Uniflite (United Boat Builders) was started in Bellingham, WA by Art Nordtvedt in October of 1957, with the first boat an all fiberglass 17' outboard.  Uniflite then went on to build a 14', an 18' and a 20' outboard and inboard/outboard boats.  Art and many of his crew had worked for Bellingham Shipyards building Navy Mine Sweepers and Bell Boy Boats before starting Uniflite.  Art said the name came from a united crew.  One of Art's crew was Bob Moors who worked at Uniflite almost from the beginning and was Production Manager from 1970 until 1984 and then Vice-President and General Manager of Chris Craft from 1984 until 1989.  Another of Art's original crew members was Paul Jansen who worked in fiberglass production.

After building the initial 17', 15' (picture above), 18' and 20' boats, Art and his crew then built a 25' express cruiser followed by an 31' and a 34' boat.  Uniflite was the only boat builder exclusively using fire-retardant resins in the production of pleasure boats (see below).  In January of 1959, the plant and office moved into the old plywood plant in Fairhaven (in Bellingham).  This became Uniflite's permanent home.

In 1962, Uniflite became a public company trading on the New York Stock Exchange, thus becoming eligible for Navy contracts.

In 1965, the Navy awarded Uniflite with a contract to build 120 - 31' River Patrol Boats (PBR's).  The PBR's were powered by twin Detroit 6V53's with water jets and they cruised between 25 and 31 knots.  There were over 750 PBR's built and at the height of production two PBR's were rolling off the assembly line along with one 36' landing craft each day!  In addition to the Navy contracts, in the 1960's and early 1970's Uniflite had numerous other military contract building 14' and 50' boats: patrol craft, landing craft and personnel boats.  Uniflite also built commercial fishing boats, and sailboats besides the pleasure boats we know today.


In 1977, Uniflite acquired boat molds from Pacemaker Boat Co. on the East Coast and started a second Uniflite plant in Swansboro, North Carolina.

In 1980, a fire almost totally destroyed the Uniflite plant in Bellingham.  However, since they had molds in Swansboro they were able to continue production of their boats.

In 1984, Uniflite was acquired by Chris Craft for $10 per share.  Chris Craft built many of the same boats under the Chris Craft label.  Unfortunately, Chris Craft stopped production in 1989.

Where are Art Nortvedt, Bob Moors and Paul Jansen today?  All still live in Bellingham.  Art is still remodeling boats, home, or whatever, and sometimes works with his son Gary at Norstar Boats.  Bob and Paul are partners in a company called Unicraft Marine.  All three are doing fine.

 

History of Uniflite Boats

"The Famous (infamous) Blister Problem"  The issue regarding the fire-retardant resins causing blisters in later years (1975+) was a result of a change in suppliers of the fire retardant resin (Hetron).  Earlier models (prior to 1975) contained a fire retardant called "Hetron" manufactured by Dupont Chemical and these boats did not have any blistering problems.  When Dupont ceased production of Hetron 1975, a different fire retardant was used from a different manufacturer.  Unfortunately, the new fire retardant contained a solid form of the chemical bromine  which, unfortunately, evolved into a gas when the fiberglass was warmed sufficiently.  This happened to Uniflites in warmer climates like Florida and California more then it did in the Pacific Northwest.  This bromine gas created an acid that ate its way out of the gel coat.  For this reason, if you were to grind out a deep blister you would notice a "gooey" material.  The only way to remove a blister properly is to grind it out, let it dry, then fill the hole with a vinylester resin ($$).  It doesn't solve the problem entirely but should provide a strong barrier (plug) to prevent the blister from reaching the surface again.  In reality, the blisters will likely return.

Models

Uniflite Runabout

Uniflite 23’

Uniflite 27’

Uniflite 28’ Salty Dog

Uniflite 32’

Uniflite 34’

Uniflite 36’ Sedan

Uniflite 36’ Double Cabin

Uniflite 37’ Coastal Cruiser

Uniflite 38’ Convertible

Uniflite 41’ Yacht Fisherman

Uniflite 42’ Double Cabin

Uniflite 46’ Motor Yacht

Uniflite 48’ Yacht Fisherman

Uniflite 48’ Convertible

Uniflite 28’ Mega

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