WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Boaters need to beware of bolts in the sky

WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Boaters need to beware of bolts in the sky


Did you know the week of June 20th to 26th was National Lightning Safety Week? If you did not, don’t feel bad, I did not know this either.

It was brought to my attention by a release I received about a southern bass fisherman getting struck by lightning while he and a teammate were running back to the dock to get away from an approaching storm when the lightning struck the boat.

The angler said they were traveling about 55-60 mph or close to it, when it started to rain. Then the bolt of lightning hit the boat going through the body of the driver of the boat and exiting through the driver’s seat of the bass boat.

The angler said his body sort of froze up. He said it was like someone shot him with a taser, It took a while for him to regain his senses, but they made it back to the boat ramp.

By the time they got back to the boat ramp, EMS and other Emergency crews were already waiting. They immediately checked the angler out and all of his vital signs were stable and he was released right there. Talk about close calls, or is it called luck?

Lightning has been called “An underrated killer “and this is why a week has been put aside to bring attention of the danger of a lightning strike by boaters and just about anyone who uses the outdoors and bad weather comes up.

Particularly boaters. According to reports from BoatUS Marine Insurance clam files, the odds of your boat being struck by lightning are one in 1,000.

We are told that lightning should never be taken lightly (no pun intended). While dark clouds, lightning and thunder are all warning signs of an imminent storm, you do not have to be in the direct path of the storm to be in danger. The storm that affected the angler I told you about was roughly 20 miles away at the moment the lightning struck their boat.

According to the anglers in the boat that was hit by lightning, it was the only lightning bolt they saw all day.

The report also stated that lightning is not something to full with or test your luck with.

Previously at least 55 people a year perished because of being hit by lightning and the numbers have dropped to about 30 a year but that is still too many! Some of those that died were fishermen. Don’t take chances when the weather acts up, the life you save may be your own.

I can relate to the power that a lightning bolt can do from a few personal experienced. Many years ago, I was working for the L. Suzio Companies in their sand pit in Rocky Hill. I was operating a Michigan front-end loader and it was raining but here was no thunder or lightning with it.

The area we were digging in was about two hundred yards from a set of high tension towers and power lines that were located on another piece of property next to the sand pit. I was facing the towers as I loaded a dump truck when out of nowhere a bolt of lightning came down and made a direct hit on one of the high tension towers!

What happened next was absolutely awesome! It looked like a huge ball of electric flame went up the tower structure and then proceeded down the power lines in the form of arcing electricity. It was an awesome sight to behold and one that I will never forget.

My next close encounter with lightning came while on a vacation trip to the deep woods of Maine. My Darlin’ Edna and I were staying at Hardscrabble a remote lodge outside of Jackman, Maine.

The owner of the lodge had shown me a remote lake called “Little Enchanted” filled with hungry brook trout. The only thing was that it was an hour’s hike up the mountain to use the lake but the rewards of catching wild brook trout on a fly made it worth it.

Little Enchanted had an aluminum canoe for anyone to use and so I took it out on this remote and beautiful piece of trout water to enjoy the day.

I was so taken, or should I say “Enchanted” with the fishing that I never noticed the storm clouds that were building up behind me until the first drops of rain began to dimple the surface of the lake. The next thing was a clap of thunder that was almost deafening!

I immediately paddled the canoe to the shoreline, pulled it onto the shore and stashed my backpack and camera under the turned over canoe and then the lightning started! I am not taking about a single bolt of lightning but multiple strikes.

I backed away from the canoe and found a slight depression in the woods and simply cowered in it with the rain pelting down on me. To say this was a scary, memorable moment would be an understatement.

The storm lasted about fifteen minutes and then the sun came out as if it had never happened. All I could think of was Edna and the folks back at Hardscrabble thinking I was probably a goner.

I made my way back to the lodge much to the relief of everyone there including me. It was one of those intense summer storms that come out of nowhere, especially during the summer.

I can tell you that those two close encounters with lightning have made a believer of me when it comes to the dangers of lightning and I hope you our readers heed the danger also.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED: Ag Science Educator, Emily Picard and her team of students are working hard in an effort to remove the highly invasive Water Chestnut that is spreading over the Quinnipiac River and Hanover Pond again this summer.

The Quinnipiac River Watershed Association (QRWA) is reaching out to volunteers that would like to join in the effort to get rid of the Water Chestnut growth. The work is mostly done by boats and the QRWA has a limited number available, but any volunteers willing and able to bring their own boats would be greatly appreciated. They we also need volunteers to work on land overseeing and organizing the collection bags. Two of the new dates are July 7 and August 4th. All events run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

If you are interested go to qrwainfo@att.net.

See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops, police, firefighters and first responders wherever they may be serving our great country.

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