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Old 17-10-2015, 16:06   #1
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Sailing During an Electrical Storm

I'm just about to head south from the Whitsunday Islands to Sydney Australia. I'll anticipate some electrical storm activity around Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Can anyone suggest any precautions I could adopt to reduce damage caused by lightning strikes? I have a 51' timber ketch rigged multi-hull.
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Old 17-10-2015, 16:07   #2
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Re: sailing during an electrical storm

Don't lick the stays during storm activity

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Old 17-10-2015, 17:31   #3
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Re: sailing during an electrical storm

Hello nicetry.
we are currently cruising the east coast of Queensland as well. As part of our routine in an electrical storm we place a number of handheld items in the oven on our boat inlcuding a handheld GPS, hand held VHF radio, mobile phones cameras etc. The Oven should act as a Faradays cage and keep these things isolated should you be hit by lightening.
Just ensure that the oven is cold when you put items in it and also ensure you remember to take them out before using the oven :big grin:.




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Old 17-10-2015, 18:05   #4
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Re: Sailing During an Electrical Storm

nicetri,

Jim made an ion deflecter sort of lightning deflector from the smallest 7 x 19 s/s wire that he could find. That said, there is no evidence whatsoever that such devices really work, and some that does discredit them. Haven't yet been struck...touch wood.

Lightning is so capricious anyway, can't worry about it, the worrying'd drive me nuts.


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Old 17-10-2015, 19:22   #5
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Re: Sailing During an Electrical Storm

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.
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Old 17-10-2015, 19:41   #6
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Re: Sailing During an Electrical Storm

I have been caught in widespread convective activity sailing here on the Gulf of Mexico. Much is just blind luck but I do use MARPA from my radar on the storm cells to try to keep from being on a collision course. I can usually avoid the worst of the cells that way. I also use my engine in these circumstances both to have it on and to be able to time my future position with some degree of accuracy. Storms can make the wind unpredictable. Just prepare to make much slower progress due to what ends up being a much more circuitous course.


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Old 05-11-2015, 16:18   #7
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Re: Sailing During an Electrical Storm

You spend enough time, you will have to put up with them. The conventional wisdom, or at last time I looked was you had two choices. Electrically bond everything and you increased your chance of being hit but decreased your chance of damage. A cone of protection extends at a 45 degree angle from the masthead. Hopefully your inside that come.

The other school of thought that I recall said no bonding. Less chance of being hit but if you are hit, more damage.

I don't know what the thunderbumpers think of all this but I do remember a newly repaired racer was crossing Tampa Bay some years ago when hit by lightning. Blew all the through hulls out, went down like a rock. No injuries and boat eventually raised.

Personally I wouldn't waste my time on the static dissipatators. But that's me.

In the end, youse pays your money and takes your choice. Using your oven as a Faraday cage is the only tried and true method I've heard of. I might be tempted to remove the power leads and antenna connections of anything else but that may be wishful thinking.

In short, who knows, not even the scientists.

Good luck,
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Old 05-11-2015, 16:59   #8
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Re: Sailing During an Electrical Storm

The best precaution is to do laundry before leaving.

That way you have clean extra pants on hand…

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Old 05-11-2015, 17:07   #9
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Re: Sailing During an Electrical Storm

Bonding with proper grounding does not increase the risk of a strike at all. It increases the risk of galvanic corrosion.
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Old 06-11-2015, 03:24   #10
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Re: Sailing During an Electrical Storm

Quote:
Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
Bonding with proper grounding does not increase the risk of a strike at all. It increases the risk of galvanic corrosion.
Indeed!
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Old 06-11-2015, 04:05   #11
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Re: sailing during an electrical storm

Quote:
Originally Posted by FamilyVan View Post
Don't lick the stays during storm activity

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I'd like to add....

That relieving one's self over the side should be avoided until the threat abates....
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Old 06-11-2015, 04:21   #12
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Re: Sailing During an Electrical Storm

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ann T. Cate View Post
..............
............ Haven't yet been struck...touch wood. .... Ann
It didn't seem to be the intent, but this "touch wood" advice seems to be the best for sailing in an electrical storm. I like the double meaning!
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Old 06-11-2015, 04:35   #13
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Re: Sailing During an Electrical Storm

It is really very unusual for boats to be struck while actually sailing. The reason for this appears to be that the motion of the boat through the water and the mast through the air dissipates charge, such that a big ground charge cannot effectively gather. Most strikes happen in Marinas or at anchor for exactly this reason. They can be devastating. A few years ago a big superyacht ketch burnt to the waterline in Falmouth Antigua following a lightning strike. The strategy I recommend is twofold: attempt to dissipate static charge in your rig, which "attracts" a strike, and is the precursor to one. You can try attaching a dissipator to the masthead which is basically a brush of extremely fine steel filaments, which are supposed to aid charge dissipation. This is fairly conventional and has a good rationale for success. Rather more unconventional is the arrangement I carry aboard my own boat. In Scotland a decade or so ago I had it made by a lightning protection company specialising in buildings. It is a grounding surface comprised of around 70cm grid of thick copper stips riveted together in a lattice and bonded to a massive cable which has an equally massive alligator clip at the other end. If anchored or in a marina during an electrical storm, I dangle the thing over the side into the water, hung by a lanyard from the rails, and clip the cable to a cap shroud. The idea is of course that in the case of a strike the charge would be encouraged to take out or take the route of said single shroud, and not pass through the boat. So far I have not been struck (searches for wood to knock), and not for lack of storms!

The oven faraday cage is sensible SOP for electrical storms and boats.
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Old 06-11-2015, 05:21   #14
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Re: Sailing During an Electrical Storm

My Ferro is a floating Faraday cage, but will still not want to get hit.

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Old 06-11-2015, 06:19   #15
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Re: Sailing During an Electrical Storm

Regular gas or electric oven Faraday cage no. Ferrocement hull Faraday cage no. Microwave oven Farady cage yes.

I purchase some anti-static bags that close with a ziplock and are big enough to fit a laptop in. They are made from a metalized plastic specifically for the purpose of protecting delicate electronic components. If they ever fail to work as advertised I will let you know.
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