Caperboat's Blog

Christmas at the Boat Shop

Posted in Uncategorized by caperboat on December 20, 2016

George Luzier is 92 and has been building wood boats since he he was 17.  This year he is completing a coastal cruiser for Pat Ball, who has helped George build the boat.  She is finished in Fighting Lady Yellow and named the “Julie B” for his youngest granddaughter. Pat and his brother Charlie, now and then, throw a boat shop party.  This year there was the boat, George’s daughter Madeline’s birthday and Christmas all rolled into one.


The old tin shop building on Princeton Street near downtown Sarasota, was surrounded by cars lining the entire block.   It was packed with friends, family, lawyers, doctors,writers, historians, electricians, accountants, sailmakers, and assorted raconteurs.  All meeting, greeting, drinking, gabbing and eating fresh smoked mullet and steamed pink gulf shrimp.  One fella found himself a quiet nook between boat hulls to savor the feast.


A few short speeches were made, Madeline cut her cake and a good time was had by all. What a perfect place to kick off the holiday season! Before leaving the shop, I wandered back to the far corner of a covered shed hanging on  the side of the building.  There sat three of George’s older boats silently celebrating the season, lit only by a small Christmas tree perched on the bow of one of them. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!




Posted in Uncategorized by caperboat on November 25, 2016

baby-doll-7-28-16High and dry for the first time in 50 years is a strange feeling.  It’s been a couple of months since Baby Doll (seen here, awaiting a truck) was sold to a new owner in Blue Hill Maine and my memories of her and many other boats before are beginning to fade.  The morning after the sale I said to Sue at breakfast “Do you realize this is the first morning in 52 years that we’ve got up without owning a boat”?  We better be nice to each other”.

I am still pondering what the future may bring.  Another boat? Chartering or renting a boat? Or maybe no more boats?  In the meantime, I have had ample opportunity to sail and race with friends on Sarasota Bay.  But now, when I return, my back aches, my legs are tired, and I have a few new bruises on my  arms and legs. I guess I always had them but now they’re annoying.

Maybe my days of armchair sailing are just beginning. More time to read, write and think about all manner of boats, unfettered by ownership or commitment. The ability to sail whenever, wherever and whatever I please  with a mouse in one hand and a glass of wine in the other.  Doesn’t sound all that bad.

Patience is a virtue…

Posted in Uncategorized by caperboat on October 3, 2015

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If you are reading this, thank you for doing so.  My neglect of the blog is inexcusable.  So I would like to begin where I left off in April of 2014.  The only excuse I can offer is my latest addiction – a wooden sailboat.  Let me introduce BABY DOLL.  She was built in Sarasota by legendary boat builder George Luzier in 1962.  I became a partner with Pat Ball the month I stopped writing my blog.  Pat has owned her for almost ten years and was happy to have another owner to help care for this wonderful old vessel.  She’s in really nice shape including an engine rebuild of her original Palmer 4 cylinder gas engine.

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She sails like a dream. Here she is rounding a mark in last year’s Sarasota Bay Cup where we placed fourth missing third (and a trophy) by about 20 seconds.  Not bad for an old gal.

Posted in Uncategorized by caperboat on April 14, 2014

Sorry  to bother our again, but I have completed my list of invitations.  I will attempt to send this from my IPad 




Posted in Uncategorized by caperboat on April 14, 2014

Shan shui

Posted in Uncategorized by caperboat on August 10, 2012

Several years ago I attended an exhibit of Shan shui paintings.  A Chinese art form dating back to the 5th century, it translates to rock and water.  Shan shui should contain three compositional components: path, threshold and heart. The path should meander to a threshold, or horizon, containing the heart, or focal point, of the painting.

I decided to apply the principles to my photography and combine it with short poetry. The image and words below are first in a series.


rocks cracking slowly, silently,

time measures millenniums while

cedars bear windy witness.



Posted in Uncategorized by caperboat on March 4, 2012


St. Petersburg FL/ DeSoto National Memorial Park

“I arrived before dawn and found my way down to the beach in total darkness.  I could hear bits of conversation, and random specs of light like fireflies bounced on the bending branches of the windblown trees.  I knew I was surrounded by a surreal group of sailors, ready to risk their lives in the quest for adventure.  I was pretty sure they were going to get it in spades.”

Each year the Everglades Challenge starts from the beach west of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. It is contested by iron men and women, ready to race 300 miles down the west coast of Florida, past the Everglades, through Florida Bay and make landfall at Key Largo. They race in six classes that include a variety of kayaks, sailboats, catamarans and trimarans.  The largest is less than 30 feet, the smallest, a nine foot sailboat. Many do it single handed or with one other person.

They are on their own once they leave the beach; their only contact being a GPS homing device, and three checkpoints along the way.  Many go non-stop and finish in as little as one and a half days, some take five to eight days and some never make it.

They are known collectively as the Watertribe, and their leader is “Chief”.  At the race meeting the afternoon before, Chief points out that this is a struggle, not only against nature but your own fears.

They pushed the boats off of the beach at 7:00AM, roughly at sunrise.  This year they launched into the teeth of 15-20 knots of breeze right out of the south…the direction they were headed.  Even more challenging, the forecast called for a cold front to come through on Sunday morning with winds building to 25 knots, gusting to 40.  As I write this in the comfort of my office, I can look over Sarasota Bay where the whitecaps are rolling down to the city shores.  According to the tracking map on the Watertribe website, the boats are scattered all along the west coast, some beached, some still going. I am in awe.

Christmas in Door County, WI

Posted in Uncategorized by caperboat on January 14, 2012

We went to Door County for the first time in years to experience a white Christmas. I hurried out with camera, before the light dusting disappeared, to find a suitable memory to record for the trip.

There’s something about a canoe’s sultry shape, frosted with snow, that appeals to the eye. As provocative a shape that can be imagined. As she lay there chilled in the grass, the silence of still water spoke to me of the past season…the many voyages that began just beyond this shore, now frozen, as “Tern” set sail unto the sparkling blue waters of Baileys Harbor and out into Lake Michigan.

It was a summer of recuperation following a spring of challenges. They have all been met, and Sue has fully recovered from her brush with mortality. The tonic of sailing was great consolation to memories of our trawler, lashed in her berth for the summer in steamy Florida, patiently awaiting our return in the fall.

And now we are back from the winter visit and “Susan Lee” is ready to go. If all goes according to expectations, we will head north along the west coast of Florida for a couple of weeks in early March in search of what’s left of “old Florida”. There are still some pleasant surprises to welcome the inquisitive sailor tucked among the waterfront condos, strip malls, and sunburned tourists that stretch from Clearwater to Naples. Fishing villages, pristine barrier islands, off-the-radar small funky towns, and sand strewn inlets that are best navigated by eye rather than electronics.

Happy New Year

New Courses, New Challenges

Posted in Uncategorized by caperboat on June 9, 2011

“SUSAN LEE”  photographed by Dave Powell

About the only thing that hasn’t changed since my last post in February is the name of this blog “CAPERBOAT”…  I think I will stick with it for now, as Sue and I have had enough changes for awhile.  Most of the changes to our lives have been positive, and, as usual, with a few difficulties thrown in.

Last summer, we chartered a trawler in the North Channel with Wisconsin friends, Al and Cynthia Johnson.  I was on assignment to do a cruising piece for PassageMaker, which will be published soon.

There is always a hidden cost in  anything to do with boating and this one will come as no surprise to many of you. While sitting in the flybridge while at anchor on a sunny afternoon in the Benjamin Islands, Sue said “Don’t you miss the breeze and the view from up here?”  How could I say no at a moment like that?  Well, six months later our lovely Mainship  Express 34 “CAPER” was sold and soon thereafter the Mainship 390 Trawler “SUSAN LEE’ was occupying our slip at the Bird Key Yacht Club.  She was built in 2003 and was in very good shape, but needed fine tuning to satisfy my usual boat fetish for perfection.  So the first six weeks of ownership resulted in substantial sums of effort (by experts) and cash (by me).

We finally got away on a ten day cruise of southwest Florida from our home in Sarasota, down as far as Ft. Meyers and back.  The boat performed beautifully despite a harrowing arrival at Useppa Island when the port shift cable broke while backing into a slip with a heavy cross wind. Over a full day was required to locate and install a new 34 foot cable that threaded through the boat, both vertically and horizontally.

While returning on the trip, Sue developed a swollen right leg.  She visited her internist who ordered a ultrasound to check for a blood clot.  Negative.  Next she sent Sue for ct scan of her abdomen.  There, lurking in the shadows, was a large mass that a subsequent biopsy confirmed as a GIST malignant tumor.  This is a relatively rare form of cancer and would require surgical removal.  As it turned out, it had nothing to do with the leg (which was caused by a cyst), but was fortunately found in time  for a successful operation; a complete removal with clear margins and further treatment unlikely. During her second day of surgical recovery her heart rate accelerated to over 250.  She was transported by ambulance to another hospital for a heart catherization and ablatement procedure to block the condition.

She has been resting at home since, getting stronger every day.  We almost went back down to the boat today, but decided to wait a few more days.  We most likely will not leave the slip with our lovely new boat before we return  to Wisconsin, looking forward to both summer,the fall and resuming our cruising aboard “SUSAN LEE.”

This most recent  journey has confirmed our lifelong practice of enjoying life to the fullest while the weather is fair.


Posted in Uncategorized by caperboat on February 26, 2011

In recognition of the eight month interval since my last post, I thought it fitting to look back in my photo archives.  This ancient hull lies along Highway A which roughly bisects Door County in a north-south direction.  She is a reminder of the maritime past of the peninsula, having served her masters for years in the early twentieth century; a time before the causeway was built connecting Cana Island to the mainland. The lighthouse keeper and his family used her to travel to and from Baileys Harbor to collect mail, supplies and maintenance items for the light.
Her name is no longer visible on her weather ravaged topsides, but even mother nature cannot totally destroy her handsome hull and deckhouse. Good looks sometimes actually improve with time.  This is a good example.  She might now be considered as outdoor sculpture contributing to the ambiance of the county. Long may she reign.

Since the last post on the site, Sue and I have been busy selling “CAPER” and replacing her with a 2003 Mainship 390 trawler, now named “SUSAN LEE”.  She is powered by a pair of 240 HP Yanmar diesels and can cruise comfortably at anywhere between 8 and 15 knots.  We leave in a couple of weeks for a couple of weeks cruising southwest Florida.  Look for updates soon.