It occured to me that if we wanted to learn about Victoria Yachts, and since we had very little to go on, we would have to take a different approach at getting the information to build on the history of the Vic.. We have some sketchy background, and some well documented history previous to the DeBary activity while the McVay's were still in Canada or Nova Scotia.
In order to expand on what we know occured, we might take a "logical" approach and lay out what might have occured during the McVay's design process in Canada during the 40's, 50's and 60's, then continue into the 70's, and finally the production and final closing of The Sailboat Works, and Victoria Yachts in the 80's. Once we have a fairly logical layout of a possible history, we can update, and verify certain aspects of the "suggested" history via other sources that review and either verify or prove otherwise that the suggested historical accounting is in error.
When a portion is proved in error, this will in fact "make" or "break" other "guessed" historical events and time frames. In time, with input from folks that may have some knowledge of the Vic history, we can either prove or disprove, the following suggested time line, and correct or change any events to actual occuring events.
True forebearer to the McVay and Victoria production models we sail today. It begat the Bluenose one design boats, and later the Bluenose fibreglass One Designs built by George McVay.
"The historic Bluenose One Design came from the board of the late W. J. Roue, NA., designer of the famous champion fishing schooner the BLUENOSE, as well as that other one design favorite the ROUE 20."
The hull design was further simplified and copied to the much smaller Minuet, the Victoria 18, the Victoria 26, and finally the Victoria 17.
Please remember, much of the early Bluenose history can be validated through the clubs in and around Halifax, and Nova Scotia.
We have laid out the history in the following order;
1940's The Bluenose Sloop is Designed by Club in Halifax
1950's Bill's Father George McVay Designs and builds Fibreglass Bluenose's
1960's George's Son Bill takes on the Minuet and Designs The Vic 18
1970's (Early) Bill McVay Looks for a way to the U.S. Market
1970's (Late) Production!
1980's Production and Marketing
1981 Let the Good Times Roll
1982 the beginning of the end for the Victoria 18
It looks as though their is quite a history behind the Vic after all. Seems she comes from a long line of sailing sloops from the Grand Banks off of Nova Scotia! Now that's History. The Vic's forbearers were the Bluenose sloops.
The 1940's The Bluenose Sloop is Designed by Club in Halifax Nova Scotia
"The Bluenose sloop design was commissioned in 1945 by a group of yachtsmen, members of the Armdale Yacht Club in Halifax. They wanted not only a lively racer, but also a boat in which one could take family and friends day sailing in comfort and safety. The Bluenose continues to meet those requirements with the greatest success. A racing crew of three can handle her in the heaviest air conditions with control and balance, while six adults can enjoy a pleasant afternoon sail around the harbor. She is stiff and forgiving in heavy weather yet fast and responsive in light air. It is for those reasons the Bluenose fleet is one of the largest keel boat racing classes in Nova Scotia."
The 1950's Bill's Father George McVay Designs and builds Fibreglass Bluenose's
"In the 1950's, George McVay began building fiberglass Bluenose's as demand increased for a low maintenance alternative to the wooden sloop. Over 100 were constructed before the molds were sold and production moved to Ontario."
George and Bill together worked on their next design, the Minuet. The Minuet was produced in the early 70's, with designs possibly going back to the 60's. The Minuet is a full keel replica of the Victoria 18, and is a fast boat. Having personally seen and photographed a Minuet, I can vouch for it's authenticity to the Design of the Vic 18. She is in every aspect of the Hull, a Vic 18 except for the FULL KEEL vs the Shoal Keel of the Vic, and the deletion of the cabin.
Although the Minuet has no Cabin, nor Cuddy, it does have a stuff area for sails and such that does not extend below the main foredeck. I wondered what was in that area under the foredeck, because there was no access to it from the cockpit area.
The 1960's George's Son Bill takes on the Minuet and begins the Design of The Victoria 18
The Production of the Bluenose One Design Sloop/Minuet designs moved to Ontario in the 1950's. From this point, to the 1977 introduction of the Victoria 18 in DeBary is a bit cloudy. At sometime during the 50's to 60's George McVay's son, G. William, picked up the talents of his father, and continued the development of the Minuet, and then moved on to design the Victoria 18.
For some reason, the Minuet began to decline as a way for Bill to produce enough income for design work to continue on the Victoria 18, and make a profit. The market may have been saturated, or, based on what I have seen of the rigging afforded on the Minuet, the quality wasn't good enough for the sailing clubs, and sailors of Nova Scotia. Bill probably didn't have the cash to start producing a high quality Minuet, and if he did, he would loose the resources for the new Victoria design he was working on. I think he decided he needed to get the Vic 18 out of Halifax, and into the US where he could open up in a Market that could support thousands of his boats, and he could then continue to refine them with the profits of the sales. He needed someone with the resources to manufacture his boat, and still allow him the ability to manage and improve the design.
The 1970's Bill McVay Looks for a way to the U.S. Market
I wonder, If Bill McVay wanted to keep the Vic as a Canadian manufactured boat. Is it possible that due to the "failure" of the Minuet to take off in Canada, Bill decided to take on bigger Fish and accept an offer from The Sailboat Works of DeBary, to manufacture the Vic 18 in Florida. There would be a much greater chance of it's success in the US market, and whatever deal was struck with Bill McVay and The Sailboat Works must have suited Bill, because the deal was struck.
The Deal with Bill McVay and the Sailboat Works to Manufacture the Victoria 18 must have been set up between 1975 and 1976, with a company being formed to protect both of their independent organizations. That company would have been Victoria Yachts. Where the president may have been the owner or designated operator of Sailboat Works, and the Vice president may have been William McVay (or his appointed).
You can understand why Bill McVay, with his resources, probably including the original molds of the Victoria and the Minuette, and his design and specifications for the Victoria 18 would not want to just say "Here is my design, make it and give me 20%".
Bill knew that his name was riding on the overall performance of the boat in every aspect. He was a designer, and he and his father George had both put their lives into their Designs, culminating in the Victoria 18. That's why he may have taken an active role in the manufacture and production. Besides, for some reason, he had already failed in Nova Scotia with the Minuet, and he did not want to have the future of the Victoria left in someone else's hands. If it were going to fail, it would be at his own hands.
Late 1970's Production!
Working backwards from the first unit sold
via a dealer in June of 1977, we can attempt to reconstruct the
history of the beginning of production of the Victoria.
You might guess that it would have taken maybe 6 months to ramp up for production. That would place us at January of '77. Production probably began in 1976. They probably put together a few boats without the whole production system in place to verify all the specs, the requirements necessary for producing a specified number of units per month, and set up a layout of the production floor.
The pre-production units would have been built and tested in varying conditions, and various rigging and hardware options decided upon. Production teams, Marketing personnel, and other support personnel were designated and brought on board.
It's possible that the first units produced, 5 - 10 or so may have been Demonstrator units that may have been sent to various parts of the country to "larger" Dealers as promotional aids. Maybe they were free, maybe they were discounted heavily to get them out there in the public eye.
In any case, they were most likely PRE-Production models that may or may not have been what the final 1977 design would become. They had to test the production system, and any problems with the design that could not be duplicated through the available technology and production process in the DeBary facility would have had to be changed. Remove a curve here, add a bracket or brace there because the roving may not be able to be laid correctly due to some other structural requirement. Materials may have changed, and the number of layers of roving may have been less or more in the PRE production models. They would have probably experimented with different materials or products to get the best fit for the available technology, and production methods.
I don't think they used high-tech stuff, but they did need high quality and dependable devices for measurement, and they needed to be within certain specs on each Vic produced. Some of the most important would be templates. They needed templates for locating and drilling mounting holes, and installing braces and support members before glassing into place. They needed templates for drilling mounting holes for every piece of equipment mounted to the hull and deck. Each template had to be flexible enough to maintain the design specifications even though the hull or deck may be off by 1/2" or more due to shrinkage, humidity, and human error.
After the PRE-production units were completed and again tested, the boats were put out on display. They were probably put in shows in early Jan, Feb, and March of 1977.
In this time frame, after initial showings and probably mass mailings to dealers across the southeast and eastern US, the orders began to arrive. Production was qued up, and within a week or so, the first unit had run through the line. Additional units popped out of the doors of 203 Benson Junction Rd in DeBary every fourth day, filling the orders as quickly as they could.
The first official unit had the number VYN77111177 molded into it's hull. Do you think all the folks signed the first production Vic in the hull somewhere? Do you think there was anything special done to the first Vic produced? Wouldn't it be neat to find out?
1980's Production and Marketing
From 1977 to 1981 was standard production, with some changes in various design such as the shape of the companionway/Hatch area, and the Stern, and the trapezoid ports. During the total span of production Victoria Yachts and the Sailboat Works probably produced and sold something like this;
1977- 70 Units
That is about 650 units total. The Forum has
records of about 450 units sold and warranted, and that is up
to mid 1982. If you add about 50-100 more units that may have
been sold, but not had the warranty information recorded, you
have about 700 or so units sold. It is floating around that their
were about 1000 units manufactured, but does anyone really have
a definitive number? I think 1000 is high, and it is probably
more like 700-800 units manufactured and sold.
1981 Let the Good Times Roll
You can see, that in 1981 the production really jumped. It could have been more than this number, but something happened in 1981 to really set things on fire for Victoria Yachts. Records indicate that from the beginning of 1981 to 1982, Vic sales soared. New Dealers popped up all over the US, New York State, Minnesota, Texas, Ohio, Illinois, Mass, Pa, Virginia, California, Oklahoma, Indiana, New Jersey, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, Main, Michigan.
States that were sporadic in the previous sales
years opened up like there were lakes in every town in America.
Either Victoria Yachts hit gold, or they hired an excellent Marketing
manager to whip things into shape real fast. It's possible that
the sales in 1981 doubled any previous year, and was was probably
the most productive and profitable year in Victoria Yachts history.
Producing 100 units/year would break down into about 2 Units/week. Producing 150 Units means 3 Units/week, or a 50% increase in production over 100 units. That is 50% more labor, 50% more materials, and 50% more resources in general. If Victoria Yachts produced 200 or more units in 1981, then that means at least double the output of any previous year. Four units per week (annualized), is a lot of boats to put out! Now add to that the idea of drawing and engineering a 26 footer, and putting the plans and resources in place for that program to start in 1982, while at the same time, doubling your production of Victoria 18's!
1982 the "Turning Point" for the Victoria 18
If 1981 marked the most profitable year for Victoria Yachts, 1982 may have been its worst. Sales in 1982 began to drop. It seems like the majority of the sales in 1982 were out of state. Maybe they were concentrating on filling the void that had opened up across the Nation in 1981. Maybe 1982 was a bad year. The recession may have had a large impact, and 1981 was probably the last year that folks thought they might be able to afford a new boat for a while, so they bought in '81.
In any case, it looks like something happened in 1982 to slow production, was it sales generated, or was it internal. There are stories that maybe the partners in Victoria Yachts were not getting along, or that it was a husband and wife team that broke up and divorced, causing the eventual break up of Victoria Yachts. Whatever happened on this front also may have happened in 1982 placing more stress on the already maxed out organization.
We do know that in 1982 Victoria Yachts began building larger yachts, 26 footers were produced that took more resources, and time to manufacture than 3 smaller Victoria 18's. If they couldn't Market the big boats across the same marketing channel, then where would they sell them?
Folks buying the bigger boats were big spenders, but would the quality of the work be enough to catapult Victoria Yachts into the big league?
Were the required resources too much on the big boats for the 4 year old company to support while still trying to maintain production on their money making Vic 18? Did sales drop on the Vic 18's because of the resources used on the 26' units?
These possible occurrences ( Recession, family disputes, the Victoria 26 resource hog, and failure to maintain a cash flow from the decreased Victoria 18 production and sales) finally climaxed during 1983, and may have caused a sharp drift in the organization, and eventually the closure of Victoria Yachts, and The Sailboat Works.
If the failure was related to the Victoria 18, then it may have forced Victoria Yachts to close, but we think it was bigger, because it took both Victoria Yachts, and The Sailboat Works into oblivion.
The family issue would definitely fit this premise. If it were a family problem in the Sailboat Works, and Victoria Yachts was really a subsidiary of The Sailboat Works, then closure of The Sailboat Works would mean disaster for Victoria Yachts, and the end of production for the Victoria 18 Sailboat via the Sailboat Works in DeBary.
If you have any information to help the Forum substantiate or correct any of the above information, please post it to the Forum, or email the forum with your comments.