Shop named for sea captain opens in Point Reyes

David Briggs
Chelsea Cooper-Clarke says her small clothing and gifts shop, has “something for travelers, and something for people who want a little more natural stuff in their life.”  

Captain Oko, a purveyor of goods sourced from small designers and fair-trade collectives, opened in June in the small cabin at the intersection of Highway 1 and Levee Road. The shop takes its name from its one-time resident, Adolph S. Oko, Jr., a “stoic and storied seafarer.” At age 44, he was running a public relations firm in San Francisco when he agreed to captain the Kefalos, a cargo ship that smuggled weapons from Mexico and 7,738 Jewish refugees from Yugoslavia to the newly founded state of Israel. No stranger to adventures at sea, Mr. Oko had served on a number of ships since age 18. He was shot and briefly imprisoned by Communists on a diversion to see the Great Wall of China, and had served in the Merchant Marine during World War II. He and his wife, a registered nurse who tended to the ill and infirm aboard the Kefalos, settled in Point Reyes Station, where he dealt in real estate and revived the Inverness Yacht Club. A “small, thin, intense” man who “thrived on confrontation,” as historian Jack Mason described him, Mr. Oko hoped to definitively prove that Sir Francis Drake had first landed at the bay that bears his name. He campaigned to create “Drake County” out of Marin and southern Sonoma, and opened an Elizabethan British-style pub where Vladimir’s is today. The shop that now bears his name echoes his sense of adventure, if not his cantankerous spirit. Visitors will find decorative and utilitarian items from around the world, such as baskets made of sea grass and telephone wire crafted by women in Senegal, cotton and bamboo kaftans from Turkey, and Japanese antiques. Owner Chelsea Cooper-Clarke, who lives in Woodacre, said she selects items to appeal to recurring visitors like herself, for whom the seashore is “home away from home.” Captain Oko, at 11150 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, is open Thursday through Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.