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Old 15-04-2015, 11:12   #1
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What to do after a lightning strike?

Hey folks. I'm not really sure where the best place to post this (Life Aboard a Boat? Engineering and Systems?), but since it's a Lagoon 400 I'll start here....

My question is what to do after a lightning strike? I had my boat hauled on Monday, and that afternoon it took a direct lightning strike while it was on blocks. The bolt entered at the VHF antenna on top of the mast and exited under the starboard engine, delaminating the hull and leaving an 8-10" crack. I did a cursory check of some of the electrical/electronics systems (both are clearly messed up), but it is going to take some work to get it all back together. I've started the claims process with my insurance company, and they have assigned a surveyor (do I have a choice in the surveyor?).

I'm hoping the forum can provide me with lessons learned--things that may be overlooked, tips on the best way to work with the insurance company, etc.

Thanks in advance,

Bill
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Old 15-04-2015, 12:10   #2
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Re: What to do after a lightning strike?

Step one, which you've already done is call your insurance company. We were with Pantaenius and they were great, but the process of recovering from a lightning strike was painful and frustrating. In our case all the damage was to electronics and electrical, though the insurance company paid for a haul out to check the bottom and sail-drives for damage, and we also had the rig surveyed.

The number one thing I did right was to project manage and constantly document the process myself. Do not rely on a yard, or the surveyor to get it all right, even if they are good. Our surveyor was great, but the yard was only OK. The #1 thing that didn't go well with our situation was that the electronics service recommended by the yard, was terrible at project management, and overloaded. I ended up taking back responsibility for all the electronics, and just sent him units that I needed bench tested so that I could declare them dead. I should have done this from the start, as in my case, all the electrical and electronic work on the boat while we were refitting it to go cruising had been done by me in any case. I had initially thought it would be easier for the insurance claim to have the work done by an external party, but once I built up trust with the surveyor and company, it was not an issue me doing it myself. Particularly as I included labor at cost zero for my work in the documents I provided them.

I built a large document, that had a section for every issue associated with the lightning strike. This issue list kept growing for at least the first several weeks as I kept checking systems and finding anomalies. For each issue, I had a description of the issue, the proposed solution, the costs and the status. The last page of the document was a summary table with the costs for every issue. I shared this list constantly with the insurance assessor and the surveyor and the yard where we had most of the work done. The surveyor and insurance company were quick to approve all my expenses based on that document. The insurance company was also happy to do a partial payment half way through the process, based on the document.

The other thing to think about and to talk about with your surveyor about is you don't have to replace destroyed items with identical ones. In our case, I took the opportunity to rationalize our electronics to be all from one manufacturer, rather than the mix the boat had. I was very upfront with the insurance company and they were happy for me to pay some extra out of pocket for upgrades, while they just paid the replacement cost on the actual unit that was dead.

Good luck!
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Old 15-04-2015, 12:33   #3
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Re: What to do after a lightning strike?

Hey Bill,

this is Jay. Damn, I'm sorry to hear this - at PMSC?

All I can offer, is that if you have a choice in the surveyor, the best multihull surveyor I know is Mike Firestone down in Port Aransas TX.

if we can help, let us know. I'll be following the thread, I'm interested to hear how things go
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Old 15-04-2015, 12:34   #4
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Re: What to do after a lightning strike?

Well, call your insurance company and ask them what you should do. Do nothing until you talk to them except possibly disconnect the batteries to prevent any further damage.
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Old 15-04-2015, 12:50   #5
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Re: What to do after a lightning strike?

Thanks Mark, all good information. After my experiences with my insurance company following Katrina I am logging everything--who, what, when, where, what was said, file names, attachments--everything!! You never know what you'll need down the road...Good to hear about your experience with Pantaneus, I'm using them too. They seem to be leaning forward on this, and so is the yard (Saunders Yachtworks). I'll build a spreadsheet with systems to check, hopefully only a few things will slip through the cracks.

Hey Jay, yes, it's a bummer, hope to be back in the water in time for GPT-PCOLA, six weeks away but may not be enough time....

Bill
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Old 15-04-2015, 16:33   #6
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Re: What to do after a lightning strike?

Hey Bill, If Beach View is still out of commission and if Grateful is in the Gulf in time, you can use her for the race.
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Old 15-04-2015, 17:51   #7
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Re: What to do after a lightning strike?

Interesting thread. My boat was at the dock during a bad storm, my then GF, now wife was alone on the boat, I was out on the harbour driving a ferry late at night.

The boat was hit by lightning. The only damage was to the VHF, because that was the only fixed electronics on board. My other electrical systems were fine.

When I got home I didn't really believe the boat had been hit by lightning (although the entire dock was without power). I assured her it was a nearby strike. In the morning, I noticed little bits of melted metal all over the deck, it looked like little paint splatters, except that it was melted remains of VHF antenna. The boat was otherwise fine.

Sent from my SGH-I547C using Cruisers Sailing Forum mobile app
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Old 16-04-2015, 05:46   #8
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Re: What to do after a lightning strike?

Bill:

I am reminded of the Farrier 32SR "Jail Break" which was behind Randy Smyth's house, on some sort of floating dock (not in the water). She was struck, and the delamination was fairly extensive, as I understand it. Of course, she was a very high-tech all-carbon boat, but nevertheless...

I'd be looking carefully at that hole in your bottom and at the layup schedule around it, were I you.
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Old 16-04-2015, 06:03   #9
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What to do after a lightning strike?

Suggest you reach out to Lagoon to assess the hull. It will be hard for the insurance company to do any less than what the manufacturer recommends.
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Old 16-04-2015, 08:40   #10
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Re: What to do after a lightning strike?

Sounds like you have insurance so that is a plus. My boat was struck last August, did not get the repairs completed until late December! I had to get a certified marine electrical firm to inspect all the electronics and remove and bench test everything before the insurance co would pay for the replacement. ( I lost just about everything electronic on the boat )

The biggest problem was getting them to drop the spar for a complete inspection of the mast and rigging. From what I heard at the yard the shrouds and stays can take damage. Finally got this approved.

Insurance should pay for the hull damage and pretty much everything after your deductible. I was assigned an adjuster but I still am not clear on what his function was, I had to submit the paper to the insurance co myself or would still be waiting for repairs.

Hope this helps
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Old 16-04-2015, 13:50   #11
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Re: What to do after a lightning strike?

Dear friends,
I'm surprised that no one has thought that the boat could receive a second strike. The first thing I would do after a strike would be to ground the fixed rigging to a good ground either at the dock or some heavy water metal pipe at the shore. After that, that done, I would consider all of the other solutions you post. John.
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Old 16-04-2015, 13:56   #12
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Re: What to do after a lightning strike?

After I was hit I did quite a bit of research on the subject and it is interesting to find out that multihulls are struck 2-3 times more often than mono hulls. The optimum preventative action is to place ground plates several inches below the water line at equally spaced intervals along the hull.

Running a ground wire to a pipe on the dock, welll the average ligthning bolt is 1,000,000, enough to melt any wire. In fact all the wiring in my spar was melted and burn't trough in several places on each strand,
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Old 16-04-2015, 14:25   #13
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Re: What to do after a lightning strike?

This boat is on the hard.

Lots of good advice here. Let me add to check the through hull fittings, too.

Good luck with it.

Ann
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Old 16-04-2015, 18:25   #14
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Re: What to do after a lightning strike?

don1n8,

I haven't read that ground plates below the waterline are recommended. Dr. Ewen Thomson, an acknowledged expert in marine lightning mitigation, has found that lightning earths best right at the surface, so he recommends the anodes (with a discharge tip as opposed to plates) along the DWL, that are connected (properly) to the mast and shrouds as per his website

Marine Lightning Protection Inc.

Lots of good information there to setup effective strategy for boats
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Old 16-04-2015, 21:45   #15
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Re: What to do after a lightning strike?

Re electronics. Sometimes an electrical item will seem fine after the strike only to fail later. Sometimes much later. Replace everything electrical that your insurance will cover...and maybe then some depending on budget.

Also consider replacing standing rigging. Swage fittings can be damaged in non obvious ways by lightening strikes. I know of cases where insurance has covered this on the advice of a rigger even though there was no readily apparent damage.
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