Classic Northwest Fishing Machine, the Hi-Laker

Editor My Boat Story Power Boating

A large number of boat builders have come and gone in the Northwest and some of them, like Hi-Laker, left behind some pretty enthusiastic supporters. Northwest Yachting and reader Steve Hurt is on the prowl for more information on Hi-Laker boats, and he’d love to hear whatever tidbits you might have, or the whereabouts of other Hi-Lakers. You can share tidbits below in the comments section or email them to us and we’ll pass them along. This does seem like a very practical fishing machine.


By Steve Hurt

As they say every boat has a story and I remember in the early 80’s standing on the Eddie Vine boat launch in Ballard talking with several owners of the then very popular boat Hi-Laker. This boat is a fiberglass boat with lapstrake appearing sides and has lots of freeboard and is very stable on the water. Over the years I often recalled this boat in my thoughts, and when I retired in 2014 from a medical facility here in Seattle, I located and purchased one of these classic Northwest  Hi-Laker boats.

From, time travels 1989 there’s a short article as follows: In, Monroe, Washington just west of the fairground, across both Highway 2 and the Burlington Northern tracks, they were making boats – fishing boats mostly, with a few sailboats and an occasional rowboat. Out of the high ceiling manufacturing plant of family owned Janco Plastics came Hi-Laker boats.Hilaker2sm

Mark Weiss shared in a forum on that his father, David S. Weiss was owner of the PlastOlite and later Trailerdyne, Inc. Beverton, Oregon. Mark remembers his father’s primary business was manufacturing plastic panel. He was close to Harvey Marine in Forest Grove, Oregon, and with some tips from them, he manufactured the boats for about 3 years. He eventually sold the molds and the equipment and I never heard who he sold it to. This venture was one step closer to the eventual success he would have in business that would have us selling to Bayliner and other manufacturers in and around the Puget Sound area.

From Polk’s City Directory for Seattle: Nelson Plastic started out in 1959 as Marine Fiber Glass & Plastic at the home of the founder Hans F. Nelson. In 1965 the name changed to Nelson Plastic., Hans F. Nelson, President, Mrs. Ruth M. Nelson, Secretary Treasurer, 811 Northwest 47th Seattle. From 1966 to 1983 the business was located at 2901 West Commodore Way (Magnolia near the fish ladder). In 1983 the business was evidently sold to James Rood (President) and Frank Schiedel (Vice President).

I would appreciate your readers’ help with this. I have a 1979 Hi-Laker which I’ll be showing in the Classic Boat Show this summer and hoping to have as much information on it as possible.


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  1. Dear Sir,

    I just bought a 1977 HiLaker 15 foot from an estate sale of an older man whom died in our area. I found it on Craigslist and immediately went to buy it when i saw how high the free board was and i loved the Lyman like prowl keel in the front! It came with a vintage 10 hp Evinrude 1966 motor. I plan on changing this to a 1977 35 hp Mercury or Johnson to match manufacturing years! Its pefect except faded in color! I cant post a picture to you yet but will. it looks just like the blue and white one on this article but is red and white. Will keep you posted!

    Mark Holscher Beaver Lake Garfield Arkansas.

    1. Hello Mark,

      I’ll make sure Steve Hurt knows about your boat! Thanks for checking in, and when you have some photos to share we’d love to share them with our readers.

      1. Kurt,

        I’ve researched the original maker and other NW makers history and would like to share it with everyone.

        Steve Hurt

        1. Do you know the name of the person who came up with the design I sold mine years ago to a person who claimed he did and he wanted to modify mine to have an inflatable ring like the coast guard have. always wondered if it was true .

      2. Kurt
        thanks for the response. i just had surgery 2 weeks ago so no progress on the boat yet! planning to tear into restoration this fall. I am curious where he found the top for it. my boat has no top or frame but all the snaps and attachment points are the same! would really love to see or here how and where he had his built!
        i plan on taking pictures all the way through the process!!!
        thanks Mark Beaverlake Arkansas!

        1. Mark in Beaverlake, Arkansas I had my top renewed by Leta’s in Arlington, Washngton.

  2. I have the molds for the Hi-Laker boat and have to move them out of the yard of the company that has been storing the molds. Is anyone interested in these molds? I’m afraid they will be scrapped if I can’t find a home for these tools. I also have a “project Hi-Laker boat that I need to mover as well.


    1. I am interested in molds.. Location?

    2. Do you still have those molds for hilakers? Let me know, thanks.

    3. Please contact me about the molds

  3. Steve
    Finally getting started on my Hi Laker restoration. Have you had any issue with the fact the the real bottom has no drain plug or drainage. I have found i have a samll amount of water in this area under the false bottom. It seems odd that they did not build in any drainage port for this incase you had a small leak from the bottom. I am thinking of installing a drain but it will change the original design slightly. Also what engine has been the best on these boats 25 or 35 hp??? I think any bigger like a 40hp might be an issue with the prowl design and chance to flip boat with sudden turns ?
    thanks .
    Happy Memorial Day.

  4. Mark,

    I don’t think I would go any larger then 25 hp….I have a 25 hp Merc and it really seems like the max engine that I would use on this boat. I would not full throttle it in white caps because of the design.My boat does have a drain plug for the lower area and also has drain plugs near the stern seat area. Hope your enjoying the boat….By the way, their is a fella hear in Seattle that can make you a new windshield if your interested…..Would like to get your number so we could talk over the phone…


    1. you say you know where i could get a windshield made for my hi-laker , could you send me the info thanks

  5. Hey, I just bought a 1976 14′ Hi-Laker from a guy down in Portland. I am going to repaint it and add a motor and it is very solid however the top for it is in very poor condition. Does anybody know a good place to get a new top refitted or the original repaired? I also have a 10′ Hi Laker of similar era and a 12′ Hi-Laker that I got for free. Any suggestions would help. Thanks

  6. Thanks to all that put out the info ! On Hi-Lakers History. I just bought a 1971 14ft that’s what the Vessel Title is saying but trailors is a Manuf 1975? does this sounds right for the boat being a 1971 that would make close to some of the first ones that were build ? it in need of a lot of care! I am in need of a windshield and frame as well if someone would point me in the right path it sounding like there a little grown over! I am new to living here in the Great North West and the Hi -Laker is my First boat IT just look cool with the bow up Hi and beams wide for its size! I am from the OuterBanksofNorthCarolina in the KillDevilHill area

  7. Avatar

    janelle Rae Castroni

    I just bought a 16′ HI LAKER The boat is a 1984 and just the right size for me. I will have to have the hull refurbished and buttons which hold the top in place. Unfortunately I did not know the transom is toast. I took the boat in and to replace the transom will cost $6,000 and with the other work; the total is $12733.38. I am a 79 year old veteran with a100% service connected disability. Does any one know where I might find someplace more reasonable? I would like to do business with a fellow veteran but that is not a requirement. I want to restore my boat like new. She will be a beauty like the restoration of a classic car! I have PTSD and friends believe fishing & the peacefulness of the water will be good for me.

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