From the prestigious drawing board of the Sparkman and Stephens office, the Columbia 29 was introduced by the Glas Laminates Company of California who were producers of fiberglass camper tops, shower stalls and chemical toilets. The first hull was laid up in 1961 and introduced to the market the subsequent year. The Columbia 29 was successful enough for the company to form Columbia Yachts Corporation and adopt the Columbia name for its entire line of subsequent boats, the company eventually became the highest volume producer of fiberglass yachts by 1967.
Primarily designed for coastal cruising the Columbia 29 is easy to sail and has reasonable comfort for its size. The boat has sleek lines and good performance for her era.
According to the sales material of the time, the boat can sleep 6 (at a pinch) having two quarter berths, a forepeak double, and a convertible dinette. The boat came standard powered by an outboard motor operating within a cockpit well, there was an inboard 8hp Atomic 4 gasoline engine as an alternative option. Early models had 3120 pounds of ballast which got bumped up to 4,100 pounds in later models before the introduction of the MkII. In total 304 MkI hulls were built between 1961 and 1967.
The boat appears in Atom Voyages list of proven boats for offshore voyaging so we’ve included it here. We’ve heard that construction quality was good through to the end of 1967 where quality started to decline. Most of the tabbing was glassed over marine ply which becomes saturated over time.
By 1967 a MkII version was introduced which shared the same hull, rig and sail plan as its predecessor, but a redesigned trunk cabin to keep it cosmetically inline with the rest of Columbia range of sailboats.The new cabin featured a one-piece fiberglass headliner. They also retained the extra 1,000 lbs of ballast which was added to the late MkI models. A total of 383 MkII hulls were produced between 1967 and 1969.
A raised deck version was built as the Defender 29, which offered more interior room and a flush deck. Though some may cite higher freeboard at first glance as a disadvantage, the overall windage when compared the equivalent Columbia 29 cabin profile is actually reduced.
» Columbia 29 specifications and details at the Columbia Yachts Owners Association
» Columbia Yachts Yahoo Group, information and owner discussions.
» Heart of Glass: Fiberglass Boats and the Men Who Built Them by Daniel Spurr, a short history of Columbia Yachts (p182)