Gene Luoma’s patented Gazeboat may not be faster than a speeding yacht. But the motorized craft is powerful enough to carry 20 or so family and friends onto little Lake Bernice. You won’t find Bernice on a map, though.
“In Minnesota, lakes this size don’t have names,” says Gene. He dubbed the 10-acre, 25-foot deep pothole on his property in Minnesota’s Arrowhead region in honor of wife Kathie’s Norwegian mother. “She was always fishing,” he recalls. Kathie, not so much.
But Gene likes to fish, as do son Brian and many of Gene’s nine siblings and 45 nieces and nephews. Kathie’s five siblings and their families enjoy the water when they visit, as do the Luomas’ older son, Kevin, their daughter, Kim, son-in-law, Doug, and granddaughter, Karsen.
So when the Luomas wanted to add a gazebo by the lake, Gene got an idea. Why not put the gazebo on a floating deck so it could be on the lake, too?
Over the winter of 2006, Gene designed an 18-square-foot deck that would support a 10-foot hexagonal gazebo. His brother, Rudy Luoma, owner of a construction company, scraped the ice flat on the frozen lake and started building. By spring 2007, the Gazeboat was afloat.
The deck is level with the Luomas’ dock, allowing Gene and two of his children, Brian and Kim, to drive right on with their electric scooters. The three family members have muscular dystrophy. Brian, who lives next door to his folks and is a co-owner of a printing company, gets around by scooter. Gene and Kim still walk, but rely on scooters to cover any distance.
As if a day on the water in pleasant company wasn’t enough, the Gazeboat offers a fringe benefit that the real Bernice would have loved.
“One thing nice about a large platform: When you take it out and anchor it, after a half-hour, or so, the fish congregate,” says Gene. “Fish like to be under stuff. All you have to do is drop a line over the side.”