Our History

Dave Nolan, who lives on Cape Cod with his wife Jane, owns Cape Yachts with two locations in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, and Newport, Rhode Island as well as South Wharf Yacht Yard & Marina in Dartmouth, MA. Prior to being in the boating business, Dave was a CPA with Price Waterhouse. Thirty-five years ago in 1986, Dave fell in love with sailing and the waters of Nantucket. Wanting to run his own business, he decided to leave public accounting to found Cape Water Sports on Cape Cod. Soon after it became the largest Sunfish, Hobie Cat and Windsurfing shop in the Northeast. Three years later, Dave added Beneteau, Catalina, O’Day, Cal and Pearson to his stable of brands and changed the name of the business to Cape Yachts.

Growth, spurred on by the kind of expertise and service unique to Cape Yachts, continued through the 1990s making Cape Yachts the largest Beneteau dealership in North America with locations in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York. During that time, Cape Yachts also began winning the coveted Beneteau President’s Award for superior sales and service – something we have been doing for 18 consecutive years.

In 2006, Dave purchased the historic South Wharf Yard in Padanaram Village of South Dartmouth, Massachusetts, saving the yard from being shut down due to decades of environmental impact. This location, steeped in yachting history, was a key American shipyard during an important era in the marine industry. Founded by an Act of the Boston Congress in 1832, South Wharf has been the site of whale ship building by Mathew, Mashow & Co. as well as Ray Hunt’s drafting office where Ray designed the Concordia Yawl and worked on his famous Deep V hull, that revolutionized the marine industry. The village of Padanaram is also where Herman Melville did a good bit of research for his classic ‘Moby Dick.’

South Wharf Yacht Yard & Marina has since been upgraded and overhauled by Dave and now also serves as headquarters for Cape Yachts. The yard’s marina boasts 90 protected slips and 4 wharfs that can accommodate vessels up to 130 feet.

Cape Yachts Yard Main Sign