Seaworthy Magazine: Thunderstorms - A Few Members' Accounts

This incident happened on my first outing with my first boat. Some years ago, when I was a young (and poor) Assistant Professor, I bought my first boat. It was a very small (11') sloop. I was anxious to get my new boat on the water, and we launched it for the first time one day in April.

My girlfriend and I were both complete beginners as sailors. In fact, I had not even been aboard a sailboat before and she had only been a passenger once or twice. We were making headway, however, and were actually able to make it go in the intended direction, more-or-less.

Suddenly she let out a yelp, as she got a shock from the aluminum boom. I looked at her, and her hair was standing on end. It was only then that I looked up and to the west, where the sky was absolutely black, except where there was lightning.

We turned and ran for the launch ramp, but half-way there the wind died, then the rain came down in torrents. There was lightning everywhere, but as I recall there was very little wind. We paddled in, all the time VERY aware of the aluminum mast.

We were concentrating so hard on just making the sailboat WORK that we paid absolutely no attention to the spring thunderstorm that was fast moving in on us.

We made it in, drenched to the skin and cold, but grateful to be ashore, with the mast down and the boat on the trailer.