We took a direct hit three years ago. Boat is a CSY 37
rig, heavy displacement
, lead encapsulated half full keel
It was in July when we were sailing from Treasure Cay to Marsh Harbor in the Abacos, Bahamas
. Thunderstorms are obvious as they move across the sky in big towering black clouds. About two miles NE of Marsh we saw a Giant one heading our way. I decided to take down sail and anchor
while it blew through. Water
in the Sea of Abaco
averages less than 15 feet so anchoring
anywhere is no problem.
Not to start an anchor
war, but our 45lb Manson Supreme held, well, supremely, as it always has. The Admiral was down below while I stayed in the cockpit
to keep an eye on things and make sure we weren't dragging, although we were a mile from the nearest shore. The storm passed right over us.
I was looking forward toward the mast when there was a sudden BOOM!, sounded like a 155mm howitzer going off next to me. An electric
blue light came down the mast and then disappeared. I knew we had been hit.
The first thing I did was to go down below and check for incoming water from anywhere. After a minute of frantic searching I found none. Thankfully the CSY
is built for easy service
and all through hulls are quickly accessible. We waited for the storm to pass over which it did in less than a half hour. It was already getting dark anyway so I decided to stay where we were until morning before trying to enter Marsh.
I soon discovered our losses. Some, but not all, of our interior
lights had been blown out. The VHF, depth sounder
, and Navtex were no longer working. Our nav lights were also blown but I didn't discover this for a few weeks. We have no masthead light so no problem there, but I did notice that the VHF antenna
was completely missing. The alternator
on the engine
was no longer charging
, something I discovered the next morning when we motored into the harbor. Thats it. Not even enough for an insurance
claim if we had had insurance
. And the Navtex wasn't really damaged.
In harbor the next day I gave the boat a thorough going over. There was no indication of where the lightning
exited the boat. I inspected the hull
around the waterline but could find no sign of damage. And what wasn't damaged is just as interesting as what was damaged.
Everything connected directly to the battery bank - not going through the breaker panel - was undamaged. The Adler Barbour fridge, the CPT autopilot
, the inverter
, and the solar
panel were working normally. The two handheld VHF's and my three handheld GPS's were undamaged - I don't have a built in GPS
. And the Navtex held a little surprise.
The built in VHF and depth sounder
were both fused on the positive side, as is usual. The fuses
were not blown but the devices were toast. The built in navtex has two fuses - one on pos and one on neg. The one on neg was blown. I replaced it and it came back up like nothing had happened! Makes me believe that the bolt came down through the negative side. From that moment on I decided to fuse BOTH sides of every important piece of equipment
And no, the boat is NOT GROUNDED. Every through hull is on it's own. I have absolutely no evidence to support this, but I have this fear that a grounded through hull might have been blown out of the hull as the bolt went to ground through it.
Being in the Abacos you can live without the things we lost
, except for the alternator. Fortunately I always carry a spare alternator and starter motor
, although there is an alternator shop in Marsh. We spent the next month just hanging out in the Abacos. It wasn't until we made the crossing back to Florida
that I discovered the nav lights weren't working. Don't know why I didn't check them sooner.