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The Early Boatyards of Sausalito

by Annie Sutter



Boatbuilding in Sausalito has been an ongoing activity from William Richardson's time to the present. The cove in Old Town provided an ideal site for the construction and repair of boats. Photographs of the 1880s show fishing feluccas in the cove and elsewhere along Sausalito's waterfront, when boatbuilding was mainly a family affair. A Sausalito Land and Ferry Co. map of 1873 shows two wharves at the foot of Richardson, probably used by fishermen. But the first mention of a boatbuilding business is found in the Sausalito News of 1890 which reports that "the California Launch Building Company is building a tugboat and a number of fine steam launches."


A boatyard called Brixen and Munfrey was in the cove about 1900, and was destroyed by fire in 1908. In 1920 William Hynes founded The Reliance Boat Company on the little beach, a spot described by his son as "A labyrinth of old docks with crab and salmon boats moored against ancient pilings - there were ways but no pier." This yard would be taken over in 1925 by the Nunes Bros. who would become famous for their tugs, barges, yachts, sailing vessels and Bay class designs.


Not the first, but a very early boatbuilder in Sausalito was Menotti Pasquinucci. He left his home in Viareggio, Italy in the early 1890s and set up shop in Sausalito in 1894 or 1895 at the foot of Turney Street. This business would remain at the same location for some sixty years. Early photos show an extensive family, cousins, brothers, and uncles at work in the yard, and the business would pass on to Menotti's son Frank as the years went on.


Although the yard  remained in the same location at Turney St., the building burned down several times. A photo of the first building in the early 1900s shows a sign "New Sausalito Boat Builder - P. Menotti." Turney St. was then in the area called "New Sausalito," as opposed to "Old Town" which was around the cove at the foot of Valley. And the name is reversed. Menotti Pasquinucci, who was known as "Mr. Menotti," used the old country style of presenting his name, with his initial "P" coming first.


The Pasquinuccis built mostly small fishboats. A news­paper account credits them with building "more than 700 craft of one type of another" and people say "there goes a Pasquinucci" when a little fishboat resembling a Monterey chugs by. But they did build a few yachts, some for members of the San Francisco Yacht Club, and a 1907 photo shows a graceful sailing yacht, the Pagan Lady, alongside the shop. A note on the back of another photo says "a Pasquinucci hull design for a sail powered fishboat similar to a cat boat rig," also circa 1907.


By 1920, after another fire destroyed the building, a photo shows that P. Menotti has changed his name to M. Pasquinucci and the business to "Sausalito Boat Bldg Wks". By 1939 son Frank has taken over, has changed the name to F. Pasquinucci and has added Marine Ways, phone number 40. This building also burned, and, as evidence of the growing population, in 1946 the Sausalito Boat Bldg. Works phone number has become 970.



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