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Flagship Caprice
Flagship Caprice
Caprice at anchor in Pelican Bay, Santa Cruz Island

Caprice (#none) (1906-1925), a 66-foot two-masted oak-framed center-board schooner with 2500 square feet of sails, built in 1906 in San Francisco. In 1919 a syndicate was formed to purchase her for the Santa Barbara Yacht Club’s flagship. Described as the “darling of the channel,” she was brought to Santa Barbara from San Francisco July 18, 1919 by Captain Edward Gourley. In 1921 the syndicate members assigned their interests in the vessel to the club “in return for 10 years paid up memberships.” In 1922 Caprice participated in an expedition of 250 prominent Santa Barbara citizens to Santa Cruz Island to promote the idea of a harbor in Santa Barbara. Captain Gourley estimated that over the years he took between 25,000 and 30,000 persons aboard Captice on cruises across the channel.

In 1925, Caprice caught fire in mid-channel when a 15-gallon leaking tank of gas exploded, and she sank. Captain Ed Gourley and his crew of eleven men escaped in two lifeboats and rowed seven hours to Pelican Bay on Santa Cruz Island. Captain Ira Eaton’s powerboat Sea Wolf returned them to Santa Barbara the next day.

In the News~

June 18, 1919 [SBMP]: “The return of skipper E. J. Gourley of the Santa Barbara Yacht Club is anxiously awaited here by members of the club as the problem of securing a yacht for a regatta to be staged here within the next few weeks is a paramount issue. It is expected that Gourley, who left for San Francisco last Friday to look over a 65-foot boat in the north, will arrive either today or tomorrow and will then make his report as to what he found in the bay region. A 65-footer in the harbor here would about come up to the idea of all those who are interested in the project. Hereafter the Royal, a craft much smaller, has held the boards here and has always given satisfactory service. But providing the new boat is purchased by the yacht club, a regular crew will be needed and when the boat bends her sails to the wind there is going to be some galloping over the waves noticeable in this section.”

June 21, 1919 [SBMP]: “Providing the Santa Barbara Yacht Club buys the yacht Caprice, a 65-foot craft now moored at San Francisco, it will be necessary to raise $5000 by next Wednesday. At an enthusiastic meeting last night at the Elk’s Club, committees were named to take the matter in hand. A brisk campaign is to be staged here, in an effort to raise the money. That the yachtsmen here want the Caprice is shown by the interest they have taken in the subject. Skipper E. J. Gourley last night showed a number of photographs of the Caprice and everyone approached is of the opinion that the boat is one of the fastest on the Pacific coast.”

June 26, 1919 [SBMP]: “In the way of adding joy to the announcement that the Santa Barbara Yacht Club has purchased the Caprice, now at Sausalito, members of the club will give a ball at the Belvedere hotel tomorrow evening… Skipper E. J. Gourley leaves for San Francisco Saturday evening, where he will supervise the installation of the engine in the Caprice and look into other details. It is believed that everything will be in readiness to sail with the Caprice to Santa Barbara by next Thursday or Friday. A number of yachtsmen here will leave for the north next Wednesday, for the purpose of boarding the Caprice on her maiden voyage to this city. The Caprice is 65 feet overall; 17-foot beam, has 14 sleeping berths, a fine dining room, is schooner rigged, and on a day cruise has accommodations for 50 passengers. Dr. D. C. Bainbridge is commodore of the Santa Barbara Yacht Club, and George Becker, vice commodore. The Caprice is the fastest yacht in Pacific waters. Yearly it has figured prominently in the Honolulu-San Francisco and Farallones island runs. Her cabins are loaded with trophies.”

May 27, 1936 [SBNP]: “Yacht clubs map programs… According to the committee report, the race to Pelican Bay July 17-18 is a continuation of the old Caprice Handicap Race which was highly popular for a number of years. It was named for the Santa Barbara Yacht Club flagship, Caprice, which burned at sea off Santa Cruz Island October 2, 1925…”