Originally built for whaling hundreds of years ago, whale boats are “open” boats typically one-third as wide as they are long with sides of significant height. Noticeably pointed at both ends, they are capable of sliding smoothly through the water – both forwards and backwards. Because of this unique design feature, whaleboats also became popular along coastal waters as work boats because there was no need to turn them around for beaching.
Later, after they became motorized, whale boats were used more extensively as lifeboats, rescue boats, and patrol boats in the U.S. Navy. Their simple open space and deep seats provide easy boarding, comfort and egress for crew and personnel.
As highly regimented safety vessels, modern U.S. Navy and Coast Guard whaleboats are required to be equipped with a hatchet, compass, anchor, signal mirror, drinking water, first aid kit, bilge pump, jack knife (with can opener), and emergency provisions.
The Queen Priscilla
Built by Uniflite in 1968, the Queen Priscilla proudly served as a captain’s gig in the U.S. Navy for nearly 35 years. In her original condition, she was capable of transporting up to 3 tons of cargo, including 22 sailors. Completely overhauled from the hull up by Love Me Tender Boat Co., she has been upgraded for civilian use during this, her second tour of duty. Added upgrades include her teak sole and trim, stainless steel T-top, and stereo sound system. In her current restored condition, the Queen Priscilla has become a well-recognized member of the famed VOL Navy – ideally suited for leisurely cruises on the Tennessee River.
United Boat Builders
United Boat Builders (Uniflite) was started in Bellingham, WA by Art “Papa” Nordtvedt in October of 1957. The first boat they produced was an all fiberglass 17′ outboard. Eventually, they went on to build 14′ – 20′ boats, both outboard and inboard/outboard, and much larger express cruisers.
In 1962, Uniflite became a public company trading on the New York Stock Exchange, thus becoming eligible for Navy contracts.
According to Nordtvedt, the name of the company came from his “united” crew, many of whom had worked together at Bellingham Shipyards building Navy Mine Sweepers and Bell Boy Boats long before the company was started.
Bob Moors, one of Nordtvedt’s crew who worked at Uniflite from nearly the beginning, was Production Manager from 1970 until 1984. He later became Vice-President and General Manager of Chris Craft (the company that eventually acquired Uniflite) from 1984 until 1989. Another of Nordtvedt’s original crew members was Paul Jansen who worked in fiberglass production. At that time, Uniflite was the only boat builder to exclusively use fire-retardant resins in the production of their pleasure boats.
In 1965, the Navy awarded Uniflite with a contract to build 120 — 31′ river patrol boats powered by twin Detroit 6V53’s with water jets that were capable of cruising between 25 and 31 knots. Used extensively during the Vietnam War, more than 750 river patrol boats were built. At the height of their production, two new river patrol boats were rolling off the assembly line along with one 36′ landing craft every day!
In 1977, Uniflite acquired boat molds from Pacemaker Boat Co. in New Jersey. It was at this time that Uniflite started a second plant in Swansboro, North Carolina. In 1980, a fire almost totally destroyed the Uniflite plant in Bellingham. However, since they had molds in Swansboro, NC, they were able to continue production of their boats.
In addition to the Navy contracts, Uniflite had numerous other military contracts to build 14′ and 50′ boats, including patrol craft, landing craft and personnel boats. They also built commercial fishing boats and sailboats, in addition to the pleasure boats we know today.
RESERVATIONS . . . All reserved cruises take place after 5 pm during the week and at almost any time on the weekends. To schedule a cruise, please call 865-312-9000. If you reach a recording, please leave a specific message regarding the requested date & time for your cruise and the number of guests in your party. Advance notice of least 2 hours is respectfully requested.
E-MAIL . . . If you prefer to use email, send your information request to: Captain@TennesseeBoatLine.com
REGULAR MAIL . . . Our regular mailing address is: Tennessee Boat Line | 445 W. Blount Ave., No 216 | Knoxville, TN 37920.