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Family builds boat No. 44 in backyard
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Paul and Earlene Lagier of Ripon pose over the railing of their latest 44-foot-long sailboat Lodestone that Lagier unveiled in dry dock behind his Mello Avenue home for friends and family members Sunday morning. - photo by GLENN KAHL

Paul Lagier and his late father Fred have had a lifelong passion for building boats in their back yards — 44 of them — with the latest about to be towed out of his almond orchard enroute to the docks at the Port in Stockton.

Lagier and his wife Earlene literally unveiled their 44-foot-long sailboat Sunday morning for friends and family members, offering a peak at his latest creation. The “Mrs.” is a longtime member of Beta Sigma Psi Sorority and invited many of her club members to be at their home where they could climb a wooden ladder of some 20 steps and walk through the interior of the custom craft.

Son Robert and daughter Sherry were on hand with their families for the unveiling. Robert said he could not remember a time growing up when his family did not have a boat under construction in the back yard or in the orchard. The current boat is to be Christened “Lodestone.” It was built under a carport, or better said, a boat port covered with metal sheeting and supported by telephone poles – only a matter of feet behind Lagier’s rural Mello Avenue home.

The mast measures amore than half the length of the boat and had been laid alongside the Lodestone. It won’t be installed until the boat is in the water when the final fittings will be installed, Lagier said. To move the boat out of the back yard, it will have to be towed backwards into their orchard where some of the limbs, or possibly a few trees, may have to be removed. Once it is in position, a major house mover will back in and hook it up with their moving vehicle.

When Paul was a young teen of 13 in the mid-1950s he followed his dad’s passion of boat building and constructed a wood plank sailboat as the forerunner of the “Lodestone.”

The late Fred Lagier was commissioned to build nearly 20 boats for the military during the war, constructing them in Stockton. Fred passed away some seven years ago and son Paul, now 73, has retired from the construction trade and fills his hours with the construction of sailing vessels.

Both he and his wife belong to the San Francisco Yacht Club, having attended many events in the Bay Area. They plan to make their maiden cruise in what they say is probably their last personal sail boat down to San Diego and then on to Mexico and Cabo San Lucas – a shakedown cruise. Then they hope to cruise on for a well-earned vacation in Hawaii. 

The longtime Ripon couple have sailed on many adventures to Hawaii and other Pacific Oceans destinations throughout their marriage. 

Lagier has manufactured three boats using Ferro cement and steel with the others using wood construction. Most of those pleasure crafts have been built for others or, those he kept, later sold to interested parties looking for a custom craft created by a unique mechanic like Paul Lagier.