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Old 24-07-2016, 06:00   #1
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Lightning strike! Now what?

My new (to me) boat got struck by lightning at the dock this past week. When I went down to the boat on Friday I found pieces of the VHF antenna on the deck, and then started finding various systems were damaged. Radar/chart plotter won't power up, same with backup plotter, A/C is working erratically, masthead lights are dead, starboard nav light is out, ElectroScan head is not working, etc. Other things seems OK - depth sounder, wind speed/direction, both VHFs (even the one connected to the blown away antenna!), battery charger (I think).

Since I'm new to the boat I don't know the systems yet, so properly evaluating them is going to them is going to be a challenge. Any suggestions on how to go through everything to figure out what is ok, what can be repaired, and what just needs to be tossed and replaced? And how best to deal with the insurance company to get a fair shake from them?

I'm thinking of hiring a professional marine electrics/electronics guy to help step me through evaluating the systems, rather than just have them do it for me, then at least I'll learn something in the process. Any suggestions on someone in either the Fort Lauderdale or Fort Myers areas that you would recommend?

Shitty way to start out with a new boat that I've owned for one week, but it's hard to control Mother Nature

-David
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Old 24-07-2016, 06:38   #2
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Re: Lightning strike! Now what?

Yes, bad way to start...

But

Could be a great way to start! You get to learn about boat electrics!

First thing is be very careful of marine electricians. They are as usefull as a bunch of politicians at a convention and out-price plumbers!

They will do a lot of work for $100 per hour that you can do for your pathetic value of $0

I would buy a multimeter and a bit of 2 strand electric cable and check all your wiring and each bit of junk.

Use the cable to wire dead stuff up to the battery direct. Then you will know if its the unit or the wiring.

Others here will give you some tips. But what you are trying to do is get a list of what is actually wrong. Then replace what you can until you have a tiny list that you need an expert to help.



Sorry its happened.
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Old 24-07-2016, 06:40   #3
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Re: Lightning strike! Now what?

I had the same problem when I purchased my boat. Got struck by lightning on the first trip moving the boat from Conn - Fla. I had the boat hauled and hired a surveyor to go through everything and document all the issues. Took a while but the insurance company paid for everything, $25K, including all the yard bills and storage. I had to replace every single item connected to the electrical system on the boat. Good luck.
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Old 24-07-2016, 06:42   #4
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Re: Lightning strike! Now what?

If you have insurance, call them first. They'll tell you how to proceed.
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Old 24-07-2016, 06:55   #5
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Re: Lightning strike! Now what?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cottontop View Post
If you have insurance, call them first. They'll tell you how to proceed.
Already emailed them to start that process, and will call them Monday morning. My biggest concern after reading through the policy is the depreciation they can apply to the items that need replacement. Just take the radar/chart plotter for example - it may be new to me, but it was installed in the boat in 2006. According to the policy wording they can depreciate electronics at 10% per year - does that mean after 10 years they can claim it's worth nothing, and the replacement cost is on me?

-David
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Old 24-07-2016, 07:06   #6
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Re: Lightning strike! Now what?

Oh, I didn't read the insurance bit...
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Old 24-07-2016, 07:23   #7
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Re: Lightning strike! Now what?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
Oh, I didn't read the insurance bit...
Even though I do have insurance, I would like to do as much myself as possible to learn the systems. It's just that I don't know the systems at all yet, so need guidance, hence the desire to find someone who is willing to work with me to get started. It may be a lengthy process :-/.

The boat is in Fort Myers Beach, and I need it seaworthy enough to sail it around to Fort Lauderdale where I live - it will be much easier to work on it if I don't have to drive two hours each way. First thing is I need to be sure that the nav lights are all functional, and that the batteries can take and hold a charge. The engine starts and runs just fine, so I just need to check that the alternator is working and will charge both the start and house batteries. Hopefully at least one of the two autopilots survived, as that will make the trip a little easier.

-David
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Old 24-07-2016, 07:25   #8
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Re: Lightning strike! Now what?

Florida is like one of maybe 5 top lightning hotspots in the world, no?

Hope you can repair all damage soon and get her out on the water.

Let's hope the lightning does not strike twice! ;-)

Cheers,
b.
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Old 24-07-2016, 07:41   #9
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Re: Lightning strike! Now what?

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Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
Let's hope the lightning does not strike twice! ;-)
Indeed! I did buy a lottery ticket right afterwards ;-)
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Old 24-07-2016, 08:22   #10
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Re: Lightning strike! Now what?

I've been struck twice, both times VHF antenna was hit. Call insurance first. Then start making a list of everything you find not working or working erratic. Try everything, things need to be double check. Autopilots, mine was working but very weak. The strike can damage the output power transistors, you'll want to send the whole system back. Run the motor I lost both the voltage regulator and AC battery charger. If the VHF radio was attached to the antenna, replace it even if it works...too important. Check your batteries, every light, instruments, standing rigging, furling sys, CD player, AC and DC power panels, all AC devices, NEMA connected devices, freezer & frig, all pumps, any monitoring systems. At haul-out check the thru-hulls and anything grounded, but right now look around the thru-hulls and where metal is near the hull for any lighting exit points. Saw a boat in St Michaels get hit while I was at the Crab Claw and it split right down the middle and sank in 3 seconds. It was of those boats built in two halves and joined together. Things of safety need the close inspection by a professional. You'll find things months later that don't work or stop working because of the lightning strike. Good luck and don't worry lightning can strike twice.
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Old 24-07-2016, 08:42   #11
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Re: Lightning strike! Now what?

Do Not do anything until your insurance has sent an adjuster and you have the go ahead. I was struck by lightening 3 years ago and the adjuster had the boat hauled and searched for pinholes in the bottom ( I had none but just to be safe he looked) He took one look at the electrical/electronics and ordered it to all be replaced. I was able to choose who did the work and they paid him directly and reimbursed me for my expenses on the haulout, dockage at the nearest marina etc. I had no deductible to pay as it was covered by the comprehensive part of the policy. I made it a condition of the job that I was consulted on everything put in. I used the services of a local boat builder (Gozzard Yachts - Builder of high priced custom boats) and had no objection from the insurance company.
BTW I was able to upgrade some items such as the autohelm in consultation with the adjuster and I just paid the difference. I was even allowed to change from Raymarine to Garmin as was my choice and it cost me nothing extra
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Old 24-07-2016, 08:45   #12
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Re: Lightning strike! Now what?

I was hit 4 weeks ago and melted the top of my mast welded the stays in the press on fitting cracked the mast as well call your insurance 1st they will send out a surveyor once he inspected my boat he found that the A/C were all damaged everything that ran on 12 volt and 110 volt damaged he helped get a crane in to remove the mast as it was unstable them moved to the port to be hauled now the repairs have begun .
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Old 24-07-2016, 08:46   #13
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Re: Lightning strike! Now what?

Is a VHF antenna at the top of the mast a lightning magnet? Safer location would be the transom albeit much lower height and less range?
I try to avoid accumulating lots of expensive electronics because I'm so scared of lightning strikes. Even if your insurance is a good one and pays for everything its still a big hassle.
Still fixing the damages caused by the last strike..
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Old 24-07-2016, 08:49   #14
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Re: Lightning strike! Now what?

My boat was struck by lightning at my dock last fall.

This is what I did and it worked out fine:

Called the ins company Boat US.

They said haul the boat immediately, they would pay for the haul, block and days for repair.

I hauled the boat in Ft Lauderdale at Playboy marine (great yard!)

The adjuster came aboard and looked at a few items and told me to get quotes for repair.

While out, I repainted the bottom (at my cost). the lightning had blown out a small hole in the depth sounder transducer but it was not leaking. That was replaced along with the cutlass bearing which showed signs of heat. not sure if it was the lightning that caused it but it was replaced. I had the boat out for a week and the insurance covered all but a few lay days.

I had a very good company quote the electronics. The insurance company paid for the quote. They cut a check for replacement prices plus labor, some of the labor I did myself.

I had trouble finding an electrician to do the quote. it took months to find someone, they just are not readily available. Finally got a man down to do the quote, he found many things I had not. I will list them below so that you can check them on your boat.

Again boat us paid for the quote, replacement value and labor. I can not say enough good about them. I had zero problems with them and excellent service. They are a good company and I highly recommend them.

Many things were damaged or destroyed, here is a list:

Back stay insulators.
alternator and controller
ac and dc panel meters
Circuit breakers
galvanic isolator
Shunts
inverter/charger
ALL batteries
Link battery monitor
chart plotters
chart chips
GPS antenna
wind and depth instruments
SSB
Tuner
Pactor modem
VHF
AIS
Computer
TV
Stereo
Generator windings
reefer pump
AC boards
AC contols
AC compressor motor
Bow thruster motor
all lights on the mast
all wiring on the mast
masthead camera and wiring
antenna splitter (for AIS)
All antennas
Radar
Anything hooked to raymarine Seatalkng
Autopilot control head
Autopilot computer
Fluxgate compass
Windlass motor
Windlass solenoid

Also have a look at your rigging. bearings on furlers etc.

It is a long process, but most of it is finding good people to not only do the quotes but the work. I am lucky I had a good ins company.

I hope this helps, good luck.

Michael
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Old 24-07-2016, 08:54   #15
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Re: Lightning strike! Now what?

The wiring inside of the mast is probably toasted as well, unstep the mast is another thing to consider ....
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