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Old 13-09-2016, 16:53   #1
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Does lightning strike cause delamination on fiberglass hulls?

My guess is that it does. It should! However, I still do need to ask. Does lightning strike cause delamination on fiberglass, carbon or carbon reinforced fiberglass hulls?

If the boat had to have a new mast and boom after the incident, can we assume that the hull is damaged badly as well?

Thanks a lot in advance for all your input.


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Old 13-09-2016, 17:24   #2
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Re: Does lightning strike cause delamination on fiberglass hulls?

It certainly could. First, if there is any moisture along one of the multiple routes that strike took - and moisture makes for better conduction - it is going to turn to steam - that's what blows bark off the side of a tree that is struck. Could there be moisture in your fiberglass? Yes there could. Beyond that, any path it took that supplied resistance will get very hot, and could be damaged. The tough part is that the paths a bolt takes are maddeningly difficult to predict or even guess after the fact - note the very wide range of experiences people have reported on this forum who have had their boats struck - some came away with some burnt paint, while others had the boat and just about everything in it melted.
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Old 13-09-2016, 17:40   #3
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Re: Does lightning strike cause delamination on fiberglass hulls?

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Originally Posted by MehmetCan View Post
.....

If the boat had to have a new mast and boom after the incident, can we assume that the hull is damaged badly as well?

.....
No, that would not be a reasonable assumption. It could affect the hull but usually doesn't.
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Old 13-09-2016, 17:44   #4
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Re: Does lightning strike cause delamination on fiberglass hulls?

Saw a 38ft sailboat get struck in St Michael and the boat split right down the middle and sank in a second. It was one of those boats built in two half hulls and joined together. One more common problem is lightening exiting thru the hull near a hull valve or some other bonded metal.

I been struck twice with no hull damage.
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Old 13-09-2016, 17:46   #5
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Re: Does lightning strike cause delamination on fiberglass hulls?

08/24/2016, Michigan, Lake St Clair

Lightning hit a J120. during a race, nobody hurt. Pics here:

Zenfolio | Susan & Mark Thornton | Nauti Boys - August 2016 | Photo 15
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Old 13-09-2016, 18:10   #6
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Does lightning strike cause delamination on fiberglass hulls?

My boat, a 1980 Morgan 462, took a strike a couple of months ago. No hull or rig damage, but the boat is pretty solid to start with. Lots of electrical and electronics fried, repairs are nearly complete. Your experience could be totally different, as lightning chooses to ignore any rules we might try to impose on it. If your rig took damage, that may indicate less than ideal electrical bonding, giving the lightning nowhere to go. I suggest you haul the boat and hire a very competent marine surveyor to thoroughly sound the hull. They generally use a tap hammer that lets them find delamination by the sound of the blows.

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Old 13-09-2016, 18:14   #7
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Re: Does lightning strike cause delamination on fiberglass hulls?

The real problem is that it's almost impossible to try and chase the damage. More common than delamination is to ruin the epoxy/poly/vinyl and eliminate the laminate strength. But it can also just blow holes , or push out fairing compound, ore pretty much anything. Once boat reportedly has thousands of pin holes put in the hull in a ring around the waterline.

The reality is that a direct lightning strike is pretty close to a death sentence for all electronics, and could be for the hull as well.
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Old 13-09-2016, 18:44   #8
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Re: Does lightning strike cause delamination on fiberglass hulls?

I know a couple who were in Roatan a few years back. They were struck While reading in bed. They checked the bilge for water, found none, and went to sleep. Next day, anchor up, sails out, bilge alarm beeps. Turned out they had a couple dozen small holes an inch above the water line. Also a boat full of fried electronics. I don't think they had any delamination.
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Old 13-09-2016, 19:08   #9
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Re: Does lightning strike cause delamination on fiberglass hulls?

I understand that carbon fiber is more susceptible to lightning damage than regular fiberglass. BoatUS article I saw somewhat supports this view.
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Old 13-09-2016, 21:43   #10
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Re: Does lightning strike cause delamination on fiberglass hulls?

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I understand that carbon fiber is more susceptible to lightning damage than regular fiberglass. BoatUS article I saw somewhat supports this view.
There is some indication that CF is more suceptable to damage than aluminium masts, but I haven't seen anything indicating it's more suceptable than fiberglass. If anything the lower resistance of CF should make it less likely to be damaged.
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Old 13-09-2016, 22:45   #11
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Re: Does lightning strike cause delamination on fiberglass hulls?

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Originally Posted by Adelie View Post
I understand that carbon fiber is more susceptible to lightning damage than regular fiberglass. BoatUS article I saw somewhat supports this view.
It's more that the resin gets damaged, or has a problem with lightning. So that again, the laminate is compromised.
While carbon fiber has some great perks, I'd be a bit nervous about cruising with a boat or mast made of it. Especially as repairs or replacements for things could be hard to come by in many locales. Including the expertise required to fix it. And not just for patching things up after a "gift from Thor".
Also, the spars themselves could be tough to come by, as freighting one in could cost more than the spar itself. Which wouldn't be a fun insurance chat to have
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Old 14-09-2016, 02:07   #12
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Re: Does lightning strike cause delamination on fiberglass hulls?

Thanks all. It's good to get a reconfirmation on the issue.
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Old 14-09-2016, 03:58   #13
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Re: Does lightning strike cause delamination on fiberglass hulls?

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Originally Posted by MehmetCan View Post
Thanks all. It's good to get a reconfirmation on the issue.
Hope all goes well, and you don't have any hull damage. Please post to the thread what you find. Since I'm dealing with the aftermath of a lightning strike myself, this is a subject of great interest :-)

Regards,
David
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Old 14-09-2016, 06:57   #14
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Re: Does lightning strike cause delamination on fiberglass hulls?

It's more of a decisive factor prior to a purchase. Now I'm dragging my feet for it.
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Old 14-09-2016, 07:13   #15
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Re: Does lightning strike cause delamination on fiberglass hulls?

FWIW
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