Tollycraft Yachts 70th Anniversary

In 1952 Robert Merland Tollefson began Tollycraft Yachts with eight employees. Seventy years later, we celebrate the Tollycraft platinum anniversary, with “70 for 70”.

Over the course of 70 days, we’ll share a series of photos that honour the history, the boats, the people who love them and of course Tolly.

Day 41 – 1993

6th Rendezvous Location: Elliot Bay, WA

Day 40 – 1992

5th Rendezvous Location: Poulsbo, WA

Day 39 – 1991

In 1991, Tolly took delivery of his final yacht, “Tolly”, the now famous beautiful blue hull 48-foot Tollycraft Yacht. 
That same year, he moved into his home in Port Ludlow and moored his vessel at Port Ludlow Marina. 
For the next ten years, he cruised from Olympia to the San Juan Islands in Washington State and all points in between to the spectacular waters of Canada and the Canadian Gulf Islands, Desolation Sound, Princess Louise Inlet and one season taking a cruise to Alaska.

He attended nearly all of the Tollycraft Boating Club Rendezvous in Puget Sound and the Canadian Tollycruisers Rendezvous in Canada into his 90s until travel became too strenuous. He averaged over 200 engine hours on “Tolly” each year cruising and meeting old and new friends.
4th Rendezvous Location: Port Ludlow, WA

Day 38 – 1990

3rd Rendezvous Location: Port Ludlow, WA

Day 37 – 1989

2nd Rendezvous Location: Port Ludlow, WA

Day 36 – 1988

Tolly bought a condominium in Edmonds. His retirement allowed him to spend time enjoying his love of drawing and cruising the waters of the Pacific Northwest and Canada.
Also in 1988, the first Rendezvous of what would become the Tollycraft Boating Club took place in Port Ludlow.
In the following years, the rendezvous grew with 37 boats and 76 people and then 68 boats and 121 people attending. To continue this growth and interest in Tollycraft events, newsletters and rosters were introduced. Many friendships were made and Tollycraft owners looked forward to each year’s rendezvous.
1st Rendezvous Location:

Day 35 – 1987

Mr. Tollefson sold the Tollycraft Company and retired from the business, although he remained in the marine industry as Chairman Emeritus of Tollycraft. At that time, Tollycraft Yachts had 22 staff officers, employed over 260 individuals and was the largest employer in Kelso, Washington.
Tollycraft Yachts, then a public company, was taken private and merged through a leveraged buyout into Olympic Equities, Inc. Thereafter, Olympic Equities, Inc. changed its name to Tollycraft Yachts Corporation. As with many leveraged buyouts of the 1980s, the transaction was ill fated and threatened the long-term financial stability of the company.
Also in 1987, our Tollyclub history began when Tollycraft owners Pam and Dave Ellard contacted several other Tollycraft boat owners to attend a “rendezvous” at Port Ludlow, Washington. Thirteen people and five Tollys attended this inaugural Tollycraft event. Later that year, Dave visited the local Tollycraft dealer, Jerry Schei of Western Yacht Sales, to plan the first Tollycraft Rendezvous for 1988.

Day 34 – 1986

Day 33 – 1985

Day 32 – 1984

Day 31 – 1983

Day 30 – 1982

Day 29 – 1981

Day 28 – 1980

Day 27 – 1979

Day 26 – 1978

Day 25 – 1977

Day 24 – 1976

Day 23 – 1975

Day 22 – 1974

Day 21 – 1973

Day 20 – 1972

Day 19 – 1971

Day 18 – 1970

The last wooden hull boat was built. The very successful 34′ Sedan was the first “keel up” fiberglass design, which sold 194 units in 11 years, and set the Tollycraft design trend for the 1970s.

Day 17 – 1969

Day 16 – 1968

Day 15 – 1967

Day 14 – 1966

Day 13 – 1965

Day 12 – 1964

Day 11 – 1963

Day 10 – 1962

Day 9 – 1961

Day 8: 1960

Day 7: 1959

Day 6: 1958

Tollycraft Yachts Ad 1958 Tollycraft Yachts 1958

Day 5: 1957

Tollycraft 1957Tollycraft 1957

Day 4: 1956

Tollycraft 1956

Day 3: 1955

1955 Tollycraft Ad 

The assets of the sole proprietorship boat manufacturing operations were transferred to Central Lumber Company, Mr. Tollefson’s wholly owned company; concurrently the name changed to Tollycraft Corporation.

Day 2: 1946-1954

Tollycraft 1954

In 1946, Tolly purchased a Central Lumberyard and Millwork plant and operated it until 1952 when a raging fire destroyed the plant. That same year he began Tollycraft Yachts with eight employees. The company soon narrowed its business scope to boat manufacturing.

Day 1: 1911-1946

Robert Merland Tollefson

There is no other place to begin but with the man who started it all – RM “Tolly” Tollefson.

R.M. Tollefson was born in Stites, Idaho on January 24, 1911. His parents Theo and Mae Decker raised him on their farm.

In 1919, when Tolly was 8 years old, the family moved to Portland, Oregon. After high school, Tolly attended the University of Oregon where he studied architecture for two years.
When he was 22, he moved to Kelso, Washington were he worked in Real Estate and Insurance.

Tolly joined the United States Coast Guard in 1941 to serve in World War II. As a Lieutenant, he had many adventures including a tour of duty to the South Pacific as captain of a 150-foot salvage/rescue tugboat for 18 months.