It was after 3:00 a.m., and I was behind the wheel of a 48-foot 33-ton tugboat. The weather was rough: heavy rain joined by a 25-knot winds gusting to 35 knots. The all-steel tug was swaying back and forth as if it weighed 33 pounds, not 33 tons. It had been a long day, and now a long night, as I was on the last leg of a voyage that started in Charleston, South Carolina, and was set to end in Tarpon Springs, Florida.
Navigating on the water at night presents a challenging set of circumstances for any captain. Throw in the wind whipping the sea into a frothy mess of turbulence, visibility of near zero, no crew, and the level of difficulty increases exponentially. My concerns were many, but mainly that the tug's draft was five and a half feet, and I was about a mile outside the port of Tarpon Springs, on the Anclote River, and it was a dead-low tideâthe kind of dead low you normally only see in the winter, when it looks as if a giant sponge came down from the sky and sucked up all the water. Parts of the bottom I didn't even know existed were totally exposed, which meant if I didn't stay within the channel, running aground was a certainty.
Normally, flashing green and red channel markers point the way, and you simply stay within them to navigate, but not on this night. The only way to find the channel markers was to shine my LX2 LumaMax® in the direction I was headed. The light was so bright and so penetrating that it would bounce off the markers' reflective exteriors, allowing me to maintain my bearingsâand sanity. The light's 200 lumens shot through the murky, heavy darkness with a beam that consistently found the next marker, sometimes literally hundreds of yards away. If the conditions I was in were hell, the pure white beam radiating from my LX2 must've been the path of light to heaven. Thanks, SureFire, for getting me home safely.
New Port Richey, FL
See the LX2 flashlight: