I thought it important to provide some background to the builder of the majority of our Sundowner Tugs. After two Sundowner 30s were built in the Seattle area, the molds for what was to be called the SD30 Princess Louisa and the Sundowner 36 were shipped to Taiwan for construction by Ho Hsing of Tainan and Kaohsiung, a seaport on Taiwan's southwest coast. Ho Hsing F.R.P. Co. Ltd. for about 25 years was a fabricator of many fiberglass-reinforced products including Mercedes and Volvo bus bodies, floating docks, bathtubs, modular bathrooms, skate boards, septic tanks, swimming pools and large storage tanks.
Building the Sundowner tugs from 1981, Ho Hsing had fiberglass boat building experience back to about 1974 with the Albin 36 trawler and a sloop or ketch-rigged flush-deck Nantucket 38 design by Peter Cole of Australia. In 1984 their total annual production was about 90 boats by about 300 workers in several plants. Balsa cored decks using Baltek balsa processes could be also in boat hulls at the buyers option, (but NOT offered on Sundowners). Y. C. "Archie" Chen was the general manager of Ho Hsing.
Jack Sarin, N.A. of Bainbridge Island, WA designed the Sundowner tugs to a local boat broker's request after his seeing the success of the first Nordic 26 tug No. 1 with red hull at the 1980 Seattle Boat Show with 45 orders taken. Jack stated he couldn't do it in just 26 feet, so the SD30 design of 29'6" was born. The SD30 and SD36 had teak decks over fiberglass with FRP hand laid-up hulls and deck and house of fiberglass and balsa core, which led to the improved SD32 Sarin design with non-skid fiberglass over balsa-cored decks (no teak overlay) and other owner-suggested improvements. Jack Sarin had prior experience designing commercial tugs for Foss Tug and Towing, before designing the Symbol and Vantare lines of yachts and larger yachts for a Vancouver, WA builder of 124 and 130 foot yachts. Flying Dutchman first of Seattle and then of Bellevue, WA were the Sundowner Tug dealers. The Bellevue dealer also had East Coast representation. Jack Sarin got a royalty fee paid by the selling broker on every Sundowner 30, 36 and 32 sold. The SD32's alternate air intakes for the diesel engine leading to a salt-water box draining to the deck and out a scupper, with engine dry intake manifold air taken from the TOP of that box was a neat commercial practice seen in the SD32. And the hallmark of the Sundowner design, the large North Sea bridge together with deck house tumblehome and overhead camber really sold me on the design. I had studied 14 different yacht tug designs before placing my order, after being aboard two SD32s at La Conner, WA and speaking with the owners.
Ho Hsing built the SD30 and 36 from 1981 to1984 with some delivered as 1985 models after going into bankruptcy in 1984. The 30 and 36 molds were subsequently sold at auction to Chauson of Taipei, Taiwan who continued to build these boats as Sea Tugs, Regency and perhaps other names. Chauson-built Sea tugs eliminated the wood window frames, a source of leaks over time. Hal Jones, a broker in Florida imported and sold Sea Tugs, and he personally owned a 36. In the late fall of 1988, I had the opportunity to peruse the Joint Taiwan Boat Builders Brochure, a cooperative marketing effort that a local marina broker had, as he thought my then-new SD32 might be a Chauson-built boat.
"Archie" Chen in 1987 resurrected his boat-building business "valoriously" as Valor Marine, Ltd to build the improved Sundowner 32s. The first SD32 was hull number SD32/155 of 1987, and twelve known 32s were built through hull number SD32/166 The Hull Identification Number of the Valor Marine SD32s began with the Manufacturer Identification Code of VLR chosen by the American importing broker and approved by our US Coast Guard. It is thought that the Ho Hsing/Valor Marine Sundowners were consecutively numbered. I am unaware of the Chauson-built Sea Tug or other named Sundowner numbers of boats built. I have been aboard 4 SD32s and aboard 3 SD30s of the fleet.
... read more