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Old 07-10-2007, 18:18   #61
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Have you renamed the boat? Did you appease the gods?

Sorry to hear about your multiple strikes. That sucks.

But IMHO having a lightning bolt as a logo is just sure to piss off Neptune, Aeolus and his cronies. You may as well be flipping the bird ;-)
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Old 13-10-2007, 18:14   #62
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Uh-oh, I don't want to piss off Neptune- what group of peoples superstitions did he come from? My ancestors have thier own share of "gods" and water/wind spirits that I do try not to upset, but I don't know of other culture's water/wind spirits. Different things have different meanings depending on what part of the world you come from. My Christian friends view this from a punishment and guilt perspective that seems to be part of thier beliefs. Native relatives view this from the angle of the lighning being a "medicine power" or a special message, not necassarily being bad. Of course, there's always the thing that it's a coincidence and a random act of nature. Who knows? Just be careful out there...
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Old 14-10-2007, 00:20   #63
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When we sailed into Singapore, there were five cruising yachts struck by lightning that week in the area. The lightning in Singapore and Malaysia during the monsoon puts fear in my heart. We never were struck, and we had two lightning dissipators on the top of our mast.

While I was flying in a King Air turboprop last week, I asked the pilot what those little things were sticking out the back edge of each wing. He said they were static electricity dissipators. I don't know if they protect from lightning, but apparently they do decrease the buildup of static electricity. Maybe they are different from the static dissipators at the top of my mast.
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Old 14-10-2007, 03:01   #64
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I believe the static wicks (dissipaters) on the trailing edges of aircraft act like grounding plates on our hull or keel.
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Old 14-10-2007, 04:24   #65
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An old thread, but one I'm paying attention to. Having taken a 'blast to the mast' in July, and finally getting to the point where I've repaired all of the damage from the hit, I'm also wondering how to protect myself from future lightning strikes, or at least lower the cost 'per hit'.

Catamarans don't have keel bolts nor ballast, and as near as I can tell the lightning entered my DC mast wiring (deck stepped mast) and exited the boat via my twin propeller shafts, taking out everything which was connected to the boat's DC wiring in the process. This was an expensive proposition.

In my case, there simply wasn't time to run around the boat and disconnect everything as the strike occured when motoring in a small microcell where winds increased to 50-60mph. My attention was on seamanship. In any case there are certain items which as you can see, can not be disconnected.

Fried Electronics:

On board stereo
VHF radio
VHF antenna
Windex
Masthead Tricolor
Mast running lamp / deck light
solar panel charge controller
solar panel (diodes)
Two automatic bilge pumps
Three Floresent light fixtures
battery charger
A/C inverter

Living and sailing in Florida, I figure this is bound to happen again (the Gods not withstanding). All of the posts I've read on this subject pretty much confine themselves to protecting the hull, so the boat doesn't sink. We would all agree that this is a practical goal. However, if I'm fairly certain (based on past experience) that the boat hull won't sustain damage from lightning, and my thru holes will stay put, how does one go about implementing a bullet proof protection plan to protect electrical and electronics?

A question for Rebecca or any forum boat electrician. Home Depot sells lightning protection 'gas discharge' systems for homes (surge suppressors?), but they are designed for 120 volt house wiring. Is there anything out there designed for 12 volt systems? Or... can these AC systems work on our boat wiring? Heck.. where would we even mount these?
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Old 14-10-2007, 04:38   #66
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rickm505
... Is there anything out there designed for 12 volt systems ...
Yes, there are transient surge arresters, designed to protect 12VDC systems & electronics:

ie:

PolyPhaser Lightning Protectors: PolyPhaser | The Authority On Lightning & Surge Protection

Transtector Surge Protectors: Transtector - Surge Suppression and Surge Protection Equipment by Transtector Systems

Cushcraft: Cushcraft Corporation Home Page

and others ...

Search terms:
lightning suppressor, transient protector, spike arrestor, surge arrestor, lightning arrestor, spike protector, surge protector, lightning protector, spike suppressor, rf protector.
and sinse spelling counts:
Lightning surge protecter, rf protecter, lightning suppresser, spike suppresser, spike arrester, surge arrester, and lightning arrester.
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Old 14-10-2007, 08:07   #67
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Rick --

I asked Dr. Ewen Thomson this very question, last year. He said that while the transient surge protectors (linked by Gord) are the best bet for having some sort of installed protection in the system, he has also seen situations where they not be effective. He recommended that they be installed, but to also have a backup for crucial systems (which I take as VHF, GPS, a laptop with nav software) and just have them stored in a Faraday cage.

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Old 14-10-2007, 11:09   #68
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While the Faraday cage is a terrific and effective counter measure, I don't think it's practical all of the time. Having been in this situation, I can say that things happen very quickly. In my part of the world lightning is associated with fast moving storms. There will be little time to prepare. Unless your moveable equipment is already in a Faraday cage (in which case why bother carrying it), it's possible that you won't have time to put it in there. Also, non moveable stuff is doomed.

We all conceed that we can't control lightning, nor does anyone have a clear idea why some boats are struck and others are not. Much has been written about how to avoid having the high voltage puncture a hull. While this is the number one priority, I'm hoping that there is also some type of research out there someplace about channeling the high voltage in order to save our equipment.

Incidently, in my case any battery operated devices such as cell phones or GPS were completely unaffected by the hit. Only electrical/electronic devices connected to DC wiring were destroyed.

The Faraday cage would have been of limited use.
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Old 14-10-2007, 11:18   #69
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Rick505m: My sailboat has experienced one direct hit to the mast and damaged another time from a nearby strike (60 yards) to the mast of another boat. The direct hit resulted in a longer list of damages than the one you listed. I believe there are things that can be done to minimize damage to hull, etc. and to minimize damages from a nearby strike but to my knowledge there is no such thing as making your electonics and other electrical gizmos bullet proof from a direct strike. In fact it would probably be easier to make them really bullet proof than to absolutely protect from a direct lighting strike.
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Old 14-10-2007, 15:26   #70
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As Rick intimates, A Faraday Cage cannot protect against CONDUCTED current, which (somewhat) limits it’s efficacy for equipment “in use”.
Dr. Thomson & Intentional Drifter’s recommendations pertained to ”backup” equipment, safely stored for emergency use.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rickm505
…We all concede that we can't control lightning, nor does anyone have a clear idea why some boats are struck and others are not. Much has been written about how to avoid having the high voltage puncture a hull. While this is the number one priority, I'm hoping that there is also some type of research out there someplace about channelling the high voltage in order to save our equipment…”


Yes, much has been written, (and quoted & linked on the CruisersForum), about Lightning Grounding. A robust grounding system is universally recommended.
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Old 14-10-2007, 18:47   #71
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maxingout View Post
When we sailed into Singapore, there were five cruising yachts struck by lightning that week in the area. The lightning in Singapore and Malaysia during the monsoon puts fear in my heart.
We had an exciting lightning storm on Friday. It was full on thunderstorms just south of us and at the leading edge we got no rain, just some incredibly close lightning. It was the only time in recent memory the kids came off the beach without having to be asked.

Quote:
Originally Posted by maxingout View Post
While I was flying in a King Air turboprop last week, I asked the pilot what those little things were sticking out the back edge of each wing. He said they were static electricity dissipators. I don't know if they protect from lightning, but apparently they do decrease the buildup of static electricity. Maybe they are different from the static dissipators at the top of my mast.
It is similar in concept. Aircraft are struck by lightning pretty frequently. All the movable surfaces (elevators, rudder, etc) are electrically bonded (usually with braided conductors) across the hinges to avoid welding.

The static wicks at the outboard end of the wings and horizontal are designed to be sacrificial. They are "burned off" over time and periodically replaced.

Unfortunately it is much harder to protect where the lightning goes in. Radomes take a heck of a beating and I have seen photos of radomes blown completely off the nose.
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Old 18-10-2007, 16:34   #72
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Hey guys,
After a few more days of checking everything, like a forensics (spell?) crime scene, found an interesting logical thing. Most of the lightning bolt went thru the grounding plate, welding the nut on the screw where the copper strapping is attached to the mast. Several layers of copper strapping leads from the mast base to the bolt to the grounding plate. This worked nice. A tendril of lignting, as it blew apart the masthead light and steaming light, followed the wiring from these lights to the DC circuit panel. This tendril fried the alternator's regulator (its diodes), the solar panel's charge controller, fried the depth sounder readout and its transducer (but not harming the hull), popped the stern light bulb, and took out one programmed station on the FM radio- but left all the other stations. Odd, but it also ruined one LED light in the cabin, but didn't touch all the others next to it in the same wiring circuit. It also blew the fuse just behind the main VHF radio, but didn't harm it. The secondary VHF radio in cockpit unharmed as well. So selective!
It seems that the trick in this situation is to keep those extra electrical "tendrils" from following the DC wiring and route as much of the lightning strike down the mast and to the grounding plate as possible. For the wires running down the mast, maybe a fuse block at the mast base and a "Zap Stop" type of sacrificial diode attached to each wire from the mast base fuse block then leading to the ground plate??? Set it up so there's an easier path to ground than to the DC panel. This is just some odd thinking now, but will dig into this. Just don't want to invite stray currents with such funny ideas. Gotta think about this some more...
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Old 18-10-2007, 18:59   #73
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I like it Angel.

I'm wondering if a diode array could be placed in the circuit of all wires running up the mast. Ground side goes to the keel or ground plate... hooked up to a sacrificial switch and 12v battery.

It seems like the on most boats the 12 volt system shares ground with the ocean, and if the path the lightning takes is through the system it fries everything... if the circuit it hits isn't the same as the one with the expensive stuff...
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Old 09-11-2007, 12:47   #74
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It would help having a lightning round tipped rod in the top of the mast that is connected with a good size copper wire running straight down and connected at the bottom of the mast to a 12 mm piece of dyform hanging 3 ft in the water
The straight down part will only work with a catamaran, with a mono hull the same rod in the top of the mast and the side stays grounded direct down into the water when lightning is present. and do not forget to put all removable electronics into a cage of faraday like your oven , microwave a vault box
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Old 09-11-2007, 22:37   #75
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It simply will not work with a direct hit. I am not saying you are wasting your time and effort as It may take enough stray current from maybe a very week side flash, but a direct hit will simply flash across Diodes as if they never existed. We are talking currents and voltages that have just traveled across miles of open air, which is a very good isulator. A small gap created by an open circuiting diode is not even a cosnideration to a voltage pressure of that magnitude. One of the main reasons lightening bounces around so may conductors (aside from magnetic induction) is that any conductor we can provide for the voltage force, is too small. The result is the high voltage pressure simply finds as many paths to ground as the pressure will create.
Even the water itself is not a perfect conductor, so dangling anything in the water, although perhaps better than nothing at all, will still result in poor affect.
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