the 1920s, but the surge of the last 20 years. The seeds for this boom were sewn in the 1980s and much of the banging and sawing was coming from Broward Marine’s yards in Michigan and Florida. Ken’s parents, Frank and Gertrude, created Broward and it was at the eye of a “perfect storm” when baby boomers, the economy, and technology collided. In the 1980s, Broward delivered more than 80 boats over 80 feet and when the yard’s ads suggested “It must be a Broward,” it likely was.
The Great Depression knocked the wind out of yachting, but enthusiasts held out for better times or downsized. World War II brought government contracts, and with the war’s end came a revitalized market for more modest coastal cruisers. American yacht builders Trumpy and Grebe continued to work in wood, while Burger shifted from wood to steel. The average size of motoryachts inched up. However, by the early 1960s, the typical flush-deck houseboat or cruiser-style yacht still measured about 60 feet.