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.