40 Years of Kadey-Krogen

An important milestone is celebrated by owners who are much more than satisfied customers
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“You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family,” the cynics say. But the 185 Kadey-Krogen owners who attended the company’s 40th anniversary rendezvous at Fort Adams State Park in Newport, Rhode Island, beg to differ. These enthusiastic folks have made family of friends, and their fondness for Kadey-Krogen yachts — old and new — binds their relationships as strongly as well-cured epoxy.

This past summer, the attendees and their 38 Kadey-Krogens moved into the docking plan at Fort Adams State Park. By 5 p.m., music by the band Changes in Latitude filled the grounds, opening the “Margaritaville” cocktail hour and buffet dinner.

The first full day of the rendezvous saw a parade of owners stroll into a white tent, smiling and engaging in lively conversation before a guided tour of the Newport mansions, lunch, and a wine tasting and tour at Newport Vineyards. Those who didn’t want to sip chardonnay could go for a sail aboard 12 Meter America’s Cup yachts. A trivia contest highlighted the evening. Each table of guests, working as a team, wrote down trivia from the company’s history. Kadey-Krogen vice president Larry Polster asked the attendees to place each tidbit in the proper time frame, dating to the company’s founding in 1977. Most of the anecdotes were so obscure that only the author of each came even remotely close to guessing when they occurred.

Larry Polster’s 50 Open, hull No. 1, will be shipped to the United States in a few weeks.

Larry Polster’s 50 Open, hull No. 1, will be shipped to the United States in a few weeks.

The weekend’s guests of honor were members of the Lin family, owners of Asia Harbor Yacht Builders in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. The yard has been the exclusive builder of Kadey-Krogen yachts for decades. Kadey-Krogen president Tom Button presented the Lins with a Krogen painting by artist and Krogen 42 owner Wendy Petersen McArthur. Jamie McLane surprised his wife, Meg, with an original portrait of their Krogen, also painted by McArthur.

Day 3 of the rendezvous began with yoga on the waterfront, breakfast and a roundtable discussion about cruising the coast of Maine. Then came the Explore Newport Dinghy Scavenger Hunt. Although the clues had folks scratching their heads, everyone found everything on the list. They even had time to find Scot West, president of event co-sponsor Ronstan Sailing North America and the brother of Kadey-Krogen vice president of sales Tucker West. They joined Scot for a drink and got bonus points.

Happy hour included an open bar, a chowder bar and hors d’oeuvres before a clambake and live music. The weekend closed with a Sunday-morning brunch and a parade of Kadey-Krogens through Newport Harbor.

“Fabulous time — an outstanding event,” Pauline Masuhr of Next Dance wrote on the Kadey-Krogen Facebook page. “Thank you for all the great memories.”

Many of the attendees described cruising lives that embody Kadey-Krogen’s slogan, “At Home on Any Sea,” meaning that Krogen yachts can deal with anything the sea throws at them while being as comfortable as a home ashore. Tricia and David Evangelista of Jamestown, Rhode Island, owners of the Krogen 48 Lauryl Anne, like the camaraderie among owners. “We were in Stuart, Florida, for New Year’s Eve 2015 and discovered seven other Krogens,” Tricia Evangelista says. “Suddenly we had a whole new group of friends.”

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Capt. Mike Warren and his wife, Dyan, agree. The Warrens are on their third Krogen, a 55 Expedition christened Galactic. “The friends we’ve made are fantastic,” says Mike Warren, who writes insurance for Kadey-Krogen and has delivered several of the company’s boats. “They’re absolutely best friends.”

Kadey-Krogen’s most popular model has been the 42, with 206 built over a period of 22 years. Marine engineer Art Kadey and naval architect James S. Krogen designed the 42 for people who prefer timeless to trendy aesthetics, solid comfort to speed, and passagemaking range to quick shoreline hops. (The 42 cruises about 2,000 nautical miles at 8 knots.) The model’s full-displacement hull has soft bilges, a full keel, a fine entry and a wineglass transom, which reduces the effects of following sea on directional stability.

Asia Harbor Yacht Builders constructed the 42’s hull of fiberglass mat and roving over a closed-cell PVC core. The core absorbs shock and sound, insulates against the effects of changes in temperature and eliminates the buildup of condensation below. Building the decks and superstructure of fiberglass over end-grain balsa coring reduces weight high in the boat, which helps lower its center of gravity.

Still, Kadey-Krogen’s conservative approach to design and construction doesn’t mean the company is trapped in a time warp. Changes in materials, building methods and design appear when they make sense, are requested by owners or both. Old Krogens may need system upgrades, especially electronics and running gear, but the brand’s guiding concept is ageless, keeping resale values high and owners enthusiastic.

Newer models include the Manatee 36 (99 built between 1984 and 1991), which responded to requests for a safe and comfortable yacht for cruising along coastlines and inland waterways. The Krogen 54 ketch-rigged motorsailer (eight built between 1987 and 1991) catered, and still caters, to owners who suffer an incurable wanderlust. Inspiration for this design came from rugged North Sea fishing boats. At 8 knots, she’ll carry owners and guests about 2,500 miles, depending on winds and seas. Dropping a knot adds about another 1,000 miles to her range.

The 42 is Kadey-Krogen’s best-selling model, with 206 built over 22 years. 

The 42 is Kadey-Krogen’s best-selling model, with 206 built over 22 years. 

Polster is the proud owner of 50 Open hull No. 1. He’d been a sailor and lived aboard a 44-foot center-cockpit sailboat before getting married, having a daughter and buying a Krogen 42. In 2002, smitten by his trawler, Polster volunteered to lend a hand at the United States Powerboat Show in Annapolis, Maryland. When the show ended, Kadey-Krogen offered him a job; a year later, he opened a Krogen sales office in Annapolis. A few years after that, he joined Kurt Krogen, Tom Button and Judd Straus as a partner in the company. Today Polster, Button and Tucker West are the principals leading Kadey-Krogen. This partnership maintains the original philosophy of being a boatbuilding company instead of a company that builds boats. All the partners are enthusiasts and have been in the marine industry for years. Each knows how to listen to customers and believes in the quality of Krogen yachts. Polster’s 50 Open is his personal proof: “I put my money where my mouth is,” he said at the rendezvous.

The future looks bright for Kadey-Krogen Yachts. With more than 600 yachts built to date, it enjoys an enviable number of repeat customers, a strong owner’s association and the best advertising money can’t buy: word of mouth. Owners are more than willing to tell anyone who asks why they love their boats.

Kadey-Krogen Yachts, Stuart, Florida, (772) 286-0171. kadeykrogen.com

This article originally appeared in the December 2017 issue.