Captain's Blog

Herb Hilgenberg

For twenty five years (1987-2013) selflessly volunteered up to 8 hours every day bridging the gap in offshore weather often providing our family and often as many as 80 other mariners with suggested safe courses and or suggestions to stay put or put to sea. He retired in 2012 and my single side band radio has been a much lonelier place without Herb. He played a particularly important role with Siskiwit during the period of March 12-15, 1993 in what later was named the STORM OF THE CENTURY. Every major airport on the U.S. East Coast was closed at one point as the storm rolled up the entire eastern seaboard. Herb got us off the plan to run outside from the Bahamas to Jacksonville or Savannah and we rode the storm with two anchors and winds gusting up to 60 knots. When the storm passed 11 boats had gone ashore and Siskiwit ferried passengers off a number of the boats back to Nassau in order for them to catch their return flights home. At the end of every broadcast herb would sign off saying “Have a Good Watch.” He must be approaching 80 years at this point. Herb exemplified the best in yachting.

Have a Good Watch.

Herb Hilgenberg with capStorm_of_the_century_satelliteMechanics Behind the Blizzard of 93

My First Visit to Bimini

Chalk’s Ocean Airlines for years touted to be the worlds oldest continually operating airline.  It was founded in 1919.  I flew to Bimini in the spring of 1958 meeting up with my uncle’s boat.  It was a never to be forgotten spring break.  Little did I realize that this vacation and summer sailing camp would foster a life of sailing plus four years in the US Navy.  Chalk was still flying into N Bimini and Nassau in 1992 during our Columbus cruise which included a number of months cruising the Bahamas.  When at anchor it often felt these seaplane pilots were sometimes less than a boat length away on landings.  The Grumman G 7 Mallard was also being flown by the USCG out of Miami. Chalk ceased operations in 2007.  Just remembering what got me started, a summer learning to sail on an A and Beattle Cat 1957 followed by Spring Break applying what I had learned.  From stories shared with locals,  if you lived in S Florida during Prohibition Chalk was among the steady suppliers of booze from Bimini.

Chalk Airlines Office and Ramp Bimini Chalk