September 2002

Still in Mobile?


Yes, we seem to be living a somewhat normal life – if you call anything we do normal . . .


Although the weather CAN be interesting here, it has not been for some time. Since May, it has been somewhat repetitive and not at all surprising. Highs around 90° F., lows in the 70’s or 80’s. It rains almost every day SOMEWHERE within a 30-mile radius, but seldom everywhere in that area. Twice it rained more than an hour in that whole area. It can go for a week or two NOT raining in any given area. Thunderstorms accompany the rain, and there can be up to 5 or 6 visible at one time. All of these weather cells existed at the same time while we were sailing on the bay, and no rain fell on Windigo that day! The true definition of “scattered showers”.

Hurricane season is more than half over, and hardly a whimper. We have been so disappointed, so this last weekend we made a practice run to our “hurricane hole” up the Mobile River. We anchored overnight; it is SO peaceful in normal weather, I’m sure it will protect us in the event a developed storm comes ashore.


The Fourth of July celebration brought several tall sailing ships to Mobile to celebrate its tricentennial! ‘300 Years of Sailing on Mobile Bay’ has been the theme all year. The USCG barque Eagle lead the parade up the bay on the Fourth, and Windigo sailed along side the whole way, sometimes through a crowd of anchored paradegoers. Although I never plan on needing an open water rescue, we had a taste of the helicopter part of it that day. The TV chopper followed us around to shot footage of Windigo in all her holiday splendor for the televised coverage of the tall ship parade.

We did sail through a huge thunder cell smack in the middle of the bay on the evening of the Fourth. The wind blew 30 to 40 knots for about 40 minutes and we had several lightning strikes within ¼ mile of Windigo. We continued making way with our trysail and innerstaysail. Windigo loves heavy weather! We arrived back at our slip at sunset under perfectly calm skies . . .


Windigo is doing wonderfully. She usually floats in a slip at the Sundowner Marina just off the Dog River one-third of the way down Mobile Bay. She gets out sailing 2 to 3 times a month and several dozen friends and family have enjoyed sunny, stormy, calm, rail-in-the-water, moonlit, dolphin-accompanied, overnight, lightning-surrounded, crowded, relaxing, amazing weather phenomena and sometimes solitude filled adventures aboard. There have always been lots of munchies and no hands have been lost in the 540 nautical miles we have logged on Mobile Bay (and not one case of seasickness!). Although Windigo weighs over 24,000 pounds and draws 6½ feet [not one inch less!] she responds to the sometimes-steady breezes here; An unfailing 17-20 knots of wind will pull her along at 8 knots. That’s a tad over hull speed, a beautiful thing when the stern wake breaks from the transom.


I no longer work at the college! The new company brought in their director, and it seems that I intimidated him with my relationships with people at the college and my ability to efficiently get things done. [Felt inadequate? Unable to take credit for my work?] I was let go by the district manager and he refused to give a reason, but indicated it came from his boy [the director]. The director played stupid at that point – too afraid to tell me himself.  It was a huge surprise to everyone at the college and myself. Some of the administration was upset, but there is not a thing they can do because the work is contracted. I have stayed friends with many of the fine people there, and really enjoyed my brief work there.


Karin, on the other hand, has an employer that NEVER wants her to leave! She works for a woman that publishes a reference text called Fast Facts for Adult Critical Care. This little six-ring-bound book has been sold all over the world and is [well] used in ERs, triage units and battlefields everywhere (sometimes they need pages replaced because they get blood-stained). First published six years ago, the little book gets updated frequently and was a home-based business for the woman and her husband. Karin is their first full-time employee, working in a leased office space, she receives orders, assembles the appropriate books and extra chapters, ships them, does the accounting, collections, PR, coordinates distribution of the electronic version of the book. The couple is from Michigan and cannot believe they found a hard-working Wisconsinite to staff their office. []


Boat projects take up most of our free time. The helm/cockpit enclosure is half completed. We will be able to sail fully protected even in rainy, spray-filled squalls or under blistering sun. It’s a bit tricky to get the bimini roof designed around the mainsheet, which divides the area, but I think I’ve got a useful design to solve the problem. This also adds a very large all-weather room onto our living space.


I have also acclimated to living in Alabama. You see, there are two types of people here: employed folks and fishermen. I acquired a cast net and now throw it into the river for our supper. Last week we have had shrimp, blue crab and mullet. It takes 2 to 2½ dozen shrimp to feed us. They can be barbecued, fried or boiled, along with a couple blue crabs for flavor. The mullet gets filleted minutes after being caught and roasted on the grill in marinade. A sheepshead (a kind of bass) found it’s way into my net and made four nice fillets on the grill.

I have grown tired gathering one or two shrimp per cast, so have ‘seeded’ a bed, which will produce ten times that much. We’ll see if I can live off the land [water?]. I have already gotten an offer to sell flounder to a local restaurant – at $7 a pound!


I may have to give up all that fishing now that I’ve started another job, though. I started working at Silver Ships / AMBAR Marine [] just before Labor Day. They build aluminum GO-FAST boats for the coast guard, navies, law enforcement and others. Right now I am finishing up a gunboat for the Jamaican Coast Guard. I hope to perform some production welding there, for the experience, before we leave Mobile.


We have a few more visitors coming down from Wisconsin in the next couple months, and I’m trying to get my parents to come so my Dad can go sailing ‘til he gets his fill [he may never leave!]. Several of our liveaboard friends here are planning to untie the lines and head off to the Bahamas in two months. A few boats have been there before, but a couple of them have just now sold their house and cars and must arrange home-schooling for their kids. How exciting! What a wonderful sense of freedom this life style affords those willing to dare . . .


I have included a photo of our HoopDeCar, Karin needed it for her job, and it seems more practical than riding our bikes to New Orleans. Heehee. We bought it cheap, fixed a few things, and will undoubtedly make money on it when we sell it. It’s great. It’s big. It’s great big fun.


Capt. KL & Karin Hughes

S/V WindigoIII

Sundowner Marina

4910 Dauphin Island Parkway

Mobile, AL 36605


NEW Cell phone number:


big shot article on internet:

and of course, the Windigo Travelogue Catalogue: