Friday, August 03, 2007

Tuesday's T-Storm

"Junior sleeping in"

Monday's powerful (we thought) storms rolled over us at sunset and had us all scrambling to shutter windows on the windy side of the camp. The abundance of windows, two large opposing doorways, and the overhanging roof is pure genious. The combination allows weather protection while still catching whatever breeze is available.

It worked so well, that in 4 days of summer weather, we were never hot in the camp, but we were chilly.

The next day dawned absolutely beautiful, but really, isn't every morning beautiful? Some are just more beautiful I suppose.

Tuesday was a day for fishing, snorkeling, eating, and ...

... leaping.

"Arrrrghhhh, matey!"

I tried to budget an appropriate amount of hammock based sea-sky contemplation, in between swimming, eating, snorkeling, fishing, and boating.

Actually, our boat got to rest alot on this adventure, since the camp was the place to be. The boat was mostly a way to get to the camp and at least once a day, I would run into shore to refill water jugs at the marina or pick up a cousin or other visitor. On Tuesday, both beautiful daughter Emma and beautiful cousin Megan arrived and joined us at camp.

Meggie arrived kind of late in the day, and I ran the boat in to get her just ahead of yet another late afternoon storm. This one hit us just after I got her back to camp, but it soon passed and the ocean became slick calm for most of the evening.

I had a feeling we were in for more, so I put a stern anchor out on Summer School in hopes of avoiding the need to get up in the middle of the night and retie her as the winds and tide changed.

When you're at camp, you check your boat repeatedly. It's not good when they float away.

We had a breezy supper of grilled chicken and the kids had a great evening playing Risk, making completely silly videos (Blair witch goes to sea camp) and fishing.

Around 9:30 pm, the springing tide had dropped the water level around the camp to only about two feet and we had fun shining our powerful bazillion candlepower spotlight over the water and freaking out the mullet and needlefish.

Somewhere around 11:30 pm, with a cool seabreeze flowing through my open window, I fell asleep on my bed to the sounds of the kids laughing and water lapping against the pilings.

I awoke at 2:00 am to the sounds of explosive thunder and lightning flashes so intense that they left perfect long lasting after images on the back side of your eyelids. A blowing rain was beginning to drift in through the windows as I dashed out to unhook the shutters. Mrs. FC was already out there and we quickly worked as a team (with Emma's help) to batten down the camp.

For the next two hours, we endured, experienced, and survived the most intense lightning I have ever been in. When you read that last sentence keep in mind I have 49+ years of Florida living and multiple hurricanes under my belt.

It's different when you're exposed.

The storm completely enveloped us in a dark shroud that blocked out the waning almost full moon so that the only light was the intense lightning. Sheets of rain obscured the lights from the mainland which added to the sense of being on your own ... and truly we were. Only the Coast Guard goes out in weather like we were in and then only if they have to.

I have never felt so ... inside a storm. There was wind whipped water below, tropical rain all around, massive dark clouds above and through it all ... a barrage of lightning and thunder that did not stop for hours. No noticeable pauses, just strike after strike ... including plenty of those where the gap between flash and bang was for all purposes ... nonexistent.

At one point, I stepped out the back door for a moment to check on the boat status, when a flash of lightning burst in front of me. I shut my eyes reflexively and there before me was the dock and the boat, all of it in sharp focus and ... in color. I blinked open and shut my eyes again just to see if I had imagined it, but it was still there ... an afterimage just as clear as a photograph.

I got yelled at for stepping out the back door so I quickly ducked back inside where it was safer. I had seen enough anyway, the boat was still securely tied and was happily bouncing between the dock line and the stern anchor line. It was filling with rainwater, but that's not a serious issue with an unsinkable Carolina Skiff.

As I mentioned above, the storm continued at full force for about two long hours before moving completely past us and on to the mainland. The onshore wind abated to a nice breeze with gentle rainfall and we reopened the heavy shutters.

The cool breeze reminded us how tired we were, so we plopped back into our slightly damp beds and fell fast asleep.

When we awoke a few hours later, the sea surface was glassy slick and so calm that it was hard to believe it was the same planet as the one we were on the night before.


Meems said...

love, love the boys in the gulf photo in your header!!! what a treasure of a memory this vacation/b'day has created for your son.

this camp sort-of reminds me of the fish camps (always on fresh water though) we used to frequent when i was growing up. very rustic but so deliciously "old florida".

robin andrea said...

Your description is so vivid, FC, I could almost see what you saw in that flash of lightning. Quite a storm, and probably only once in a lifetime.

roger said...

what a relief that you're all ok. sounds like a truly exciting time.

Laura said...

I live in the lightning capital of the U.S. so I know what you mean by the power of those storms. I think my nerves would have been shot from experiencing something like that!

Still, what an amazing place to spend a few days, especially for the kids. I bet they had a blast out there. Those memories will stay with them for life!
I'll bet the owners hold their breath whenever a hurricane comes near.

The very last photo in the previous post is outstanding, FC. What an incredible sky!

Sorry about taking so long to post and get caught up, but the week has been all topsy turvy again. :(

Laura said...

Oh, forgot to say, love the photo that you're using for the header!!

threecollie said...

You write so well my heart was pounding just reading about that storm. What a terrible shame that Mrs. FC's family lost their ocean camp and can't rebuild it. Sounds like a wonderful week anyhow!

momadness said...

God, you are SUCH a tease for somebody that's stuck in KC!

SophieMae said...

Did you ever see the movie Old Man? One of my favourite parts was when the 'couple' came across a Cajun gator hunter living in one of these places. In case you haven't seen it yet, I won't spoil the scene.

I've sat out many a bodacious storm, but... I mean, the 'exposed' thing is just too much to comprehend unless you've actually been there, done that. I'm thinking it's an experience I'm just as happy to not experience. Then again... 8-}

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Nice description, FC. That must really have been something to behold.

Cathy S. said...

WOW! Amazing story and well told.

Scott aka Florida Native Musings said...

FC Your Kids are blessed to have you and Mrs. FC as parents. One day in the not too distant future you will be loading Summer School up with Bitty FC's and heading out there. God Bless our Great State and the way you show it off in your Blog.

Yours in the Bond.

vicki said...

I want to go to this camp. These posts with pictures are the best thing I've read in a long while, FC.
So full of life and energy- thank you, thank you.

Floridacracker said...

Thanks, "Old Florida" is getting hard to find isn't it?

It was pretty hairy. I'm ultra conservative on lightning so it seemed extra hairy.

we are fine. the boys actually slept through it all.

We Floridians know lightning that's for sure. I am really cautious with lightning, but we were committed by our location to weather it.
Glad you liked the two photos. The banner photo and how it happened will be a short post to come.
Sorry your week was a tough one. Hang in there.

Thanks. Every time I get out there, I thank my lucky stars.

Just sharin' paradise :)

Sounds like a movie I need to Netflix.
This was about as cozy as I care to get with a T-storm.

It was shocking.

Cathy S.,
Thanks storyteller :)

Oh no, let's not rush that bitty thing.
I feel ancient when I think of that.
Thanks tho!

Floridacracker said...

If there's anyone who seems to know life and energy, it's you, so I'll take that complement.
Good luck this week!

Deb said...

What an experience. We have not had an intense thunderstorm here for over two years now. I miss them, except for the fact that a good storm could send a huge pine tree crashing down on my house.

Floridacracker said...

Two years!
They are a little more frequent here, but blizzards are rare ;)

pissed off patricia said...

Yep, we've been having our share of the storms too. Probably five to six inches of rain in the past three days. Serious thunder and lightening too.

I have one question about the place out on the water. How does the maid get out there to turn down the beds and place the chocolate on the pillows?

Floridacracker said...

Yes, the maid thing is a bit of a problem.Somehow we managed to survive.
Be careful in these storms.

Rurality said...

49+ years, huh? But I thought you were only 29. :)

I love the pic of the far-away storm in the previous post. We went through a storm like that in a boat once. I was so seasick I was almost wishing that the lightning would strike me.

Floridacracker said...

My BRAIN is only 29.

Sharon said...

I love thunderstorms. You paint such a picture with your words :)

Floridacracker said...

Thanks. I love them too, but a little distance is nice.

Anonymous said...

Fc you know as well as many of us here how downright treacherous FL weather can be. Ya gotta keep that weather eye open. Good to know that all of those kids are in such capable and aware keeping.

We sat out a similar storm on our vacation, and we, too, were outside under shelter, but "exposed". It was memorable. I have the photos to prove it!

Floridacracker said...

Right you are. Being exposed to a storm is most memorable. I remember reading that John Muir liked to climb tall trees out west to get a feel for a storm's power.

I think he'd a been toast if he tried that when he walked through FL.