Luxury liners

Luxury liners

Kent, Joan

Imagine pulling your watercraft into the garage on the side of your yacht. Awaiting the arrival of your guest up on the helicopter landing pad. And then sitting down to dinner at the table over the glass bottom and flicking a switch to peer at the river bottom as you dine.

And perhaps later retiring to the whirlpool. It’s all possible, for a few coins. And you don’t even have to go out of town to order a boat customized with items that would make Tom Sawyer gape.

SkipperLiner, located across from Pettibone Park, build boats for individuals and businesses throughout the United States. Begun in 1971 by the Pretasky family, the business is now owned by the Noel Jordan family. Each year, it builds about 25 boats, said son Todd Jordan, director of sales and marketing.

About half the boats are cruising yachts sold to individuals; the other half are commercial boats such as the Island Girls, Jordan said. Each year, he said, the company builds a new Island Girl for use in its cruise business and sells last year’s. Commercial buyers have included Walt Disney World, which bought a boat for its Tom Sawyer’s Island. The Queen of Redwing in Redwing, Minn., also comes from SkipperLiner.

The yachts cost anywhere from $150,000 to $1.5 million, Jordan said. The commercial boats cost from $200,000 to $6 million.

Some of the boats are sold in the Mississippi River Valley, from Minnesota south to Iowa. But Jordan said the biggest market is Lake Powell in Utah and Arizona.

The company’s commercial boats are on waters in cities including Seattle, Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Naples, Fla., Jordan said.

SkipperLiner employs about 150 people at peak season, which is during the winter, he said. “Many of the boat-builders have been with us for several years. We have people from more than one family. Usually, you will see two or three with the same last name. The entire company is a family. It’s fun.”

In addition to the boat-building, the company owns the Bikini Yacht Club on Park Plaza Drive.

It takes three to five months to build a pleasure boat and five to seven months to build a commercial boat, Jordan said.

The luxuries people have requested include all leather furnishings, hardwood floors, three refrigerators, glass bottoms, helicopter pads and watercraft garages. This year, the company showed a boat with slide-out rooms (for those extra guests).

“We are a big draw at shows,” he said. “We figured about 10,000 people saw our boat in the Phoenix show.”


NAME: SkipperLiner


PRODUCT: Customized boats



Copyright La Crosse Tribune Mar 29, 1997

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