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Wayne Post
  • Anglers in most danger from lightning

  • It must be an urban legend because I have always heard that golfers were the favorite targets for lightning bolts. But, an official study by the National Weather Service (NWS) says differently. Those bureaucrats prove that anglers are most susceptible to bolts from the sky.Their data was collected between 2006 a...
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  • It must be an urban legend because I have always heard that golfers were the favorite targets for lightning bolts. But, an official study by the National Weather Service (NWS) says differently. Those bureaucrats prove that anglers are most susceptible to bolts from the sky.
    Their data was collected between 2006 and 2012, with 238 individuals dying from lightning strikes. That averages out to around 37 deaths per year. And most of those deaths occurred when people were engaged in leisure or recreational activities.
    Fishing led the list with 26 anglers being fatally struck, an average of just under four per year. Camping came in second with a total of 15 deaths, or around two per year. And boating was third with 14 deaths.
    Finding soccer on the list was a surprise, but 12 individuals died during that seven-year period while either playing or watching the game. And golfers suffered the loss of only eight of their companions during that same period.
    That means more than three times the number of anglers died from lightning compared to playing golf. But it wasn’t always that way. During the 1990s so many golfers were being knocked off by lightning strikes that the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency, which is the umbrella “parent” of the NWS, ran an awareness campaign specifically for golfers, and their subsequent death rate fell by 75 percent.
    A lightning safety specialist for the NWS says the higher number of deaths for anglers and boaters is primarily due to the increased time it takes for them to seek shelter. That’s why it is always good policy to head for shore as soon as a thunder-head cloud is spotted. Don’t delay a speedy exit or you may become a crispy critter.
    * * *
    Ohio charter captains are up in arms over recent Coast Guard (CG) activities. When the feds pull safety inspections they are demanding not only the licenses, but also the “papers.” All of the papers.
    There is a law on the books, written in 1920, called the Coastwise Trade Act, that says that any commercial boats of a certain size that want to operate in U.S. waters must have been built in the U.S. And the owners are required to prove that fact with a “builder’s certificate.”
    This arcane law was obviously meant to target ore, oil and cargo carriers, the big boats on the Great Lakes. But someone in the CG is now applying it to boats that carry six passengers plus crew, or “six-packs” as they have come to be known.
    The problem is that most of the charter boats are used, and have been sold and resold several times. The original owner is often hard to locate, and getting the original document may be even harder to find.
    Page 2 of 2 - So what is the penalty for not producing that document? A threatened $40,000 fine, and up to $500,000 if stopped a second time. So their boats no longer leave the docks. They are losing thousands of dollars in lost charter fees as their lawyers fight with Washington to straighten out another bureaucratic mess.
    Almost makes you wish for lightning to strike, doesn’t it?
    * * *
    Last week I went down to the boat launch on the north end of the lake to talk to anglers, but I had a lot more fun watching the recreational boaters launching and pulling boats on the ramp. And I witnessed something that is becoming more of a problem all across America, on both fresh and salt water ramps.
    Some boaters do not hesitate to “power-load” their boats onto the trailers. This entails using the boat’s motor to push hard enough to ride the boat up onto the trailer. I watched five different boats use this method during the hour I was there.
    The problem is that the spinning propellers cause dirt, sand and gravel that is placed at the end of the concrete ramps to be pushed away, causing a “dish” or low spot to be created. If the wheels of a trailer with a boat goes off the submerged ramp end, it might just be stuck there until the boat is off-loaded. And the trailer can still be damaged when the wheels are forced up and over the ramp’s lower lip.
    Please, boaters, use the winch to pull the boat onto the trailer. Sure the problem is already in place at our local ramp, and it will be costly to repair if it is repaired. Still, let’s not make it worse than it already is.
    * * *
    More than 80 bird-watchers gathered in Scotland to see a White-throated Needletail, which happens to be a rare bird that has not been seen in the United Kingdom for 22 years. The “birders” were there to watch one of the world’s fastest flying birds. But instead they saw it fly directly into a nearby wind turbine. It was killed instantly.
    I fear for our own rare birds such as the whooping cranes. Wind turbines are being built right in the flyway of these majestic, beautiful birds. I will hate to say, ‘I told you so,’ when some of these rare birds are also killed in similar fashion. I will have tears in my eyes when that happens.
    Len Lisenbee is the Daily Messenger’s Outdoor Columnist. Contact him at lisenbee@frontiernet.net
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