In any given water-related outdoor situation, what’s the difference between exciting and scary? How about one billion volts? That’s what kayak fisherman Erik Walasek faced near Aripeka, Florida recently.

Walasek was out trying to catch some dinner when the clear skies suddenly turned dark as an ominous thunderstorm bore down on his little craft.

Then lightning struck the water behind him. Things turned a little more urgent. With the GoPro rolling from the bow, Walasek paddled like a fiend to outrun the storm, all the while thunderclaps and flashes rattling the air and the water around him.

A good mariner can make safe harbor after being caught in a storm, while a foolish one sails into a storm. Finding oneself on a large body of water in the midst of a sudden lightning storm is somewhere in the upper fifth of terrifying outdoor predicaments.

Having been in the exact situation on board a sailboat on an Arizona lake, we can attest to the fear. It’s a feeling not unlike having a hunting rifle operated by a toddler aimed at your head while you carefully and calmly walk across an open field. There is no shelter, no cover. In fact, the environment itself only amplifies the possibility for catastrophe. Making land in such circumstances is a gigantic relief.

Meteorologists and seasoned mariners will advise that the moment a storm appears in the distance, an immediate departure for the shore is imperative. Walasek and one of his fellow anglers both followed this advice and made for the nearest shore, but the storm approached so rapidly that they found themselves being chased, locked in a desperate sprint for the relative safety of dry land. 

Walasek told ABC News he was terrified during the experience, but he’s not about to give up paddling just yet.

Photo credit: Youtube screenshot