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An exhibit from the Hull Story

New Exhibit Explores Costa Mesa Boatbuilding

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Although boatbuilding has played a critical part in Costa Mesa’s economic history, it’s a chapter that’s largely been overlooked. Until now.

“I find it hard to believe that my husband and I are old enough to have lived through one of the largest industries in Costa Mesa only to have it disappear.”

So says Nancy Pedersen, the curator of “The Hull Story,” a new exhibit at the Costa Mesa Historical Society Museum, which Nancy hopes will bring renewed attention to this forgotten story.

Visitors can learn about World War II’s impact on the industry, the technological innovations that popularized the pastime, the unique vessels of the harbor’s vibrant characters, and the manufacturing — right here in Costa Mesa — of some of Disneyland’s most iconic crafts.

The exhibit holds a personal connection for Pedersen, whose love of boating dates back to the earliest days of her marriage. Her husband, Dave, a third-generation local, has always been obsessed with boats. As a child he rode his stingray all over town, peeking through the fences of boatyards to see what was going on. After he and Nancy married, Dave convinced the Noreks, makers of Crystaliner boats, to sell him one of their search and rescue hulls.

“The rest is ‘history’ and we’ve been a boating family ever since,” Nancy says.

Although the exhibit is open now, there’s still more work to be done. “This will be an ongoing project,” Nancy says, “and we hope that visitors will add to our knowledge and share their part in the industry that first put Costa Mesa on the map.”

Whether you’re a boater, a Disney fan, or a lover of history, you will find something interesting at this unique exhibit.

“The Hull Story” is now on view at the Costa Mesa Historical Society Museum, 1870 Anaheim Ave., 10am-3pm Thursdays and Fridays or by appointment.