From Classic Boat Library
The following information was provided by Doug Crum, Boise, ID. His family bought an 18' Wacanda Tri-hull, inboard jet powered, in 1974. The family owned it for 20 years.
From the early 1950's, through 1988, Wacanda Marine Inc., Colville, WA, a family-owned corporation, produced a unique series of fiberglass boats. The name of the company, "Wacanda", was in recognition that early on, about half the boats were being sold in Washington State, half in Canada.
The boats were known to be particularly seaworthy and were regularly seen on the white water rivers and lakes of the inland northwest. All the boats produced by Wacanda Marine were strongly built of hand laid fiberglass.
From it's inception through about 1984, Wacanda Marine was owned and operated by Forrest Collins, Colville, WA. From 1984 to 1988, the company was owned by the Yakima Indian Nation, Wapato, WA, although Mr. Collins managed the production.
On a few occasions in January, February, and March,2005, I interviewed Mr. Forrest Collins by telephone. He was kind enough to provide many historical notes about Wacanda Marine. Later, Mr. Collins kindly provided many images, brochures and other items.
The company was started by Mr. Collins in the late 1940's. Mr. Collins, a former naval aviator and aeronautical designer, noted that the principles of fluid dynamics are similar to the dynamics that make an airplane fly. Mr. Collins told me that his first concern with Wacanda boats was the hull design. He developed early model testing techniques to evaluate how the hulls would perform with various modifications. Mr. Collins told me that, in his opinion, many boats are merely 'styled' for marketing purposes, as opposed to being 'designed' for a functional or performance oriented purpose. Mr. Collins also told me that his interest in continually experimenting with and further developing his boats probably worked to the detriment of his marketing efforts. His earliest hull prototypes were built of plywood. All the production boats were constructed of fiberglass. Mr. Collins and his crew also built the molds for the Wacanda boats.
In the very early 1950's, Mr. Collins began producing some of the very first successful fiberglass boats. The earliest boats were 12' and 13' ("Fisherman")models and 15' ("Vandal") models. Wacanda boats were all built with fiberglass ribs, stringers and floors. The only wood (other than some interior parts) used in the boats were wooden motor mount beds.
Wacanda boats had several distinctive design features. The boats had a strong family ‘look’ about them. In the early to mid-1950's the boats had styling features fairly common to the era, such as dramatically dropped shear lines and 'tail-fins'. Mr. Collins indicated that some of the earliest 16 foot Vee-hll models were equiped with automotive safety glass windshields, purchased from the Ford Motor Company
By the late 1950's, the boats had evolved distinctive styling and performance features including, on the Vee hulls, a flared and concave (hollow) bow profile and ‘squared off’ bow. These features resulted in a roomier interior, as well as a very dry boat. The flared bow provided increased displacement as the bow was forced deeper into the water, such as with large waves and rapids, forcing the bow up and displacing water away from the boat. The company's 16' Husky outboard motor version was featured blasting through Snake River (Hells Canyon) in an early 1960's Evinrude sales brochure. The Vee hull boats also carried a shear line that gradually dropped down toward the stern, with the bulwarks rising above the beltline to maintain gunwale height. Some of the boats had a distinctive accent line on the sides.
Also, in the mid-1950's, Mr. Collins designed the Vee hulls with an inset transom that carried forward through the end of production. This inset transom hull design was somewhat innovative at the time, although it was later seen on boats from other manufacturers.
Wacanda was one of the earliest boats to utilize inboard jet power. In the late 1950's, the company began installing "Starfire" jet drives, built in Spokane, WA. Jet drives remained a popular power choice for Wacanda through the end of production in 1988.
There were a number of models produced by the company over the years. These included 12, 13 and 15 foot outboard powered V-hull models, three different 16' models (including in the 1950's some inboard/outboard and inboard jet models. Later 16's were outboard powered), two different 17'models (outboard and inboard sterndrive/jet), and 21' (inboard sterndrive/jet/outboard) V-hull models.
Incidently, Mr. Collins noted that he feels that the 21' Vee hull model was a bit of a marketing mistake, as it was introduced at a time when deep Vee hulls were becoming popular. The 21' had a shallower Vee and as a consequence was not a big seller It was a very dry and seaworthy boat, however.
In the early 1970's, Wacanda began producing an 18' Tri-hull that was available in three configurations: cabin, open bow and a forward control version. Mr. Collins indicated that the 18' Tri-hull was loosely based on a 17' Thompson tri-hull model.
During the last few years of production, the company introduced a 20' Tri-hull, loosely based on the 18' model. I am under the impression that the 20' Tri-hulls were all sterndrive or jet powered.
Mr. Collins indicated to me that he does not know how many boats the company produced over the years, although it was several thousand. Mr. Collins indicated that his personal favorite model was the 18' Tri-hull series.
For additional information, see the Wacanada Boats website: http://www.freewebs.com/wacandaboats/