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Old 02-06-2016, 08:49   #31
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Re: Sailing During an Electrical Storm

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Originally Posted by Vasco View Post
Having been hit while sailing all I can say is pray. Everything from stem to stern went. The only advice I have is notify the authorities as to your circumstances (before being stuck) and start the motor as you might not be able to start it after a hit. And tuck a h
andheld vhf in your foulies.
And you have evidence that praying works in these situations?
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Old 02-06-2016, 10:07   #32
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Re: Sailing During an Electrical Storm

One of the freakiest times I have ever had was sailing at night inter-island in the Vanuatu group. Storms came up as we left an anchorage. Lightening came up all around us. You could just see the hits out in the distance. We didn't get hit so no problem. But is was scary. And no insurance...

I was in a marina in Mexico in the most vicious lightening storm I have ever seen. Three boats were struck and severely damaged. Did not hear of any boats underway which were harmed. I doubt that anyone would have wanted to be sailing in that storm at the time. It went on for half a day. Big construction cranes all around the big hotel work and none of them got hit. The marina was just a few hundred feet from these cranes. The beach got hit several times, and the boats. This was probably my second freakiest time but we didn't have any problem. I did unplug the shore power cord (right or wrong).
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Old 02-06-2016, 10:12   #33
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Re: Sailing During an Electrical Storm

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Originally Posted by Vasco View Post
Having been hit while sailing all I can say is pray. Everything from stem to stern went. The only advice I have is notify the authorities as to your circumstances (before being stuck) and start the motor as you might not be able to start it after a hit. And tuck a handheld vhf in your foulies.
Having also been hit I couldn't possibly agree more. I have many times looked back and been grateful that I started the engine and notified the USCG of our position and course/speed. And that I bought a handheld VHF and a very powerful flashlight. Other than that there's not much you can do in a big storm (we dodge small ones all the time in this neighborhood). Pete
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Old 02-06-2016, 17:43   #34
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Re: Sailing During an Electrical Storm

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I did unplug the shore power cord (right or wrong).
I think this is definitely "right". The only lightning damage we've had was when a big metal shed, about a quarter mile away, took a direct hit. We were watching, and saw lots of sparks flying from the rooftop. We were in a marina berth (we had just cleared customs in Bundaburg, Qld) and had a battery charger plugged into shore power (directly). Battery charger was toasted, and I believe that the spike on the mains power was the culprit... and that if I had had the sense to unplug, all would have been well. This, of course, has nothing to do with a direct hit on y our boat. That is always bad news!

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Old 02-06-2016, 18:56   #35
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Re: Sailing During an Electrical Storm

I have a steel boat. It really is a Faraday box, as good as an automobile, but all the electronics have antennas outside, and the electrical system itself runs outside and is vulnerable to stray currents running around. My electronics will still get fried if I take a direct hit. All the box does is keep me out of the circuit. Add to that lightning being shown to hit 10 miles in front of a squall itself, and radar doesn't sound like a likely dodge. You could try disconnecting all the electronics that you can, and putting them in the oven, but I don't think we've got a working system of protection for the heavy load of very delicate electronics that boats carry today. You get hit, they get melted seems to be the consistent story from people who have been there. Don't count on any wiring surviving. Definitely supply a good ground for your mast - that will at least send the bulk of the current to ground rather than wandering about inside your boat. Forget the foil and the static bags, we're not talking about the charge from rubbing your feet on a wool carpet.This one happens to be a topic I took to a physics professor at UNC when I was a kid crewing a 40' sloop offshore, and got shocked through my hands while holding the helm. The bolt was at least a mile away.
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Old 03-06-2016, 00:54   #36
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Re: Sailing During an Electrical Storm

Your first intend must be to protect any important electronic component to avoid any major shock.
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Old 03-06-2016, 05:41   #37
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Re: Sailing During an Electrical Storm

I sailed through a big electrical storm two weeks back. I put phones and tablets ,which all have navionics on them in a steel box that I have and start the engine, don't know if this helps or not. I then try to look cool as if I'm not worried, this is for the sake of the crew, the reality is it freaks me out, particularly the close ones. I have a carbon fibre mast, I'm not sure this is a good thing.

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Old 03-06-2016, 05:57   #38
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Re: Sailing During an Electrical Storm

The two multihulls I know of which were struck:

1. On the hard. The path out was via the saildrives, and the boat was delaminated at those points. Pretty severe damage overall, as I understand.

2. In the water, at marina. Electric things onboard all fried, including wiring. Owner is still having gremlins. There was some hull damage but it's not certain that was from the strike, it's thought a manufacturing flaw.


Another multihuller I know has installed a grounding strap at his mast. This involves welding a fitting onto the mast to accept a 0-gauge copper or aluminum wire and the wire runs thru the trampoline lacing directly into the water. You could also do something similar from the shrouds right into the water. I've also heard of people just wrapping chain from the rigging/mast and dropping that into the water. These solutions of course are to give the strike the most direct path out of the boat. I do not know whether they work.

A friend, who is an ex-delivery skipper and also a multihuller, swears that he's never heard of a moving boat being struck....

almost forgot: did see a Hobie 20 beachcat struck, was tied down on the beach. Shattered the carbon mast tip and blew holes in the hulls
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Old 03-06-2016, 07:44   #39
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Re: Sailing During an Electrical Storm

The conductive properties of your mast and hull are not relevant to whether or not you are hit - this is a static charge, not a conductive flow. Being the tallest and sharpest object around makes a boat vulnerable becaue it concentrates the charge. What happens after the hit is completely different. Now it is a mega-volt, mega-amp current, and will take the most conductive route available. That's why people get killed standing under trees - the bolt hit the tall sharp tree, but a saline-solution human being is more conductive than even wet wood, so it jumps to them. Give it a good route to ground so you personally won't be hurt - deafened and scared silly, but alive. What amazes me is how few boats get hit.
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Old 03-06-2016, 07:55   #40
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Re: Sailing During an Electrical Storm

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Originally Posted by robert sailor View Post
And you have evidence that praying works in these situations?
It may not work but there sometimes isn't a whole lot else you can do.

My rig (on a Hobie 16) started humming once like the transformer near my home while becalmed just before a storm.

There was only lightning at first. Very thick bolts bring "thrown." My rig started to hum so I got in the middle of the tramp and thought over life insurance etc. My son was 10 at the time and I was hoping my wife would have enough to raise him.

This humming occurred 2X in the space of a few minutes then it passed and the big wind and rain hit at which time I took off sailing toward the docks then pitchpoled.
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Old 03-06-2016, 08:13   #41
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Re: Sailing During an Electrical Storm

...I have seen extensive proof first hand that the marketed lightening avoidance systems do not work. Although I do believe a good grounding system is advisable to safely pass the charge should/when you get hit...

No idea about boats, beyond noting that of the seven friends & acquaintances who've been struck, five were cats and only two monohulls; what I find more inexplicable is that of those seven, three have been hit twice and one three times?
Coming from a construction background, I know that sticking a lightning conductor on the top of your tower block, church-spire, whatever will increase the likelihood of it being hit, but with the associated heavy copper external strapping and grounding rods, the charge dissipates to earth with little or no damage. I see no reason why that 'attraction' factor shouldn't apply to anything you put at the top of your mast, but there is just no realistic way that you can achieve the necessary/equivalent grounding on a yacht that you install on a building.
I too take the line of offering-up a few quiet prayers whilst keeping on smiling for the crew's benefit.
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Old 12-06-2016, 14:23   #42
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Re: Sailing During an Electrical Storm

If it's stormy, and you are wearing a metal watch or bracelet, take them off. His watch got a neighbors husband killed with a lightning strike.

Must get a bigger oven - the laptop doesn't fit in this one.
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Old 12-06-2016, 14:44   #43
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Re: Sailing During an Electrical Storm

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And you have evidence that praying works in these situations?

Every bit as much evidence as others have for saying they came from monkeys!
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Old 12-06-2016, 15:59   #44
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Re: Sailing During an Electrical Storm

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Every bit as much evidence as others have for saying they came from monkeys!
Who would say we came from monkeys? Maybe someone who believes praying will prevent lighting strikes. Monkeys and humans share a common ancestor. There is significantly more evidence of a shared ancestor between primates and humans then evidence praying will prevent a lighting strike. Regardless of who or what you pray to.

Let me guess the earth is only 6000 years old.
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Old 12-06-2016, 16:12   #45
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Re: Sailing During an Electrical Storm

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Originally Posted by AD28 View Post
The two multihulls I know of which were struck:

1. On the hard. The path out was via the saildrives, and the boat was delaminated at those points. Pretty severe damage overall, as I understand.

2. In the water, at marina. Electric things onboard all fried, including wiring. Owner is still having gremlins. There was some hull damage but it's not certain that was from the strike, it's thought a manufacturing flaw.


Another multihuller I know has installed a grounding strap at his mast. This involves welding a fitting onto the mast to accept a 0-gauge copper or aluminum wire and the wire runs thru the trampoline lacing directly into the water. You could also do something similar from the shrouds right into the water. I've also heard of people just wrapping chain from the rigging/mast and dropping that into the water. These solutions of course are to give the strike the most direct path out of the boat. I do not know whether they work.

A friend, who is an ex-delivery skipper and also a multihuller, swears that he's never heard of a moving boat being struck....

almost forgot: did see a Hobie 20 beachcat struck, was tied down on the beach. Shattered the carbon mast tip and blew holes in the hulls
Not sure what difference it would make to the mast surviving, but the top of a Hobie mast is not carbon fiber. It is just fiberglass. It is an attempt to reduce electrocution from touching powerlines. Conductive carbon fiber wouldn't help. The black hiking sticks are not carbon fiber either, you're not allowed to have a conductive hiking stick as well.

References 5 and 6 familes sue Hobie electrocution hazard
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hobie_16#cite_ref-5
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