'Can't control Mother Nature': Lightning strikes party boat Destin Princess; no injuries

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

Just days after a huge water spout was spotted spinning near the coast of Destin, the party boat Destin Princess, a 65-foot fishing vessel, was struck by lightning. 

Capt. Aaron Finkley and his group of 35 anglers aboard the Destin Princess were out fishing on the last day of red snapper season, Thursday, when they took a hit. 

"We had stopped and had been fishing for about 10 minutes … and actually got some fish in the boat there," Finkley said. 

Then all of sudden they had a storm roll up on them. 

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"We tried to evade and move around and when we were on the backside of the storm we got struck by lightning," he said. 

"I saw a flash and then it went black," he said. 

The lightning had struck the radio antenna, the tallest antenna on the boat. 

"It was extremely loud and then we went black ship. We lost all our controls. The motors went down," he said. 

Capt. Aaron Finkley of the Destin Princess had a charter of customers out in the Gulf of Mexico when the boat's fiberglass radio antenna was struck by lightning Thursday.

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Finkley said with help from the crew, they were able to keep everybody calm and everybody safe. 

"We got the motors fired back up and decided that was going to be the end of our day," he said, noting they didn't get skunked, they had a few red snapper in the box. 

The captain said the reaction from the passengers was, "Did we just get hit?"

"I knew we got hit. ... My ears were ringing so loud," Finkley said. 

But he was thankful everyone was safe. 

"Safety is our No. 1 priority. As long as everybody is OK, we can figure out the rest. Fishermen have to improvise," Finkley said. 

Once they got the motors fired up, they came back in.

Capt. Aaron Finkley of the Destin Princess had a charter of customers out in the Gulf of Mexico when the boat's fiberglass radio antenna was struck by lightning Thursday.

"We got the heck out of Dodge as they say," Finkley said. 

Were there warnings of bad weather before they ventured out Thursday? 

"There were some squalls out there when we were going out, but nothing out of the ordinary. It happens, you can't control Mother Nature like that," he said. 

Finkley said the mechanic came down Thursday with plans to be back Friday to get them up and running.  

Luckily, he said they didn't have any trips on the books for the next few days and have plans to head to drydock to get ready for Coast Guard inspections.