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Old 07-05-2017, 15:21   #1
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Keel problem after lightning strike

Looking to purchase a 47 Bene. Found a 2000, exceptionally clean. All electronics in good working order.

I have been talking to some of the locals and they informed me the boat hit by lightning several years ago (5+ years). Evidently the insurer paid the previous owner per his policy, but the boat was never fixed. The story is that there was significant damage to the keel and that it's possible for the keel to fall off.

My question is what could the lightning have done to damage the keel to this extent?

And wouldn't simply installing new keel bolts remedy the problem?

I'll be hiring a surveyor to check it out prior to moving forward, but was hoping someone on here could share their experience/knowledge. The boat is in a remote location and will not be cheap to get a surveyor down to look at it. If this is a deal breaker, I'd rather move on now before incurring those costs.
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Old 07-05-2017, 16:25   #2
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Re: Keel problem after lightning strike

What most likely happened is that the lightning damaged the internal structural grid which supports & distributes the loads from the keel (keel floors), along with some of the hull laminate. As lightning strikes can melt, or flat out flash resin into gas. In addition to melting structural adhesives of the sort used to bond grids into hulls. And in some cases even melt some of the glass in the layup, ditto with other fibers.

The thing of it is is that it's not at all uncommon for much of this to not be readily visible. Nor does all of the damage happen in one spot, nor along the lightning bolt's primary discharge path. There can be areas like this all over & through the hull, especially below the waterline. And without advanced testing, you can't tell where the resin has been flashed out of the laminate, & or if there's other structural damage. Such as melted foam or polymer cores, or burned balsa, along with the bonds to any of these cores also having been destroyed.

The opposite could also be true, & may be much more akin to the story you're uncovering. In that the hull could be unscathed, or relatively so. But that the heat from the lightning flashed some of the water in & around the keel, & it's support structure into superheated steam. Which then cut through various bits of fiberglass, & or metal. Or that the heat from the bolt ruined some of the alloys, either in the keel, the bolts, or both.

And there could be any combination of the above, plus some other issues as well. Though this is all speculation on my part. But the above hypotheticals are things which happen fairly frequently in strikes that cause damage. Though more so to the structure of the boats themselves that are struck, than to their keels & keel fasteners. Do a few searches under sailboats & lightning strikes, & you'll get more data. As well as other people's thoughts on such occurences & what to look for/at.
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Old 07-05-2017, 16:59   #3
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Re: Keel problem after lightning strike

There are thousands of boats for sale...Why buy one that might be severely damaged?
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Old 07-05-2017, 18:28   #4
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Re: Keel problem after lightning strike

Quote:
Originally Posted by ZiggySaildust View Post
Looking to purchase a 47 Bene. Found a 2000, exceptionally clean. All electronics in good working order.

I have been talking to some of the locals and they informed me the boat hit by lightning several years ago (5+ years). Evidently the insurer paid the previous owner per his policy, but the boat was never fixed. The story is that there was significant damage to the keel and that it's possible for the keel to fall off.
So someone took the initiative to inform you that the boat was struck by lightning and damaged to an extent which an insurer paid for repairs.....which were never done. Now you are considering a purchase.....run away..run away.
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Old 07-05-2017, 18:49   #5
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Re: Keel problem after lightning strike

Saw a 38ft sailboat boat get hit by lightening and sink in 10 sec after splitting in half. We're talking about energy that can go thru miles of air and get inside a boat looking for a path out.
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Old 07-05-2017, 19:17   #6
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Re: Keel problem after lightning strike

47 Bene is likely to have a cast iron keel. Pretty conductive compared to lead...
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Old 08-05-2017, 04:47   #7
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Re: Keel problem after lightning strike

Thanks. Great information. Continuing my search elsewhere...
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Old 08-05-2017, 08:12   #8
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Re: Keel problem after lightning strike

Buying a boat with possible problems might be done by taking into account the possible repair costs, as if the problem is present. Consider the costs of total removal of the keel, repair of the fiberglass area, and replacement of the keel bolts. Get a serious profesionnal evaluation of the repair done by a good yard, and substract it from the puchase offer. I have done exactly that many years ago when the engine looked as if it had trouble. In that case a new engine value was substracted from my initial offer follwing the survey. It was agreed by the seller. Upon serious check, the repair was minor, and I believe I made a good risk free deal. That is the idea: Let the seller assume the risks. By the way, Beneteau of recent vintage have had their share of keel bolt tearing from the bottom. So be carefull. Make this a sine qua none condition of your offer...
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Old 08-05-2017, 09:05   #9
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Re: Keel problem after lightning strike

these boats are built in such a manner that they are not really inspectable without making major structural removals.


I would walk away rather than take on someone else's problems.


these boats are numerous, go find one without problems
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Old 08-05-2017, 09:10   #10
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Re: Keel problem after lightning strike

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Originally Posted by ZiggySaildust View Post
Thanks. Great information. Continuing my search elsewhere...
Sounds like a good decision. I would go shake the hands of those that told you.
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Old 08-05-2017, 09:42   #11
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Re: Keel problem after lightning strike

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...the boat was struck by lightning and damaged to an extent which an insurer paid for repairs.....which were never done.
1) Why didn't the broker mention this crucial info? IMHO, not disclosing something as significant as this is nothing less than criminal! Lives could be lost!

2) How much did the insurance pay out...the full value of the boat perhaps? A survey must have been done to determine the damage...why not ask to see that survey? Making a bad survey "disappear" is a pretty good argument to walk/run away.
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Old 08-05-2017, 09:45   #12
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Re: Keel problem after lightning strike

You will need to haul and probably seperate the keel to inspect properly. Based on its location it's probably simpler to move on.
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Old 08-05-2017, 09:47   #13
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Re: Keel problem after lightning strike

A lightning strike is NOT necessarily a death knell for a boat. Not having the boat properly surveyed and repaired afterwards may be. But, you're relying on hearsay in making that determination. I would recommend just asking the owner about the situation and what remediation was done. You're within your rights to ask to see the invoices for the work done. If he won't show you the invoices, then by all means walk away. And, after seeing the invoices, show them to your surveyor and have him verify that the work was done correctly. Then you can make an informed decision.

But please don't make a call like this based on some third party's say-so...

Regards,
David.
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Old 08-05-2017, 10:04   #14
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Re: Keel problem after lightning strike

re: lightening. the power can be awsome, I have experience, three hits to me so far probably explaining me. Got to the dock one time lightn bouncing 100 ' away ran for the house, tri tied quickly semi secured hair sticking up into the house tri got hit blew a 3x 4 foot chunk of the bow out, stem remained and it was inches above the water line. I didnt take the time to put my ground rods down. ground rods, 4' by 1/4" copper wrapped thru turnbucklesand into the water both sides bow and stern at least a foot in the water .In lightening sailing situations i travel with them in the water. even with that i got zapped thru the tiller not too bad bad, but my arms ached. On land got zapped and it blew me airborne 25 feet, landed on my back, burned soles of my feet. long story short, damage could be beyond the keel bolts, to where they are anchored to the keel, look fo aGOOD surveyor, or another boat. I HATE lightening, pirates and people who know what they dont. a day in the life....
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Old 08-05-2017, 10:11   #15
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Re: Keel problem after lightning strike

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Originally Posted by Ken Z View Post
re: lightening. the power can be awsome, I have experience, three hits to me so far probably explaining me. Got to the dock one time lightn bouncing 100 ' away ran for the house, tri tied quickly semi secured hair sticking up into the house tri got hit blew a 3x 4 foot chunk of the bow out, stem remained and it was inches above the water line. I didnt take the time to put my ground rods down. ground rods, 4' by 1/4" copper wrapped thru turnbucklesand into the water both sides bow and stern at least a foot in the water .In lightening sailing situations i travel with them in the water. even with that i got zapped thru the tiller not too bad bad, but my arms ached. On land got zapped and it blew me airborne 25 feet, landed on my back, burned soles of my feet. long story short, damage could be beyond the keel bolts, to where they are anchored to the keel, look fo aGOOD surveyor, or another boat. I HATE lightening, pirates and people who know what they dont. a day in the life....
Damn! I don't want to stand close to you.
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