There are few grown sailors along the Atlantic coast today who, at some time during their childhood, did not sail a boat built by Cape Cod, and few East Coast yacht clubs which have not sponsored a fleet of one-designs built by Cape Cod.
The Cape Cod Shipbuilding Co. was founded at the turn of the century by Captain Charles S. Gurney, and during his lifetime over 16,000 boats were built ranging up to 100 ft., but mostly in the 12 to 20 ft. size. Best known at that time was the Cape Cod Baby Knockabout, which with other models was shipped to all parts of the World.
E.L. Goodwin purchased the company in 1939. His policy was - and is - to build quality boats and to maintain service on parts for those boats previously built.
During the World War II, Cape Cod went into production of wood boats for the armed services. Fortunately the business procured was for boats under 51 ft., the type which the plant and personnel was best equipped to handle. On one contract the plant produced 46 ft. tug boats for the U.S. Army Transportation Corps at the rate of one and one-half per week.
In 1941 the small boat department of George Lawley & Sons, Inc. was purchased and immediately moved to Wareham. Along with the jigs, forms and patterns received from Lawley’s came much of the "knowhow" gathered over the years in the manufacture of fine boats. At the end of the war, the benefits of continuing small wood boat construction was reaped since production on pleasure boats was resumed without any major plant changes.
The exclusive rights to manufacture the Herreshoff Bull’s Eye (12-1/2 footer), the Herreshoff Fish Class, The Herreshoff S-Class and other one-design boats were purchased in 1947. The jigs, forms and patterns formerly used at the Herreshoff Mfg. Co. were moved to Wareham together with their parts inventory, metal patterns and special machines. The President, R.F. Haffenreffer and General Manager, C.W. Haffenreffer of the Herreshoff Mfg. Co., were extremely anxious to transfer the Herreshoff boat building art together with more tangible assets to Cape Cod.
To have been selected from among many applicants to continue the construction of the Herreshoff boats is a source of pride at Cape Cod. We were also fortunate to have Sidney Herreshoff (son of Captain Nat) on our staff as consulting Navy Architect and Engineer for over 20 years.
In January 1949, after 50 years of building wood boats, Cape Cod joined one or two other companies in pioneering fiberglass boat construction. Shortly thereafter, a molding room was built and equipped and wood boat construction was discontinued.
About 1947, aluminum began to replace wood as spar material, and Cape Cod was among the first to accept these new aluminum spars as standard equipment for new classes. Zephyr Products, Inc., one of the first aluminum stock spar manufacturers, was purchased by the present management. Zephyr, having merged with Cape Cod, is now known as Zephyr Products Division of Cape Cod Shipbuilding. It has grown rapidly and supplies not only spars for Cape Cod boats, but also custom builds for other manufacturers and individual boat builders.
In 1979 Gordon L. Goodwin was promoted to President of Cape Cod Shipbuilding Co., taking over from his father, E.L. Goodwin. The firm has a 100 years of boating experience, and is the oldest American sailboat builder.
With the experience and background of the personnel, Cape Cod will retain its position in the field as a quality shipyard by giving year round employment; therefore, producing boats that are simply better.
© 2023 Bullseye Sailing Association, c/o 37 High Street, Rockport, MA 01966