Growing up in the lightning capital of the world, you learn about the things you should never do in a thunderstorm. You shouldn’t play golf in a thunderstorm, or play baseball, or walk on a beach, or go swimming, or go boating. Basically, you shouldn’t do anything out of doors. There are also a few things that should be avoided indoors, but this is an outdoor story.
Monday morning, I awoke to the sound of distant thunder. I got up and checked the forecast – 40% chance of rain. It wasn’t looking good for the day’s planned scalloping trip. However, weather prediction isn’t an exact science and the sun was out at the moment, so I slathered on the sunscreen, got in the car and headed to our rendezvous point at McCrae’s boat ramp.
There were a few dark clouds about as we launched the boat, but the sun was still shining as we headed downriver towards the gulf. As we left the confines of the river and entered the Gulf of Mexico, the wind picked up. Soon it was raining.
Glen continued taking us out to sea. We passed a couple of boats heading in to the safety of the river as we were heading out. They were giving us dubious looks. The people on the boats, not the boats. We all know boats don’t have eyes.
Gwen: “They must be thinking that we’re nuts heading out in this weather.”
Me: “I’m thinking that, too.”
The rain continued to come down though the bimini top kept most of the rain off of us. There were whitecaps on the water. The only bright spot seemed to be a very narrow opening on the horizon ahead of us.
Glen: “I think it’s clear up ahead.”
Gwen: “Yeah, maybe in Mexico.”
I looked at Gwen: “Am I the only one who thinks it’s looking worse?”
Gwen: “He’s a man. You can’t change his mind. The only thing that will change it is if he almost dies.”
At least, we hadn’t seen any flashes of lightning. We continued on for a bit, then turned south. The rain picked up. We ran south for a while and then I heard it.
Me: “I just heard thunder.”
Gwen: “It’s probably the motor.”
Me: “Sounded like thunder.”
Glen brought the boat to a stop. “I think this is the spot.”
Ray tossed out the anchor as we all heard the next clap of thunder.
Glen: “Who’s going to be first in the water?”
Randy: “Water is a good conductor of electricity.”
My thoughts exactly. We all looked at each other.
Glen put on his snorkeling gear and jumped in. He circled the boat looking for scallops and found one.
Glen: “Visibility isn’t very good. Probably because of the storm. We’ll have to try another spot.”
He clamored back on board. We pulled up the anchor and motored to another spot. It continued to rain. I looked about at our little group and then I realized why this seemed familiar.
Me: “We have the same number of people and the right gender mix as the cast of Gilligan’s Island.”
Randy: “But we don’t have an island.”
Me: “We’re still on the Minnow on our three hour tour.”
Carol: “Well since I’m the oldest, I must be Mrs. Howell.”
This would mean that her husband, Ray, was Mr. Howell. I suggested that Roland would be a good Professor. Since Glen was driving the boat, he was the Skipper. This left Randy as Gilligan. Gwen has red hair so she was the obvious choice for Ginger which meant I was Mary Ann, and nary a coconut in sight to make pie.
We reached our next stop. It was still raining. Everyone but Ginger and I jumped in the water. The first flash of lightning with a very loud clap of thunder brought most of them back to the boat. The second flash brought the stragglers back. We had a bite to eat before heading to our next stop.
Now the rain was coming down hard and the wind was blowing the rain sideways. It was a cold, stinging rain. Mrs. Howell got in the water just to stay warm. The rain eventually let up. We searched for more scallops, but only found enough to feed one or two of us. We decided we had had our fill of scalloping for the day and headed back towards the river.
Ginger: “I’m sorry it wasn’t more exciting for you.”
Mrs. Howell: “No, it was exciting.”
Me: “Near death experiences usually are.”
The rain finally ended and the sky grew a bit lighter. We were in the channel heading towards the river when we spotted a pod of dolphins. The Skipper made a wide circle around them slowing the boat enough to entice them to ride the wake behind us. They quite literally jumped at the chance.
For about ten minutes or so, a pod of 6 or 7 dolphins followed us back to the river, jumping and playing in the wake on both sides of the boat. It was quite a sight. Mrs. Howell caught the last half of it on her cell phone. You can see the video on the link below.
The other highlight was our detour through Tiger Tail Bay to clean the few scallops we had before reaching the boat ramp. I had never been through this lovely little spot on the Homosassa River.
So despite a bit of bad weather. our Minnow crew survived to tell our tale, and I won’t soon forget those dolphins.