This brief history has been compiled in good faith by Dennis Clarke from several letters written by Mao Ouyang, the son of Ti Ouyang who is the originator of Ouyang Boat Works/Aloha Yachts. Dennis believes the details to be correct but apologizes if any errors or omissions have occurred. Dennis would like to express his thanks to Mao for providing material and information and for reviewing this document.
The beginning of Aloha Yachts can be attributed to a man known as Ti to many of the owners. Ti actually ran the whole shop but he was a proud, but modest man and not many people really recognized who he was. Ti had received no education, he lost his parents in early childhood and began an apprenticeship in carpentry. Left to fend for the family as a teenager he still managed to learn the craft of woodworking and slowly traveled through much of Asia before arriving in Calcutta, India where he started to make his reputation. Ti Ouyang began his own contracting business. Most of the British companies came to him and his contracts were usually to furnish entire offices around India. Being based in Calcutta, 80 percent of his business, which employed over 100 people was outside of the city. In 1964 a border skirmish between India and China put an end to his business, as all Chinese nationals were restricted in their travels and their bank accounts frozen. His children’s education was important to him and he enlisted the help of a minister, who got the Ouyang family sponsored with a church in Canada. Within 6 weeks the family had landed in Oshawa, Ontario with each family member (Ti and his wife, and 3 young sons, Mao, Mao Kang, and Stan) having the allowed $9.00 in their pockets.
Ti soon landed a job with Whitby Boat Works. Not to be idle, within a year he started to build his own 16 footer at home. This didn’t amuse Whitby Boat works very much and Ti was fired. He was hired back a year later. This was fortunate as Ti was down to his last few dollars since he was only successful at selling two of the 16 foot Cormorants. These were fine little boats, which were a direct spin off of the Albacore 16 manufactured by Whitby, which is probably why he was fired in the first place. Ti was enough of a craftsman that he created these boats entirely by eyesight, he never had any plans to work from. Unfortunately Ti got fired again because he refused to compromise quality by “slapping” two pieces of teak together for cockpit coamings- the grain in the teak did not match. He vowed that he would never work for anyone again and he was going to start his own business building boats. At this point he had two children in High School and two in teaching university hospitals. Despite this there he was, everyday at his friend’s garage building a “plug” which was soon to be known as the Matilda 20. The company flourished and began building more and bigger boats.
The main thrust in the early 70’s was the late Mao Kang. For about a year while he was doing his Masters in Public Health in California he would fly in every week-end. He was a brilliant kid but cancer took him at the age of 27. It was soon discovered the hard way that hepatoma was prevalent among Asians. Mao Ouyang remembers shortly after the funeral that his father, Ti was told to shut down as there was no one to run the business. He walked out and on the way home asked Mao how he felt about family values. Mao then resigned from the hospital Monday morning and got his feet wet building boats. Stan, the other brother had just graduated from Nebraska with an engineering degree but family came first and he too joined the firm. The popularity of the Aloha perhaps came too fast for what an under financed family could withstand. In a short five years they had come up with a 27 (8.2), 28 (8.5), 30, 32, and 34 (10.4) footer. Several designers were contracted, including Ted Brewer and Robert Perry. A separate project, the Perry 30′ was also very big. Many people have asked over the years, how did the Aloha name originate? Never underestimate the power of love. While at Loma Linda University, Mao Kang dated a girl from Hawaii and appropriately named the new line Aloha.
The company eventually ran out of money and brought in a close friend and dealer, Canadian Yacht Charters, as a partner. Unfortunately a boardroom disagreement very shortly after formation of this partnership saw Stan and Mao leaving as directors and subsequently being bought out.
Real estate was booming in 1986. The family figured for the paltry $100,000 they got, they would buy three houses, live in one, rent the other two and then flip them. Better than working for a living, right, wrong, the market didn’t support the idea. Ti Ouyang was 76, retired but not without a vision. He figured what the heck, the family came to Canada with $45 in their collective pockets, he had a little bungalow that was paid for, so there’s nothing to lose. He opened up Odyssey Yachts with a sole purpose in mind. He would bring down the Aloha company that he had started. All of the key employees whom he had trained were Vietnamese refugees along with a couple of Ti’s original Whitby Boat Works buddies. The Ouyang family unfortunately went bankrupt. Ti had his vengeance, he just could not forgive the company that forced him out and fired his two sons. There were no winners financially but Ti preserved his pride.
Ti Ouyang passed away at 84. Towards the end the family didn’t want to let go of him but Mao understood him when he said. “I have had a great life, I have a strong family, I’ve seen the world. If we live our lives according to the gospel, we’ll all meet again and there will be no more suffering. This is only a temporary place for us, we will meet again.”
This is what Aloha Yachts is all about. It’s, about a man’s integrity. It’s about a man’s heart.
Images in and around Ouyang Boat Works.
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