In the first half of the 20th century, the saltwater boating scene looked very different than it does today. Inshore boats were mostly limited to small wooden dinghies and skiffs, and offshore boats were large, cumbersome wooden beasts that were hard to maintain and nearly impossible to trailer. One thing common to all: wood. Innovators like MAKO founder Robert Schwebke knew that the time had come for a change.
The fiberglass boat industry was still in its infancy. Fiberglass had been discovered in 1932 by a young scientist at Corning Glass named Dale Kleist while he was trying to weld together two glass blocks—but it took a few decades to refine the process enough to be able to manufacture boats out of this new miracle substance. The first rudimentary composite boats had been built in the 1940s, and small commercial operations had sprung up by the mid-fifties.
By the time Robert, a Navy veteran, conceived the first MAKO boat in the early 60s, large-scale production of fiberglass boats was becoming a reality, though many builders were making boats that—from a quality standpoint—would be laughable by today's standards.
Schwebke was a big man—6' 4", 240 lbs.—so he and a collaborator named Pete Purdue designed the boat to be roomy enough for them both to fish in. He wanted a rugged, fiberglass, center-console boat for the avid fisherman that wanted to go offshore without making the investment in a large sportfishing boat.
Once he built the first boat, a friend noticed and asked for one. He built another. Then another. It had begun.
By 1967, the time had come for MAKO boats to launch their groundbreaking new product to the public—a rugged, roomy, and very seaworthy 19-foot bay boat that would change the saltwater sportfishing industry forever. He revealed the boat to the public at the 1967 Miami Boat Show, and it was so well received that he took 400 orders—almost unheard of even today at a boat show—before he had even bought a plant. So he leased one, and the official MAKO legacy had begun.
MAKO Boats quickly garnered a reputation as overbuilt, hardcore fishing machines that would take you to the fish in adverse conditions, and would keep you, your crew and your family safe while doing so. In the early 1970s, Robert and his friend Bill Monroe took a 23-foot MAKO outboard across the Gulf Stream to fish Bimini in the Bahamas—the first outboard boat in its size class to do so.
MAKO owners became more and more devoted as the model years passed, and MAKO Owner Funaments popped up in Florida, the Gulf and along the Atlantic seaboard, as a way for owners and their families to gather, fish, socialize and tell tall tales. And MAKO Funaments are still going strong.
Today, under the leadership of Johnny Morris and White River Marine Group, the devout following of MAKO owners is more numerous and vibrant than ever. In the tradition of our founding, we continue to build boats stronger than they have to be. And it is with a passionate spirit of innovation that we continue to develop new technologies and techniques that will make your inshore and offshore experiences unforgettable.
So whether you're brand new to boating or a well-seasoned angler, we welcome you to the beginning of the next half century of MAKO boats. From a nimble and affordable skiff to a majestic and formidable offshore predator, you'll find there's a powerful, comfortable MAKO inshore or offshore boat for you, your family and all your memorable adventures to come.