MAY 2006

Preparing to Leave Tampa Bay PART ONE

Good Day All~


So it has been months & months with nary a word from the S/V WindigoIII. No reports of storms; not a word about bike crashes; and any cultural, scientific, or navigational stories have been lacking. The World Wide Web has been completely devoid of nautical adventures from the crew of Windigo. The reason for this is that for the past many months (since the incredible encounter with Charley) we have lived as landlubbers. Working the same jobs, fixing the same boat.


Sure, we have gone sailing, but no more than the local yacht club member. I know that the intensely interested reader of the Windigo Travelogue Catalogue does so to live vicariously through us until (s)he is able to work up enough fortitude to break away from the mundane and seek complete fulfillment. (Or until you cry out, ?I mad as hell, and I?m not going to take it anymore!) We have lived a life about as adventurous as we did prior to moving aboard.


O.K., so I?m told that my life before sailing wasn?t exactly complacent, what with cycling adventures, the KL van, extended travel to extreme locales ? but the past year-and-a-half just was not worthy of a weekly, monthly, or semi-annual dissertation of its highlights. But the gluttons for romantic sagas suggested that perhaps a biennial report would at least fill you in on the highlights [if not the details] of life at a dock aboard Windigo. It will also warm you up for the forthcoming ?True Adventures of the Crew Aboard the S/V WindigoIII, 2006 Edition?. So here ?tis: PART ONE of the ?Preparing to Leave Tampa Bay? emailio ? ?Getting Windigo Ready? ~


After our visit with Charley ( there was a bit of work to be done to get Windigo back in cruising condition. Obviously, the mast needed repair. It was bent 90?, 14 feet from the top (see ?Charley?). Upon examination, I determined that 4 feet of the mast had been distorted, and since a new mast would cost in excess of $20,000, I commenced to repair the existing mast by cutting out the bad piece, manufacturing a new four-foot section and inserting into place. This procedure was expedited by two factors: I carry an AC TIG welder aboard Windigo which can join aluminum ( Coast Hopping & into the Gulf/Coast Hopping & into the Gulf.htm) and I had a shop available in which I could accomplish much of the manufacturing process [there was also sufficient room on the dock along side Windigo the do the final assembly of the mast].


Since Windigo is almost 40 years old, the mast extrusion is no longer available, so I had to make one from scrap aluminum. Using another mast (which was damaged beyond repair in Charley), I fabricated a section of the exact dimensions of our mast, including an inner sleeve that extended a foot-and-a-half beyond each end. This was fit into the remaining usable sections of the mast and welded. Now that part of the mast is double thickness and much stronger. If Windigo should ever encounter another bridge, I fear for the bridge!


The new masthead is much improved with plenty of room for navigation lights, antennas, instruments, lightning protection, and complete access to the halyards and rigging inside of the mast. The masthead nav lights were upgraded to newly-approved solid-state LED units, along with deck-level lights. These lights are brighter, use an incredibly small amount of electricity, and will never burn out. Increased room at the masthead allowed an addition of a weather station in addition to a normal wind instrument and elimination of two bulkhead-mounted instruments.


After final assembly of the mast, it was necessary to get it aboard for the trip next door to the Clearwater Yacht Club where a crane would lift it onto its step. So I lined Windigo with the dock and invited several dock friends and most of the mechanics from the local bike shop to walk the 500# beast off the dock and onto the boat. It was a human accomplishment second only to the building of the pyramids. Another amazing sight that evening was the last launch from Cape Canaveral of a Titan IV rocket ? fully visible at our location from liftoff to orbit (more on that in PART TWO).


Complete replacement of the standing rigging (the guy wires that hold up the mast) was accomplished, with a doubling of their size. (Windigo already had over-sized rigging ? now it?s huge!) The foresail furling foil (the spindle that the front sail rolls up onto) had struck the bridge, but was repaired by simply using a five-foot section left over from the original installation seven years ago and was still in ?storage? at the boat yard in Sister Bay, WI (thanx Jon & Russ).


The replacement of electrical generation system ? wind generator and solar panels, which were completely lost, allowed for the installation of panels a teeny bit larger with TWICE the output of the original units. The wind generator was also upgraded; I stuck with a Fourwinds unit, but replaced the lost Fourwinds III with the new three-bladed Red Baron (with a custom tail section I designed to improve efficiency and appearance).


The steel Danforth anchor lost between the bridges in the futile effort to stop Windigo has been upgraded to a beautiful aluminum version; a lighter model much easier to handle with greater holding power ?cause it is bigger. A 70# Bruce anchor is in place of the custom stainless steel anchor which was stolen after being recovered. It shares a completely redesigned bow roller with the 35# CQR that allows much easier deployment of either anchor at any time.


That bow roller is mounted on a redesigned bow cap (mini-pulpit?), which improved the integrity of construction of the stem area and provides a foothold for working at the very front of the boat. Removal and remounting of this much hardware allowed access to clean / repair / improve and otherwise inspect many nooks and crannies everywhere. It also facilitated the repainting of many areas, including a complete touchup of the topsides of the entire vessel and modification of the keel fins during a post storm haulout last year.


Another ?interesting? discovery during that haulout was a crack in the area where the hull bends down to become the fin keel. Windigo has an ?encapsulated keel? wherein the ballast is simply placed inside the fin that was molded as part of the hull. The damage discovered there consisted of a four-foot long crack which was and inch-and-a-half at its deepest. Good thing Windigo is a thick old boat, with at least three inches of material in that spot! There was no indication prior to the haulout of any damage - it did not leak one drop! What might have prevented the crack from going all the way through was a ?dry? layer of laminate found after grinding away at the crack. It is considered a defect to have fiberglass not completely saturated with resin during hull construction, but this ?defect? might have saved Windigo from certain doom. The offending material was removed, and repaired with 20 layers of glass & epoxy, faired out to be even stronger than before.


The engine got and entire rewire after the electrical fire. I now can say for certain that I have replace each and every single wire aboard. A ?? drive socket has been fixed to the crankshaft and linkage installed to the decompression lever for access to allow the starting the engine by direct cranking with a drill motor. Besides carrying a spare alternator, we now carry a spare starter also.


The raw-water pump on the engine, which has been troublesome for a few years with a tiny unsolvable leak, was replaced and is 100% clean & dry. The electrical panel has been completely rebuilt, with improvements and replacements of protective devices expired by the lightning strike of 2003 ( in Florida/Autumn in Florida.htm).


Everything was soaked in the storm, so when new computer equipment was purchased, a unit able to withstand the rigors of the sea was deemed necessary. Now on Windigo, and when on deliveries, I carry much more reliable navigation gear. An AIS unit has also been added to the system ? this small inexpensive radio receiver presents information required to be transmitted from every commercial vessel. This data appears on the screen of the navigation software, revealing position, speed rate of turn, past course and projected course. The name of the vessel, its digital radio call number, and even its next port-of-call are all displayed and updated. More accurate and definitive than radar, with a greater range and much less power consumption, this additional system provides a great deal of safety from a close encounter with a freighter.


The preparations aboard Windigo to leave have included redesign of the mainsheet system, evacuation and recharging of the refrigeration system, engine and auxiliary battery replacement (the Surrette house batteries have been 100% reliable), polishing and refinishing of all the wood and metal on deck, complete rebuilding of our dinghy, ?Pedigo? including new sponsons, rebuilding and improvements to our bicycles, overhaul of the autopilot hydraulics, and last but not least, the restocking of our victuals (provisions) for cruising, including 444 cans of food.


When it gets closer to our departure date, I will send out an email with a quick overview of landlubber adventures and cultural observations of the past couple years.


Our permanent and EXACT address:
Capt.KL & Karin Hughes
S/V WindigoIII ? PMB 365
88005 Overseas Hwy. #9
Islamorada, FL? 36033-3087

We have a phone: 272.458.2536

Text-only Email addresses aboard Windigo, checked often:

Email addresses checked when at a land-based computer:

And of course, the Windigo Travelogue Catalogue: