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SL's dream ship sails for Superior

Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Anderson's life work is destined to become an Apostle Islands cruiser.

Dave Strzok loves to build and repair large wooden schooners.

The owner of Apostle Islands Cruise Service based in northern Wisconsin, Strzok has seven spacious ships to ferry guests to and from the 22 pieces of land which comprise the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior.

Today, he adds another vessel to his fleet - one which has been docked half-finished in Storm Lake since 1959.

Strzok, 59, will load the 45-foot liner previously owned by Jack Anderson of Storm Lake onto a flatbed truck and ship it up to Washburn, Wisc., today, where he will finish a project started by Anderson's brother, Bob, over 40 years ago.

Bob Anderson, a master carpenter, had a dream of sailing a large liner from Sioux City down to the Gulf of Mexico, and began construction on the schooner behind his parent's home at 621 Iowa Street in town in 1959.

After working on the boat for the better part of two decades, Bob began to feel the effects of Huntington's Disease, a muscular ailment similar to Parkinson's Disease, and had to cease working on the vessel. Jack then became the caretaker of the craft, and last October, he decided to see if anyone in Storm Lake or elsewhere would be interested in taking the boat out of its Iowa Street shed and helping his brother's dream become reality.

While Jack received offers from people from Sioux Falls and Des Moines who were willing to purchase the boat, Strzok was the first one with serious interest to come visit Jack in Storm Lake, and the Wisconsinite said he was hooked on the vessel from the very beginning.

"I'm really excited about this," Strzok said. "This is a very fine line that is really slick. It would have been a sad day to see this boat cut up or lie around and rot away, and that's why I decided to buy it."

"As soon as he saw it, he said he wanted it," Jack said, "and the family's glad that it's going somewhere, especially to someone who is so excited about it. He was the first one that definitely wanted it, and we shook hands and sealed the deal about three weeks ago. We're all glad that he's ready to work on it."

While the boat may have been the most visible of Bob's carpentry achievements, Jack said his brother, who now lives in Buena Vista Manor in town, also had a passion for model railroads and trains, constructing a huge working train set in the basement of his home, complete with a 10-foot long tunnel through a white brick wall, curved tracks, metal railroad ties and trusses and intricate landscaping.

"He had a lot of drive and a tremendous amount of talent," Jack said. "It was amazing how much skill he had in several different areas, and he used that talent very well, whether it was building a train set or building his ship."

Strzok, who will spend an estimated $50,000 to $80,000 working on the boat for the next two years, will spend time on the Anderson ship throughout the next 24 months, although a large portion of his work will take place in the winter, as his cruise line does not operate when the Lake Superior waters are frozen.

The businessman, who taught school for 12 years before beginning Apostle Islands Cruise Service, said the main reason he was taking the boat back to Washburn, a town located 70 miles east of Duluth, was the quality of Bob's craftsmanship, which Strzok said was second to none.

"I've heard that it's been called an ark, but calling this thing an ark gives Noah more credit than what he would have been able to do," Strzok said. "This is not an ark. This is a very, very classy schooner that is a fine line. He braced and cross-braced it perfectly, and that quality is something that is going to make this a lot of fun to work on."

The eight-hour trip from Storm Lake will not be the longest trip Strzok has made "sailing" a ship along the highways back to Wisconsin, as he moved a boat from Denver to Washburn several years ago. An aviation enthusiast, Strzok has also constructed several airplanes, including a B-51 which he is currently working on, and is also nearing completion on a children's story about the nine lighthouses around the Ashland - Washburn area.

Strzok, who will christen the boat "Gale," echoing Bob's dream of naming the boat after his mother, Gail, said he will keep the Anderson family abreast of the progress of Bob's ship, and will invite the family up to northern Wisconsin for a ride on the schooner when it is seaworthy.

He also said he is more than ready to begin turning a 43-year-old dream of a Storm Laker into a reality on the waters of Lake Superior.

"This is a task, but it's going to be fun," Strzok smiled. "I can't wait to get it up there and get started on this."



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