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May 11th 2009

    Alwin Hughes earned the name 'Skipper' in the following way.  

    He was a deck hand on a wooden schooner for some years.   Who knows quite where, or quite why, but possibly in the US Virgin Islands, or even Puerto Rica, Alwin Hughes missed his ship.  Generally when that happened it meant that an absent sailor had gone "through the window".  A reference to a bathroom window with a broken latch in either a US Customs or a US immigration office in either Puerto Rica or the US Virgin Islands.  Here I am necessarily vague because when I heard about "The Window" its exact location was still a treasured secret.

    But Alwin Hughes had always been certain that he had eaten bad American food and had fallen to stomach distress.  He simply found himself stranded, and like all undocumented sailors he quickly found another ship.  This one was a metal ship.  It was a war surplus landing craft that carried cement.

       

    Those who know the Caribbean Seas will tell you they are prone to sudden squalls which very quickly produce a choppiness, that can be unnerving.  A landing craft has a shallow draft, it has no bow to cut the waves.  It was designed to surge onto a beach, disgorge its cargo and leave as quickly as possible.  Perfect for carrying cement, or invading armies, but quite wretched in rough sea.

    That cement ship crew lacked experience.  When the squall came, it was a deck hand that took the helm and saved the cargo for grateful investors who rewarded Alwin Hughes with the position of ship's captain.

    And that's how Alwin Hughes earned the name 'Skipper'.   But did Alwin Hughes like the name 'Skipper'.  Not really because metal ships had to pay docking fees and stevedores, and there was always paper work.  Worse Revenue Men and Coast Guards, ever gallant aboard a schooner, became overly nosey on a metal ship.

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