Cape Cod Shipbuilding

Frequently Asked Questions


How can I tell how old my boat is?

The builder’s hull plaque and the Coast Guard Hull Identification Number both indicate the year the boat was built. See below for details. Also, the original paperwork issued with the boat will identify these numbers and the year the boat was built.

What is a hull plaque and where can I find it?

Each boat built by Cape Cod Shipbuilding since approximately the 1920’s has been issued a Hull number. This is our way as the builder of identifying the particular boat as well as the manufacturer. The hull plaque does not identify the type of boat. Since approximately the 1940’s we have followed the same method for assigning hull numbers; each model starts at 1 each year (1st Bull’s Eye built, 2nd Bull’s Eye built, etc.) and the last two digits are the year the boat was built (In the year 2000, we started using four digits for the year). For example the 18th Bull’s Eye built in 1961 would have a hull number of 18-61, and the 5th Shields built in 1986 would be hull number 5-86. Hull numbers on wooden boats built were stamped on the stem, but not consistently. Most hull plaques are a small 1”x2” bronze plaque saying Cape Cod Shipbuilding Corp or Co. Wareham, MA and the hull number is stamped into it. The H-12 ½ hull plaque changed to a 2”x3” oval shaped bronze plaque around 2003. They are typically installed on an aft bulkhead under the tiller, on the inside of the transom, at the base of the mast, or where the coamings come together towards the bow of the boat. As these plaques are sometimes removed for winter work or refurbishing, they can be lost over time. This is the best way to identify a boat and its age so be careful to keep yours if you have one. If you are having trouble reading the hull number, get the stamped portion of the hull plaque wet. View hull plaque photos.

What is a Coast Guard Hull Identification Number and where can I find it?

The Coast Guard Hull Identification Number (HIN) is a 12 character sequence etched into the upper starboard corner of the transom of the boat which uniquely identifies each boat. The HIN is a Federal requirement similar to your vehicles identification number. It is required on all boats manufactured after 1972 to enable manufacturers to clearly identify boats that are involved in a defect notification or recall. It is illegal for anyone (manufacturer, dealer, distributor, or owner) to alter or remove a HIN. The first three letters known as the MIC, identify the manufacturer of the vessel. All Cape Cod Shipbuilding Co. built boats have HIN’s that begin with CAC; the middle characters identify the type of boat; the last 2 digits are the year the boat was built.

Why are my sail number and hull number different?

These are two very different numbers. Sail numbers are assigned to boats in more or less in sequence that they are built. Each boat model has its own sequence which started with 1 for the first boat built. In early years when boats weren’t ordered with sails they were not assigned numbers. For example when a fleet of boats was sold to a sailing program if they purchased sails directly from the sail loft and used their own numbers such as BYC 1, BYC 2, etc. they would not be assigned numbers. Today, all sailboats are assigned a sail number whether sails or ordered or not. The hull numbers on the other hand start with 1 each year for each boat model and the last 2 digits identify the year (or 4 digits for boats built in 2000 or later).

How can I tell if I have a DaySailer I or a DaySailer II?

The DaySailer I is the original Uffa Fox design which uses a metal handle to raise and lower the centerboard. DaySailer I’s built after 1970 will generally have a DaySailer I sticker on the side of the cuddy. DaySailer II’s have a raised floor with self bailing cockpit and the centerboard raises and lowers with a series of blocks and rope. They also will generally have a DaySailer II sticker on the side of the cuddy.

What do I do if I need parts for my DaySailer?

It must first be determined who built your boat. O’Day built DaySailer I’s, DaySailer II’s & DaySailer III’s. The class Association (a group of owners) was established while the DS I’s were built by O’Day. As O’Day evolved the design into the DS II, the class accepted the DS II’s to race with DS I’s. For a few years DS I’s & DS II’s were side by side in the O’Day shop & then the rights for the DS I were acquired by the Class Association. When O’Day developed the DS III, The class did not accept that boat to race within the Class Association. O’Day continued to build DS II’s & DS III’s until they closed in 1989. A list of which versions were built when can be found on the Class Association website The building of the DS I continued by serval different builders under the watchful eye of the DaySailer Class Association. Cape Cod Shipbuilding Co. became the authorized builder of the DaySailer I in 1995. Some parts used by prior builders are no longer available as the part manufacturers discontinued/went out of business. When ordering replacement parts, we may refer you to a company that supplies O’Day specific parts. Cape Cod Shipbuilding Co. carries replacement parts for Cape Cod built DaySailer I’s. Some parts are compatible with DS I’s built by prior builders but many are not. It’s best to contact Cape Cod Shipbuilding Co. with a photo to assure fit and availability before purchase. Replacement spars and rigging can be custom made for all versions but adjustments will need to be made to an older boat to assure fit and function.

Did Cape Cod Shipbuilding Co. purchase O’Day Corp. or the rights to build the O’Day DaySailer?

No. Cape Cod Shipbuilding Co. did not purchase O’Day Corp. The O’Day Corp closed in 1989. The DaySailer Class Association owns the rights to the DaySailer I and Cape Cod Shipbuilding Co. is the authorized builder. Cape Cod Shipbuilding Co. and the DaySailer Class Association maintain a builders agreement as we work together to continue to build the class. Cape Cod Shipbuilding Co. does not build any other designs previously built by O’Day Corp.

What do I do if I need parts for my Shields One Design?

It must first be determined who built your Shields. Cape Cod Shipbuilding Co. built sail numbers 1-20. Chris Craft Corp. built sail numbers 21-190. Henry R. Hinckley Corp built approx. sail numbers 191-199 and Cape Cod Shipbuilding Co. built Sail numbers 200 +. Some parts are compatible with Shields built by prior builders but some are not. It’s best to contact Cape Cod Shipbuilding Co. with a photo to assure fit and availability before purchase. Replacement spars and rigging are available for Shields but some may require further adjustment to assure fit and function as this design evolved when it moved from one builder to another and has been in production for over 50 years.

What do I do if I need parts for my Cat Boat?

It must first be determined who built your Cat Boat. Before Cape Cod Shipbuilding Co. began building the Cape Cod Cat it was built out of wood and known as the Herman Cat. Cape Cod Shipbuilding Co. built fiberglass the Herman Cat from 1972-1978. Cape Cod Shipbuilding Co. built the Cape Cod Cat from 1980-2006. The Cape Cod Cat has been discontinued but some parts like rigging and sails can be special ordered. The molds remain here at Cape Cod Shipbuilding Co. Parts are not compatible with/available for Herman Cats as there were too many modifications as the design evolved.


How do I use the jib club on my Bull’s Eye? Is it really necessary?

Install the jib club by hooking the small hook on the end of the jib club to the grommet at the clew of the sail. Make sure the jib sheet block on the grommet is under the hook to allow the sail to slide freely along the jib sheet. Attach the other end of the club to the forestay above the second jib hank. The forestay will slide into the V part of the stainless steel fitting and the pin through the stainless steel fitting and jib club will hold it in place. Depending on the wind conditions, adjust the hole you place the pin into for a more flat or fuller sail. Make sure the lanyard on the pin lead under the jib hank to prevent the jib club from sliding up the forestay for the third hank.

The jib club is the secret to the self-tacking jib and must always be used with the working jib for proper trim. It allows the sail to run from port to starboard along the jib sheet when tacking without adjusting the jib sheets.

My Cape Cod built boat didn’t come with a roller reefing boom. Should I install reef lines and reef-points?


Unless otherwise ordered, Mercuries, Geminis, Bulls Eyes, Rhodes 18s and Goldeneyes all come standard with roller reefing goosenecks. Chances are that the prior owner of your boat didn’t maintain the working components hidden in the boom extrusion so the parts simply seized together. Many owners don’t realize what is actually hidden inside the boom. The casting that holds the tack pin also holds a roller reefing pin attached to a spring. This spring keeps the castings engaged and with a simple pull back on your boom, you can turn the boom and wrap the mainsail around the boom. While reefed, you can’t attach your boom vang and you must have a standard mainsheet arrangement where the block is shackled to the tang on the goosegg, but this sure comes in handy if you get caught in a gale. Before modifying your mainsail and installing a cruising boat style reefing system, see if your standard gooseneck assembly will free up or can be replaced.

How does my roller reefing work?

To reef your mainsail, loosen your mainsheet, pull the boom aft to engage the rolling mechanism in the gooseneck and begin to turn the boom as you lower the main halyard. The sail will wrap around the boom as you continue to turn the boom. The gooseneck can be locked again at every half turn so you can shorten sail just the amount you need. The gooseneck mechanism should be rinsed and tested each season. When not maintained, it may corrode and seize. The standard mainsheet arrangement with a roller reefing boom only has the mainsheet on the aft end of the boom; the mainsheet cannot be lead forward for mid-boom sheeting while reefed.


What is the best way to maintain my woodwork?

To keep teak with its rich brown color, apply Amazons Light ‘N Easy Teak Oil at least once a season. If the teak turn’s grey first apply teak scrub with a 3M scrubby pad to clean & smooth and follow with two coats of oil once dry. If the teak has been left to turn grey and the grain has raised you will need to sand and then apply oil to restore the brown color.

To keep mahogany and spruce protected, you must apply varnish each season. Lightly sand all of the woodwork, clean with a tack cloth and apply 2 coats of Awlspars Classic Spar Varnish. This varnish provides excellent durability with ultraviolet inhibitors and absorbers, it dries fast to allow for quick recoats and build up without sanding.

What is the best way to maintain my gelcoat?

Protect the finish and shine of the gelcoat by washing it with a mild detergent and applying a good quality wax such as Boat Lifes Life-wax paste. If you have a deep scratch you may want to buff it out with 3M’s Super Duty Rubbing Compound and a high speed buffer and a lambswood pad.

What do I do if the Centerboard is frozen on my Mercury?

Place the boat on two horses: One forward, and one aft of the centerboard trunk. While standing in the boat, release the centerboard pennant, and pull up and aft on the board itself. If the board moves a little pull it forward using the centerboard winch, then pull it up again, and again gaining a little each time until the board is free. If this method does not work then begin working under the boat. Take a thin piece of steel such as a heavy hacksaw blade, and work it up and down between the centerboard and the trunk all the way fore and aft on both sides. Then with a light pinch bar or a heavy screwdriver pry the board down by prying in between the centerboard and the aft end of the trunk. Again, if you can get it started down a little, continue to pull the board up and down gaining a little each time. Once the board is free, it must be taken out of the boat; cleaned and painted.

I can see a crack between the hull and keel of my boat, is this a problem?

When a keel is installed onto the hull underwater body filler is used to fill any voids and create a smooth bottom. This filler breaks down over time and reveals a crack. It may be necessary to remove all of the old underwater body filler and apply new for a smooth bottom.

I think I have water in my air tank, is this a problem?

The air tank is the only thing preventing the boat from sinking when swamped. It is incredibly important to assure that the air tanks are tight for safety sake. If you believe that your boat has an air tank leak, it should be hauled immediately and repaired. Air tanks need to be tested every season and also any time there is a collision or damage which questions the integrity of the air tank. Generally leaks occur when water is allowed to gather in the bilge and freeze. This causes cracks in the fiberglass which allow water to seep into the air tank. If you find one leak, it should be assumed that there are multiple leaks. Contact us for full details on testing air tanks and finding leaks.

Is there an alternative to the rubrail adhesive that you sell?

The adhesive that we use is specially formulated to adhere vinyl to fiberglass and gelcoat without damaging either piece. It is not sold in marine stores but is a special formula made by Upaco Adhesives division of Worthen Industries. Other products sold in stores are either too powerful and damage the gelcoat or they aren’t stong enough to hold the vinyl rubrail securely.

When should I replace the wire standing rigging on my boat?

Most rig failures are caused by corrosion which leads to metal fatigue so each season you should closely inspect all of your standing rigging. Run a cotton ball along the entire length of the wire shroud. If it frays take a closer look for loose strands or meat hooks. Also inspect the wire for kinks. Then closely inspect the fittings for cracks or fatigue. Assure that the turnbuckles are in full working order with secure locking nuts or cotter pins and looks for damaged threads, bend studs, cracks, or elongated holes. If you find any of these things the rigging should be replaced. There is not hard & fast rule about how often rigging should be replaced. It’s a good idea to replace all of the standing rigging after 10-15 years. Keep in mind that if you have a rigging failure, it’s much more expensive to repair the damage than to have prevented it by purchasing new rigging.

Can I return a part that I ordered?

You may return standard unused items within 30days of purchase for a refund less 10% restocking fee and shipping, items returned beyond 30 days refunded less 50% restocking fee, and there will be no refund for parts returned after 45 days. The following items are non-returnable: special orders, paint, varnish, and rubrail glue.

New Boat:

Do you have dealers throughout the country?

We do not have dealers. All of our boats are sold directly to our customers. We welcome everyone to come to our shop and see our production. You can see the finished boats as well as the construction process.

How long does it take to build an H-12 ½?

A new H-12 ½ takes about 3 1/2 months to build from start to finish. The actual time it takes to complete a boat from the time the boat order is place varies depending upon what other boats are in production.

How long does it take to build a Shields?

A new Shields takes about 4 1/2 months to build from start to finish. The actual time it takes to complete a boat from the time the boat order is place varies depending upon what other boats are in production.

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