Of Ships and Men [Anchor Jensen, 1969]

Anchor JensenMeteor, Veronica, Carolina, Kathleen, Averilla, Slo-mo-shun - ships of character, ships of history, ships of fame. These are just a few of the names from the log book of the Jensen family and their Jensen Motor Boat Co.

It was in 1926 that Tony Jensen, his wife and two sons set rip in business at Seattle's Green Lake. The boys were just young fellows but they worked hard and learned well. Two 45-foot cruisers were built at the Green Lake establishment as well as the 32-foot Veronica and the sister ships Carolina and Kathleen (later named the Boomerang.)

In 1929 the Jensens moved their business to its present location on Lake Union's Portage Bay. There the Averilla was built in 1930 for Mr. Averill of the Westinghouse Corporation. This boat was well known in Puget Sound waters and was owned by several prominent Northwest yachtsmen including Ed Sager, Ili]] Reault and Tom Brooks.

The revolutionary 38-foot Meteor was designed and built in 1937 by the Jensens for themselves. With double-planked hull and triple-planked superstructure, she had a beautifully flared bow and torpedo-like stern, far ahead of her time. Her twin Chrysler 152 Majestics and a sort of underwater platform at the stern, something like today's trim tabs, gave her a cruising speed of 20 knots, a real speed demon for 1937.

Meteor lead two bunks forward with a lead, a galley aft of the foc's'le and two bunks with head aft. During World War II the Navy took Meteor over to run between Bremerton and the Jefferson Head Degaussing Station and she was never the same afterwards.

As the years rolled lay Tony's son, Anchor, became more and more proficient as a craftsman and master boat builder. He was called upon by Stanley S. Sayres to build an unlimited hydroplane racer. With a design from tile drawing board of Ted Jones, Anchor built Slo-mo-shun IV which, in 1950, with Jones at the wheel, won the Gold Cup at Detroit and thereby introduced unlimited hydro racing to Seattle and the Pacific; Northwest. After that the "Old Lady", as she was affectionately called, won the Gold Cup twice more, held the Harmswoth Trophy for six years and for seven years reigned as the fastest prop-driven boat in the world.

Slo-mo-shun V followed and also achieved her share of hydro fame after the "Old Lady" was retired. Building didn't end the Jensens' part in the Slo-mo picture. They were also charged with the operational details of the boats and it was left up to them to make any necessary structural changes, to see that they were in good running shape and to see to it that they won races.

Since the Slo-mo days Anchor has kept the shop busy in the building of custom boats along with repair and maintenance service. Recently he has taken over Wolfe Marine Sales, a boat brokerage business, and has become local dealer for Kenner sailboats and ski barges, Regent sailboats and Scottie-Craft powerboats. Present plans call for custom boatbuilding through the winter months, handling the various lines of boats for sale in the summer and year around servicing and repairing.

After 43 years and a small start on a small lake in the heart of town, the name Jensen is still a leading one on the Seattle waterfront and the 40-year location at 1417 N. E. Boat Street is a familiar one to many a Northwest yachtsman, where Anchor Jensen continues in the family tradition and a craft he learned so well from Tony, his father.

(Reprinted from Sea and Pacific Motor Boat, August 1969, p.65-N)


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Leslie Field, 2001