Prominent California boatyard to change hands

Sunsail At Svendsens

An Alameda, California boatyard has agreed to buy Svendsen’s Boat Works, which opened more than 50 years ago and is an institution in the San Francisco-area sailing community. 

Bill Elliott, president of Alameda-based Bay Ship & Yacht, confirmed in early December that his firm is buying Svendsen’s. 

“Our intent is to keep it operating as it has been with the same people providing the same services,” he said in a phone interview. “We also operate a boatyard in Richmond, another town to the north, and we are very familiar with the boatyard business.”

Svendsen’s is a full-service boat yard with on-site rig shop and metal works. It also has a bustling wholesale business that Elliott said competes against West Marine and other major suppliers. 

Longtime Svendsen’s boatyard and wholesale customers shouldn’t notice any changes under new ownership. “It will be just as before,” he said. 

Svend Svendsen founded his namesake boatyard in 1963 with his wife, Suzanne. They moved the business to the Alameda Marina in 1966, where it has remained ever since, according to the company website. Svendsen died in 2013 at age 81. 

“For fifty years, and up to his passing, Svend worked side-by-side with his employees, growing it from a one man shop into to one of the largest and preeminent boat repair and supply businesses on the West Coast,” according to the company website. “Svend took risks during his illustrious maritime career and constructed many sailboats, including the first Nordic Folkboat made of fiberglass.”

Elliott did not disclose the sale price but characterized it as a “good deal for both parties. He said the transaction is set to close early next month.

Bay Ship & Yacht was founded in 1977 with an initial focus on construction and repair of wooden ships. The yard now specializes in light fabrication and repair for military vessels, ferries, workboats and yachts, among other services. 

By Ocean Navigator