Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Weather Locomotive

A thunderstorm in the city simply means everyone goes indoors for a few minutes and says things like, "I love a good thunderstorm." When you're motoring at six miles-per-hour in a small sailboat on the Chesapeake Bay when a thunderstorm is approaching at 25 miles-per-hour, your life is in immediate danger.

I left work early to go fishing alone on my boat yesterday. It was 4:30 when I got out there and the surrounding sky was balmy but not dark, so I decided to go out. After about 40 minutes I was in the main part of the Bay, and I saw the first lightning strike, coming straight down from the darkening cloud on the horizon. I immediately turned the boat around toward home. Straight toward home. At this point the sky looked like this:

I knew exactly what I needed to do. I put on my lifejacket, turned on the VHF radio (for storm speed), turned on the GPS, clipped the motor's kill cord to my beltloop, closed up the cabin and braced myself for the coming weather locomotive. The VHF weather alarm was sounding (sounds like that "this is a message from the emergency broadcasting system" beep). The voice was saying, "All boaters should seek safe harbor immediately. All boaters should seek safe harbor immediately."

Having been caught in a summer thunderstorm in 2003, I was prepared for the worst. On the water the wind can instantly become 40-50 miles per hour. That kind of wind blows rain so fast that if feels like someone is shooting gravel at you out of a cannon. The wind blows the boat up on its side so bay water pours into the cockpit. It's impossible to steer a boat and the thunder is deafening loud. And there I am: A giant mast jutting into the sky about 45 feet.

Luckily I got back into my marina safely. Five minutes after I'd tied up, the locomotive hit. I sat on the picnic table drinking a beer, high on adrenaline.

Nature is completely indifferent. It's been here for time immemorial and it'll exist when humans are long gone. It could give a quick fuck if you're in the way.
I like that story.
you dodged a bullet. Sailing - it builds you're confidence one second - and humbles you to you're knees the next.
Same thing happened to me last year. IT is quite a sobbering experience and one I"m not going to repeat if possible.

Len B.
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