South Shore Breaker
‘You just can’t get more seaworthy’
South Shore boatbuilder goes ‘back to the future’ with design
A South Shore boatbuilder is taking a ‘back to the future’ approach to building innovative pleasure cruisers inspired by a tried and tested hull design pioneered on Cape Sable Island.
Boatbuilder Scott Dagley, of Cape Island Cruisers in East Lahave, worked with a design team including his longtime friend, blue water sailor and Covey Island Boatworks founder John Steele, and several experienced boat brokers to build a 38-foot fibreglass pleasure cruiser with a half-inch thick hull powered by a 110 horsepower Yanmar diesel engine. Dagley called the design the Stanley 38.
This modern-day cruiser was inspired by Nova Scotia’s most famous work boat, the Cape Islander, wellknown by lobster fishermen across Nova Scotia and the New England states.
“We wanted to go with the Cape Island hull because we know it really well,” Dagley said during a recent interview. “It’s a solid boat. It’s a lobster boat so it’s good for any sea here in these parts.”
The process began in 2020 when Dagley located one of the original Cape Island fibreglass hulls crafted by legendary Cape Sable Island boat builder Stanley Greenwood, who built more than 1,000 Cape Island boats, over 400 of which were wooden hulls. Greenwood, who died in 2012, was inducted into the Atlantic Canada Marine Industries Hall of Fame in 2015.
That meant Dagley used one of Greenwood’s first and best-made hulls that still had the preferred shape directly descended from the prized wooden Cape Island hulls to create a mould for the Stanley 38. Dagley returned the hull to the owner after making the mould.
Eventually, Dagley modified the Greenwood hull, reshaping it and extending it three feet.
Design consultant John Steele said Greenwood was one of the first Cape Sable builders to transition to fibreglass hull Cape Island boats.
“Fibreglass allows freedom to change shapes and do things you can’t do with wood,” Steele said. “Since fibreglass has been used in the boatbuilding
industry, hull forms have been allowed to change radically from what they could be with wood.
“Scott Dagley went looking for one of these boats because they really represented this kind of beautiful form but also because in those days engines were much smaller. They were much more efficient hulls,” Steele said.
“He wanted an attractive, seaworthy proven hull that was also efficient.”
According to Steele, the Stanley 38 represents reaching back in time to inspire the design and construction of a modern, comfortable, affordable seaworthy pleasure cruiser.
“The design very much relies on a proven older design adapted to current and future realities
as far as efficiency goes,” Steele said.
Steele quoted the account of author Evelyn M. Richardson, whose family were lighthouse keepers on tiny Bon Portage Island, at the tip of Cape Sable island. In her book We Keep A Light (Nimbus 2005), Richardson recounted her observations of Cape Island boats on the sea.
According to Steele, Richardson wrote about “the Cape Sable boats, known in the harbours of Nova Scotia and along the New England Coast.”
“It is claimed they can outlive anything their size in a storm. And I have never seen more strikingly graceful lines,” Richardson wrote.
“I can’t say it better than she did,” Steele said.
“The hull Scott chose is a boat that for decades has been working out in the North Atlantic in the winter. You just can’t get more seaworthy,” he said.
Dagley said the target market for the Stanley 38 is retiring couples who have done a lot of offshore sailing and want to continue cruising.
Dagley said construction of the Stanley 38 is an attempt to find a niche in the boat market for pleasure cruisers which saw a spike in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It seemed to us there was an opening in the industry that there were no boats a certain size,” Dagley said. “We decided between 35 and 38 feet would be a good boat to sell.”