Fantail Motoryachts

The Great Fantail Motoryachts of the Pacific Northwest

by Rick Etsell

Fantail: the overhanging part of a ship's stern, a term used particularly in the case of large yachts and passenger liners.  Although the correct word for the stern overhang of all ships, it is not often used in this connection except in the U.S.A.  It has not quite the same meaning as counter, but comes very close to it.  [The Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea, Kemp, editor, 1976, Oxford University Press]

Fantail:  The aftermost part of a ship, usually of the main deck; at the extreme stern.  This word is believed to be purely American, from the early days of elliptical (fan-shaped) sterns, the mid XIX.  [Origins of Sea Terms, John G. Rogers, Mystic Seaport Museum, Inc., 1985 (2nd ed.)]

These definitions don't do justice to the grand image of the classic fantail motoryacht.  A very popular style for yachts built in the Roaring Twenties, the fantail stern evoked images of the grand trans-Atlantic liners and provided a perfect platform for elegant parties or breakfast at anchor on a quiet summer morning.

Of course, it's not just the stern shape that is important.  Coupled with a plumb bow, stately cabins and a purposeful wheelhouse, the result was an efficient and comfortable cruiser at home in any marine setting. 

Malibu -- Original Configuration

Some Well-Known Fantails:

Click on the thumbnails to view the larger images.


50' 1926
Schertzer Boat & Machine  (Seattle)

The Arro, owned by Frost Snyder in 1933, had all its windows demolished when the Argosy exploded and sank at the Tacoma Yacht Club.


65' 1925, E.E. Johnson, builder (Tacoma, WA), J. Murray Watts, designer (Phila. PA)

Argosy was commissioned by a prominent Tacoma doctor and used for regular trips to Alaska, including the first Capitol to Capitol Predicted Log Race (Olympia to Juneau) in 1928.  In 1933 the Doctor was killed and the vessel sunk following an explosion of her gasoline tanks, while moored at the Tacoma Yacht Club.

The hull was raised and the vessel rebuilt at Jensen Motorboat Company on Seattle's Portage Bay.  The son of the new owner had naval architecture training and redesigned the vessel along the lines of the Ted Geary fantails.  Geary inspected the work on at least one occasion.

Length Overall: 65'  Breadth: 14'
Main engines:  Gray Marine 6-71 diesels
Fuel: 800 g.  Fresh water: 600 g.
Cruising speed: 9 knots  Top speed: 10 knots.

75' 1932 Lake Union Drydock
Roland & Strickland design

Length Overall: 74'7"   Beam: 18'4"   Draft: 9'4"   Displacement: 110 tons; Cruising Speed: 8 knots   
Main Engine: 6 cyclinder 8x10 Washington Estep diesel, 120 h.p. at 450 r.p.m.; Fuel: 3,000 gallons   
Fresh Water: 300 gallons with R.O. water maker
Range: 4,000 nautical miles   Accommodations: up to 12 passengers
Construction: Oak frames, Alaska yellow cedar planked. Douglas fir keel with a 2-inch heel of Australian iron bark
Built by: Lake Union Dry Dock, Seattle, Washington, 1932
Designed by: Roland & Strickland.   Pacific Catalyst Expeditions



Drawings by Tom Henderson

78' 1930 Lake Washington Shipyard, Houghton, WA.  Lee & Britton design.

LOA: 78', LWL: 68', BEAM: 17' 5", DRAFT: 8' 6"

ENGINES: Single Caterpillar D-353 TA 6-cylinder, 4-cycle, 380 hp.  Hull: Douglass Fir plank on Oak frame, SPEED: Cruising: 9. 5 knots, Maximum: 11 knots.

Originally built for author Stewart Edward White and later owned by the actress Ruth Roman in the late 50's, this Classic Fantail yacht is a hallmark of yachting's classic era.  A single diesel long range cruiser equipped with sleeping accommodations for eight in four separate cabins which are serviced by three heads and two showers, the yacht has been proven by decades of use on numerous voyages from the U.S. to Hawaii, the South Pacific, the Caribbean, and a number of Atlantic crossings.  Heavily constructed for all-weather operation and world-wide cruising.   Currently employed in the six-pack Alaska charter trade, the yacht is maintained in excellent condition and receives regular inspections.


1946, 78' 6" Martinac Shipyard Tacoma, Designer Ted Geary.








Deerleap  85' 1929  Hoffar-Beeching (Vancouver)

The Deerleap was built in Vancouver, British Columbia, by the Hoffar-Beeching Shipyards for Colonel McLimont, the president of Winnipeg Power and Light. McLimont wanted exceptional viewing capabilities aboard a comfortable and elegant cruiser, built specifically for excursions to Alaska.

The Deerleap's original design, which remains intact today, included a large combination observation saloon and formal dining room on the main deck, with French doors opening to a spacious covered aft deck. The lower deck encompassed crew quarters forward, a master stateroom amidships, and guest staterooms abaft the owner's cabin. McLimont used the boat extensively to cruise the Inside Passage with private hunting and fishing parties.

However, just five years after she was built, McLimont sold Deerleap to the owners of Vancouver's Spencer Department Stores, who kept the boat through the Great Depression years. 

Then, like many Canadian and U.S. yachts of her day, Deerleap was conscripted during World War II, painted gray, and equipped with deck artillery. It was also during those years that the original Hall-Scott gasoline engines were replaced with 120 bhp Vivian diesels, reportedly weighing 7,800 pounds each.

LOA: 85' Beam: 17' Draft: 9'; Power: Twin GM 671's 
Builder: Hoffar and Beaching Maritime Designers and Builders, Vancouver, BC 
Cruising Speed: 8.5 knots, Top Speed: 10 knots

Westward 86' x 18.75'   1924 Martinolich Shipyard, Ted Geary design

Length Overall: 86'   Beam: 18'8"   Draft: 9'5"   Displacement: 137.5 tons
Cruising Speed: 8 knots   Main Engine: 4 cylinder Atlas 9x12 diesel, 110 h.p. at 300 r.p.m.
Fuel: 3,000 gallons   Fresh Water: 1000 gallons with R.O. water maker
Range: 4,000 nautical miles   Accommodations: up to 11 passengers
Built by: Martinolich Shipyard, Vashon Island, Washington, for Alaska Hunting & Fishing Company, 1924

Pacific Catalyst Expeditions


Discovery  87' 1931

Discovery was originally designed and built as 'Holiday' for William Morris of the William Morris agency in 1931 in San Pedro, California. From her Teak decks and Deckhouse to her fine Mahogany paneling she reflects an era long past when craftsmanship meant pride in artistry. It was said of her shortly after her launch by Pacific Motor Boat, " Designed specifically to obtain just the arrangements specified by Morris, who evidently demanded comfort and convenience in all matters aboard ship as well as a sturdy sea-going vessel inspiring confidence in her abilities by her very appearance."

Her accommodations include 6 nicely appointed private staterooms all with opening portholes, 2 heads and showers below deck. On the main deck she features beautiful Mahogany dining and main salons an on deck head, galley and a fantail lounge. Her spacious teak decks allow unique opportunities for wildlife viewing and fishing.
Length on deck 87', Width 18'6", Draft 8'6", Cruising speed 8-12 Knots, Range 1200 miles, Water 600 gallons with a 600 gallon per day water maker.

Alaska Yacht Charters

Summer Wind  88' 1940 Astoria Shipyard
H.C. Hanson design

Summer Wind was designed for the U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey, to be large enough and self sufficient at sea for up to 6 months with a crew of 3 officers and 14 sailors and surveyors, yet small and maneuverable enough to enter small uncharted bays. 

Originally christened the E. Lester Jones, she spent her summers from 1940 through 1971, April through October, surveying and charting Alaska waters, and each winter at the NOAA dock on Lake Union.

The engines are still the original Cooper-Bessemer EN-6's.  These are air-start, direct-reversing straight 6 diesels.  They cruise at 400 RPM and idle at 150.  Each engine weighs approximately 12,000 pounds.  Fuel consumption is less than 6 gph per engine at 9 knots.

Summer Wind Home Page


Olympus  92' 1929 New York Launch & Engine Co.

Originally christened the Junaluska, she spent the early years of her life cruising the inland waters on the East Coast. Cruising the Potomac River, she carried politicians and Washington VIP’s.

A sizeable yacht, which had proved to be one of the most controversial vessels to cruise the waters of Puget Sound in many years, was disposed of in 1949. The diesel yacht Olympus, purchased shortly after the war by the State of Washington as a fisheries patrol boat had been used by the former governor, Mon C. Wallgren, to entertain visiting dignitaries, including President Harry S. Truman. Gubernatorial aspirant Arthur B. Langlie had made this a major campaign issue, and the luxury vessel was generally referred to as the governor's yacht. During the summer the vessel was disposed of at auction to private owners at about a third of her appraised value. [Gordon Newell, Maritime Events of 1923, H.M. McCurdy Marine History of the Pacific Northwest, p. 564.]

The Elegant Olympus webpage

(Above photo taken from Argosy, August 1997)

Blue Peter  96' x 18.3'  1928  Lake Union Drydock
Ted Geary design

The 96 -foot ocean diesel yacht Blue Peter, built at Seattle in 1928 for John Graham of that city, was sold by him to George L. Machris of Los Angeles, head of the Economy Oil Co., the sale being made and the vessel delivered to the new owner at Los Angeles by L. E. Geary. [Gordon Newell, Maritime Events of 1934, H. W. McCurdy Marine History of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle Superior Publishing Company, 1966., p. 430.]

Original engines: Twin 175hp Hall-Scott gasoline

Geary-96 Sisters  |  Another view  &  lines

Principia  96' x 18.3'  1928 Lake Union Drydock
Ted Geary design
Originally built for L. A. Macomber.
Length overall - 96 Feet;  Beam - 18 Feet 6 Inches; Draft - 8 Feet
Gross Tons - 135 Tons; Net Tonnage - 95.3 Tons
Maximum Speed - 12 Knots; Cruising Speed - 10.5 Knots
Crusing Range - 1,200 Nautical Miles
Fuel Capacity - 3,800 Gallons; Water Capacity - 2,000 Gallons
Single Screw 240hp Atlas Imperial

Norwalk Yacht Charters  | Geary-96 Sisters | More pics:  1  2
A gorgeous model by Fred P. Smith:   1   2

Canim  96' x 18.3'   1930  Lake Union Drydock
Ted Geary design

Built in 1930, Canim was an immediate head turner. She was one of four 96 footers built by Lake Union Drydock to an L.E. (Ted) Geary design. Geary was already a seasoned Naval Architect when he was commissioned to draw Canim (meaning Big Canoe) for Seattle Times publisher, Col. C. B. Blethen. Blethen wanted to go yachting in style and Geary's design would be the toast of the Seattle Yacht Club. 
Original power: twin 150hp Washington diesels.

Geary-96 Sisters


Electra  96' x 18.3'   1930  Lake Union Drydock
Ted Geary design

Built by A. W. Leonard, the President of Puget Sound Power and Light of Seattle, "Electra" (meaning "shining one" in Greek) was given to Leonard's wife as a Valentine's Day present. Since then, this graceful motorized yacht has led a romantic, colorful life - from sailing the world as a private yacht to making her television debut on Melrose Place.

Original power: twin 150hp Washington diesels

Electra Cruises  |  Geary-96 Sisters

Valiant  A modern classic...  97' 2001  Midship Marine, Harvey, LA

Valiant was launched on May 25, 2001 in Harvey, Louisiana.  Her design was inspired by the elegant yachts of the twenties, yachting’s “golden era.”  She is similar to the lovely yachts of L.E. ‘Ted’ Geary, a noted west coast naval architect of the period.  Her wood paneled salon and bar brings to mind some of the finest club and yacht interiors from those times.

Length Overall: 97'  Breadth: 20'; Construction:  Aluminum
Coast Guard Certified: 80 passengers

Valiant Charters, Mystic, CT.


Malibu  100' x 19.6'   1926   Blanchard Boat Co.
Ted Geary design
Engines Twin Cummins Diesels

Note: Per prior owner, Malibu is 107'-3" overall. 

Pacific Motor Boat Feb. 1926 | Pacific Motor Boat Sept. 1926 | 
Article about 2002 Repairs

Sobre Las Olas  105' 1929
Designed & built by: Wilmington Boat Works, California

"Sobre Los Olas" was built in Wilmington, California. Built with an unlimited budget, the craftsmanship reflects an era long past. Two of her famous owners were J. Paul Getty and William Randolph Hearst. Over the years she has undergone renovations and was in charter between Seattle, WA and Alaska. At present she is one of the largest antique classics on the West Coast. 

Length: 105' LOA. Beam: 22'. Draft: 8'. Speed: 8-10 knots. Range: 5000 miles. Water: 2,700 gallons. Fuel: 5000 gallons. Motors: Atlas diesel air-start, direct drive. Range: 5000 miles.

(Photo taken from Argosy in August 1997, lying in Nanaimo, BC.) 

Cora Marie  107' x 22'  1929  Vancouver Shipyard
Ted Geary design

When she was launched, Cora Marie was considered one of the finest vessels built in Coal Harbour (Vancouver, Canada.)  Her original owner, William C. Shelley, of Vancouver, sold her to an American, Paul F. Johnson during the Depression, who reportedly sailed her as far as the South Pacific.  During WWII she was used by the Navy to patrol the entrance to San Francisco Bay. (Then names Seyelyn.) She returned to Canada in 1951, and for a time served as a passenger and mail carrier on the Kitmat-Kemano run.

Cora Marie is constructed with a solid Burma Teak hull. She is powered with twin 240hp 6-110 Detroit diesels.   Accommodations include three double staterooms, two with ensuite heads and cast iron bathtubs, and five single cabins with bunks.  The main deck features a full dining room. galley, main saloon with fireplace, and aft deck with wet bas and washroom.  The upper deck consists of a large wheelhouse. washroom, large boat deck, and command bridge.

107' x 22' x 9' draft
3200 g. Fuel; 1000 g. freshwater
9 knots max, 8 knots cruise
Displacement:  290,000 lbs.

(Photo by Jeff Wolff < in May 2003 on Lake Union)

Thea Foss  120' x 21.5'  1930  Craig Shipbuilding
Long Beach, CA; Ted Geary design

Built as the yacht Infanta for actor John Barrymore (Sr. -- Drew's grandfather.). Yacht designer Ted Geary; designer of some of Puget Sound's most elegant vessels remembered, The Marine Digest. May 31, 1986, p. 11+.

The Thea Foss was built as the yacht Infanta in 1930 by the Craig Shipbuilding Company of Long Beach, California. She was 120 feet in length with a beam of 21 feet and six inches. The Infanta spent World War II serving the U.S. Navy as the patrol vessel Amber. Foss purchased the THEA in 1950 from a group of geological scientists who had bought the boat from the government after World War II and used the vessel for private surveys off the coast of lower California. The group did not change the boat's name, AMBER, nor did they after the boat's appearance or fixtures from when the navy used her as a patrol boat during the war. So it was up to Foss to convert the boat to a yacht. The Foss-Tacoma shipyard made the transformation and brought the boat back to her former quality. [Michael Skalley, The Thea Foss, Foss, ninety years of towboating. Seattle: Superior, 1981, p. 169.]

Engines: Twin 225hp Atlas Diesels; steel construction (originally riveted.)

Mariner III  122' x 19.1'  1926  Winslow Marine Rail & Shipbuilding Co. (Winslow, WA) 
Ted Geary design

Mariner III was built in 1926 for Captain James Griffiths of Griffiths Steamship Company. This classic 122' fantail motor yacht, was designed by Ted Geary. Traveling to China to select the lumber for her construction, Captain Griffiths chose 3" teak planking for the hull and very strong wood, called yacal, for framing. Originally named "SueJa III," Captain Griffiths used the yacht to travel up and down the West Coast.

Among his travels on SueJa III Captain Griffiths visited many parts of California. It was in these waters where the actor John Barrymore made his way on board and demanded to see the owner. Barrymore insisted on purchasing the vessel! Captain Griffiths, poking his finger into the tall actor's chest, said, "This yacht is not for sale at any amount!" Barrymore, however, did not leave empty-handed. Captain Griffiths introduced Barrymore to Ted Geary who designed a sister ship for the actor. It was the least Griffiths could do for a man who had exquisite taste in boats! Barrymore named his yacht "Infanta" and gave it to his wife for her birthday. It was 120' in length and cost, in those days, $225,000 to build.

Captain Griffiths used SueJa III for private use up until World War II when the Army commandeered her for wartime service. They ballasted down and set her out on patrol, mainly in the Aleutian Islands. After the war effort, the Army returned SueJa III to her owners. By that time Captain Griffiths had died a natural death. Without her proud owner to command the helm, SueJa III was placed into the custody of Arthur Ayers (Captain Griffiths stepson). Mr. Ayers used the vessel to initiate a charter service. He sent the yacht on many charters in Alaska where she did quite well commercially.

Northwind  122' x 22'  1930 

Currently finishing a 2.5 year restoration, Northwind will be available for charter in the Summer of 2005.

Acania  126' x 21.5'   1929  J.H. Wells design
Builder: Pusey & Jones, Wilmington, DE

ACANIA, designed by J.H. Wells as a luxury diesel yacht, was launched in 1929. Her outfitting reflects the opulence of the 1920's. In 1931 ACANIA became the private yacht of movie actress Constance Bennett. The yacht was taken over by the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II. After the war, ACANIA was used by the Stanford Research Institute for upper-atmospheric research in the Central Pacific until 1971. She was then transferred to the U.S. Navy and operated as an oceanographic research vessel by the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.

Acania is of steel construction
LOA: 126'  Beam: 21'6  Draft: 9'3; Displacement: 247 tons  Engines: Twin diesel GM 6-110 280-hp  
Cruising Speed: 10 knots; Max Speed: 11 knots; Fuel: 12500g  Water: 2700g

Some photos from her R.V. days.

Caritas   1925 Cox & Stevens

LOA: 156'-9"  Beam: 25'-6"  Draft: 10'; Gross Tons: 480   Built: Krupps, Germany

Originally built for a New York Millionaire, Caritas was bought and commissioned by the U. S. Navy as the U. S. S. Garnet during World War II. Her conversion for navy use took place in 1941, when a yacht builder named Robert Jacob, of City Island, New York, did the work of refitting and reconstruction. She then sailed thru the Panama Canal to be stationed at Hawaii where she served as a messenger and weather ship with a crew of 75. Her regular patrol was an area north of Hawaii called Johnson.

The Navy surplussed her in 1946 and her engines were removed and sold for use in another craft.  She was bought in Oakland and towed to Eureka, where she was tied up to Hammond Lumber Co. dock 'til the weather and tides were right to bring her to the banks of the Smith River (now the site of Ship Ashore motel) where for 15 years she served as a restaurant, cocktail lounge, gift and tackle shop, motel office and museum. Over the years she became the community's most prominent landmark, where she is affectionately known as "The Ship."

In the spring of 1965 she took another overland journey from the riverbank to a new location beside Highway 101, where now she not only serves as the landmark for travelers turning into the resort area, but boasts an enlarged museum consisting of local historic artifacts, one of the west coast's largest shell collections, rocks and minerals, natural history and the famous pirates and gift shop.

Argosy & Summer Wind in Liberty Bay 2001