It was mostly a quiet Sunday at the Florida Sea Base.  We had a nasty thunderstorm cell move through this afternoon.  The storm only lasted 30 minutes or so, but it was ligtning packed and very concerning.  I was on the dock at the time and took refuge on my boat.  Sitting beside a 54′ vertical metal rod in a lightning storm always makes me uneasy.

The term “head” on a boat generally refers to one of three things; a part of the motor, the part of your body that sometimes makes a painful connection with the boom, or the toilet.  Head has also evolved to mean the bathroom in general, not just the toilet fixture.  So you could be washing your hands at the sink IN the head or you could be sitting ON the head depending on the meaning at the time.  Wow, all of that so I can tell you this.

Morgan Out Island sailboats dominate our fleet.  These boats come rigged in two ways, sloops (one mast) and ketches (two masts).  On the ketch rigs, the mizzen mast (smaller of the two masts located aft on the vessel) goes through the deck and is stepped in the aft head (bathroom) which is inside the Captain’s Quarters.  Two or three years ago, one of our finest captains, Capt. George Clements, was in the head of his ketch rigged Morgan Out Island, S/V Silver Crow, when the vessel was hit by lightning.  [I too have the same rig so speaking from experience, when you are sitting ON the head while IN the head you are facing the mast with your knees only two feet from the mast.]  Capt. George reported that when the lightning traveled down his mizzen, causing it to glow super white, he WOULD have pooped if he was not still sitting on the head having just finished that very same task.  Fortunately Capt. George was not touching the mast and did not get electrocuted.  The vessel sustained some serious damage (mostly to electrical and electronic equipment) but no one was hurt and the hull was intact.  This is a good example of a story that is terrifying as it happens and hysterical after the initial shock (no pun intended) wears off.  I’m not sure if Capt. George finds it very funny to this day.  But it cracks me up envisioning the whole scenario.  Capt. George, sitting on the head, successful in completing the most important task of the day, just about to stand up when BOOM, the deafening sonic blast of thunder cracks about 30 feet over head while nearly simultaneously the mast, three feet in front of his face, glows super white as the lightning travels through the mast, into the boat, seeking its way to the water.  Capt. George has very expressive eyes.  And I can imagine what they were expressing right then.  It’s only funny because no one was hurt.  That could have been the most watched YouTube video EVER if there had been a “head cam” aboard Silver Crow.

Everything else went very well.  The weather (other than the lighning show) was mostly overcast.  The crews came and went as scheduled.  The staff did a stellar job of working around the nasty weather.  The Galley staff made incredible pizzas for lunch.  These bested just about any pizza I have ever purchased.  Dinner was great too; pot roast, gravy, mashed potatoes, carrots, salad and chocolate cake.

Invest 94L is forecasted to stay well north of us but has been sending us these ugly little thunderstorm cells.  The other systems in the Atlantic and Caribbean are not effecting us.  The National Hurricane Center posts updates at 02:00, 08:00, 14:00, and 20:00 Eastern Time.  Here’s the 02:00 update for Invest 94L.

Weather Underground

That’s all I have this morning.  Please be careful and don’t get hit by lightning while you’re pooping.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

S/V Escape, Morgans Bluff, Andros Island, The Bahamas

2 Responses to “A (Mostly) Quiet Day”

  1. S Segars says:

    Funny story about Capt George! We sailed with him in 2009. He was a hoot, and a great captain. How is he these days?

  2. Steve Willis says:

    Captain George is alive and well, still at the helm of S/V Silver Crow and running weekly in the Coral Reef Sailing program.

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