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Old 05-01-2016, 08:08   #61
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Re: Should mast be grounded or not?

Also worth researching is the effect of lightning over salt water vs fresh water
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Old 05-01-2016, 14:14   #62
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Re: Should mast be grounded or not?

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Originally Posted by Canibul View Post
The Catalac was originally wired pretty much like that, with the exception of (possibly) the mast. But bottom line, sounds like unless I build a Faraday cage around the entire boat there's really not much I can do to prevent lightning strikes.

Most sensible, and cost effective, thing I am seeing here is to try to remember to disconnect the antennas on the mast head when there's a storm going on, or when leaving the boat.

I see some nice arguments here for putting everything of value on a radar arch and just living with some reduced range to line-of-sight systems. Or mounting antennas on the spreaders, perhaps?
Depends on location and use.

For weekend warriors in Ontario (freshwater, off boat more than on, few thunderstorms) I recommend, "If your boat came with lightning protection, keep it, but don't bother putting one on if it hasn't.

The story is different if they plan sailing south.

For live-aboards in Florida (saltwater, on boat all the time, likely to be hit once ever 11 years) I recommend installing a lightning protection system if it has none.

The most important benefit of a lightning protection system, is reducing the risk of side flashes that may electrocute people on the boat. The second most, reducing the risk of blowing holes in the hull, sinking, and drowning people on the boat. Reducing the risk of electronics damage is way down the list.

The easiest solution to help save the VHF radio is to disconnect the coax at the deck fitting (and move it as far away as practical).

A pretty good and easy solution is to place disconnected expensive electronics in the microwave (or other suitable Faraday cage) when not in use. (Ensure the breaker is taped off when electronics are inside or you may see other kinds of sparks.) One has to temper this with the fact that handling and connecting / disconnecting electronics is likely to damage something.

The best method for protecting the VHF antenna is to install a full blown lightning protection system (see Dr. Ewen's white papers) with a proper air terminal with tip at least 10" above the top of the VHF antenna.

I recommend a ground plate or strip vs the through hull terminals, as while the latter may be superior for lightning protection, they may be cause of maintenance and aesthetic issues. Remember, the focus of the good doctor's proposals are for maximum lightning protection, all else be dammed.)

For those in between Lake Ontario and Key West, ya pays yer money and ya takes yer chances. Really depends on your pucker factor.

Most people who install a new lightning protection system, do it immediately after a strike. (I suggest if you would be inclined to install one after a strike, why not install it before?)

To a friend I saw clamping booster cables onto his shrouds and dipping them in the water with the approach of threatening skies, I advised, "Well, it won't likely do anything, but it certainly can't hurt, and if it makes you feel like you've done something useful to protect loved ones, have at it. But if you really want a lightning protection system, that ain't it."

Ramblin Rod
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Old 05-01-2016, 15:26   #63
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Re: Should mast be grounded or not?

I forget who posted it, but I agree with him. Anchor around the boat with the tallest mast. Should reduce the odds lol
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Old 05-01-2016, 15:33   #64
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Re: Should mast be grounded or not?

One thing that is not often discussed are the NEMA interconnections which are another pathway for lightning to play havoc with your equipment - and it should be a consideration in any protection scheme.
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Old 05-01-2016, 16:08   #65
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Re: Should mast be grounded or not?

I bought a SR31 from a couple that had done extensive cruising. It took a little thought about what the wire was on an anchor? They would dip the anchor in with it wired to the fore stay? May have worked.
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Old 09-01-2016, 18:12   #66
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Re: Should mast be grounded or not?

The "bottle brush" gadget is akin the "static wicks" on aircraft. The purpose of these is not to reduce the likelihood of a strike but to allow relatively low voltage discharge of accumulated charge due to impact of water and other particles rather than allowing charge buildup until there is breakdown of the atmosphere at much higher potentials. They are used on aircraft to avoid visible streamers and to reduce noise in relatively low frequency communications mainly LF and HF gear.
I am skeptical of a "bottle brush" significantly affecting either the number or frequency of strikes on a boat mast.
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Old 10-01-2016, 08:34   #67
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Re: Should mast be grounded or not?

Here is a timely article from Boat US. They also note that nothing is for sure. Modern Lightning Protection On Recreational Watercraft - Seaworthy Magazine - BoatUS
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Old 10-01-2016, 08:36   #68
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Re: Should mast be grounded or not?

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I forget who posted it, but I agree with him. Anchor around the boat with the tallest mast. Should reduce the odds lol
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Old 10-01-2016, 08:48   #69
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Re: Should mast be grounded or not?

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Originally Posted by Idylles15.5 View Post
I forget who posted it, but I agree with him. Anchor around the boat with the tallest mast. Should reduce the odds lol
That's what I've done in the past *blush*
Easy when you're usually one of the smaller boats

I'll have to check to see if my mast is grounded, I honestly don't know ...
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