Bunny Howard and the Beetle Cat ~
John G. Howard (1920-2004) was a life-long champion of sailboats in Barnstable Harbor. He sailed boats, mostly wooden; he taught generations of children to sail and love boats; he repaired boats and he built them.
“Bunny” – as he was known to young and old – began as a nickname because he wiggled his nose as a child. He spent childhood summers in Barnstable and in 1938 started his boatyard in the carriage house of his family home, next to the Barnstable Yacht Club. He owned John G. Howard Boats for 51 years.
His favorite boat was the Beetle Cat – named for the New Bedford man who first built one for his children in 1921. In 1937, Bunny won the inaugural Beetle Cat championship at the Barrington Yacht Club. The event was held the following year in Barnstable. Bunny’s father, who was commodore of the Barnstable Yacht Club, soon got the Beetle Cat installed as the club’s official sailboat. The annual championships continue, and Barnstable is a frequent host. With their shallow draw and wide beam, they are excellent boats for our harbor with its tides and sand flats.
Bunny also designed the classic Howard Skiff, which can be found on many docks around New England. Today, Peter Eastman owns the Howard Boat Shop. Peter worked with Bunny and carries his torch, sailing and building and supporting the use of sailboats in the harbor.
– Susan S. H. Littlefield
Gretchen Ehret Hibben’s Memories of Bunny Howard – Written in 2004
To remember Bunny, I could list the facts; life long member, [Barnstable Yacht Club] Barnstable Cup recipient in 1935, [BYC] Commodore’s cup recipient, along with [his wife] Mitch in 1959, and the donor of the [BYC] Junior sailing trophy. I could list his sailing accomplishments, that would take me until next Tuesday, but it would all be wrong. There is so much more.
… In Bunny’s eyes there was such a thing as an ugly boat and jet skis were positively evil. He also got angry at power boats flying through middle of a Rhodes [sailboat] race…
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