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Old 14-06-2011, 17:52   #31
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Re: Idiot needs thunderstorm advice (please)

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Originally Posted by zeehag View Post
sea anchor is same as heaaving to--makes ye a sittting duck not a moving target..LOL
all those spikey things do is keep gulls off masthead ..LOL--in louisianna they attract lightning---

A sea anchor takes a bit more time to deploy and take up as opposed to reefing and heaving to. At least I think that.

I have never heard what you say about moving vs sitting still and the lightening strike probability. Sea lore? Or is there some data you know of?
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Old 14-06-2011, 18:04   #32
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Re: Idiot needs thunderstorm advice (please)

The only thing I know about lightening is: no one seems to know about lightening! Seriously. When your numbers up it's up. It's also rare for anyone to be hurt by it on a boat. Thunderstorms are mainly a 3pm and later occurance. There are no long passages on a charter. As a charterer...be anchored up by then...that way you'll get a good anchor location before the crowd gets there anyway! If caught in one, go below and stay away from chainplates and the mast. There seemed to be much less t'storms in the mid carribean when I was there (Antigua, St Martin etc) but then again...maybe it was timing. More thunderstorms in PR and Florida for sure... mix a strong Rum and Coke and revel in mother natures show! She's like a dog...if she knows you're scared...you're an easy target!! Go outside, stand on the bow and raise a toast to the power! :>)
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Old 14-06-2011, 18:42   #33
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Re: Idiot needs thunderstorm advice (please)

Lightning:

Not much you can do here, but the mast is actually what makes you safer from it. Generally the cone of safety under a tall metal object is 30 degrees which means it's extremely unlikely that anything other than the mast takes a direct hit. If the mast is grounded then you're pretty safe as long as you're not touching metal. Gloves, Crocs, or any other rubber your wearing that's less than a foot thick will make absolutely no difference whatsoever. It's a myth that tires make a care safe in a storm, actually the metal body is what does.

The storm itself: (assuming that anchoring or avoiding altogether isn't an option)
Here you have some control. As others have said reef early and often. Beyond that, try to asses the storm. If its a squall line or front then the safest place is behind then line, which might not be exactly against the direction the storm is moving. You can sail there or motor straight through to it. Don't try to outrun it, unless your in a competitive race. The good news is that these often don't come with lighting. If it's a summer boomer then keep an eye on it as it develops and figure out which way it's building and heading. Again the back is your goal, ideally to the right side of the storm as you face it. Typically you can just sail around it on a reach pretty quickly and be back in the sunshine and safety in minutes assuming you reefed early.

If you stay alert and see the development early then get a head start to where you want to be after reefing.
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Old 14-06-2011, 18:56   #34
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Now I'm curios. If I'm steering with my metal wheel which isn't grounded. Steering cables are amsteel. The mast is hit by the dreaded l word why is the wheel any worse then the metal screws in the aft bunk. The jolt would have to come down the mast bypass the grounding plate and leap 15 feet to find the ungrounded wheel. I'm thinking if this is possible I'll add lightening dissipators to my wheel. Could be hell on the hands but if it works could be worth a go.
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Old 14-06-2011, 19:09   #35
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Re: Idiot needs thunderstorm advice (please)

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...The jolt would have to come down the mast bypass the grounding plate and leap 15 feet to find the ungrounded wheel. I'm thinking if this is possible I'll add lightening dissipators to my wheel. Could be hell on the hands but if it works could be worth a go.
Eww, that would be tough on the hands!
Actually it's the magnetic field the lightning sets up which in turn creates another electric current in all the nearby metal, which then courses through you. Someday someone will figure out a way to recharge batteries with lightning...

Michael
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Old 14-06-2011, 19:28   #36
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Re: Idiot needs thunderstorm advice (please)

Thunderstorms aren't that frequent in the islands this time of year. We get a few more later on in the summer, but still not that bad. Not like the Chesapeake Bay in August, for example. Besides, if you're like most charterers you'll sail 2-3 hours a day and hang on a mooring the rest of the time, chilling out in the cockpit, swimming, snorkeling or doing something fun ashore. Your potential exposure to lightning storms while under sail will be exceedingly small.

I really think you should quit worrying about anchoring and thunderstorms and start reading the sailing guides to plan all the fun stuff you want to do on your charter.
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Old 14-06-2011, 21:14   #37
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Re: Idiot needs thunderstorm advice (please)

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DO wear crocs-- they attract NOTHING
So that's why I haven't been able to get a date!

I have been hit by lightning once, in St. Augustine, about 50 yards from where I am right now, and had a close strike in Annapolis years ago.
When I was hit, the puppy and I were down below, I was using my laptop. The sky was sunny, but a thunder cloud came through - no wind, just trouble. Didn't even realize it.
Suddenly, there was an incredible BOOM and everything went white, it was so bright. My computer went black.
You realize right away what has happened, it's the only thing it could be, besides an atomic bomb
So I've developed a three part checklist for my boat should it ever (God forbid) be struck again.
1) I look under the puppy's tail.
2) I stand up and look under my tail. (oh yea, it's that frightening!)
3) I check the bilge for water.

The strike blew out almost everything in my boat, and I'd just bought a bunch of new electronics six months previously. Not counting the computer, I lost my ham radio, vhf, depth sounder; it blew the glass fuses out of their holders, shattering two of them, and blew the filament on the starboard bow light, silvering the inside of the bulb. The port side was fine, go figure.
It also blew off my windex and vhf antenna, and the falling hot pieces of metal put three small holes through my brand new bimini, cauterizing the edges of the hole as they passed through. Also, my solar charge controller, a new mppt unit, was toast.
Within a year, I had to replace my alternator and fridge. No idea if those items were due to the strike.
Fortunately, my boat was built with a lightning ground strap. No idea if it helped, but there was no damage to the boat itself.
One boat I've heard of, the lightning arced inside and put hundreds of pinholes in the fibreglass as it went to ground, turning the boat into a very expensive sieve. That boat was unrepairable.
I need to get out of here, quick!
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Old 14-06-2011, 21:28   #38
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Re: Idiot needs thunderstorm advice (please)

"I have never heard what you say about moving vs sitting still and the lightening strike probability. Sea lore? Or is there some data you know of?"

"The only thing I know about lightening is: no one seems to know about lightening! Seriously. When your numbers up it's up. "

all i know about the random thing called lightning is that when we sailed thru all those storms, i wasnt gonna stop for anything and see if it would catchup to us--LOL
we were in gulf of mexico in a performance cruiser of sorts with a lot of water on all sides of us and appalachicola somewhere around 60 or more miles away. wasnt fun. i wasnt liking it and it was nasty as hell. mebbe it was hell.....it wasnt nice at any rate.
looked like it was raining lightning. i felt as if someone had put a lightning rod on my head and sed hay here she is-- get her now---eeepppsss... no i wont sit still for it to come to me---i will keep on going so i can mebbe get away from its scary self. it tried to get me at age 3--i am not gonna sit still for it now.
across from where the boat i sailed on lives in slidell, there was an engineer from NASA who had his bendytoy 50+ ft boat hit not just one time, but 2 times in 4 yrs...at the dock. second time was a lot of damage-- first time took 6 months to fix..second-- dunno how long as i dont communicate with the fella i sailed with anymore. he did have ALL the inventions known to god and engineers for prevention of lightning .
YES i WILL wear crocs.
YES i WILL hide under my kat
YES i will wear a rubber suit
YES i will wear a rubber hatAND
yes I WILL WEAR GLOVES
andNO i WONT sit still for it....
good luck and smooth sailing----
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Old 14-06-2011, 23:19   #39
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Re: Idiot needs thunderstorm advice (please)

I think avoiding being on decks is probably a pretty good policy. At sea, use whatever squall tactics you would use for a short lived storm of unknown strength and go below or hunker under dodger. Agree with others that you should do it sooner than later. I have blown out light air sails and clawed sails down with lightning right on top of us so I do sail changes with alacrity these days.

For inland cruising, I do most of my travel during the early part of the day. I do not like to stand there holding a steel wheel while navigating the confines of the ICW or similar so I try to be at anchor. On waterways like lake Okeechobee or PAmlico Sound, if I can get well out of the "channel" I have dropped anchor in severe thunderstorms. I feel quite safe down below, but I usually tell family to hang out in their bunks, which they do gladly and entertain themselves. Again, I do this early, so as to not be handling ground tackle in 40 kts with lightning... or whatever.

Find out what the weather pattern is like there and plan around it. You'll have a blast, and the storms will make you feel pretty cozy down below, although sometimes a little steamy... Perhaps other posters are right with their cavalier approach, I certainly am not as alarmed as I once was about it

Have a blast-
csh
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Old 15-06-2011, 05:06   #40
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Re: Idiot Needs Thunderstorm Advice ( Please )

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Auxiliary Sail .6% Six out of 1000
Multi-hull sail .5% Five out of 1000
Trawlers .3% Three out of 1000
Sail Only .2% Two out of 1000
Cruisers .1% One out of 1000
Runabouts .02% Two out of 10,000
I saw these statistics in a post last year or two. They are from a BoatUS insurance study over a five year period. I'm a logical person but these figures made little sense to me. Multihulls were more than twice as likely to be hit as monohulls and auxiliary sailboats (motorsailers ?) were three times more likely. I realize that the list is done on percentages but it's close to being ranked by number of boats. Least number, motorsailers, are the most likely to be hit and runabouts (lots more of them) the least likely.

If lightning were to strike indiscriminately the list, and correlating percentages would make a little more sense and that's what I believe happens. Lightning just strikes a place and not a boat. If you're in that place......you're hit. I believe that a boat makes very little difference. In other words, lightning is just as likely to hit within a hundred feet of you as it is to hit your mast.

Proper grounding may lessen the chances of hull damage and although I don't know for a fact, lightning, like microwaves, does not like to turn corners. You may be able to coax the lightning strike to kinda find a better way to than ground than through a thru hull. Electronics are going to die. Keep a handheld GPS in the microwave oven (Faraday cage) to assist in getting you home. This is all speculation but it makes some sense to me.
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Old 15-06-2011, 06:30   #41
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Re: Idiot Needs Thunderstorm Advice ( Please )

You can expect the rig and hull to remain basically intact after a strike: Only with a proper, "all copper" lightning ground, (not cables or chains dangling in the water, which are WAY too small in surface area, and VERY poor conductors). Copper has 10X the conductivity! Even then, you may be killed by side strikes, which can be minimized a bit by ALSO bonding the entire rig and large metal to the grounding plate. Most boats don't have this system built in, but it IS the smart move nonetheless.

If caught in a bad thunderstorm, you would be better off waiting it out down below, with the sails down, hove to, or perhaps motoring @ low RPMs. The odds of a strike are statistically higher with sails up.

If it is popping REALLY close, as it has with us, your best odds of "surviving" a direct strike is: down below, WITH BODY DRY, away from large metal or chainplates, and crouched down on the balls of your feet. (This is what they advise for those stuck on a golf coarse). Sounds weird, but lightning is the #1 killer of ALL natural disasters.

I have been at the wheel out of necessity, on a NARROW section of the ICW, with 45 knots/blinding rain, and lightning popping within 200', over and over! I had on sea boots and rubber gloves, but standing 2' behind the mast, I doubt that I would've survived a direct hit! The rubber gloves are good for "emotional reasons" if nothing else.

The other point: BE LUCKY! With lightning, like many aspects of cruising, all we can do is improve our odds, as it ultimately does what it wants to.

Having said that, there is ONE thing that is ALWAYS true... If it hits you, "IT WILL GO TO GROUND". I've given a direct path, that doesn't require that it go through the hull.

Mark
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Old 15-06-2011, 06:35   #42
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Re: Idiot Needs Thunderstorm Advice ( Please )

"00" cable to 3/4" bronze bolt on copper plate.
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Old 15-06-2011, 07:06   #43
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Re: Idiot Needs Thunderstorm Advice ( Please )

I was on a boat hit by lightening just a couple of years ago. Clear day, a strange large irregular object appeared on radar and was coming closer, then another, then another we decided to stop fishing and head in before whatever it was arrived. Too late another appeared on the other side of us we wre boxed in. Thats when we realized we were seeing hailstones, and lightening on the radar. We decided to move, ... full throttle and a sharp turn when we felt the static. Once we pulled a 180 a split second before the lightening hit our rooster tail. The next bolt hit the outriggers. A blinding light and loud boom, and the electronics panel went dark. The engine kept running though and we kept on, eventually leaving it behind us. The hailstones in the face were extremely painfull though. The only injury was the one person touching a metal object, (surface burns on arm). The rest of us were crouched in the cockpit, (I was lying in a puddle of water, and melting hailstones).

There are several good lightning threads. My personal experience, (from decades of working with high voltages), is I don't think sailboat speeds is going to make a significant difference, but it is possible to break an arc by moving the leads. The arc forms from a trail of ionized air that it is possible to break up by moving the air, (why lighting is jagged). Downside lightning is instantaneous, and of a high enough voltage to reestablish arc.

On a charter you will be unlikely to be able to alter boat enough to change it's grounding system. Jumper cables do not provide much surface area for grounding, but more than zero. A large metal plate attached to jumper cables would. I have heard of people trailing a copper ribbon for grounding.

Keeping your self dry is probably pointless, I was < 8ft from point of strike in a puddle of water in an open fishing boat, and only felt a strong tingle for a split second. I couldn't have been more wet even if I was swimming, (I was covered by a rain poncho that had been shredded to ribbons by the wind).

I would follow the other advice,reduce sail, get non essential crew below, (and away from mast), avoid metal objects, and enjoy the ride. Even with the number of boats caught in storms direct lightening strikes are rare...and wearing crocs and having a cat aboard doesn't hurt.
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Old 15-06-2011, 07:34   #44
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Re: Idiot Needs Thunderstorm Advice ( Please )

AS of late there has been a lot of thunderstorm activity in the islands. I have been sailing and motoring through a lot of it. Generally you can see it form a long way away... and take steps to avoid it. I dodged at least 7 thunderstorms in the last 2 weeks. You can see and avoid if you are sailing.... or in the BVI I think probably a better plan would be see and moor... ie tie up to a mooring ball and go sit inside and wait for it to end. So far I have not been hit by any,. I guess the point is they are not that big of a deal when you can see it coming from miles away and I have sailed through several previously without any problems......don't stress too much about them....
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Old 15-06-2011, 07:37   #45
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Re: Idiot Needs Thunderstorm Advice ( Please )

i noticed in gulf of mexico that if you cannot see stars or milky way, the sky looks a lil hazy in evening and wind getting fluky---- is a tboomer forming....was interesting to watch...guy i sailed with couldnt see the difference...sometimes it looked like tunnel vision -- could see stars straight overhead but n0thing to any side at all-- then BAM..... lol...right in the middle of one... then another.... then another..lol......mostly on coast of fla.it seemed, but entire gulf coast does this. i liked sailing more toward center of gulf--not as many storms.
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