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Old 04-06-2012, 08:19   #1
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Getting Struck by Lightning

hi has anyone ever been struck by lightening whilst out sailing??also what would the consequences be if your mast did get struck?

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Old 04-06-2012, 08:52   #2
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Re: Getting Struck by Lightening

I am currenly cruising the Pacific side of Central America... The summer months here are their rainny season and with that comes some really spectacular lighting.

I have meet several boat owners here who were stuck by lighting and read numerous articles on the subject.

Basically, if it is a direct strike or a near strike, at a minimum you will loose all your low voltage equipment and possibly be holed if the lighting decides to go to ground therough a metal through hole or your fiberglass hull.

Some boats have report seeing "St. Elmos Fire" on their masts, but had no damage.

Of all the reading I did on lighting before coming here, I found that discussing lightining arresting systems is like dicussing anchors. Everyone has different ideas. From static disipators to full on grounding of the vessel hull and it's mast.

After this I concluded, none of it will protect your electronics in a direct strike, but it might possibly prevent serious injuries or sinking. With that said, I found no statistical data or stories of vessels with lightning arresting gear who had been struck to determine if the gear actually did anything.

The facts are lighting is infinitly random... about 4% of boats get struck by lighting in Florida. Boat US has a great article here: - Seaworthy Magazine

An interesting fact they provide, found that multi hulls were struck more by lightning than mono hulls... Maybe more surface area on the water?

Fair Winds

Tom Jeremiason
SV Camelot
Punta Gorda, Florida
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Old 05-06-2012, 16:28   #3
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Thanks a lot!!the article was very interesting!!
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Old 20-06-2012, 04:09   #4
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Re: Getting Struck by Lightning

Traditional wisdom says hook at set of jumper cables from your mast wires overboard. Won't help your electronics, but should help the rest of the boat.
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Old 20-06-2012, 09:42   #5
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Re: Getting Struck by Lightning

Our trawler was hit at our home dock and had extensive electronics damage. Ironically, there were several sailboats docked nearby and none of them were hit.
My soul is full of longing for the secret of the sea,
and the heart of the great ocean sends a thrilling pulse through me.
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
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