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Old 20-09-2014, 08:25   #16
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Re: Lightning Strikes and Cats

It's been some time since I read Ewan Thomson's work on lightning protection, but I seem to recall that the system he offers is intended to protect the occupants, more so than the boat. The electronics are a lost cause. My belief is that if there were a reliable way to protect boats from lightning damage, insurance companies would require it before offering coverage.

My response to the OP's question is that there probably hundreds of boats sailing now that have been struck by lightning (whether they know it or not). When we were in SE Asia it seemed that most of the people we met had been struck or lost their electronics to a near-strike. One cat had been struck 3 times. We began to feel left out. If it passes survey, I would be comfortable buying a boat that has been struck.
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Old 20-09-2014, 08:38   #17
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Re: Lightning Strikes and Cats

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Originally Posted by mikereed100 View Post
....... If it passes survey, I would be comfortable buying a boat that has been struck.
I agree with buying a boat that's been hit and repaired, I wouldn't be afraid of it. The issue of buying a boat that's been hit within the last year and experiencing latent issues from the strike is slightly bothersome from an electronics POV, but I wouldn't be afraid of latent structural issues.
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Old 20-09-2014, 08:57   #18
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Re: Lightning Strikes and Cats

Our friends mono was hit by lightning in the red sea in 2006. The surveyor found pinholes in the fiberglass around the throughhulls, as well as electrical/electronics damage.

The boat was fixed and is still sailing.
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Old 20-09-2014, 08:58   #19
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Re: Lightning Strikes and Cats

There was a good thread on CF explaining the reason for the increased risk of a strike to cat in terms of ionisation of the seawater between cat hulls. There was also the suggestion that bonding the port and starboard sides could reduce the risk to multihulls. If this correct it would be a simple step.

Anyone remember the link, or seen similar information? It seems worth repeating and investigating further. I have searched a few times with no luck.

As far as the OP question is concerned we suffered a hit (or more probably according to the surveyor a nearby strike) about 6 years ago. There was only damage to the electronics with no sign of a direct strike.

Nothing subsequently failed apart from the batteries 2 years later, but I doubt this was anything to do with the strike. Even the Led lights that did not fail at the time (about 1/2 were effected) are still going strong 6 years later. However as always this is only one data point and our strike (or near strike) was on the very mildest end of the scale.
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Old 20-09-2014, 09:04   #20
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Re: Lightning Strikes and Cats

the well protected cat in la cruz marina that was hit in 2012 gave off an eerie greeen glow for a few seconds.it was even better than the green flash at sunset... eerie and weird... no monos were hit, only the one cat...felt sad for the owner, as it was hit reallly good.... err badly damaged.
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Old 20-09-2014, 09:10   #21
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Re: Lightning Strikes and Cats

As I'm looking for a cat right now, I can give you my opinion.

For me, it would depend on where the boat is. If its in a boat friendly location with access to good surveyors, then I would proceed. I would make sure I got a good surveyor that WAS NOT suggested by the broker. Make the surveyor aware of the lightening strike and have him spend extra time on thru hulls and the fiberglass (looking for pin holes).

If the boat is in a remote location, I would probably pass, or offer WAY under asking. There are lots of boats out there..

A thing to consider, is a boat struck by lightening can have issues years later. A blogger that I read just reported problems with his engine wiring harnesses (both engines), 2 years after his boat was struck.

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Old 20-09-2014, 09:54   #22
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Re: Lightning Strikes and Cats

I bought a boat and discovered after that the mast had been struck by lightening. I was having it re rigged and when the stick was down we noticed the Windex was melted and there were black carbon marks from the masthead to the top shroud tangs. There were no other bad effects or issues. Personally I can conceive no reason a cat would be more or less susceptible to lightening strikes. But I would inspect everything closely for any damage as mentioned.

In a thunderstorm in San Carlos Mexico I was out fishing in the dingy and a front came thru.. I headed in and got drenched on the way, as I was passing an old wood Trimaran it was struck by lightening... leaving the masthead smoking. scary!
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Old 20-09-2014, 10:39   #23
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Re: Lightning Strikes and Cats

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I am currently in the market for a 45-55 foot catamaran for full time cruising. I have it narrowed down to just a couple different brands of boats so don't need help with that. My question is that one of the boats I have in mind has been struck by lightning not once but twice. The owner says everything checked out fine per a survey except the electronics. All of those have been replaced with new. Should I even consider this boat and if I do is there a way to ensure that everything is in order via a through survey? I live on the left coast so not much experience with lightning strikes and it's aftermath on boat strikes. I am very interested in this particular boat as there aren't many like it but I don't want to get stuck with something that has a billion holes in it that I can't see.


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If the boat has tightly rapped wiring bundles or harnesses there is a possibility of hipot shorts in the wiring. They can be like gremlins to find.

You may want to inspect anyplace wiring is lashed together for pin hole burns. At that I am not sure they will show.

Fortunately I never had a boat hit but did a truck. Traded it after half a dozen trips to the dealer for unassociated problems. Replacing all the wiring harnesses was not an ins. option, nor would it be cheap for a boat.
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Old 20-09-2014, 11:26   #24
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Re: Lightning Strikes and Cats

Lighting strikes go up and down. The comment of bonding hulls together may be valid.

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Old 20-09-2014, 11:39   #25
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Re: Lightning Strikes and Cats

Lightning Strikes !

I can only strongly suggest anyone serious about limiting Lightning Strikes,READ THIS -- Lightning Attenuation Onboard


All the Best
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Old 20-09-2014, 11:52   #26
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Re: Lightning Strikes and Cats

Just as an emergency stop gap. I purchased a boat that had a length of wire attached to the anchor. I finally figured out he would lower the ground tackle into the water and affix the wire to the forestay. It is also great for fouling the flukes on a Danforth.
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Old 20-09-2014, 16:36   #27
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Re: Lightning Strikes and Cats

funny i am reading this right now ,, i spent the day on on my 42 foot solaris moored in the bay of panama .. it rained all day and we had two lightning storms pass through ,, every time one hit close i said a little prayer of thanks ,, one boat got hit twice last year ,, once in the bay then after completely refitting the electrical .. ten grand i was told they went to the perlas islands and was hit again ,, i am lucky i guess going on third year here and have seen one boat hit , read someplace 3 % of the boats in this area are hit every year ,, sounds hi to me ,, mine is for sale on a mooring paid for six months got 65,000 invested consider offers
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Old 20-09-2014, 17:08   #28
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Re: Lightning Strikes and Cats

SWE flagged boats do seem to get hit more often than others. Flag yours elsewhere.

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Old 21-09-2014, 07:16   #29
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Re: Lightning Strikes and Cats

Very interesting tale with lots of good info here.
Lessons in lightning - Ocean Navigator - May/June 2013



And also here

DOMINO 20: Lightning Survey Results

I trust the good and open minded CF forumites were not one of the forums who booted this before as I see some earlier discussion here

New Study on Lightning & Boats


Not sure exactly what I will do but I will do something proactive with further research and keep my fingers crossed as well.Seems like providing a preferred path to ground somehow is the most likely way??

Hopefully some suggestions may emanate from this discussion in time.

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Old 21-09-2014, 10:13   #30
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Re: Lightning Strikes and Cats

Again,I reitterate--- Lightning Attenuation Onboard

This the most thoughtful encompassing practical analysis of lightning attenuation.
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