Charles Beetle; John H. Beetle; Ruth Beetle,  1880’s-mid 20th cy.
New Bedford, MA USA

U
nderfoot for over ninety years, the Beetle Cat, inch for inch and pound for pound, is ever stable and sea-kindly to the beginner. And a perpetual delight to the seasoned sailor.

A commoner, the 12’ 4" LOA, gaff-rigged Beetle, draws 8" with her centerboard up and hails from the south shores of Cape Cod and Buzzard’s Bay and those waters’ smart summer southerlies. Her immediate ancestors were the slender and indefatigable whaleboats designed and built by Charles Beetle of New Beford in the 1880’s and the gaff-rigged fishing smacks of New England. Both builds embodied the sea-wisdom and resilience needed by men who faced the extreme dangers of harpooning a sperm whale or hauling a net seething with cod or herring.

Charles’ son, John H. Beetle, conceived the Beetle Cat in 1921, to serve the family sailor, especially children just learning to hand, reef and steer. Stable with an adult on the bow, utterly at ease hauled up a beach, as the rudder lies just shy of the keel’s depth, boasting a broad 6’ beam and a rig as simple as a stone, the unsinkable Beetle offers an impeccable classic experience in a stylish, open boat.

O
ver 4,000 Beetles have been built to date with the most competitive and colorful fleets concentrated in the lively waters of southern Masschusetts, Nantucket, Narragansett Bay and the South Fork of Long Island. Save for World War II, building Beetles has never stopped. In 1928, Ruth Beetle, the only woman shipwright of her day -- John’s daughter and a local school teacher - took over and ran Beetle until the war. Today, the sole builder is Beetle, Inc. with Charlie York as master builder. Wooden Boatworks maintains, repairs and stores about forty-five Beetle Cats each year.

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