Video: Captain Jay Anxious to Set Sail

Although Captain Jay's boat is floating just off Gulfport Beach, "Promise" is far from being ready for Jay's next adventure. Captain Jay thanks volunteers and talks about what's next in our video interview.

The Road Ahead

John Burki, known to many as Captain Jay, rides up on his bike to one of the pavilions on Gulfport Beach with a cheerful and welcoming attitude on Wednesday.

"Little by little, I'm getting myself back together so I can go back to my boat," Jay said.

Captain Jay was released from the Bay Pines Hospital on Tuesday and has been tracking down his items and getting things in order to fix up his boat Promise. Just one week ago, the now floating sailboat, was stuck on Gulfport Beach. Jay says Tropical Storm Debby grounded his home in June and after several failed attempts to tow it out into the bay, a local sailor took action and helped organize a mini "army" to get Jay's boat off the beach themselves.

"What this community did was fantastic. (Steve Smith) knew exactly what he was going," Jay said.

Local sailor Steve Smith heard about Jay's situation in July and rallied about 50 volunteers on August 1st at the Gulfport Beach. Together, they literally waded in waist and shoulder deep water to push the boat out.

"Everything has been a blessing," Jay said.

Jay was not able to participate because he was recovering from a broken jaw in the hospital.


Jay has taken the time to share his gratitude and story with Gulfport Patch in the attached video interview.


A Fresh Start

Volunteer Coordinator Steve Smith says he took charge mainly to get the boat off the beach. Smith said he had several reasons for dedicating his efforts to this cause. He didn't want the City of Gulfport to be forced to remove it and spend money to do so. He also didn't want to see Jay end up on the streets.

"I had a genuine concern for the man himself, I don’t want to see him abandoned,” Smith said.

Smith says he's also concerned for Captain Jay's well being, citing possible issues with alcoholism.

“I hope he gets a fresh start and takes advantage of the opportunity and becomes a more responsible, boater (and) pet owner. He has a lot of people caring about him. If he’s willing to accept that, he can start over and maybe has a chance to become a more responsible person, that’s what I’m hoping.”

Smith has shared other concerns, reasons and special thanks on Cruisers Forum online.

Jay says there's no need for concern. He's been sailing for more than 50 years and hopes to fix his boat, get settled again and head out in the open water with his dog "Dreamer" and cat "Cocina". Jay says both animals are being cared for by a friend.

Update: Thursday, 10:20 a.m.: When asked about his dog's condition, Jay explained that a concerned community member and acquaintance took "Dreamer" to the Gulfport Veterinarian for medical care. He said Dreamer was due to see the vet before Debby hit. According to Jay, Dreamer is deaf and only understands hand signals, he says the dog has a problem with his eye that he was born with and says Dreamer has allergies to certain foods.

"He was fed the wrong food and he broke out. He's on an anti-inflamatory drug now," he said.

He understands that people have donated funds to the Gulfport Veterinarian for Dreamer and says he's thankful for the help. In the meantime, he says Dreamer is staying with a friend in town.

Editor's Note: We did not hear back from Gulfport Veterinarian regarding this story.

Although Jay is optimistic about his plans to return to his boat, Smith says the boat is in bad shape. "It has some major, major work to be done. I won't call it derelict but it's near that condition."


Citations and Compliance

Captain Jay says the Gulfport Police Department cited him several times for having the boat on the beach. The fines add up to nearly $2,000. Jay will appear in Pinellas County Court on August 16 to address the first of many tickets.

Jay says officers have contacted him about the condition of his boat and he hopes to repair it as soon as possible. However, major improvements will likely take several months to complete. The boat does not have an engine or sails. His first priority is to examine the boat and repair the sails. He estimates that it'll cost about $10,000 for repairs. Jay says a donation page has been set up if anyone is interested in helping him with the cost of fixing his boat. The website is www.gofundme.com under "Grounded in Gulfport."

Editor's Note: Gulfport Patch did not hear back from the Police Department regarding this update story. We will update this article once we hear back.

mtober August 13, 2012 at 02:22 AM
>>>>This is not a simple matter. it can be properly salvaged with money. I doubt any salvage company will risk doing a free salvage because of all the risks involved. Once a salvage company takes action they can be held liable. As it sits right now its an eyesore but not a pollution case which it could turn into. I feel sorry for the old guy but living on a boat and taking precautions take money and expereince. Also stop calling him a captain. Unless he's completed an approved merchant mariner course of instruction by the Coast Guard, retired as a Navy Captain, or graduated from a maritime academy, he's just another boater.
CJ August 13, 2012 at 01:45 PM
There is no need to item by item respond to all the mud you slung here, your own foot in your mouth can easily say enough about you. I have observed many comments over time by you and have almost always really liked your quick one liners you throw in. your comments have often been among my favorites. I have also noticed how many who obviously know you, pretty much distance themselves from your comments as if to imply they don't like you much. Not knowing you, I have even come to your defense and even complimented you...but not this time. You said something more or less describing Jay as someone who lures you in only to later regret meetting him. I feel you have done that to me, becasue it is clear now why many are offeneded by you. Lesson learned. ''One'' of the wickedest things you said (and there were plenty) was how you have been in his boat. What? Did you pretend to like him, just so you could get fuel for your fire against him, and to use to stab him in the back? Wow. Whatever bad traits Jay may have, you doing that to a person is way below anything Jay has probably ever done to anyone.
mtober August 13, 2012 at 02:03 PM
CJ - with all due respect I believe you have misunderstood my posts. Most of what I posted are comments made by others in response to articles in the Tampa Bay Times.The point of doing that was to show that there are others that have also expressed similar concerns. Also, no where did I say that I ever went on Mr. Burki's boat. Please read the posts again. Thanks.
CJ August 13, 2012 at 02:06 PM
I can't even begin to tell you how many people over the years I have seen that have a dog and have never managed to completely housetrain it. These people will simply put up with it because the love for the dog far outweighs it's bad habits. Many people have elderly that require much unpleasant personal care to perform on them for what sometimes is very many remaining years. Again, it's about love. His dog seems to be getting better care now. Why not let it ride about the dog? You are refusing to shut down on this. Do you ever have regrets on what you say? Enough to even apologize? I think I know the answer to that, and it says something sad about you. It is appareant you are right. You are right about everything, all the time, aren't you? You are painfully right. but you are right about many things that everyone else knew about Jay. You just don't get it. This was a spontaneous gesture. Virtually all of us know this was going to be a thankless job and futile effort. We simply did it to be nice. Just like occasionally giving money to the beggar on a corner, not knowing if he was actually doing quite well and at the end of the day walking over to his car to go home to his wife and kids in suburbia. It doesn't matter if we give help without knowing what the real need is. God sorts those things out. Small efforts are very meaningful in this world. There is zero good to come out of what you are doing. Brings to mind the saying, 'The road to 'hail' is paved with good intentions'.
CJ August 13, 2012 at 02:08 PM
I don't think we can say ''hell'' here...lol...out of respect to Cherlene! Oops...guess I was just bad...
CJ August 13, 2012 at 02:55 PM
Huh? Did I miss something? I guess it is possible I glossed over some of your sentences. Sorry. But it was like reading a page out of a satanic book. Not my favortie type of stuff to read. It's never any fun to read about a defenseless person being bullied. You are saying those are not ''your words about about him''...OK...if you say so....but i was not born yesterday. Your meaning seemed pretty clear and I don't think I misunderstood ''much''. My 23 year old son I work side by side with nearly everyday, playfully and regularly tells me I am old and dumb, though. (con't...)
CJ August 13, 2012 at 02:57 PM
(...con't) I re-read your posts briefly. Sorry if I misread, but you did write: ''Katherine- how'd you even get past all the junk on the boat to get on it and have a date? And you actually ate food on that filthy thing--hopefully it was takeout?'' ...ok...enough of that quote... I feel rotten for even repeating that post of yours Maybe I had Trace mixed up as the one who said they were at his boat. Must have been on one of those days her alcohol recovery was not going well, eh? Frankly, I guess if I am getting some of the trash talk mixed up..so that makes you a sweetheart for saying or ''quoting'' other bad talk..right? Once was with a friend. A guy that asked thru the car window for food. Drove on. Immediately saw a Wendy's. Popped in the drive thru to buy a small meal. Drove back around and gave it to the guy. We were late for the movie. Like that day, helping Jay was dumb..but dumb in a good way. This is a good man. Good enough, anyway...
CJ August 13, 2012 at 03:17 PM
''Look''... mtober, trace, etc...I don't like where I have let myself go on this. My comments and replies have gotten mean also. I apologize. If you have not noticed...even though ''The Patch'' is part of Huffington Press...which I read all the time even though I am not a real fan of HP....the ''Patch'' posts throughout the country are much kinder in nature. Cherlene and the other local Patch editors are very good at throwing out light hearted stories that are usually of the ''feel good'' variety. This story by Cherlene was one of those...and like all too often the story somehow takes on a life of it's own and headed off in a less than kind direction. I think that is why I have reacted the way I have...because some of you have taken this great story and are tainting it. There are enough elements of society in the Pinellas County area that we should concentrate on trying to rid the area of. Jay is simply not worthy of the degree of hurt that has befallen him. If anyting, he is just another charater of the area that makes this area appeal to me. He is a scallywag? OK...so what. The love of scallywags is why a lot of us live here. I am a horse of a diferent kind brand of one myself. If we are going to trash someone, then how about doing it to the sob who broke Jays jaw? ''That's'' the kind of person I don't like seeing here. Jay is welcome, but that guy is not.
CJ August 13, 2012 at 03:47 PM
Yes, I have read the article's comments relating to Steve Smith. What Steve Smith said and what you and a couple others here ''are not'' simular comments. Steve's comments seem more resepctfully made. At 66 years old, it is reasonable to assume he may only have Social Security to live on...and that may be how he has decided to live out the rest of his life. That is ''defintly'' his business and rightful choice. He earned it. It may not be how you or me chooses...but he is old enough to allow his golden years to be less intruded upon by people making it a mission to burden him. He has his hands full dealing with his trouble. How he deals with it or cures some of those issues are things he is entitled to more privacy than what he has gotten here. The list is quite long of his dirty laundry thrown out by others for all to see. If you don't like the man, fine...I can understand and respect your feelings on that. Continue your support of animal rights causes, but let the official he has to deal with handle his case without your nose in it. The other problems related to his boat, pollution, etc, etc are also being dealt with by the appropriate agencies. Leave the man be and let him resolve things how he pleases. This is free country, and even the downtrodden are part of it. Just curious about what you want to see happen to the man...get thrown in jail? I dunno...it's a hard call here...but I say let this man carry on. I can certainly think of worse people walking free.
CJ August 13, 2012 at 06:53 PM
Both those comments were about as uncomprehendable as any I have ever read on any Patch blog. I am interested in what you say, but I am not sure what you are saying. If you are trying to insinuate you love animals more than me, then your insulting nature evidently has no bounds. You evidently have yourself on a high pedastal in regard to animals. I would even venture to say your post here sounds like it was sent by someone who is hitting the bottle. I would bet money that there has been dog crap and pee a time or two left uncleaned up in the days your alcoholism was rampant. That would be a failry normal site at the home of an alcoholic. Considering ou claim to be a recovering alcoholic, and it makes your comments towards Jay seem surprisingly hostile. What ...Jay is underserving of compassion...and you are? I choose to offer support and friendship to ''both'' of you...even if there are some animal care issues that differ from my own. I see no point in this back and forth anger. I tried to soften you up on this , but I failed. The irony here is that all dogs walk on stuff that is disgusting just by the nature of what they are..a dog. They don't wear shoes and take them off at the door before they come in. Do you think when you let your dog outside to go and then let him back in that his feet missed all the piles in your yard? ''You'' are the self centered one here...not me. You think everyone should do as you think. Jay does not have to do that to be a good guy.
GGagnon August 13, 2012 at 08:12 PM
Hi CJ, I dont want to argue about semantics with you, so we can agree to disagree (as my mom would say) about donations and help for Captain Jay. That being said, the issue of the dog is a something that I can not let go. That dog is in terrible condition, and I have seen this first hand. It is underweight, has various infections, worms, flees, and a few more minor issues that can be fixed with proper care. These problems with the dog DO NOT happen over night, and some need months to develop to the severity that they are present on Dreamer. Caring for another living creature takes a commitment that just is not being done by the captain. There is a very high probability that this dog will not have a long life expectancy if the care continues the way it has, and there is no indication otherwise.
CJ August 13, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Oh come on...do you think I can't remember the other out of bounds things you said about this man? You are singing a different tune now....because you definitely started out slamming Jay. Yes..you also threw in some things that upset you about the dog...but don't even try to deny what you have tossed out mindlessly about Jay. You are out of line talking about someone like that and stomping on this good deed done by so many. You and I just have different opinions about what is someones private business. I don't think I can try any harder to reason with you. Where do any of us stop when addressing the way they treat thier animals. I am sure there are many who feel the SPCA needs to notified that someone as mean as you owns even a pet fish. Have you ever stopped to think about anything bad you have done that people have minded their own business about. I have little doubt you have offended many people over your lifetime. You have shown some really terrible characteristics here. I don't like what I have heard that Dreamer has had to go through...but unlike you ...I don't think it is my business. I hope the dog gets better and has better care from here forward. If he gets returned to Jay....that may or may not be unfortunate...but this example of animal care is not much different than many a guard dog. I don't like it, but this is a free country...and I feel you are getting in his business too much. I already apologized for upsetting you. Good gestures should go both ways.
CJ August 13, 2012 at 08:52 PM
yes...and dogs who are fed till they are obese can just as easily present an example of abuse, etc, etc, etc...but when you start dictating right and wrong on a specific person...where do you stop for the rest of us? Complaining to the SPCA, donating to animal causes...things like that are reasonable wasy to support this cause...but picking one person out and ganging up on him is not right. This attack on Jay is being carried too far. ..and the dog issue is just being used to cover for the horrible other things slandered against him. I feel like I am just seeing through it. There has been a lot more bad things said here than just about the dog.
CJ August 13, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Thank you for your politely presented comment. i agree withyou much more than It may seem, I am just not very settled with the dog issues being used to make excuses for other things said about jay and the volunteer effort.
CJ August 13, 2012 at 08:58 PM
Boy...thanks fellow shipwreck volunteers for leaving me out to dry here...where are all these kind hearted souls at now? Am I the only one other than Kathren that wants to stand up for Jay?
mtober August 13, 2012 at 09:41 PM
CJ - Who has said anything bad about the volunteer effort? Seems to me most everyone has extended their thanks for what was done. I sent a letter to the Gulfport City Council last week asking that they give Steve Smith the "Spirit of Gulfport" award for his efforts in pulling the entire thing together and making it happen! So please stop spewing about that! Thanks.
CJ August 14, 2012 at 01:58 AM
Please, mtober...enough already. I have read what you have written. You can try to sugar coat it anyway you want, ''now''. I have called some of you out for behaving badly...and now there are efforts to make me out to be the bad guy. I am comfortable with knowing my efforts here have been honorable. The bs is getting deep now...and you are surprising me. Seeing a side of you here that I find in poor taste, when before it seemed you showed a lot of class. I don't matter, so it's OK. It is Ok with me if we agree to disagree. I am sure there will be future topics we can possibly support together, but this is clearly not one of them. I am new around here and this entire discussion will go down as my first unpleasant thing in my new home here in St Petersburg/ Gulfport. I am not ''spewing'' about ''anything''...but you are ''spinning''. I am not wet behind the ears and recognize what I am seeing/hearing/reading. I'd like to see some apologies to Jay, but we both know that is not going to happen. What I am seeing from you is someone who is playing both sides of the fence now. If you are going to tell me thanks, then don't send a tainted one. I know a fake one when I see it. I am shaking my head in disbeleif how this has played out. There are some things that are better off not said. Care about a dog all you want...but I care about people more. My priorities work like that.
mtober August 14, 2012 at 02:12 AM
CJ August 14, 2012 at 02:22 AM
This may not sound relative, but I hope someone gets it. I was coming back from downtown today on Central and the John Lennon song, ''Imagine'', was playing. They also played it during the closing ceromonies for The Oympics...and even had a video of John's face. I love that song and it get's to me sometimes. As I was listening to it, I thought it was cool that I drove by a schooll along Central (near The Trop) called ''Imagine School''. Of course, that song also says the word ''Dreamer'' in it...and I could not help but think of Jay's dog. I am disturbed that some of you may think I am not as big of an animal lover as anyone is. Just because some of you have taken up Dreamer's battle on a different level than me, it does not mean you care any more about the dog than I do. But, as I said..I put people first. I ''always'' do that...''and''...I have a line drawn in a different place where it crosses a man's personal and provate affairs. I can see I am the minority here, and I conceed defeat to you and Trace. I am also glad dogs have people like you guys on their team, but don't think so harshly of people who differ slightly from your stances on this. We are all on the same side. I don't mind saying that I am sure Dreamer and Jay are made for each other. Just like there are men who are skallywags, there are dogs like that also...and may well be part of the reason men are often called ''dogs''. Some of us proudly admit it. It takes all kinds to make the world go round.
CJ August 14, 2012 at 02:27 AM
If Jay were to die and be buried here, his tombstone might say: Here Lies Jay His Dog Dreamer Would Say He Was OK
CJ August 14, 2012 at 02:32 AM
now that I agree with, and it sounds more like the mtober comments that say a lot in few words...
CJ August 14, 2012 at 02:47 AM
And ''that's'' what you got out of what I wrote? That I abuse dogs? I am a loss of words other than , you are weird. Keep up your fight for dogs. I may not sound like it, but I do admire you for it and think it is the right thing for you to do...and to do your way. We are not as far apartt on this issue than you may think. I may not entirely agree with your stance here on Dreamer and Jay, but I bet I would agree with many other dog efforts you have fought for. Keep on keeping on. You are doing fine. Let's hope Dreamer gets to stay with the man who is taking care of him now. I do. But I also know Dreamer will be delighted to get back to his owner and the life of a dog's dog. Either outcome has it's good points, depending on your point of view. Don't you know..all men are like children and at the same time we are also dogs? I still crow, but not sure if you even know what that means or what the expression is from. It's a guy thing, I don't expect you to get it.
Nancy Kelley August 14, 2012 at 10:11 AM
CJ please get over yourself.
Douglas Hudson August 14, 2012 at 11:32 AM
Margarete, Trace, and Nancy...thanks for telling it like it is! I have lostly stayed out of this mess, but it is obvious to me that Cap'n Leather Shorts is an irresponsible boater and pet owner. I say leave him to his own concequences, exfept when it affects other and innocent animals.... Have you seen the photos of the raw neck on the dog? Have you seen where the tether cut into that poor dog's neck? THAT, in itself, is abuse in my book. How anyone can defend this perpetual irresponsible behavior, is beyond me.
Douglas Hudson August 14, 2012 at 11:36 AM
Oh, and a big THANKS to my good friend Margarete Tober...We don't always agree, but she is one of the few in this town willing to take a stand on hot-topic issues. Just because we don't post our support doesnt mean that we do not support her comments.
Philip Penrose August 14, 2012 at 12:38 PM
I think certain parties here should start communicating with one another using private email.
CJ August 14, 2012 at 02:29 PM
Trace. I can't count how many times you have said ''this is nothing personal against Jay''. Yeah, right.
CJ August 14, 2012 at 02:38 PM
I agree with that also. Of all the people I argued with here, she plays by decent rules and is very fair in the way she debates topics here. The problem around here is many of you think this is your private little blog for people within the ''city officials'' circle and the public is not welcome. It's ''The Patch'', and part of The Huffington Press...and it is for everyone.
CJ August 14, 2012 at 02:51 PM
And who would be left after that? You often show up out of nowhere in these blogs with your one line blog preacher comment. This is a blog, Phillipe, and your rules you seem to apply to them are not the rules at all. The only rules that matter are the HP/Patch ones. If reading discussions here that get heated upset you, then why even be here? I think it is important to note that even though many here have engaged aggressively, I have not seen anything get deleted. How can you fault that? isn't that why these blogs are present..to allow viewpoints to be tabled. You win some, you lose some...and then you don't care if you win or lose...you go on to the next one and put the past behind you. But telling people they should use email makes you the blog police, which you are not. I think virtually all of us here hate it when censorship has to be used.
CJ August 14, 2012 at 03:08 PM
I can see I am outnumbered here. No problem, and I will respecfully back off...but I knew what the reaction was going to be before I ever wrote anything in defense of Jay and his Dog...but I did it anyway. I read the new article out today on this topic and saw the list of things wrong with the dog, and I have to admit it really bothered me to hear what the dog had wrong with it. I hope if Jay gets his dog back, that he takes better care of it now. I also saw Cherlenes pictures in that new Patch article, and I ask any of you how you can look at those pictures and not be hurt by the thought of taking Jay's pets from him. Maybe the good that come out of this is if Jay has read any of these comments and may be positively effected by it in a way that will help the man rise above this and better for it. If people think I took up the wrong battle, then maybe I did. I have not been able to quite put it into words what bugs me about all this. Maybe I just am upset to see Jay, a fellow veteran, ''forced'' to be separated from his pets and can't get past that mental block for the sake of Dreamer. It obviously is an easy delima for many here, but not for me. When you start taking peoples pets away from them, where do you stop in that decision process? Do you leave it in the hands of mean spirited people with mixed and questionable motives? Honestly, would any of you want to be a dog owned by Trace? mtober...yes....Trace...no.


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