You may not know from a simple or even a lingering glance, but the sleepy town of Oconto, Wisconsin, has produced one of the largest manufacturers of high-quality yachts worldwide. Oconto has less than 5,000 residents, and is certainly different from better-known, more sophisticated locales, including the Riviera or the Bahamas. However, it is an environment that allowed the dream of building boats to grow within one man, and to catch on within his family.
The unique history of Cruisers Yachts stems from an event 60 years before the company was founded, in the 1890s, when the Racine Boat Company hired Peter Thompson as a boatbuilder. This employment led Peter and his siblings to found the Peshtigo, Wisconsin-based, Thompson Brothers Boat Manufacturing. Their children shared their interests in entrepreneurship and in vessels, and they began their own company, the Thompson Boat Mart in Woodruff. They sold that in 1953 to focus on the older family business. Launching Cruisers Inc. was the next step, and it came about because the younger Thompsons seized an opportunity provided by a strike at the Peshtigo operation that summer.
After founding Cruisers, the Thompsons distributed the company’s first catalog in 1956. It included wood lapstrake outboard cabin cruisers; in the following decade, they moved from lumber to fiberglass. In 1993, KCS International, Inc. purchased the assets of Cruisers Inc. and changed the name to Cruisers Yachts. Cruisers has since moved into a 350,000-square-foot facility, where they build 56-foot yachts.
In the following pages, we examine four Cruisers Yachts models, including the 390 Sports Coupe, the 447 Sport Sedan, the 520 Sports Coupe and the 560 Express. They are examples of the progress that Cruisers Yachts has made, and the path that it continues on today.
390 Sports Coupe
The 390 Sports Coupe has an innovative cockpit including a fiberglass hardtop with full glass enclosure. Available air conditioning and reverse-cycle heating allow for an extended boating season. For easy foredeck access, the coupe features a convenient walk-through windshield, and a large, opening sunroof that can provide natural ventilation for the cockpit.
The cockpit has an adjustable helm seat with flip-up bolster, and double-companion seat that converts into a cocktail/dinette area. Additional seating is provided in the aft cockpit with abundant storage below. The vessel contains a standard wet bar, a 15.4-inch LCD flip-down TV with a DVD player, additional speakers, a cockpit shower, hydraulic steering and windshield wipers.
The 360 has an electric hatch to access the engines and transom-located shore power, dockside water and phone/TV hookups. It is available with a wide variety of gas or diesel V-drive engines, or with Volvo Penta’s IPS System.
The interior floor plan includes a separate shower stall and a private forward master stateroom.
There are six vertical opening port lights, a standard Sirius-adaptable stereo with a CD player, a 20-inch LCD flat screen TV and a DVD player.
The galley come equipped with either a standard two-burner electric stove or a microwave oven, a full upright refrigerator/freezer, a coffeemaker and a solid surface countertop.
The master stateroom features a queen-size island berth with a foam mattress, a bow hatch with screen, cedar-lined clothes lockers and opening port holes.
447 Sport Sedan
The 447 Sport Sedan showcases 360-degree visibility from the salon and galley areas thanks to numerous multi-level windows. The aft stateroom below has six vertical portholes for cross-ventilation, natural light and superb visibility.
The yacht features a full skiff windshield for the ultimate weather protection and a dash layout for advanced electronics.