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Old 30-12-2013, 16:42   #1
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Lightning???

New guy to sailing here and I was wondering about lightning and how it affects the boat if struck. Sailboats look like lightning rods and it just seems it would be terrifying to watch a storm roll in and look up at the mast and scratch your head and think OH GOD!



Im about to buy a Cal!!! Cant wait. CF has been a great place of insight and I thank everyone on my last post for there insights!
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Old 30-12-2013, 16:47   #2
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Re: Lightning???

It usually fries everything. Ask me how I know.
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Old 30-12-2013, 16:57   #3
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Re: Lightning???

Lightning strikes on boats do happen . All kind of strategies to survive . Usually it will kill all electronics that are HOOKED UP . If ya ain't using it , disconnect it , kinda makes sense .
I once was sailing thru a small fleet of shrimp boats off of Port Canaveral and saw lightning strike a shrimp boat . Was no big deal to him ,he just kept on dragging , he had is nets and doors on steel cables in the water . Scared the devil out of me cause I was taller than him .
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Old 30-12-2013, 17:02   #4
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Re: Lightning???

It depends on where you are hit, and how bad the strike is.

But basically a bad lightening strike totals the boat regardless of what you have installed. I have seen thru hulls blown out of boats, aluminium masts melted, fiberglass with holes in it or where an entire section of fiberglass was melted and the polyester pulverized.

In a less serious direct hit, you typically loose all/many electronics, batteries, lights, the wiring may be shot.

In a near strike who knows, sometimes nothing, sometimes just the auto switch on the bilge pump goes bad, or the anchor locker light switch turns into a puddle of melted plastic goo.

Lightening arresters seem to provide some protection from strikes, and seem to minimize damage in some cases, but I a bad strike I don't think anything will help.
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Old 30-12-2013, 17:26   #5
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Re: Lightning???

I got zapped once delivering a J-35 on the Great Lakes.

The first thing that happened was that the LORAN started displaying Chinese on the LCD screen. Hours later we ran aground in the fog which rolled in after the sun came up and the storm passed by. The depth was reading 60' at the moment of impact. Later when we got into port we noticed the compass was off about 25 degrees.

The next day as we journeyed onward until we stared taking on water when pounding in some heavy seas. At that point it was time to bail out despite our schedule. When the boat was hauled and the water drained off there were thousands of little divots all over the hull.

The divots had little mini lighting bolts etched into the bottom paint radiating out from the center. They were really cool looking. You could poke a screw driver in the divots and see the core was charred. The divots were fairly evenly distributed over the hull except where they were more concentrated in three points where a Danforth was laying against the hull in a quarter berth.

I think at that point I had logged about 10,000 miles. I quit counting shortly thereafter. Not something I worry about.
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Old 30-12-2013, 17:33   #6
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Re: Lightning???

One time we were told of a steel boat, with a shortish mast, that was hit three times in a season while he was in the marina. They made him move out of the marina to a mooring 'outside the marina, where his boat was struck again!

Lightening is capricious. The sailboat with the tallest mast is not the one most often struck, whereas you might think it looks like a lightening rod. Go figure.

But I agree with the guy who says it's scary in a thunderstorm, and there's ground strikes and cloud to cloud strikes all around. Yup, it sure it!

Let's hope part of all of our happy new years is the absence of lightening strikes on our boats.

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Old 30-12-2013, 18:21   #7
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Re: Lightning???

Lightning is no problem if you have one of these:

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Old 30-12-2013, 18:23   #8
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Re: Lightning???

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Originally Posted by colemj View Post
Lightning is no problem if you have one of these:

Mark
But can you sail with that? I got hit while sailing.
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Old 30-12-2013, 18:25   #9
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Ah, so that's why you're adding the stern extensions....increased bouyancy for the faraday cage. ;-)
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Old 30-12-2013, 18:30   #10
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Re: Lightning???

We have a catamaran - those will flip if they ever actually touch water. Our boat came this way from the factory, because they knew that catamarans attract lightning and should not touch water (the flipping thing, you know). Even if we were dangerous enough to put it in the water, it is not by definition a "bluewater boat", so we would never actually raise the sails - that would be crazy.

Don't you read the forum dude?

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Old 30-12-2013, 18:31   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by topparrish View Post
New guy to sailing here and I was wondering about lightning and how it affects the boat if struck. Sailboats look like lightning rods and it just seems it would be terrifying to watch a storm roll in and look up at the mast and scratch your head and think OH GOD!

Im about to buy a Cal!!! Cant wait. CF has been a great place of insight and I thank everyone on my last post for there insights!
Lightening strikes typically do bad things to boats, but surprisingly people aboard are rarely injured. In theory that tall mast gives you some protection as long as you are not hugging it.

You are personally more at risk of being injured in a small open boat. Got caught out in a sudden electrical storm in a dink once...not a good feeling.
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Old 30-12-2013, 18:35   #12
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Re: Lightning???

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Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
Ah, so that's why you're adding the stern extensions....increased bouyancy for the faraday cage. ;-)
No. It's because I like big butts, and I cannot lie. You other brothers can't deny - that when a boat sails in with an itty bitty waist and a round thing in yo face…

Um, where was I?

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Old 30-12-2013, 19:07   #13
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Re: Lightning???

Colemj, I had never seen such a thing on dry land for an individual recreational boat. Perhaps you can provide more information if only the location of the monstrosity.

I have been somewhat distressed that the apparent attitudes among cruisers has been laissez faire about lightning. Surely, there is a device or method of wiring which serves to minimize the damage of a strike. Even that strikes may be rare they are more common than a typhoon and just as devastating.

My only experiences with lightning has been a mild shock while swimming in Tampa Bay, ball lightning without a discharge in the rigging on a wood sloop, and ball lightning on the nose of a light twin engine aircraft while entering into clear air after flying through the tops at night, again without discharge. Thank you static wicks.

I'm just amazed that the attitude seems to be so...careless, for lack of a better word. There has to be something a boat can do to minimize the electrical potential to a level that yer 'tronics ain't fried.
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Old 30-12-2013, 20:08   #14
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Re: Lightning???

I guess we have been lucky, our Colvin was steel with aluminum masts, we quit counting NMs after 40,000 NMs, never stuck by lighting YET ! Been in anchorages where other boats have been struck, but not us. Don't know why, Im sure it's just luck !!
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Old 30-12-2013, 20:22   #15
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Re: Lightning???

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Originally Posted by Richard5 View Post
I have been somewhat distressed that the apparent attitudes among cruisers has been laissez faire about lightning. Surely, there is a device or method of wiring which serves to minimize the damage of a strike. ----

I'm just amazed that the attitude seems to be so...careless, for lack of a better word. There has to be something a boat can do to minimize the electrical potential to a level that yer 'tronics ain't fried.
When you invent something that works even 90% of the time let us know.
I personally promise to get excited. Otherwise, there's no point in worrying about something you can't control.
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