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Old 17-10-2010, 06:33   #1
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Lightning Damage

We have finally returned to our boat 4 months after it was struck by lightning. The boat is on the east coast and we were on the west coast working so we could not get back there until this week. Since the initial hit we have had the boat and rig surveyed and work started on the repairs. They include the usual replacement of all the electronics, some wiring and gauges, etc. We were fortunate that it was mostly the DC side of the systems that were damaged. The strike entered the system via the VHF antenna and subsequently the AIS system and then, because they are linked, all the electronics. The insurance company has been responsive and has paid for all the repairs so far. The surveyor had signed off having completed his eval so we were a little surprised when we started doing our own evaluation and found that there had been a fire in the water tight forward hold. The lightning had apparently traveled down the wiring to the float switch and bilge pump that services that hold, started a fire that consumed some nylon dock lines and burned the crusing chute and snuffer in a number of places. We were very lucky that the boat was not destroyed. We contacted the surveyor who came out immediately to verify the situation. His explanation was that lighning damage is mostly electrical in nature and that they spend most of there evaluation time on tracking down shorts via the electrical panel and since the bigle pump and float switch were always hot it did not show up on the eval. He apparently did not take the time to open up each hatch and accessable space to do a complete inspection. My take on this whole experience is that it confirms the old saying that you have to do your own eval if you want it done right. We will now proceed to a haul out and probably a new survey.

S/V Katabatik
Leopard 46
San Francisco, CA
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Old 17-10-2010, 06:50   #2
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Kind of strains his credibility, doesn't it?

so many projects--so little time !!
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Old 17-10-2010, 07:39   #3
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Would unplugging all cables going up mast have avoided this problem?
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Old 17-10-2010, 07:44   #4
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Check the mast carefully if the strike exits the mast it can fry the aluminium!

"Remember, experience only means that you screw-up less often."
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Old 17-10-2010, 08:42   #5
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Your surveyor apparently was not familiar with lightning strikes. It can weld the sections of your foil together and burn your headsail among other things. You are wise to get another surveyor and check out the boat from stem to stern. The stick should be pulled and inspected too.
Rick I
Toronto in summer, Bahamas in winter.
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Old 17-10-2010, 08:47   #6
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Originally Posted by highseas View Post
Would unplugging all cables going up mast have avoided this problem?
Yes, disconnecting and physically separating (as much distance as possible) all electrical/electronic cables can help mitigate lightning damage.

Gord May
"If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time/$ to fix it?"

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