The year was 1903. The place was Sewall Road in Wolfeboro, NH… Nathaniel H. Goodhue partnered with Chester E. Hawkins to begin what was to become the legendary marina they named Goodhue & Hawkins Navy Yard – although it had no connection to the U.S. Navy. Early on they were known for taking care of people’s boats in the summer and winter. As early as 1904, Goodhue & Hawkins was renting boats. According to the local historian Q. David Bowers in his book The History of Wolfeboro, NH, 1770-19940, “Goodhue and Hawkins are renting their new boat Cannon Ball for the fishing season; it has got the speed that should go with its name.”
From the very beginning, the marina was known for making boats of all kinds from steamers to launches. In 1908, they began selling automobiles as well. Seems repairing cars and boats went hand-in-hand in those days. They became known for both The Lake Boat and the Ford Runabout which curiously referred to an automobile! By 1913 an advertisement stated that they specialized in “fine pleasure craft, speed runabouts, express cruisers, marine railway, and winter storage, automobile repairing, and supplies, machine shop, isolated electric lights, and plumbing plants for country homes, storage battery repairing, electrical starting systems installed.”
In 1937, the business was bought by Nathaniel W. Goodhue (the nephew of the original Nathaniel H. Goodhue, who had passed away in 1932) along with the original partner Chester E. Hawkins and Daniel Crowley. By now, Goodhue & Hawkins Navy Yard no longer sold cars, but only boats and boating supplies. During World War II the firm was involved in defense work. By 1947 they resumed building wooden boats often as large as the 30-foot Lakers. A new boat design suited to Lake Winnipesaukee was designed and built by Nat Goodhue and Otto Pecunies that was “a good looking and practical design that went through the choppy waves”. One of these, The Swallow, became famous far and wide.
1957 saw the retirement of Chester Hawkins and in 1959 work began on the large pier that exists today on the northwest side of the Navy Yard. 1959 through 1964 saw many new storage sheds built. In 1961, The Good Utility 21 wooden runabout was built. Several of these can be found in the area today. By 1964, the last wooden boat was built and in 1972 Captain Nat sold the Navy Yard to Peter Brown of Brookfield who ran it until 1976. It was during this time that fiberglass boats were introduced, namely the North American Offshore runabouts powered by OMC Stern Drive and Chrysler inboards. Rupp snowmobiles were also sold, giving Goodhue & Hawkins a winter presence as well.
The name Goodhue & Hawkins Navy Yard was again retained by new owners Earl Smith, Charles Smith, and Richard Kourian in 1976 who pledged to build up the marina and proceeded to do so in different forms of ownership through 2004. Various brands of power boats were sold including Chrysler, Glastron, Marathon, Charger, Donzi, Proline, Crestliner, and SmokerCraft. SeaDoo personal watercrafts were also offered. In addition to the OMC and Chrysler brand, the Navy Yard offered Mercruiser Stern drives and Mercury outboards along with Evinrude outboards. Volvo Stern Drives also became important with their acclaimed Duo Prop.
Sailboats were introduced in 1977 by Charlie Rocknak who offered the Chrysler brand. These were continued by Sewall Road resident Earl Anthony until the sailing shop was purchased in 1984 by Steve Durgan. Durgan introduced the CAL line of sailboats and offered models from 22 through 33 feet. Point Jude daysailers were added in 1987. Durgan would continue as general manager of Goodhue & Hawkins Navy Yard until 1998.
the marina today
Current ownership began in 2004 when Charles Smith sold the marina to Brent and Cameron Pratt who retained the original Goodhue & Hawkins Navy Yard name. The Pratt Family removed some of the old structures, replacing them with state-of-the-art storage and service buildings that gave a new look to the old marina. COBALT BOATS were added in 2010 and soon became the top selling boat of its type in the area.
Since 1904, Goodhue & Hawkins Navy Yard has been renting boats. Today that tradition continues with a large fleet of both runabouts and pontoon boats. Like the original Cannon Ball, these rental boats are well suited to the uniqueness that is Lake Winnipesaukee. The tradition of Goodhue & Hawkins Navy Yard is carried on in the staff that represents over 100 years of experience on The Big Lake.