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Inside Jensen Motor Boat Company, where the most beautiful boats in the world come to be reborn

With all the water in and around the Pacific Northwest, boating is a big deal. The center of it all could be this small Portage Bay shop.
Credit: Jensen Motor Company
"The Meteor" is an art deco masterpiece, built by Jensen Motor Company in the 1930s.

SEATTLE — If you spot an elegant, wooden boat rolling by, chances are it was built or rebuilt here at Jensen Motor Boat Company. Their story starts with a Julliard trained violinist, Tony Jensen, a Dane who brought a century's worth of family boat-building expertise to Seattle. He built boats by day and played first chair with the Seattle Symphony by night. The property he bought in 1927 on portage bay is still in the same location.

The Jensen’s built some of the best boats of their day, like the art deco masterpiece “The Meteor” in the 1930s, and the famous hydroplane “Slo Moshun IV” in 1950, at the time the fastest boat in the world.

Wooden boat production has slowed a bit. And now there's less building and more rebuilding as vessels age. Abandoned boats, boats that have sunk in the Mediterranean, or simply boats left uncared for are all restored here. The process is painstaking and costly.

“One thing we tell people when they come in here is it's gonna take longer than you think and cost more than you want. I mean in boats, that's almost a guarantee,” says Peter Proctor.

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