Myths and Legends


By “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 that built fiberglass outhouses for the construction industry.

The company took a mold off the Catalina Islander (a 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 24, and Columbia followed suit with their model (I don’t recall the name). (Editor’s note: Ed is referring to “raised deck” boats, and my wild guess is the Columbia model may have been the first Challenger.)

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 pounds 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 models 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).

Incidentally, the early Columbia / Islander / DelRey’s 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.

I hope I didn’t bend your ear too much, but I thought Columbia owners might enjoy some of the legends of the past. Cheers, Ed

This article appeared in the February 1998 C-Nuz 2 issue albatross