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Captain Joseph Rodgers
Captain Joseph Rodgers

Obituary of Captain Joseph Rodgers

Under a full moon on October 31st, Captain Joseph W. Rodgers left these shores. He was 68. Born in Los Angeles, Joseph grew up sailing on his parent’s John Hanna designed Tahiti Ketch which fostered his life-long love of gaff rigged wooden sail boats. He attended Dominican College. He moved to Santa Cruz in 1976 to convert a Norwegian double ended whale boat, but at the time came to understand that there are boat builders and there are sailors, and Joseph was a sailor. He was Harbor Master at Moss Landing before taking a job in St. Thomas USVI as an apprentice marine surveyor for Geary International chartered surveyors Admiralty and Maritime, appointed to the underwriters at Lloyds of London. Surveying boats from all over the world, Joseph learned his craft in the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea. He returned to California to start his own affiliated business Rodgers and Associates Marine Surveyors. Joseph was known for his steadfast integrity, and keenly detailed reports relied upon by major domestic and international banks and insurance companies. He represented the American and London Institute of Marine Underwriters, government agencies and brokers. Joseph's experience and knowledge as a marine surveyor was unequalled and his positive attitude and professionalism commanded the respect of his peers. His high standards of ethical and professional conduct and outstanding expertise in the maritime field will never be forgotten. He was a prince of a man, who loved the sea. He studied California history and was knowledgeable about the ships and tragic wrecks along her coast. He collected some fifty ship models and a trove of nautical antiques. Since his childhood he was fascinated by Junks and Sampans. Joseph was a romantic with an appreciation for classics and sailed in many Master Mariner’s regattas in San Francisco Bay. Later in his life, his broad and varied skills enabled him to salvage and restore dozens of boats including his beloved 30’ Dutch built Trintella, “Tessa.” He was a natural teacher, and as an ASA certified sailing and navigation instructor, shared his passion and respect for the sea to able and disabled sailors alike. He taught for many years through Pacific Yachting and Sailing in Santa Cruz. He also taught numerous courses through Cabrillo College on “how to buy and how to sell boats” and taught navigation as a way to illustrate how to set goals in life. Captain Rodgers was an associate member of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, certified member of American Society of Appraisers, and a member and officer of the West Coast National Association of Marine Surveyors. He was certified in cargo inspection, was a maritime arbitrator and appeared as an expert witness in court. Joseph held his 100-ton masters license and served as captain for numerous vessels including Oceanographic Research Vessels, Pt. Sur, and Inland Seas. He ran dive boat charters on the 50’ Vision and Cypress Sea, and was a regular captain of forty-nine passenger Chardonnay II. He served as a private captain for several yachts including the Monk designed 98’ Spear Sea. He was a skipper and crewmember for yacht deliveries to Alaska, Florida, Mexico, Hawaii, Tonga, Fiji, New Zealand and from Thailand to the Maldives across the Indian Ocean through the horn of Africa and up the Red Sea to the Mediterranean. He joined a tall ship on passage from Germany to St. Petersburg. He was renowned for the sailing stories he told of every adventure, even out to mile buoy. Joseph made jewelry and was a life-long musician who played classical and jazz flute to the delight of all who listened. A fantastic chef on and off the water, he and his loving wife Hedi created a special magic in their home for the many gatherings and music nights attended by friends and family. They relished the simple pleasures of life and had many romantic adventures to France, Germany, Austria, Russia, Mexico and the Canary Islands. Joseph will be remembered for his engaging storytelling, his handsome good looks, charming ways, and disarming smile. He loved animals, with a special affinity for birds, but was adopted by a loyal feral cat he named Charlie Parker. Joseph could be a rascal, renowned for his quick wit and warm humor which brightened the spirits of all who knew him. He had a full and busy life but always made time to help others, to offer advice, and to listen. With courage, tenacity and resilience he held fast to life for five years after a stage four cancer diagnosis. He was cared for by dedicated health professionals at Central Coast Oncology, Stanford Hospital, Dignity Health, the Palliative Care Department of Hospice Santa Cruz, Bonita Springs Home Care, his wife Hedi, sister Sally-Christine, and lovingly supported by family, friends and neighbors. Captain Joseph reminded everyone he knew to keep smiling, and to sail on. His fortitude was inspiring, and his gentle spirit will be missed. Joseph was predeceased by his father J.W. Rodgers Jr. mother Frances McCann. He is survived by his cherished wife Hedi, his adoring sisters Frances Rogers, Cynthia Rodgers, Sally-Christine Rodgers and brothers in law David Gardiner and Randy Repass, nieces Captain Lisa Cole and Alicia Warren, nephews Michael Nichols, D. Christopher Rogers, Bow Rogers and Kent-Harris Repass and grand-nieces and nephew Hazel, Helaina, Sasha, Ava and Elliot. Donations may be made to Native Animal Rescue of Santa Cruz where Joseph volunteered.
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