December 20th 2012. By Zuzana Prochazka.

Dark Star: A Kneass 47 Trunk Cabin Motoryacht is Available

This classic Californian wood cruiser, built in 1946, is rescued so that others may enjoy.

Anyone who enjoys the lines of a classic wooden motoryacht will appreciate Dark Star, a George Kneass original from 1946. This trunk cabin motoryacht started life in one of the most successful boatyards on the West Coast, one that operated from 1868 until it closed its doors in 1970. During that time, 5,000 innovative wooden boats were built by George William Kneass and his sons, a family that survived the great San Francisco earthquake, both world wars, the Great Depression and four major fires.

kneass 47 foot cruiser

The dark hull and varnished topsides give this original Kneass a unique look.

During the nearly 100 years the boatyard operated, they built small boats including sardine and salmon boats, launches, coffee lighters, rowboats, lifeboats for civilian and military use, and sailboats. The first boat to sail across the Pacific was an 18-foot Kneass dinghy which was singlehanded by Bernard Gilboy, who took 162 days to complete the 7000- mile journey from San Francisco to Australia—during which time he was given up for dead. Powered motorboats built in the yard included patrol boats, pleasure yachts and even 150-foot minesweepers. George Kneass died in 1923 at the age of 64. His sons, George Jr. and Webster, continued on in the business.

Dark Star’s current owner has given her time and resources over the past two years with careful attention to the original lines and plans. She is 47 feet LOA with a 12’ 2” beam and a 32,000-pound displacement. Her plumb bow and tall cabin give her a vaguely muscular feel but the sheer and contrasting topsides covered in gleaming varnish add a refinement befitting a yacht.

Twin Chrysler 440 gas engines have less than 350 hours on them and she has been stored periodically in a covered slip in northern California. She will easily accommodate four in two cabins with two heads and has a very workable galley. The spacious raised saloon has good visibility all around and the original gears and gauges have a great retro-feel.

There are other Kneass 46s plying the West Coast waters with a nice white-hulled example in the Pacific Northwest, but this is definitely a rare model. Dark Star, with her dark hull and varnished cabintop, has been noticed cruising the Delta and is for sale in Oakley where she awaits a new owner who loves old boats with classic lines and oodles of character. You can find the Dark Star on Yachtworld.

Zuzana Prochazka

Zuzana Prochazka is a writer and photographer who freelances for a dozen boating magazines and websites. A USCG 100 Ton Master, Zuzana has cruised, chartered and skippered flotillas in many parts of the world and serves as a presenter on charter destinations and topics. She is the Chair of the New Product Awards committee, judging innovative boats and gear at NMMA and NMEA shows, and currently serves as immediate past president of Boating Writers International. She contributes to and, and also blogs regularly on her boat review site,