Folks who went to the Florida State Fair in Tampa back in 1938 might have seen a couple of local high school boys standing on the midway alongside their home-built,
22-foot wooden cruiser. They might also have noticed the prize they were awarded. Pete and Nick Stamas had learned to build boats by watching the local craftsmen, many of them Greek, whose vessels plied the waters around Tarpon Springs. Based on time-tested designs, these working craft were rugged, seaworthy and strong. By the time the brothers started Stamas Yacht in 1952, the wooden fishing boats they’d been building had a reputation for the same traditional qualities.
But the Stamas brothers were also alert to innovation. In 1959, they switched to fiberglass construction and started looking into new technologies in hull design and propulsion. (They’ve been credited with popularizing the self-bailing cockpit, as well as fishbox and livewell designs.) The Stamas V-26 Americana (shown above) was one result of their thinking. “Swift, spirited, seaworthy and strong,” the advertising copy read, describing the boat’s twin engines, big cockpit and cuddy-cabin comforts. This was a new kind of boat. It was easy to use and maintain, economical to run, and filled with the potential for fun on the water.
The Americana rode on an all-fiberglass, deep-V hull that was rendered “unsinkable” by the addition of foam flotation—a technique made popular by Boston Whaler. The propulsion system was innovative too, making use of the newly developed inboard/outboard configuration. MerCruiser gas power plants at 160 hp each delivered cruising speeds in the 30-mph range and a top end of 43 mph. Fuel capacity was 250 gallons. There were pedestal and companion seats at the helm station and a pair of 8-foot bunks down below to go along with an enclosed marine head. As the ad copy read, it was “a lot of boat.” And it cost just under $7,000. Today, Stamas Yacht Inc. remains family owned after 67 years in business, building a fleet of cabin and center console craft at its Tarpon Springs yard.
This article originally appeared in the March 2020 issue.