Cape Cod Shipbuilding Company’s hundred year history

Oct 22, 2020

All throughout its 121 year history, Cape Cod Shipbuilding Company has been one of the South Coast’s key businesses. At a talk Thursday night, Wendy Goodwin, president of the Cape Cod Shipbuilding Company, walked listeners through the history of the Wareham-based company and its boats. 

Goodwin took over as president in 2011, following both her father Gordon Goodwin and grandfather E.L. Goodwin’s footsteps in running the family business. She said the company’s high-quality product is what has kept the Cape Cod Shipbuilding Company in business for so many years. 

“You might think we would learn by the third generation that we were making mistakes by building boats so well that people don’t need to replace them,” Goodwin said. “But it’s that reputation that kept us not only afloat but still underway today.”

Early on, she said the company built wooden commercial and pleasure boats. But Cape Cod Shipbuilding Company was one of the first shipbuilding companies to turn to fiberglass materials, according to Goodwin.

“We’re one of the oldest fiberglass sailboat manufacturing companies still in business today,” she said. “Grandpa had to prove time and time again to people who were used to wooden boats that fiberglass would float and was strong.”

Today, the company’s boats have a modern quality with a traditional look, Goodwin said. She also noted that these days, most boats are mass-produced and not partially customized or handmade, leaving the Cape Cod Shipping Company in a bit of a minority.

“In 1994, grandpa passed away knowing the company was an endangered species,” Goodwin said, referring to the semi-custom, handmade boat making industry. “Although we do end up with quite a few buddies that are in the same boat as we are at boat shows, and we tend to flock together.” 

Goodwin also showed photos of a ship being built step-by-step during the talk.

Nearly 70 listeners tuned in to watch Goodwin’s presentation, which was hosted by the Sippican Historical Society.