What is the simplest way to get the ESP8266 signal to my laptop?
I am going to suggest another method which looks pretty simple–using ESP-NOW.
This is a special protocol designed to link two (or more) esp modules. It is described here with examples by Robin2
There is an excellent video about esp-now here
You will need to buy a second esp8266 module instead of using the wifi receiver of the computer. The usb connection is important, and a second Adafruit Huzzah (or a Wemos D1 or Node MCU) with a built in usb interface will make life easier.
The receiving module will pass the data it receives to the computer through usb and a serial port.
You have been focusing on the wireless data transfer, but I question where you are on other aspects of the project.
Can you read the sensor with the esp8266, and understand what the data packet will be?
If this data packet were presented to a serial port on the computer as either ascii or raw bytes do you know what to do with it? Do you know how to input a serial data stream to the program, which will turn the input data into output lights/music?
My simple experiments with esp now has been pretty positive. I have not really tested range issues or what the impact of the packing of one module in the bouy will be. Class1(high powered) bluetooth might be another simple serial option, but it will get you into new hardware.
One issue I have come across is that there may be a library link issue with #include <espnow.h> if you are using older versions of the esp8266 ide files. If you use the board manager to update to the latest version all will be well.