Insight: Building boats with Delta Marine

Written by Gemma Fottles

Seattle based superyacht builder Delta Marine has been in business for nearly 50 years, established by brothers Ivor and Jack Jones in 1967 to build fibreglass commercial fishing vessels for the demanding waters of the Pacific Northwest. Ivor and Jack saw an opportunity to replace an aging fleet of wooden boats with modern, low-maintenance fibreglass vessels. Over the next 25 years, the shipyard earned a reputation for building seaworthy, reliable boats that held their value. From 1967 to 1992, Delta delivered over 800 commercial vessels, including seiners, gill netters, pilot boats, and charter boats. The Delta 58’ is still the benchmark against which Alaskan seiners are judged, and Delta’s repair yard maintains its commitment to servicing this large and active fleet.

Fast forward, and today Delta Marine is one of the most successful shipbuilders in the States, pioneering the use of composite superstructures on steel and aluminium hulled yachts. And the best thing? It’s still run by the same two passionate brothers that fell into the business over a half a century ago.

In fact, Delta Marine’s family orientation extends further than just the owners and founders at the helm, with Ivor Jones’ daughter Michelle appointed as Marketing Manager for the company, her sister Trisha working in accounting and Jack Jones’ son, Chris, in production. Speaking to Michelle, it’s clear that she is just as enthusiastic about the company and industry as she is proud of her family roots. Retelling the story of two brothers who started the brand, she enthusiastically told SYT, “It’s truly a pretty cool story from where it started in the 60s to where it is now.”

Family owned and operated, Delta has a workforce of more than 350 skilled craftsman and artisans of all the marine trades. They have a high retention rate with many loyal employees and second generation family members joining the force. Delta builds all components of the yacht in-house. Michelle explains, “From fine carpentry to mechanical and electrical installation and to the highest paint standards in the world, all work is completed here on-site where we can manage and deliver the high-quality yacht construction we promise.”

One of Delta’s expertises lies in composite construction. The majority of their yachts have been constructed with a composite hull and superstructure, with their first metal work being introduced in the early 2000s. Since then, a total of six vessels have been constructed by the yard using metal. Michelle says, “Our first steel hull was Laurel in 2006. One of our key advantages is being able to work with all materials, and also that we build entirely composite superstructures on our metal hulls. This allows us to be more innovative; less restricted by history and find unconventional solutions, lightweight, creative forms that are more progressive in design and utility.”

One thing that is clear with Delta Marine is that they are good at knowing what they’re good at, not only with composite boat building, but also within the range they focus. “Delta is currently very busy, with a healthy order book, and our projects continue to grow in length and complexity. We have seen a great deal of activity in the 55 to 75 metre range, an area that fits Delta quite well and one that we will continue to focus on.”

As for the future, it looks like Delta will be sticking to what they’re good at; but as Michelle concludes, you can never be too sure what the future holds. She concludes, “I don’t see us doing a vessel over 3,000 GT, right now, but never say never. The company in a short amount of time has evolved relatively quickly, so who knows where we can bein ten yearsfrom now. I think that’s one of the greatest things about Delta. We are always in the process of evolving, but we remain true to our core values and mission, and that is to build high-quality custom yachts in the most efficient manner. ”

The full article with Delta Marine is featured in the latest issue of the SuperYacht Times newspaper. Subscriptions are available here.


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