Escape the Storm | News, Sports, Jobs
I have often fished in mild rain, and sometimes the rain even stirs up the fishing, but I will not fish when there is lightning. The risk is too great, but more than once I have been surprised and wish I had been safe at home.
Barb and I, along with our friends Ken and Darlene Walls, once got caught on a kayaking tour while paddling around Land Between the Lakes in Kentucky. It was a fun trip despite the sweltering heat and high humidity we faced every day.
Nights were spent in our tiny backpacker tents and meals consisted of freeze-dried Mountain House food. There are no commercial businesses on Earth between the lakes, so all of our accommodations were what we could fit into our kayaks. I bet now ladies you want your husbands to take you on a wonderful cruise like this. But wait, it’s getting even better.
We had been paddling and camping for about a week, when the sky began to look ominous. What to do? Well, the only thing we could do was beach the boats and pitch the tents. We did it just before the storm hit.
At first the cool breeze was nice after a hot day of paddling. Then the trees began to moan and cry in the relentless onslaught of the wind.
The waves on the nearby lake collected and it looked like surf hitting the shore. It was a little scary, but I felt it wouldn’t last, so Barb and I crawled into our tent and waited. Then the light struck.
Our little nylon tent closed in the blast of the wind, and I have never seen lightning so bright and constant. It was like a thousand electronic flashes going off together. It was so bright inside the tent that I could have read a newspaper. I don’t know what Ken and Darlene were doing, but Barb and I weren’t sleeping and our eyes were wide open.
Finally, as all good things must end, bad things must also end. By dawn the storm was gone and the happy song of a whippoorwill woke us to a fresh new morning. We just had to paddle some fairly high waves, but we made it. By the end of our trip, we had paddled from Lake Kentucky through the Barkley Canal and to Lake Barkley.
It wasn’t the last thunderstorm we experienced in our boating years, but it was intense, and afterwards I had a healthy respect for Mother Nature’s spooky light show. I also had respect for the mad Ben Franklin standing in the middle of lightning flying a kite just to see if he could be shocked.
So how do you avoid getting caught on the lake when a storm hits? It’s a good idea to check the weather to see if they are predicting bad weather, but they are often wrong. I sat on the dock as the meteorologist told me a storm is in the area and boating could be dangerous.
Then we had what I call bluebird time and I kicked myself for missing out on a good day of fishing. But it’s better than getting blown out of the water.
When we cruised Lake Erie I was more reliant on the NOAA near shore forecast as it was more up to date, but it could also be misleading. One evening we set sail for Port Stanley Canada and the NOAA forecast was for light showers.
At 4:00 am the next morning, we were in a squall line on Lake Erie with waves up to 14 feet and winds peaking at 35 knots. A sail blew up and we battled this maelstrom for over 12 hours before arriving at our port on the Ashtabula River.
Our experiences prove that even if you are careful, storms can sometimes appear out of nowhere. All you can do is follow the motto of the US Coast Guard. “Semper Paratus” and be “Always ready.” Enjoy your boating summer and be careful.