Founded in the mid-1960s, Wynne Marine Inc. designed fishing and performance boats and luxury yachts for more than 30 manufacturers, including major American production builders such as Chris-Craft, Hatteras, Grady-White and Larson. The company’s founder was competitive raceboat designer and driver Jim Wynne, who led what is now called one of the most influential independent design houses in the marine industry.
One of the boats that enabled Wynne Marine to earn that reputation was the Phoenix 29. More than 750 of these deep-V, mid-sized fishing machines were built during the boat’s long and successful production run from 1977 to 1987. Owners prized the boats for their clean styling, large fishing cockpit and rugged construction.
The 29 was the first in a successful fleet of recreational fishing craft from Florida-based Phoenix Marine. It was 28 feet, 10 inches on the waterline, and its prop pockets gave it a shallow draft of just over 2 feet. The first propulsion offering was a pair of 124-hp Volvo Penta diesels, which delivered a 15- to 17-knot cruise and a top-end speed around 20 knots. (A twin 165-hp diesel option was added later.)
The flybridge, accessed by a ladder, had a centerline helm station with a bench seat that sat three. The bi-level cockpit had an open sole and could be outfitted with rocket launchers, a livewell, raw-water washdown and other fishing gear. The Phoenix 29 was available with or without an aft bulkhead for the enclosed cabin that featured a private head compartment, a compact galley and berths for four adults.
The boat’s success led to a fleet of Jim Wynne-designed Phoenix models from 27 to 38 feet. The Phoenix 29 was replaced by the 29 SFX in 1988. The 10 percent luxury tax implemented in 1991 on boats over $100,000 forced Phoenix Marine into bankruptcy soon after. Although it was revived several times, the Phoenix name was permanently retired by its last owner, Jupiter Marine, in 2000.
Wynne, who died in 1990 at age 61, was inducted into the National Marine Manufacturers Association Hall of Fame in 1989.
This article was originally published in the May 2021 issue.