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Old 21-06-2010, 16:59   #1
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Lightning While Docked

We had our little Coronado for a week now, and spent the entire weekend aboard her, I made some new curtains, a tiller cover, an a/c hatch cover, and I am recovering the cushions around the setee. Sunday afternoon an awesome storm came in while we were docked, there was lightning and thunder all around. Is it safe to stay in the boat while docked during a lightning storm??? Water, and tall metal sticks in the air don't seem to mesh well. We don't have a lighting rod or anything. Are we playing with our lives as we stay aboard watching the show from the cabin??????
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Old 21-06-2010, 18:12   #2
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Not too many people have been killed by lightning hitting a boat. The casualties are usually from sinking.
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Old 21-06-2010, 18:28   #3
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Yah, the worst I've heard personally is that their electronics got fried. Most people I know who are in very high lighting areas seem to have grounding plates and seem ok so far...
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Old 21-06-2010, 18:49   #4
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we were on soulmates when she was hit in the bahamas - 20k of repairs later and she is almost ok - it is debatable but no lightening protection really helps - we have the whisk broom on top but who knows - we have also seen another boat hit in the icw and again no damage to folks just the electronics and such
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Old 21-06-2010, 19:03   #5
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Fasten your seat belts, ladies and gentlemen, we are about to dive into the great lightning debate. We will hear from those who swear by vs. those who swear at every conceivable (and some nearly unbelievable) gadgets ever suggested as a way of preventing, avoiding or reducing lightning strikes on sailboats. Not even the scientists can agree.

In the end, however, the consensus of saner voices will agree that nothing has ever been proven effective, and that most of the claims otherwise have something to sell, or have friends with something to sell!
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Old 21-06-2010, 19:07   #6
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Yeah we've been hit while sailing. Mostly electrical damage. But you never forget it and you never look at another electrical in the same way again!!
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Old 21-06-2010, 19:39   #7
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Its probably not a good idea to hug your keel stepped aluminum mast in fear during a storm that is producing lightening. I would not be hanging on to the lifelines or the dodger frame if I were outside either.
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Old 21-06-2010, 19:42   #8
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And wear rubber gloves!
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Old 21-06-2010, 20:24   #9
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Whether you are "safe" will depend on the path that a lightning strike takes to ground, and whether you are in contact with any part of that path. In theory, if you have a keel-stepped ast and provide a good straight ground path straight down and out the bottom, a strike will go straight down and as long as you're not touching the mast you're safe.

In practice...lightning has a habit of going what it pleases, and if it has traveled 30 miles from some cloud to the earth (as is sometimes does) what's the last two feet going to mean? A side flash to or through some other conductor COULD include you. Odds are that if you are out of the path, you are safe. Personally, lightning scares me more than rough seas and winds, and if I have the choice, I'll get ashore and seek shelter until the flashbang show is over.

If you've ever had the pleasure of being on the water and hearing static literally sizzling off your radio antennas...or being above treeline and feeling your hairs starting to stand on end as the ground charge built up...the idea of getting into a nice thick bunker ashore and waiting it out seems better all the time.
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Old 21-06-2010, 21:49   #10
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Ah yes...the great lightning debate.

Does it go from the clouds down or from the ground up?

Can you have lightning without thunder?


Quote:
Originally Posted by sandy daugherty View Post
Fasten your seat belts, ladies and gentlemen, we are about to dive into the great lightning debate. We will hear from those who swear by vs. those who swear at every conceivable (and some nearly unbelievable) gadgets ever suggested as a way of preventing, avoiding or reducing lightning strikes on sailboats. Not even the scientists can agree.

In the end, however, the consensus of saner voices will agree that nothing has ever been proven effective, and that most of the claims otherwise have something to sell, or have friends with something to sell!
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Old 22-06-2010, 05:15   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevsters wife View Post
We had our little Coronado for a week now, and spent the entire weekend aboard her, I made some new curtains, a tiller cover, an a/c hatch cover, and I am recovering the cushions around the setee. Sunday afternoon an awesome storm came in while we were docked, there was lightning and thunder all around. Is it safe to stay in the boat while docked during a lightning storm??? Water, and tall metal sticks in the air don't seem to mesh well. We don't have a lighting rod or anything. Are we playing with our lives as we stay aboard watching the show from the cabin??????
Short answer: Yes. As others have noted, lightning will jump great distance, and will side-flash. If you are in/on the boat there is no predicting what will happen with or without grounding protection.

My boat was struck a few years ago when we weren't aboard. The VHF antenna was melted and the wire blown off its base, Windex disintegrated, and most of the electronics were rendered non-functional, including engine controls. Our mast is grounded. I don't know whether crew would have been injured if aboard, but I suspect not.

The statistics say that power boaters are more likely to be injured (probably because statistically most are small runabouts where the operator's head is the high point) and multihull sailboats are more likely to be struck too (probably because they are more likely to be moored in open water rather than kept in a marina, but I have been in a marina that took two strikes in the same storm and considerable damage was done to multiple boats there).

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Old 22-06-2010, 06:14   #12
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Does it go from the clouds down or from the ground up?
Can you have lightning without thunder?
Absolutely; yes, and yes.
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Old 22-06-2010, 08:51   #13
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good to know y'all thanks for the info!
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Old 22-06-2010, 09:15   #14
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If we're at anchor and the lightning gets too close, we'll abandon the saloon and make camp in an aft cabin, which we've determined is our safest place since the boat doesn't have a backstay. We've had some delightful picnics back there in the rain.

Anytime we're in an electrical storm I put one set of handhelds (GPS+VHF+PLB) in the oven, and another set in the microwave. I'm told that these appliances will function as a Faraday cage.
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Old 22-06-2010, 09:24   #15
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Our cat just got struck by lightning 3 days ago at the dock in Georgia. We are still determining the extent of the damage. Does any one know how to evaluate the rig for damage? Any thoughts on the incidence of rig damage from a strike?
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