Palmer Johnson Yachts – the company

Last Update: July 26th, 2018

Every great company has a story. Palmer Johnson has a great storied history – an authentic brand whose story for almost a century has been about vision, evolution and innovation.

From humble beginnings as a wooden boat builder to the famous Palmer Johnson yachts winning every major championship race in the golden era of sailing yachts, to the groundbreaking design of its Sport Yachts of the last decade and now to its revolutionary SuperSport series, brand values of design, performance and emotional appeal have been a constant – core values deeply embodied in the spirit of the company and reinforced and manifested in its beautiful yachts.



1918 – The Company (shipyard) was founded by Hans Johnson and Herman Gmack. During this period, the boatyard built and repaired rowing skiffs as well as commercial fishing vessels.

1926 – Palmer Johnson built its first sailing yacht.

1928 – Hans Johnson’s son built the first wooden yacht. As the company’s reputation for small, high-quality yachts grew, so did the orders for custom wooden yachts.

1941-1945 – WWII, construction of 42-45’ air-sea rescue boats and 6-65′ army boats were built. And at the end of the war a few custom yachts as well as a series of 27-foot and 33-foot wooden stock sailboats were also built.

1956 – Company was officially named Palmer Johnson Boats Inc. and was sold to a group of local Sturgeon Bay businessmen.

1961 – Pat Haggerty, founder of Texas Instruments bought Palmer Johnson. The company also began to pioneer the use of aluminium in yacht building.

1962 – The first aluminium boat was built – Isanti.

1966 – The 84ft ketch Firebird was built , the largest aluminum sailing yacht in the world at the time.

1979 – Launching of the Fortuna, the most advanced 100-foot aluminium boat at that time. Was the fastest yacht in the world for over a decade.

1979 – The sailing yacht Tenacious won the ill fated Fastnet Race in which storms wreaked havoc and yachts and lives were lost.

1998 – In reaching its 80th birthday, PJ celebrated with launching of La Baronessa. This was the largest aluminium yacht built in the US.

2004 – Introduction of the Sportyacht series, starting with the PJ 120 Coverdrive.

2005 – Palmer Johnson was the first yacht builder to introduce the use of modular production process and 3D engineering of yachts.

2011 – The twentieth yacht in the successful Sportyacht was delivered.

2012 – The SuperSport series was launched. Next generation carbon fibre yachts with a revolutionary hull design that are faster, more efficient, stable and spacious.

Palmer Johnson Yachts
GAME CHANGING SINCE 1918 - a team of third and fourth generation families who live and breathe Palmer Johnson.
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About the author


Norberto Moreau is co-founder of the Allied Management Ltd Consulting Group (Hong Kong, United Kingdom, Spain). The group and his associates have activities in Yachting, Properties, Events and Online Services.
Activity with own Projects (70%) / Consulting (30%). Norberto Moreau is available for Consulting worldwide at Fairs, Regattas etc.

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