G. F. Lawson & Son, boat builders

No. 20319 The Schooner Mahdee.


The company was located on Freeport Street, probably on the north side of Commercial Point or close by.

The following is from the Boston Globe, May 27, 1932:

A man and a 10-year-old boy, both of Dorchester, were killed at Lawson’s Boat Yard, on the shore of Dorchester Bay, when wind demolished a long shed on a pier and sent heavy timber plunging into a sea-sled 75 feet away, under which the man and boy had sought shelter from the rain.

Two workmen in the demolished shed escaped with scratches.  Damage to shed and 30 boats inside was estimated at $50,000.

The Mahdee is one of the boats built by Lawson


Mahdee is believed to be the first small electric drive auxiliary. She was designed in 1930 and launched in April of 1931. Her original owner, Alexander “Sandy” Moffat described her design and performance in the February 1932 issue of Yachting magazine. His article is titled ‘”Mahdee” The First Small Electric Drive Auxillary.’ We have a photocopy of (most!) of this article and will post a re-print here if we can obtain the full article reprint. About the name: mahdee is a “pretty woman” in eastern India according to Mr. Moffats’ writings. Mahdee was designed by naval architect Samuel Sturgis Crocker (March 29, 1890 – November 24, 1964). and built by G.F Lawson and Son boatyard in Dorchester, Massachusetts.

Schooner Mahdee

The 1931 Schooner Mahdee was designed by naval architect Samuel Sturgis Crocker (March 29, 1890 – November 24, 1964). and built by G.F Lawson and Son boatyard in Dorchester, Massachusetts, for Alexander White Moffat, known as “Sandy” to friends and “Skipper” to family.  He was, at the time of Mahdee’s launch, Commodore of the Cruising Club of America as well as the Boston Yacht Club.  Much has been written about Mahdee: several articles by Moffat in Yachting magazine; she is in Roger C Taylor’s book entitled Good Boats, and more recently Bjorn Rudolph Arp’s Great American Schooner Yachts.



Designed: Sam S. Crocker 1930
Builder: G.F. Lawson, Dorchester MA
Launched: 1931
Major Re-rigging and Repower: 1937-1939
Major Rebuild: 2006-2009

LOD: 54′; LWL: 46′; LOA (including spars): 68′;
Beam: 14′ 11″; Draft: 6’4″
Rig: Original Gaff-fore and Gunter-mainsail Schooner, re-rig to change Gunter to Bermuda-mainsail 1939.
Construction: original fir on steam-bent oak; rebuild mahogany on laminated mahogany;

Mahdee started life with jaunts between her summer cruising grounds of the Maine coast and her winter home of Long Island Sound. Though we don’t know much of how she spent the 1940’s and 1950’s we do know that she underwent a name change (to Privateer) and later cruised through the Caribbean and made it to the west coast where she spent many happy years sailing the Pacific in the 1960’s and 1970’s. With two TransPac races under her (portly) belt, she retired to houseboat status in San Diego in the early 1980’s where a family of 8 lived aboard her and sailed her about the bay until we purchased her in 2006. After her much needed rebuild, we live aboard and cruise with her. We hope for many years to come.


Posted on

May 22, 2020