Hi all ~


The pix for this Eletter are at:

http://www.ciekurzis.org/SunCoast Spring/SunCoast Spring


Check out the photo links posted in each folder at:





May 2004

SunCoast Spring


Spring is a time to celebrate new things and change; so it is aboard WindigoIII.


First, I am now known to some as Captain Grandpa!

Joshua James Civitate was born on 20 January, (he waited until he was NOT a stubborn Capricorn as his Mom and Grandpa!?) tipping the scales at over 10 pounds. Jessy, Greg and Josh are all enjoying family life, and all three are learning new things daily – changing diapers is NOT the end of the world [Greg], the “Baby Blues” are for real, but hormones are a wonderful thing [Jess], and “If I keep eating at this rate, I’ll fit into that really cute 3T outfit by the end of summer” [JJ].


Among Joshua’s furnishings is the Moon Cradle I made from scraps of left over decking, while still land-bound in Door County finishing the refit on Windigo. Jessy had noticed a pressed-board replica of Ernest Hemingway’s cradle on display at a very exclusive shop in Las Vegas a few years ago; She pointed it out to me commenting that she adored it. I took the hint and built one using teakwood and mahogany plywood, in between boat projects. I am glad I constructed it a bit large – he will be able to rock in it for at least a couple of years. (Jessy has already mentioned how JJ’s sister(?) will enjoy it – I suppose we’ve started a tradition with this heirloom; and my progeny will be burdened forever with shipping the thing from family to family so the new babies are able to sleep soundly with the Man-in-the-Moon.)


Spring has also brought us another new ‘berth’, this one for Windigo. After 11 months of living “on the hook” [at anchor] in several places around the Tampa Bay area, we have taken semi-permanent residence in Clearwater Beach. With Karin having an office job to attend to daily, a dock with a shower [and a pool, and ice, and secure bike parking, and . . .] is definitely a luxury we can indulge in. We are staying in the marina at the Chart House Suites, which also happens to be the home of one of the sailing schools where I work as an instructor. The mailing address here is 850 Bayway Blvd.  Clearwater Beach, FL  33767.


With the start of the tourist season here in western Florida, my teaching schedule blossomed – I taught 24 days in March at both Flagship Sailing School in Clearwater Beach and at Sailing Florida with Sunsail in St. Petersburg. Since last August, I have held class for 69 students of various skill levels, from having NEVER been aboard a sailboat, to navigation courses and ‘bareboat chartering’ instruction (how to live aboard independently for periods of time). Occasionally I captain a daysail or a sunset cruise. On Valentine’s Day, I played Captain Stuebing for the “Love Boat”, a ½-day surprise engagement cruise.


Windigo was hauled out on the last day of January to receive the bottom job I had won at the boat show in November. We took the opportunity to once again raise the water line to accommodate the cruising load we carry aboard. A new boot stripe and clean underwater appendages make Windigo look spiffy as she zips through the water.


We have had Windigo out a few times this year. Mark Geniesee crewed with me to get the boat to the yard for the haulout. Next, My cousin Tom Polzin returned from arctic weather in Wisconsin a second time this year; he and Bernice spent a relaxing day out on the Gulf. Karin’s son Adam and I sailed during his Spring Break visit, and Mike Sweeney brought his sister-in-law and her daughter over for a quiet day out on the Gulf.


Adam once again had a most eventful day at sea aboard Windigo. The day included running out of fresh water during the sail; we peaked at 8.6 knots in 2-meter seas on the Gulf before I gave up my breakfast to Neptune; a firm grounding was enjoyed as we attempted a ‘Man Overboard’ exercise for Adam’s hat outside the channel of the ICW; a rescue by a passing powerboater that turned out to be none other than the owner of the sailing school where I teach; and an engine-stopping line fouling episode on the final approach to the marina.

We mostly enjoyed all these mishaps though, [except for the breakfast thing] and used our ingenuity to recover from each malady UNTIL we were tied securely in our slip, and discovered the horror of horrors. A can of metal polish had busted out of a cabinet above Karin’s ‘special place’ for her neatly ironed work clothes for the next few days. It spilled its chemical contents across several articles of clothing (which went straight to the dumpster). Risking capitol punishment, we revealed the disaster to Karin when she came home from work, but her response was simply, “Oh, too bad. Now I must get new clothes.” (Sorry, I was a bit too busy during this excursion to snap photos.)


Adam’s vacation included a round of golf [he trounced me!], trips to the beach [with 10,000 of his closest friends], lounging aboard Windigo, and of course, a visit to the ORIGINAL Hooters, where he celebrated his 21st birthday with dancing and libation. WooHoo!

Karin & I have been using the gift certificates we won at the Holiday Boat Parades to whip up our own dancing and libation. WooHoo!


Speaking of whipping things up, I have discovered the marvels of “The Pancake Factory”, a $12 appliance picked up at WalMart. Using our recently acquired dock power, this thing is capable of cooking all manner of foodstuffs in the matter of minutes. Now I know why my friend from Mobile, Joe Bru enjoys ‘griddling’ so much. I have become a griddling fool!


I have just returned from the first vessel delivery of the season; soon I expect to be flying off to the BVI to sail an ex-charter ship back to the US for a new owner. A good possibility of additional adventures for the Windigo Travelogue Catalogue!


This month’s science subject explores “reality”:


“Real time” has been used as a phrase to describe computer processing that occurs as fast as events affecting the processing. In light of that use of the phrase, we have come to accept that things we perceive around us are happening as we become aware of them. Our perceptions of events we consider happening in “real time” are accepted as reality. They are the present, things going on this instant, right now. Or are they?


While I have pondered the idea of “reality” for many decades; teaching navigation on a daily basis has provided me with a tangible explanation of my basic thoughts concerning human perception. Namely, the use of the GPS system has given me a demonstrative example of how reality is perceived.


Many of you are familiar with the Global Position Satellite (GPS) system that has proliferated into our boats, cars, homes and camping packs. The GPS system uses 23 orbiting satellites, sending data to receivers which interpret the satellite signals to provide the user with the location of the receiver. By loading the receiver with mapping data, the unit is able to display amazing information. Besides speed (current, average, maximum, etc.), distance (from a point, to a point, and anything in-between), and altitude, it can be made to calculate fuel consumption, ETA, sunrise/sunset, high and low tides, best fishing times, and much more. All this is displayed on a screen, just the same as the one I marveled at, that James Bond used when I was a kid.


Now, the first rule of navigation is to never trust any single piece of information. Any aid to navigation may be in error or interpreted wrongly. I teach not to fixate on any one instrument, including the GPS. This is because for all its wowey-zowey bells and whistles, the GPS unit simply does not tell you where you are – only where you have been! The satellites that provide the data for the GPS unit are hundreds of miles away in orbit. It takes time for the signals to travel the distance from outer space to your GPS. Then, to calculate the speed a unit is traveling, it must compare a previous position to the latest position and do the math of distance / speed. Finally, to let the user know the information, it must further process the data to come up with a “readout” in digital numbers or the James Bond moving map. All of this takes time, and when the final information is displayed, it is actually “old” information, soon to be replaced with the next set of data calculations going on inside the unit.


Now it is obvious that any electronic device has similar limitations: a time lag between the input of the data and the reading and comprehending of the information displayed. But what of information viewed directly? Things we see with our eyes are certainly “real”, aren’t they? The answer is a solid NO! Even discounting the processing time for our human brains [which is many, many times faster than the best computers], there are still delays and errors involved in directly viewed events.


Our eyes “see” objects by interpreting the visible light reflected by those objects. Although light travels extremely fast in the short distance discernable by our eyes, it still takes some time to make the trip. It may seem like nitpicking, but a valid example is evident when we view the night sky. The closest star in our sky is four light-years away. This means we are seeing it as it was four years ago! Most visible objects in the sky are thousands of light-years distant! Can you imagine how many of these objects are not even in existence anymore? Even sunlight takes eight minutes to reach the earth, so we are seeing the sun eight minutes into our past.


When I was in the Air Force, I worked on systems to alter the image of an airplane as to confuse radar contacts and missile guidance systems. We had the capability to make the plane appear to be somewhere other than its real location. We could alter the path of electronically-guided and laser-guided weapons aimed at our aircraft. The systems being developed then at Dalmo-Victor, Hughes, and Martin-Marietta were the versions of what we know today as “stealth” technology. Their goal was to make specific items not visible in certain directions and times. As in “invisible”. This was almost 30 years ago – do you think they have come up with something in that time? I am impressed each time I see a B-2 bomber approaching at a slow speed, yet am unable to discern the sound of its jet engines.


When do you think the first warfare application of stealth technology was used? Archimedes realized the brain’s processing time might be impaired by adding conflicting information, so that it must sort it out to allow us to see an image. He assisted in the organization of a defense of an ancient port by advising the soldiers to carry brightly polished shields, and using them to reflect sunlight upon the attacking vessels. [Some have conjectured that this was an attempt to start the ships ablaze, but I give Archimedes more credit that that.]


Gives some credence to the old saying, “Believe half of what you see and none of what you hear.” I may mistrust the other half, also!


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

A NEW temporary address here in Clearwater Beach:

850 Bayway Blvd.

Clearwater Beach, FL  33767

Text-only Email addresses aboard Windigo, checked often:

Email addresses checked when at a land-based computer:

And of course, the Windigo Travelogue Catalogue: