Well, not exactly. But what would a 2012 Uniflite be like? The family journey from Uniflite to Norstar has been one filled with determination, conviction and passion for world class quality boats.
In 2012 I started looking into the overall history of Uniflite when I purchased a 1964 29’ Uniflite Express Cruiser, affectionately referred to as the Fun Tide Too. While I knew that Uniflite built boats in Bellingham, the details were all very fuzzy to me.
The Nordtvedt Legacy
The Nordtvedt family is a permanent fixture in the Northwest boating community. Art Nordtvedt founded United Boat Builders in 1957 and Uniflite was born. Quality craftsmanship and seaworthiness were the main ingredients used to design and manufacturer every Uniflite and for the first 20 years or so they had built a bullet proof reputation.
Then there was the infamous blister problem. A combination of a fire retardant resin that was introduced in the late 60’s followed by a change in the fiberglass binding agent in the fall of 1973 were the culprits in this disaster. The earliest boats to have a problem were laid-up in October 1973.
As soon as the cause was identified the use of the faulty ingredients was discontinued, but it was too late. The Uniflite name was tarnished and the reputation shattered. The company faltered for the next several years and then in 1984 Chris Craft purchased Uniflite for its production capability.
Over the years Uniflite boats were heralded by the military, fisherman and pleasure boaters alike. From 1957 to 1984 an estimated 11,000 Uniflite boats were built in the Bellingham area. The boats of the 60’s and early 70’s are still coveted in the boating community to this day.
The world famous Nordic 44 and Nordic 40 sailing yachts were produced starting in 1980. Nordic Yachts then began building world class motor yachts ranging in size from 48 to 54 feet in the mid 1980’s along with Nordic 34 and Nordic 46-foot pilothouse sailboats until 1991. It’s no coincidence that in that same year (1991) the Federal Government introduced the luxury tax on yacht sales that year and almost completely eliminated the yacht building business in America, Nordic Yachts was one of the casualties.
On to Norstar
From 1969 to 1984 Art’s younger son, Gary Nordtvedt, was a commercial fisherman. He bought his own boat in 1975 and fished everywhere from Puget Sound to San Francisco, from Bellingham to Dutch Harbor, Alaska. It was a way to make a living, but not his real passion. In the early 1990’s Gary decided he needed to follow that passion, designing and building boats.
In 1994 Gary designed an all-new 30’ cruiser and Norstar Yachts was born. Art and Gary started tooling to make the first Norstar 300. It sold immediately and with the owner’s permission they took it to the Seattle Boat Show to let the rest of the world see the latest Nordtvedt family creation. In 2004 the Norstar 360 was introduced. Diesel fuel was approaching $5.00 per gallon at the time creating a demand for sail boats. The molds for the old Nordic 40 and Nordic 44 sailing yachts were acquired and in 2009 Norstar re-introduced them as the Norstar 40 and Norstar 44 sailing yachts.
2012 and Beyond
The Norstar 300 and Norstar 360 are available in either a pilot-house configuration or a fly bridge, if a sailboat is in your future, you can order a brand new Norstar 40 or Norstar 44. The current Norstar manufacturing plant is even on the same piece of land where the United Boat Builders started building Uniflite’s back in 1958.