Marlin (Florida)

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Marlin Fiberglass Boat Co., Inc.

Boca Raton, FL

Additional plant located in Owosso, Michigan.

There was an unrelated Marlin Boats made in the Pacific Northwest which closely resemble Dorsett Boats and may have been made from the same molds. This company may have been Marlin Boats Inc. of White City, Oregon which was in business as least as early as February 24, 1975.

In 1958, the Marlin Fiberglass Boat Co. displayed at the 3rd Annual Festival of Florida Products exposition, Feb 27 to March 8. Byron Bristol was president of the company, William Betts production manager. Address at this time was Building 2017, Air Base (Feb 28, 1958 Boca Raton News).

In early 1959, Frank R. Swanson of Swanson Manufacturing Co. of Owosso, Michigan bought the Marlin Fiberglass Boat Company. Robert Swanson would be sales manager for combined firms, Drummond S. Mussett as General Sales and Production Manager, George Hicks as Plant Manager (May 21, 1959 Boca Raton News; Feb. 14, 1959 Owosso Argus Press). Mussett was a noted boat racer, winning the 1958 Gold Coast Marathon and known by the nickname "Bulldog Drummond". Other new hires included Frances Benner, secretary, and Frank Herman, plant foreman.

A little history as written by William Vilda's 1963 Marlin while writing his boat story.

There is a message on the forums showing his boat located here:

The photos, taken in 2006, show my 1963 Marlin 15 foot fiberglass boat. The boat is quite special to me, since I built it in 1963 , with guidance and help from my dear dad. The boat is all original, including the hardware . Only the upholstery was redone, in 1973. The boat has it's original gel coat colors, and has never been painted. The motor is the original one I put on the boat, and is a 1960 Evinrude 40 hp. Lark . We bought the motor used for $200, and it had only a few hours on it and looked almost new. The Rocket trailer was purchased in 1973, and I added the Evinrude 2 hp. kicker motor in 1974.

Marlin Boat Company got its start in late 1957 when Chris Craft Lake 'n Sea sold their assets. (Chris Craft had purchased the Lake 'n Sea Company only a year earlier.) Most of the boat molds went to the Parsons Corp. of Traverse City, Michigan. However, a few of the molds stayed behind in Boca Raton, Florida (where Lake 'n Sea had begun in 1956) and were acquired by the Marlin Boat Company. Starting in 1958, Marlin began producing a line of boats in the Boca Raton plant, and in a second plant in the 800 block of N.E. 30th. Street, in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

My dad's own cabinet making and custom boat building shop was next door to the Marlin facility in Ft. Lauderdale, and as a youngster I used to watch the Marlins being made. Marlin produced the 15 foot boat and a 17 or 18 foot version in Ft. Lauderdale, as well as some catamarans at their Boca Raton plant. The Ft. Lauderdale facility, possibly a subcontractor to Marlin, was owned by Mr. Byron Bristol, a talented boat designer and commercial artist. Mr. Bristol redesigned the upper deck half of the 15 foot Lake 'n Sea molds , and chose to smooth out the deck in front of the windshield, and enlarge the fins. The fins were modified so that they now started about halfway down the length of the boat, are rounded on top, and sweep continuously back to slightly past the transom. (The Parsons Company did their own redesign of the deck and the transom, and chose a more ornate aircraft inspired theme for some of their Parsons Lake ' n Sea boats.) Marlin made no modifications to the hull section of the original Lake 'n Sea.

The Marlins were manufactured from 1958 until late 1961 or early 1962 . In early summer of 1963, my dad and I bought a set of boat molds from the Boca Raton warehouse of the now defunct Marlin company. A fire had damaged most of the molds, so we chose the best ones. I spent the next two months repairing, patching, and hand polishing those molds, until I could comb my hair in the reflection. I can vividly recall the big, jet black, glistening molds with their sweeping compound curves, ready to become the mother of my boat. It was an awesome and soul stirring sight!

We finished building my boat in August of 1963, just a week before my 15th. birthday. We launched the boat into Middle River, a half mile from my dad's shop. Since then, I've put many miles on the boat and motor, from Key West to the Chesapeake Bay, and I enjoy it now as much as ever!

Model Information

1958 Information

1959 Mercury Factory Outboard Motor Tests

Marlin Boats in Use

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