FISHING (NOT GOLF!) TOPS LIGHTNING DEATHS
SINCE 2006, LIGHTNING HAS KILLED 152 people engaged in outdoor leisure activities and, no, golfing is not at the top of the list; it’s fishing, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). In a recent study of all 238 lightning deaths over the past seven years,
the agency determined that 152 could be associated with leisure activities and that anglers
accounted for 26 of those deaths, followed by campers ( 15 deaths), and boaters with 14 deaths.
NWS says the large number of fishing, camping, and boating lightning deaths may be
because these activities require extra time to get to a safe place. “People often wait far too
long to head to safety when a storm is approaching, and that puts them in a dangerous and
potentially deadly situation,” said John Jensenius, an NWS lightning safety specialist.
Statistically, the chances of death from lightning are 1 in 126,158, according to the National
Safety Council. Nonetheless, lightning killed 14 anglers fishing from boats and 11 fishing from
shore, with one fishing in the water. An analysis of accident records showed that at least five
boat anglers did not appear to be seeking safe shelter at all. Of the 14 general boating deaths,
only eight appeared to be headed to safety. Jensenius says that lightning can strike from 10
miles away: “If you can hear thunder, you can be struck.”
The most important preventive measure for boaters, according to the BoatU.S. Foundation
for Boating Safety and Clean Water, is to get off the water, if you can. A VHF radio or good
weather app on your smartphone can warn you of an approaching storm with enough time to
get to safety. If you can’t, the Foundation offers these personal safety tips:
■ Lower any radio antennas and unplug electronics.
■ Stay low in the boat.
■ Try to be in the center of the boat.
■ Don’t touch anything metallic if possible.
■ NEVER touch any two objects that might be connected to the boat’s grounding system.
■ Try to stay dry.
■ If you’re fishing, stop. Fishing rods are excellent electrical conductors.
■ Stay out of the water!
Lightning safety information and tips for protecting the boat are included in the BoatU.S.
Foundation’s free online boating safety course: www.BoatUS.org — Ryck Lydecker
AFTER DEVASTATING DECLINES in sales,
employment, and manufacturing capacity
immediately following the economic recession, recreational boating
stayed on a steady recovery course during 2012.
According to a recent
economic survey by the
NMMA, sales of new power
and sailboats increased
10. 7 percent, to 163,245
units, with sailboats racking up a 29.2-percent gain
while small fiberglass and
aluminum outboards ( 26
feet and under) continued
their upward climb to an
11.3-percent sales increase
for last year. — R.L.
A COMPUTER MODEL
DEVELOPED BY U.S.
NAVY OCEANOGRAPHERS CAN NOW
predict the likelihood of
pirate attacks on merchant shipping off the
coast of Africa. Using
data, shipping information, and known pirate
operations, it can forecast the vulnerability
of cargo ships to pirate
attack at certain coordinates and times. — R.L.
On The Way Back?
HEADING SOUTH FOR THE WINTER?
DON’T BE SURPRISED by what you find. If you’re trav- eling anywhere on the East Coast, BoatU.S. cruising experts Tom and Mel Neale have you covered. For the latest updates on navigation, weather, and anything else that might
pop up, check out East Coast Alerts, or subscribe by email, at