Classic Boat Builders - Kneass and Sons

George Kneass and Sons Boat Builders. San Francisco, CA.

By Alan Almquist

George Washington Kneass was born in California in 1859. He became an apprentice to well-known San Francisco boat builder, Martin Vice and later became his partner. Kneass took over the business after Vice's death. The company was located near Pier 70 at 671 Illinois Street in San Francisco and the existing building dates from 1878. In the 1890's Kneass expanded his business and opened a shop at 718 yd Street, reportedly employing between 25 to 50 workmen.

Kneass specialized in building small boats, launches, rowboats, coffee lighters and sailboats, but also built a number of larger cruisers. George Kneass died
in 1923 at the age of 64 and the business was continued by his sons, George, Jr. and Webster. One of the more notable cruisers built by Kneass in 1921 is the 38' Quic Chakidn. This yacht was built for lumber baron Walter Hobert, Jr. for his Lake Tahoe estate and is currently undergoing a restoration.

During WWll the company built several sub chasers for the Navy. The company built its last wooden boat in 1965 and closed its doors in 1970.

In the Classic Yacht Association only four yachts constructed by the Kneass company were ever listed: the Amy K IV, once owned by the Terrazzo family;  Merciqume, once owned by Avery and Judy Blake; Siren, a 1939, 34 footer owned by Alan Bowerman until his death and Jean Hayes; and Marlin, a 1928, 46 footer now owned by Thomas Bottenberg of Vintage Yacht Partners, the only active CYA member.

For additional photos of Kneass yachts see www.tahoeclassicyacht.org., or visit at www.kneassboatworks.com.

[Source: Classic Currents, Summer 2012, NC Fleet Newsletter]