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View Poll Results: Have you ever suffered a lightning strike?
Yes, in Florida USA 9 5.84%
Yes, elsewhere in the USA 23 14.94%
Yes, elsewhere in the World 17 11.04%
No, but I personally know a boater who has 34 22.08%
No, but I'm aware of a specific boater who has 18 11.69%
I don't know anyone who has suffered a strike 53 34.42%
Voters: 154. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 06-07-2015, 01:21   #1
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Have you suffered a lightning strike?

I'd like to get some specific feedback from those who've suffered a lightning strike. To the degree possible, I'd like this just to be an information gathering thread that does NOT discuss lightning protection techniques or devolve into an argument about which boats or hull-types are more or less lightning prone. It is just to get an idea of how many people on this forum have suffered strikes and what damage occurred.

Please take the poll whether you've suffered a strike or not. If you also have details of a strike, including the make, year, and model of the boat and the damage that occurred, please post those details. If are not posting details about a specific strike, please do not post; start another thread to discuss strikes more generally. Thanks in advance for respecting this request.
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Old 06-07-2015, 01:42   #2
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Re: Have you suffered a lightning strike?

Do you want reports on only direct strikes, or are you interested in any that have been near enough to cause damage? Makes a big difference!

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Old 06-07-2015, 01:49   #3
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Re: Have you suffered a lightning strike?

Jim, thanks for the clarifying question. I'd like to hear about anything that caused damage.


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Old 06-07-2015, 02:35   #4
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Re: Have you suffered a lightning strike?

Got struck directly last month in east New Orleans by Lake St. Catherine. Antennae got vaporized, 5 out of my 7 lights don't work as far as I know. It blew out through my thru hulls. I would say a good 5-7 it exited, blew out the fairing(I have flush thruhulls) on most of them and there is spidering in the copper paint I used. Other than that, I can't say. I pick it up later this month to refair and hammer the bottom for blisters. Engine still worked. I did have a SH vhf in the boat, not hooked up still in box, so not sure if that still works or not.

Hope this helps, I can post pictures of the bottom when its up if you'd like.
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Old 06-07-2015, 03:08   #5
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Re: Have you suffered a lightning strike?

Struck Mid- Atlantic 2004. Took out autopilot. Saw 'St Elmo's Fire' in the rigging.
Struck whilst at Anchor in Belize 2010. Direct hit to VHF ariel at top of mast. Lost SSB radio, fore and aft lights, autopilot, radar, mounted GPS. No damage to fabric of boat

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Old 06-07-2015, 03:14   #6
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Re: Have you suffered a lightning strike?

OK, our only loss experience was when in the Bundaberg Port Marina, plugged into shore power. There was a strike on a metal building about 400 metres away, and our battery charger (only item plugged into shore power on board) was killed. No boat damage, as would be expected from such a distant strike. We've had heaps of closer strikes with no effects.

Plenty of friends with worse stories, but you wanted only first hand items.

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Old 06-07-2015, 04:45   #7
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Re: Have you suffered a lightning strike?

Took a direct hit during a delivery on the Great Lakes. Made Chinese on the LORAN, lost VHF, and affected the compass. Next day started taking on water.

Hauled the boat and discovered the cored hull was charred. Had little mini lighting bolts etched all over bottom paint with greater concentration at the motor mounts and at three points where a Danforth was lying against the hull.

Have separately seen St Elmo's fire and also had a "crackling" sails experience.
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Old 06-07-2015, 06:54   #8
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Re: Have you suffered a lightning strike?

Took a direct hit last 4th of July weekend at the dock in Florida. The wife and I were sitting at the saloon table (directly adjacent to where the keel stepped mast passes through the saloon) when the mast was struck. The VHF Arial was vaporized, the winded was knocked clean off the mast head. The list of damaged electrical/electronic items is long-
Inverter/charger
Solar MPPT controller
Raymarine MFD's x2
Sounder module
Autopilot control head
Autopilot computer
SSB
Xm weather receiver
Anemometer
Etc, etc.

An immediate haul out and rigging inspection showed no structural damage. You could see where the anti foul was knocked off around all of the bonded through hull fittings. The silver lining-After a hefty deductible I now have all new state of the art electronics courtesy of my insurance company.


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Old 06-07-2015, 07:09   #9
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Re: Have you suffered a lightning strike?

Good friend had a 26' Columbia that was struck twice at docks in north FL on the St John's River, about a year apart. He had few electronics: VHF, depth, battery charger and all were fried in one of the strikes which also melted some wiring, blew the antenna to another dimension and fried most of the lights.

Second one followed wiring down the mast to a small electric panel, down the wiring and then exited through the fiberglass hull in several spots. A couple of small spots were holes clear through and weeping water. The largest exit point melted the glass and left a spot like a clear, round window about 3/4" diameter. You could easily see light through it but the cloth and resin melted to seal the hole like a sheet of window glass. Also blew out most of the lights but most of the electronics lived but fried all the fuses.
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Old 06-07-2015, 07:11   #10
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Re: Have you suffered a lightning strike?

We recently sailed through quite an electrical storm. The trough to the north was moving south and the front to the south, moving north, squashing is in the middle. Not much fun in the middle of the night.
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While no damage was done, the WM turned itself on at one stage and the VHF was buzzing like something out of the exorcist, warning of impending doom. A yacht a few miles off took a hit to the mast that fried all the electronics and exploded the masthead gear.
The lightening to the south was standard sheet and fork lightening that I would normally be worried about, but that faded into insignificance compared to the one black cloud to the north (about 10M across) that just turned on a direct bolt to the sea surface every minute or so. The bolt was vertical and straight and sat 3M off our beam for a couple of tense hours. It looked like an arc welder and the bolt appeared to be 1/4M across. Scary stuff! I drew a picture of it the next day. We tried to take a photo but each time it struck it lit up the cabin like daylight, so our pictures were just frightened reflections of our faces from the saloon windows. Hah. Did I mention I hate lightening??!
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Old 06-07-2015, 07:23   #11
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Re: Have you suffered a lightning strike?

With over fifty years of sailing in Florida, I've had the opportunity to be near many lightning strikes, but never hit directly. I have seen four boats struck with two of these being friends. Those with big ground plates had far less damage from the exit of the lightning into the water, but I've always wondered if the presence of the ground plate offered a less resistant path that would increase the strike potential.
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Old 06-07-2015, 07:36   #12
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Re: Have you suffered a lightning strike?

Purchased an Amel Supermaramu on 3/17/2003 in Ft. Lauderdale. 5 hours after we closed the deal, the vessel was struck by lightning while still at the dealer’s dock. We were aboard at the time.

Damage was $70,000 with antenna and tricolor mast lights vaporized. Steering cables magnetized (compass moves when rudder is moved at the dock), damage to all electronics; radar, autopilots, VHF & FM radios, 12V alternator diodes, an airconditioner, bow-thruster and winch / sail controls, chain counter, watermaker pump and controls.

Vessel was struck for the second time at the repair dock in Ft. Lauderdale 80 days later. We were not aboard this time. Damage this time was $30,000 (as only half of the original repairs had been completed) with the replaced antenna again vaporized. Steering cables again magnetized, damage to replaced electronics; radar, autopilots, VHF & FM radios, bow-thruster controls, 12V and 24V alternator diodes.

Vessel was not directly struck the third time, the strike was about a half mile away while anchored off Thursday Island, Australia 2006. We were aboard and witnessed the strike. Damage was to the VHF radio and the control board was burned out. ($1,000 for new radio).

No hull penetration during these events.
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Old 06-07-2015, 07:38   #13
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Re: Have you suffered a lightning strike?

Suffered a direct strike to the masthead while tied to the dock behind my house in Virginia Beach, VA. The windex was vaporized, but the VHF antenna nearby turned out to be fine. Insurance paid to have the boat hauled and mast taken down for inspection. All electronics were shot, but no hull or rigging damage. The engines both started and ran fine. The DC panel had to be replaced, AC panel was fine. None of my thru-hulls are bonded. Previous owner told me the boat had been struck once before in NC with similar results.
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Old 06-07-2015, 07:46   #14
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Re: Have you suffered a lightning strike?

Good friend had a lightening strike while the boat was tied up in the slip behind his house. Ruined a Marstrom carbon-fibre mast. Lightening came down the mast, and then jumped from the base to the water making a hole thru the hull and the STB hull proceeded to sink in the slip. Fried all electronics onboard, including some parts in the outboards. As he was hooked up to shore power, it also took out some electronics in the house.
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Old 06-07-2015, 07:52   #15
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Re: Have you suffered a lightning strike?

We had a direct hit on the masthead of an Irwin 54'. Total damage was well over $50,000. All electronics, generator, water maker, interior lighting , battery charger, batteries, radar, one of the three AC's, pretty much every thing was toast. The mast was fine, port upper shroud had to be replaced.

The bolt exited from the SSB grounding plate mostly and blew it off the hull. It also blew off a large fairing job that encapsulated the drop down dagger board. It just blew off the bottom of the keel.
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