Philbrook's Boatyard Ltd.

No Job Too Complex or Too Small

Philbrook's Boatyard History

After World War II, when Victoria, British Columbia, was still sleepy, Eric Philbrook and Ernie Butler set up shop along one of the waterside back streets. They built cabinets, but made most of their money fashioning Venetian blinds out of wood.

Ernie Butler retired early on a fortune from house construction. Eric Philbrook worked long, hard days almost to the end of his life. He struggled almost every day to keep some sort of a financial balance.

Eric Philbrook got the boat "bug" back in 1947 when he built the 31' Bonnie Lou. The Bonnie Lou is reputed to have been one of the first Northwest boats constructed with a wedge seam bottom. Throughout the 1950's, Eric and his growing crew repaired and built boats, primarily fish boats and other commercial craft. Then, in 1959, the Van Isle Marina up in Sidney, British Columbia, invited Eric to move his operations north as an extension of their business. The big score, however, was a contract with the British Columbia Department of Fisheries to construct several 65-foot patrol boats.

Fast Passage 39 boat plans

"The 39 enjoyed a ten-year production run totaling some 40 boats in the 1970's and 1980's. Most were built at Philbrook's Shipyard in Sidney, British Columbia."

In 1971 they decided it was a good time to sell. They did, to two entrepreneurs, Donald Dobie and Bill Fryer, who had big plans and needed a functioning yard to carry them out. One of the new owners' first projects was the tooling for a production sailboat. The 39' Garden-designed Fast Passage. The yard built about 36 of the handsome Fast Passages before selling the mold to Tolleycraft in the late 1970's.

Ted Hopkins may have sensed that the boom years were about to close down. He offered the yard for sale in 1987 and it caught the eye of a father-son-team from Toronto looking for a marine investment. Hal Irwin and son, Drew, bought Philbrook's because it had a fine reputation and had the potential for new directions.

Fine woodworking is one of the greatest strengths of the Philbrook yard. We are a full-service yard, skilled at everything from electronics to prop alignment, but their real distinguishing ability is their skill with interior wood. Philbrook's Boatyard remains a reliable wood-working island in an expanding sea of epoxy and glass. There is every reason to believe that the Philbrook's yard will continue on another 50 years as one of the best custom shops in the Northwest.

 
Photo and quote courtesy of Fast Passage 39 Feature Article on boats.com by Quentin Warren