From Classic Boat Library
Jump to: navigation, search



North American Fiberglass Corporation

High Point, North Carolina

History by Tyson Philyaw and Glenn Mucklow

My Grandfather Woodrow Wilson Tyson (Woodie) was a Physician in High Point, NC. along with his brother Thomas Tyson (Tom). Woodie was an Internist, specializing in Cardiology and Tom specialized in OB/GYN. In the early to mid 60's Woodie, Tom, and a few other investor's decided to start North American Fiberglass Corporation in High Point, NC. Every one in boating knows about Hatteras Yachts, and their birth in High Point.

Hatteras was started by Willis Slane who at the time was President of the family business, Slane Hosiery. Not to go into too much history about Hatteras, but Willis knew he needed someone who had a specialized understanding of fiberglass, which was relatively new for boat hulls, especially larger yachts which is what Willis had in mind. Willis went to the Miami area, and called on Don Mucklow.

Don Mucklow and Gordon Hoover owned Crystaliner S.E. Corp, a fiberglass boat company, and raced the company demonstrator in the 1957 Miami-Nassau race -- the first fiberglass boat to run in the Miami-Nassau Race. The Sam Griffith/Dick Bertram team won, as usual. Don Mucklow was slightly injured during the race and they had to back off, and they came in third. It was very rough -- Of the 15 boats that started the race, only six completed the race to Nassau in 1957. There was no 1958 race. Shortly before the next race in 1959, Don Mucklow survived a massive heart attack. So, Gordon Hoover took their mechanic, Warren Sanchez, and won the 1959 Miami to Nassau race, not only being the first fiberglass boat to win, but setting a new race record of 8 hours and four minutes -- trimming an hour and 16 minutes off the old record. Only five of the original 18 starters finished the race in the first day. Hoover made the run back to Miami the next day in five and a half hours in calmer waters. The 1959 Miami-Nassau race was the only one of the first five Miami-Nassau races not won by Sam Griffith and Dick Bertram. The Crystaliner blew an engine during trials for the 1960 race and did not race again. Crystaliner also built the very rugged 33 foot Arco 33 sailboat under contract, which became the Columbia 33 and then the Columbia 34 with a new superstructure.

Between the Miami-Nassau races, Dick Bertram, also a sailor, was a crew member on Vim in the America's Cup sailboat race trials in 1958. Bertram, and a lot of other people like Don Mucklow, noticed a Hunt-designed 23-foot deep-v tender for another America's Cup contender, the Easterner, also a Hunt design. Hunt had originated the deep-v hull in the 1930s, but engines were not powerful enough to drive a deep-v hull then. The little deep-v tender for Easterner could move quickly through the chop out to the big sailboats better than any of the other tenders. So, Bertram had Hunt design a 31-foot version for him. Jack Hargrave, who also designed the Hatteras yachts, did the construction drawings. The wooden deep-v boat, named Moppie for Bertram's wife, won the 1960 Miami-Nassau race, Followed by Jim Wynne in a 24 food fiberglass deep-v, the 80 HP Volvo Aquamatic powered Aqua Hunter, also designed by Hunt. Many deep-v designs, like the NAFCO 22 appeared quickly on the boating scene. In addition to Hatteras and Bertram, the history of many of the now classic fiberglass boats can be traced back to the early Miami to Nassau Powerboat races.

The performance and publicity of Don Mucklow's 27 foot fiberglass Crystaliner in the Miami-Nassau races caused entrepreneur Willis Slane to make his move, and he brought Don Mucklow from Miami to High Point, North Carolina to start the Hatteras Yacht Company as General Manager.

Don Mucklow became a patient of my Grandfather, Woodrow Wilson Tyson. Don's participation in NAFCO was a favor to my Grandfather, but he did own a diesel model named the Slopoque (see photos below). Together they built 19 of the 22-foot fiberglass boats. My grandfather had a lake house at Badin Lake in New London, NC where they would test the boats before delivery. You will see in the pictures below, the boats all at Badin. The open cockpit design of the NAFCO utility was great for fishing, and is still popular with the current "center console" fishing boat designs.

Don Mucklow experimented with the foam filled technique on the NAFCO, and considered using the foam filled concept on a Hatteras trawler model for large fiberglass commercial fishing boats. Hatteras did build a few trawlers, but the whole product line, molds and all were sold to a Central American government. Foam filling, at least around the hold, would greatly reduce the fuel cost required for refrigeration of the catch in a trawler. I don't know if that was done on the Hatteras Trawlers, but current Hatteras boats use foam stringers and foam imbedded tanks, a possible legacy of the NAFCO 22.

When North American Rockwell bought Hatteras, they considered Don Mucklow's involvement with NAFCO to be a conflict of interest, as he was an executive and general manager of Hatteras. He had to sever his relationship with NAFCO at that point, and, NAFCO continued on without him. My grandfather and the other investors got out of the boat building business, but Don Mucklow continued a successful career with Hatteras until his death in 1969 as Vice President, creating some of the most desired fiberglass hulls still to this day.

My Grandfather passed away while I was in college, and well after the demise of NAFCO. I remember boating in his personal NAFCO 22 the "Queen Mary" named because she was the biggest boat at Badin at the time.

About 6 -7 years ago I was creating a home office. I wanted the office to have an old Hatteras/ classic boat motif. Little did I know, but my sister contacted Tom Slane, who rebuilds classic Hatteras, and who is also the son of Willis Slane, about getting some old Hatteras material. Tom said I will do you one better, and gave her a NAFCO catalog. By the way, Tom Slane ( Willis Slane's son), was delivered by my Great uncle, Tom Tyson, thus his name. (HP was a small town then). The catalog is the only one I have ever seen, and I framed it in a shadow box. At that time, I began to research more about Hatteras and NAFCO, and was introduced through a website to Glenn Mucklow, Don's son. Glenn was able to provide most of the history I am sharing with you. In addition to the details of the history, Glenn provided 99% of the photo's below. There is much more that can be written about Don Mucklow, and I think Glenn can insert the information because it really is neat how Hatteras and NAFCO are bred from the same cloth.

Two years ago, I convinced a buddy of mine to take my Wellcraft down to Badin Lake to look for the Queen Mary. I knew the boat was sold with the lake house in 1980, but didn't keep up where or who owned it. By luck some of the old neighbors were on their dock and I introduced myself, and asked if they knew where the boat was. The directed me to the Old North State Club, at the North end of Badin. I went and spoke to the Boat Yard Manager, who knew exactly where the boat was. It was now called the Badin Maiden, and had not been in the water in 3-4 years. It was outside under a boat cover.

I introduced myself to the current owner and provided the background on the boat, and not too surprisingly, the boat was for sale. Tom Slane had refurbished the boat in 1998 but nothing had been done regarding upkeep. I brought Tom down to look at her. I was able to reach an agreement with the owner to purchase the boat, and currently, I have her at Tom Slane's shop awaiting a new engine and other cosmetic work.

Don Mucklow's "Slopoque"

The port and starboard back to back seats had storage under and would fold flat. The hatch in the deck ,visible to the left of the seat in this picture, was to an ice box. The hull was foam filled, so ice would last over a week in the ice box. Don Mucklow cruised the entire coast of North Carolina, in a single trip, with the Slopoque, his own NAFCO boat. With the small diesel engine, the boat had excellent range.

1965 Information

NAFCO Brochure

Miscellaneous Photos

NAFCO Boats In Use

Back to Main Page