Lake N Sea
A Brief History of Lake 'N Sea - Thanks Rich DuLaney
The Lake ‘N Sea was revolutionary in the history of fiberglass boat building, not so much for its success, but more in terms of what was learned from the mistakes. It was produced by a variety of companies from 1956 until 1963. Today, they are a rare find indeed.
The Lake ‘N Sea originated with a small boat builder in Boca Raton, Florida called the Lakensea Boat Corporation. Not much is known about that company except that they made a 15’ outboard runabout called the Lake ‘N Sea.
In 1957, Chris Craft bought LakenSea Boat Corp. with the intent of making a fiberglass boat. Up to this point, fiberglass had only been used in decorative applications such as engine covers and dorsal fins. The Lake ‘N Sea became Chris Craft's first attempt at using fiberglass on a hull. It was basically a plywood boat swathed in fiberglass. It turned out the fiberglass tended to de-laminate from the plywood and develop leaks. Hence, the Lake 'N Sea boats became known as "Leak 'N Sink". Chastened by this experience, Chris Craft decided that fiberglass was not the material to build boats from and sold the molds and the business shortly thereafter.
Parson Corporation of Traverse City, MI bought the Lake ‘N Sea model from Chris Craft, and produced it from 1958 – 1960. They started with a 15’ 450 pound speedboat. Parsons was already known as a pioneer in fiberglass use, predominantly for the military, producing parts for airplanes, helicopter blades, and missile bodies. Parsons expanded the boating line to include 4 models from 14’ to 18’. The new models came from molds and equipment from Custom Molded Fiberglass Products Company in Arizona, acquired prior to the Lake 'n Sea purchase (see 1958 article below). The former owner, Hilman Barger, was hired as part of the deal, along his brother, Merle Barger. After 3 years of boat building, Parsons sold the business to Michigan Fiberglass Plastics, Inc. in 1960.
MFP of Holland, Michigan built the Lake ‘N Sea from 1960 – 1963. It wasn't long before they discovered why it was nicknamed the "Leak 'N Sink": compound curves and delamination. In the construction of fiberglass boats, compound curves are attractive to the customer, but sometimes hard to implement in design because they are made in a mold that has be separated after construction. Delamination meant disaster for the customer, because not only would be boat look bad, it could sink while the customer was in it. Many of these bad hulls were stacked on a lot near the factory and later hauled away for disposal.
With its classic lines, two-tone paint, car-like interior, sporty performance, and yes, even tail fins, the Lake ‘N Sea evokes a memory of classical boating from the ‘50’s. As long as it stays afloat.