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Old 16-02-2011, 07:44   #16
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So is there any real proven way to reduce the risk of being hit by lighteing?
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Old 16-02-2011, 07:58   #17
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There is no apparent damage to the boat, other than the electronics. This may have been helped by the fact that the boat was out of the water when the strike occured. Most of the electronics are in any case being replaced due to the strike, so hopefully I will be OK.
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Old 16-02-2011, 08:02   #18
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This seems to be the same level of damage as indicated on the boat I am looking to buy. This boat is currently out of the water (where it was struck) and I am concerned that there will be damage to the engine electronics, but I can't test these until she is relaunched.
some more info on the boat would help. A older sail boat will have different damage from a newer power cruiser.
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Old 16-02-2011, 08:04   #19
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In that case it may not have been a direct hit... I've had near misses and low level sheet lightning blow my electrics in the past... seems the energy field casts a wide shadow....
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Old 16-02-2011, 08:30   #20
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When our neighbor took a lightening hit we suffered damage only to our electronics. Insurance paid to replaced all of the damaged electronics, but some equipment that worked fine after the lighting strike failed months down the road. I understand this is common. The good news is that our insurance also replaced these components, no questions asked.

In your case the insurance policy will change when you buy the boat. Who will pay for equipment that fails after the purchase and commissioning? If you can't reach an agreement on escrow - and that could get tricky - the simplest solution might be a minor concession on the price in return for your assuming the unknown risks.
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Old 21-02-2011, 11:06   #21
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Re: Struck by Lightning

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I shortly plan to buy a boat which has recently been struck by lightning. This has knocked out all of the electronics, which are being replaced by the insurance. Does anyone have experience of a lightning strike and do I need to have any concerns for the engines and the generator? Thanks, Paul
How long ago was the strike? We usually keep lightning claims open for a year. If the boat changes ownership, that could be difficult. I've seen lightning weaken a windlass, and autopilot, a radar, in additional to all the normal things like lights, VHF & SSB. So far I have not seen a claim on an engine, but I would not rule out the alternator. Sometimes it just weakens the components and it takes a while for them to completely fail. I don't mean to scare you, but plan on replacing every single piece of electronic equipment on the boat, or at least factor that into your offer.
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Old 21-02-2011, 12:09   #22
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Re: Struck by Lightning

Ditto above. I don't want to scare you away from a good deal, but The high currents and high instantaneous temperatures that occure in a strike can cause hidden damage. Cracking crazing, and delamination can be hard to spot and under the waterline. Thru hulls, (or thru halls as they are sometimes known), can be brittle or fused, and can fail at any time. Engine bearings, and pulley bearings can have burn spots that will cause premature wear, and failure. MY recomendation is to take a good hard look at all of the visible damage and see if you can get a good picture of where it hit, how much energy was in the strike, its entrance, and exit points, and the relative damage to the boat. There are boats that have sustaned relatively minor damage in a strike, (except misc electronics failures down the line), and others that have had hull failure due to burned fiberglass. It all depends on how well the boat was grounded, and where the lightening went on its way back to the sea. And how much energy, (from small discharges of 1000's of volts to megabolts that fry everything). Good luck, and double check everything. A lightening strike doesn't have to be the end of the world. I have heard of boats that got struck, and were fine for years afterward. The ones that make the news are the ones that didn't fare so well.
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Old 21-02-2011, 12:44   #23
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Re: Struck by Lightning

The OP's boat is on the hard.
"This boat is currently out of the water (where it was struck)"
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Old 21-02-2011, 12:47   #24
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Re: Struck by Lightning

My boat has sustained two lightning strikes. The first blew away everything at the masthead, but no other damage.

The second strike damaged most every piece of electric/electronic gear including batteries, alternator, etc. Some gear didn't fail immediately, but in the end, everything (except the reverse cycle system) showed signs of damage. The HF insulators on the backstay were damaged too, and recognized by a surveyor experienced with lightning strikes. Despite my own check, until he showed me the barely perceptible damage, I believed they were ok. Obviously, experience is valuable.

Wiring can be compromised in sections of the boat that are not easily accessible, including inside the mast. We rewired the boat, and as wire was removed, we found lightning-caused damage that would have resulted in short circuits. Knowing what I know now, I can't imagine how I could ever sleep on the boat if it hadn't been rewired. Luckily, insurance covered the cost.

Bill Trayfors has offered some good advice about latent damage and getting a thorough survey by a person very experienced with lightning damage. In my case, I had two survey companies evaluate the damage. Each survey found damage not identified by the other. Based on my experience, I wouldn't buy a boat struck by lightning - whether on land or not - until I was satisfied without doubt that the boat had been properly examined and repaired. If you don't walk away, I would make this a major issue in negotiating the price.

Lightning damage is insidious.
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Old 03-03-2011, 04:34   #25
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Re: Struck by Lightning

Thanks for all of your advice. The sale is still proceeding but there are lots of ongoing issues. One experience whilst I was on the boat last week, is that I tested each of the electrical winches. About 10 mins after this, one of the winches started operating of its own accord, pulling the carbon fibre boom down onto the fibreglass cockpit roof causing lots of damage. The relay on the winch clearly malfunctioned. The winch carried on running for about 10 minutes!!!
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Old 03-03-2011, 04:51   #26
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Re: Struck by Lightning

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Originally Posted by svtrio View Post
My boat has sustained two lightning strikes. The first blew away everything at the masthead, but no other damage.
My unofficial, undocumented experience from being around boats for most of the last 20 years is that boats that have been hit by lightening are more likely to be hit again. Don't know why, can't prove it, just what I've seen.

I once worked on a dive boat that had been hit 5 times in the last two years. Had all of the wiring replaced, and still got hit on the hard with sailboat masts all around. Of course, the same guy was onboard the boat during all 5 strikes, maybe it was his fault

When boat shopping, I always discount previously struck boats. Maybe it's just my predjudice....
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Old 03-03-2011, 05:29   #27
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Re: Struck by Lightning

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Originally Posted by paul_doolan View Post
This seems to be the same level of damage as indicated on the boat I am looking to buy. This boat is currently out of the water (where it was struck) and I am concerned that there will be damage to the engine electronics, but I can't test these until she is relaunched.
Not true. The engine can be run successfully while on the hard. Of course, you need to be sure there is nothing around the exhaust that will be affected by the exhaust water coming out.
- - Several ways, one with a garden hose, cut off the end and use other hoses or devices to step up the diameter to match the engine raw water inlet and attach the garden hose to the inlet. Then open the spigot valve as the engine is being started.
- - Second, Use a 55 gal barrel full of water with one end of a hose in it versus the garden hose and spigot.
- - Thirdly, which I use, install an automobile cooling system flush kit "Tee" in your raw water supply to the engine. Then hook up a hose from your boats fresh water system to the Tee. Be sure to close the engine raw water supply seacock and then turn on the fresh water pump as you start the engine.
- - The only thing to really watch when using a pressurized water supply to the engine is your raw water strainers. They are not designed to take much positive pressure so you have to meter the water pressure prior to starting and then increase the flow as the engine is running. It is not difficult and works quite well.
- - The third way is also great for putting the boat into storage or if you are not going to be running the engine for a long time. Running the engine with fresh water flushes out the salt water sitting in the hoses and heat exchanger and exhaust system so you don't get salt crystal build up or corrosion associated with salt water sitting in contact with metal parts for a long time.
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Old 03-03-2011, 05:45   #28
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Re: Struck by Lightning

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So is there any real proven way to reduce the risk of being hit by lighteing?
Simple answer - No - just like there is not proven way to win while gambling in Las Vegas. But there are definite ways to reduce the "odds" that you will get a lightning strike.
- - They are based on the nature of lightning, which has been very thoroughly studied by various universities and others in the USA. It involves reducing the static electrical potential of your vessel to that of the ocean around you. That makes the odds of your getting "hit" even with the surface of the ocean. But to do this involves considerable effort and money. Basically it involves providing a minimum of 4 sq foot pure copper plate system on the outside of your hull in contact with the ocean water. Then you need substantial sized welding cable from the plating to your mast(s) with excellent electrical interface between the copper and the aluminum of your mast. Then you need a "spray" system like the Forespar Lightning Master mounted at the top of the mast so that it is at least 6 inches taller than anything else up there on the top of the mast. All of this is rather involved and then only puts you "even steven" with the surface of the ocean which is known to get "hit" quite often.
- - Where the trouble and expense pays off is when you are anchored in close proximity to other "non-protected" sailboats. Then your odds increase greatly as they stick their "charged" masts up there invitingly.
- - If your boat is on the Hard in jackstands then all the above does nothing - unless - you provide an earth ground to your system. Think about it - in the water your boat is sitting in salt water, an excellent conductor to earth ground. On the Hard - nada, no earth ground - so you have to make a trip to Home Depot or an electrical supply store and get one of those 10ft copper rods that you pound down into the ground and then run a heavy cable from it to your vessel's system.
- - Part "B" of vessel lightning systems involves surviving a strike with minimal damage, but you didn't ask about that.
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Old 03-03-2011, 06:26   #29
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Re: Struck by Lightning

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Originally Posted by osirissail View Post
Simple answer - No ...
... But there are definite ways to reduce the "odds" that you will get a lightning strike ...
... It involves reducing the static electrical potential of your vessel to that of the ocean around you. That makes the odds of your getting "hit" even with the surface of the ocean. But to do this involves considerable effort and money. Basically it involves providing a minimum of 4 sq foot pure copper plate system on the outside of your hull in contact with the ocean water. Then you need substantial sized welding cable from the plating to your mast(s) with excellent electrical interface between the copper and the aluminum of your mast. Then you need a "spray" system like the Forespar Lightning Master mounted at the top of the mast so that it is at least 6 inches taller than anything else up there on the top of the mast ...
... Part "B" of vessel lightning systems involves surviving a strike with minimal damage, but you didn't ask about that.
Charge equalization, static dissipation, corona discharge, Voodoo, or whatever discredited term they are using this week, does NOT work.
There is no way to 'discharge' or 'drain' the charge from a storm .
Lightning rods, along with a good lightning protection system of grounded cable, only serve to divert lightning current safely to ground, should lightning strike (“B” above).
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Old 03-03-2011, 06:55   #30
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Re: Struck by Lightning

We have been struck 3 times.
First time, in Corsica, everything with a electronic chip in it knocked out -- nav computer, chartplotter and all the instrument heads, autohelm, fridge controller, the voltage and current gauges ( the magnetic field of the magnets was reversed!), radio, and also the speed sensor ( below the water paddle wheel) and just one nav light. No visible damage whatsoever. Everything was switched off and isolated at the time.
Second time, Croatia, one of the Raymarine wind speed / direction indicator heads-- yes, the other one was fine and still is.
Third time, different part of Croatia, crew were startled at the sight of a discharge down the shroud -- no apparent damage.
So: I see this a a good trend. Impact of the strikes is getting less. And, you may be right , perhaps some boats get struck. A complete upgrade of the electronics means such boats might be a good buy! On a serious note I agree: it takes about a year to sort a boat after a strike. Best avoided! Only avoidance strategy I know is: deploy good luck. Peter
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