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Old 18-07-2016, 05:52   #1
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Do you sail when Lightning is predicted?

Just wondering how you deal with predicted lightning on the forecast when you are cruising. If it's predicted that day does that prevent you from leaving absolutely? What's your threshold for going out?


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Old 18-07-2016, 08:02   #2
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Re: Do you sail when Lightning is predicted?

i sailed in it-- was easier to sail in it than to await it hitting ye in a boat jail, er marina..present a moving target, harder to hit...
being that i have been deathly afraid of lightning since age 3-4 when i was closely almost hit by denvers ball lightning, within a foot from me, going sailing in lightning was a big hurdle.
i sailed gom during all kinds of fun electrical stormationm-- w edidnt come close tobeing hit--there was a minuet just out of appalachiacola wherein we thunk we was gonna DIE, but we didnt... what doesnt kill ye k makes ye stronger-- so now--despite my intense fear of anything with a large spark, except cars and engines, i can sail in a lightning storm without jumping too high or freezing uncontrollable. wow impressive progress.
lightning has no rhyme nor reason for its paths. it will hit the next boat over from ye depsite your mast being taller.
it will hit wherever it finds a path of east resistance.
i know folks who were hit, i know folks who lost boats-- that were IN PORT, not sailing.
storms move--they are not static. boats sailing move, they are not static. the beauty of sailing during a storm is that you can sail to a point of less stormation. get the flock outta the bad spots and move along.
in marina, you are a sitting duck . thor bowls, you are the pins.
it is a personal choice, but i would go sailing. (wearing crocs, rubber gloves and suit, and an anti zap hat...)
threshold for going out??if i want out, i go. if i wanna sit like a sitting duck and wonder if i gonna be hit, i stay. is all my choice. i did sail year in lightning storm after lightning storm--that also was my choice--stay or go--i stayed.
we didnt die.
woul di do it again--hellyeah. my horizons are wider, my abilities better, and i am stronger for the experience.
when out in open ocean and a lightning storm comes along, you gonna run like a scared barbie doll into port?? i think not. ye grit teeth and keep trucking.
donot allow anyone to tell you to go to sea unless you are able to tolerate the lightning without freezing. that will kill ye. if you are scared of it and go out alone, you askin for it. take a friend--that way ye can die together..ha ha h aha ha you wont. die that is.
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Old 18-07-2016, 08:28   #3
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Re: Do you sail when Lightning is predicted?

In the Great Lakes if one stayed in the marina when thunderstorms were in the forecast there would be no summer sailing, period.
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Old 18-07-2016, 09:05   #4
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Re: Do you sail when Lightning is predicted?

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In the Great Lakes if one stayed in the marina when thunderstorms were in the forecast there would be no summer sailing, period.

This, The whole South the standard forecast is for afternoon thunderstorms, thunderstorms mean lightning.
Now lightning does give me the willies though, I don't like it.
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Old 18-07-2016, 09:28   #5
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Re: Do you sail when Lightning is predicted?

Isn't this simply an issue of common sense?

We live in the "lightning capitol" here. No one goes out without purdent consideration of the forecast which is generally pretty accurate. Staying put doesn't guarantee safety from lightning but it does offer the ability to get off the boat which in most cases doesn't have the biggest mast anyway.

With contemporary electronics and the ability to 'see' storms coming, if the answer isn't already self-evident, make sure your insurance premium is fully paid.
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Old 18-07-2016, 09:59   #6
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Re: Do you sail when Lightning is predicted?

this is venezuela. they have lightning. so does cartagena. i have yet to experience these but i plan on doing just that after refit. dunno about vene, as political situation is rather unstable and unfriendly specifically to usa citizens...
i have seen nothing this intense in fla....fla is easy.i have found more lightning in mazatlan than we found in florida.
so--practice storm sailing in safe florida so when you hit the reality of actual lightning you are prepared.
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Old 18-07-2016, 10:39   #7
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Re: Do you sail when Lightning is predicted?

How does lighting know if a sailboat is moving, and does it care?
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Old 19-07-2016, 09:13   #8
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Re: Do you sail when Lightning is predicted?

Steel boat, aluminum mast, well grounded. Been hit twice. No problem.
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Old 19-07-2016, 10:15   #9
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Re: Do you sail when Lightning is predicted?

lightning from what i have found doesnt care if you are moving, short or tall, well grounded or not
i have been hit 3 times on 2 different boats cooked electronics but random ones took out starter but not alternator who knows
when hit on my boat my main is 80' tall and well grounded through full wrap around chain plates and massive bronze bow plate that goes below waterline on stem
but it hit my mizzen only 43'
freaked the cat though looked like he put his tongue in a light socket
that was about the point i got rid of my engine volvo starter for 1100.00$
and my boat was built before engines went in boats it seems to know that and eats them alive
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Old 19-07-2016, 10:25   #10
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Re: Do you sail when Lightning is predicted?

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i have found more lightning in mazatlan than we found in florida.
Florida averages 1.4 Million lightening strikes a year.... More than any other State in the Union.

We spent 19 months cruising Pacific Mexico, including staying two months in Mazatlan and a Summer in the Sea of Cortez. In my opinion, the lightening here in SW Florida is much more intense than anywhere in Pacific Mexico, including the Sea of Cortez.

Now back to the OP question... It would depend on the weather prediction and need to go out sailing....

Here in SW Florida the afternoon storm prediction is pretty much steady from June to October.... Afternoon Rain with Lightening.

The bottom line is that your chance of being struck by lightening is minimal, to begin with, even in a sailboat. But you should use common sense.

As a side note:
A while back, BoatUS did a lightening study based on insurance claims and said that Catamarans are twice as likely to be struck by lightening than a monohull.

Here is the Boat US Article on Lightening Strikes
Striking Lightning Facts - Seaworthy Magazine - BoatUS
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Old 19-07-2016, 10:52   #11
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Re: Do you sail when Lightning is predicted?

You have a better chance of winning the lottery than getting hit by lightning. I don't worry about lightning, its the storm that goes with it I'm concerned about.
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Old 19-07-2016, 11:08   #12
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Re: Do you sail when Lightning is predicted?

I've been hit by lightning.

And grounded. Hard.

And hit big submerged logs.

And busted my knee hours from port.

And torn sails and shipped water.

And sailed within a mile of waterspouts.


I don't do anything stupid like trying to be tough and elect to sail through a serious squall replete with lightning and high winds. But I don't let a chance event stop me from sailing.
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Old 19-07-2016, 11:15   #13
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Re: Do you sail when Lightning is predicted?

After a close strike, we installed a Lightning Dissipater from Forespar. Round the west end of Catalina, a competing boat about 30 meters away was struck, and although we are about six feet taller, nothing happened. While we're probably not lightning proof, that Dissipater helped.
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Old 19-07-2016, 12:17   #14
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Re: Do you sail when Lightning is predicted?

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You have a better chance of winning the lottery than getting hit by lightning. I don't worry about lightning, its the storm that goes with it I'm concerned about.

You will get hit 33 times by lightning for each time you win big in an average state lottery in the U.S (matching all 6 numbers.)
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Old 19-07-2016, 12:53   #15
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Re: Do you sail when Lightning is predicted?

Its always best to avoid lightening storms. Macho types are usually the ones who get fried("Naw, not afraid of lightening") . On a boat you may be a bit safer than if you were out walking on land; but that is little consolation as your boat sinks under you. There is one exception. If you are on a metal boat(steel), you are in a faraday cage and should be quite safe assuming you do not touch any part of the hull. So if its threatening to storm, stay ashore.
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