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View Poll Results: Have you ever suffered a lightning strike?
Yes, in Florida USA 10 6.45%
Yes, elsewhere in the USA 23 14.84%
Yes, elsewhere in the World 17 10.97%
No, but I personally know a boater who has 34 21.94%
No, but I'm aware of a specific boater who has 18 11.61%
I don't know anyone who has suffered a strike 53 34.19%
Voters: 155. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 06-07-2015, 07:17   #16
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Location: Long Beach, CA
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Have you suffered a lightning strike?

46 years sailing and I've been lucky. Many electrical storms on Chesapeake Bay, Long Island Sound, North Florida, Minnesota lakes with plenty of near misses. Hurricanes, tornadoes, thunderstorms that were frightening dropping lightening all around us, but no lightening strikes.
Now in Southern California we get almost no lightening.

S/V B'Shert
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Old 06-07-2015, 09:04   #17
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Location: Melbourne, Fl., Patrick Airforce Marina
Boat: 1965 Pearson Alberg 35 #190
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Re: Have you suffered a lightning strike?

Aug. 1978 off Atlantic Coast of Panama. 39'Allied Mistress center cockpit Ketch. Strikes within 100 meters every 5 seconds; not a question of IF, only WHEN. Both of us below when the main masthead was struck due to the Omega ground wire coming loose. Felt like a vacuum for a millisecond and a giant striking hull with a club. Knocked out Omega, (antenna exploded) and radar. Still had vhf, autopilot. Wandered around deck for a day or so, picking up pieces of fiberglass splinters before realizing they were the antenna. It fries a lot of synapses in your brain and takes a week or so for the brain to find or build new ones. You're just goofy for awhile. No other damage other then dame bramage. Still goofy 37 years later.
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Old 06-07-2015, 09:13   #18
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Location: Bocas del Toro, Panama
Boat: Valiant 40
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Re: Have you suffered a lightning strike?

Paradiso was struck by lightening at 2AM in 2005 in Bahia del Sol, El Salvador while dragging anchor at about 4 knots backward thru a crowded anchorage during an incredible squall. Two boats stuck by lightening and 3 boats beached.

  • all electronics (Raymarine ST60 stuff, Garmin GPS, VHF, SSB, etc.);
  • other stuff included laptops, digital cameras, PDAs, propane detector, fridge controller, muffin fans, everything with a micro-circuitry;
  • both alternators (main engine and diesel generator); and
  • all water pumps including watermaker, freshwater, & saltwater.

Total cost for replacements and shipping to El Salvador, $32,000. Insurance deductible, $7,500. Insurance covered, $12,250 (pro-rated based on 4 years old). Now I have new for old insurance coverage (lesson learned).

Also had to hook Paradiso up to a mooring ball for a couple months while took delivery and installed stuff.

Paradiso is a 1977 Valiant 40, hull 173 currently located in Bocas Marina, Bocas del Toro, Panama.
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Old 06-07-2015, 09:28   #19
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Location: Maine, USA
Boat: Monk 36
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Re: Have you suffered a lightning strike?

Spring of 2014, Casco Bay, Maine, USA, on a mooring. Neighboring boat had a direct hit - blew out anything electronic. Several neighboring boats, including mine, were also affected to varying degrees.

I lost a radar, GPS antenna, autopilot (not the tiller drive unit), masthead sending unit. Worked out for the better - I now have a power efficient digital radar.

I'm not sure if it will make a difference now, but I hang an oversized zinc over board, double attached to stays.

No fiberglass hull damage. No thru-hulls are bonded together.
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Old 06-07-2015, 09:29   #20
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Re: Have you suffered a lightning strike?

First post on this excellent board! Permission to come aboard. I have been lurking for quite some time reading and enjoying the daily digest every day.

For those of you who are familiar with the 'old' First Class Radiotelephone licenses, I received mine in 1973. So that's my CV.

Regarding the current subject, I would strongly suggest those of you sailing lightning infested waters to take note of Polyphaser products Reliable, Efficient, Superior RF Protection - PolyPhaser – Smiths Power

These people have been around for a very long time, and were the first and only (to my knowledge) to have their own lightning generator to test there equipment. Their equipment is 'standard' in commercial communications installations (military, government, police, fire, cellular, AM/FM radio stations, electronic lab testing stations/Faraday rooms, ham stations, and most anything electrical or electronic that needs to be protected from Mother Nature ). They also protect service (power) entrances on commercial and residential buildings, isolating the service from the building.

In my 40 years in the communications industry, I've seen Polyphasers protect comms radios in literally 100's of installs where their antenna was vaporized. The radios in nearly every case was spared. Most of the radio's that were blown up by the strike were due to the Polyphaser being previously hit and not replaced (they do need to be checked with a VOM every year and after storms).

I don't own their stock. And I don't work for them. This post is meant to save you some aggravation, and insurance premium increases based on claims. Two things to remember in lightning protection. Common point grounding of everything electrical is vital. Also your keel ground should also be as large in surface area as reasonably possible.

Hope this helps!
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Old 06-07-2015, 10:08   #21
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Re: Have you suffered a lightning strike?

Got a strike in San-Blas Islands Panama in 2011. Hit VHF antenna, current went down antenna cable, in the VHF and from there goes to all the NMEA183 circuit and destroyed all electronics. The 2 chartplotters stills working individualy, but no more RX and TX. Radar stills working today. Portable VHF out of work. SSB out of work. Satphone out of work. Genset capacitors burned. Some fuse on electric pannel also. All damaged electronics were not powered "on". But it changed nothing. We were ankored in a bay when it happens. In 2013, we went trough 8 thunderstorms in 30 hours between San Andres (Colombia) and San-Blas and nothing happend. We saw a lot of strikes fowling in the water near us, finally we got no damages. Finally what you need in these cases in a good insurance (our payed for all...)
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Old 06-07-2015, 10:11   #22
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Re: Have you suffered a lightning strike?

Three strikes on my Island Packet 44

1. Approx 2005 Tampa Fl
Destroyed only step down isolation transformer. Installed in New Zealand for arond $500 Docked but NOT aboard

2. 2007 Tampa Fl Dierct hit Docked & aboard Basically all electronics including batteries. $28000

3. 2012 Treasure Cay Bahamas Near miss
Melted fuse & block to solar panels $25

Bruce Senay
s/v DreamCatcher
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Old 06-07-2015, 10:16   #23
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Re: Have you suffered a lightning strike?

yes, while aboard my countess 44 ketch, anchored off the san blas islands, panama, lightening struck vhf antenna on main mast. damaged some electronics. think ground plate (dynaplate) may have minimized damage. i had disconnected the batteries. apparently part of the charge from the ground plate followed the breaker panel ground cable and, although the breakers were in off position, traveled though the ground side of the electronic circuits. thereafter i, laboriously, disconnected all electronic leads when expecting lightning. gotta be a better wa...two pole breakers?? still a mystery...lightning has to go somewhere lol. feel lucky no major damage. btw we were anchored 100 yds from a huge commercial station antenna tower???

dick sargent, jessie marie
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Old 06-07-2015, 11:26   #24
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Re: Have you suffered a lightning strike?

Took a direct hit to the top of the mast June 29,2014 outside Green Turtle Cay, Abacos. $60,000 in repair cost, $15,000 tow to Ft Lauderdale. Destroyed almost all electrical equipment on both 12 volt and 110 volt circuits. Underway at the time, engines continued to run (older style), used iPad and portable radio to continue to harbor. No fire or hull damage.

I now have PLSD (post lightning stress disorder) as I want to hide under the covers whenever it starts no matter how far away.

Sent from my iPad using Cruisers Sailing Forum
Ken & Cathy
S/V Sol Searching
Leopard 42
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Old 06-07-2015, 13:13   #25
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Re: Have you suffered a lightning strike?

Although I have not been hit by a direct strike, lightning hit nearby and blew my battery charger and a few fuses. Main fuses gone.
At Isle of Venice in Ft Lauderdale.

A friend from Texas was hit near me in Green Turtle Key, Abaco. 40K damage.

Worst case was to a friend at Stormont YC in Ontario. C&C 32. The hull was so riddled with pin holes that it was taking on water. Had to be hauled for repairs... twice.
First fix of epoxy failed. Second fix they ground down the hull and re-glassed the bottom from the outside. Fairly new boat too.
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Old 06-07-2015, 13:33   #26
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Re: Have you suffered a lightning strike?

The boat next to me, a 30 foot Newport with a mast shorter than mine has taken 2 hits with the loss of all instruments in both strikes. In his second strike, I lost my LED automatic anchor light and wind instrument. Too small of a claim to meet the deductible.
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Old 06-07-2015, 14:16   #27
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Re: Have you suffered a lightning strike?

When several boats have been around 25 years and never been hit, and another one in the same marina has been hit two, or three times, you know there is something going on that would be good to figure out.

Darned if I can though.
Founding member of the controversial Calypso rock band, Guns & Anchors!
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Old 06-07-2015, 18:24   #28
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Re: Have you suffered a lightning strike?

So here's a question. If you were considering buying a boat that had been (recently) struck by lightning, what questions would you be asking? What would you have your surveyor look at?

There's an IP in NC that is quite cheap bc it was struck by lightning, and lost electronics. It's not necessarily a boat I would choose normally, but it's a good price if the hull, rigging, and engine are OK. We're considering looking at it. Are we crazy?

An Ocean Lover in Maine.
An Ocean Lover in Maine
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Old 06-07-2015, 18:28   #29
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Re: Have you suffered a lightning strike?

We took a direct hit three years ago. Boat is a CSY 37, cutter rig, heavy displacement, lead encapsulated half full keel.

It was in July when we were sailing from Treasure Cay to Marsh Harbor in the Abacos, Bahamas. Thunderstorms are obvious as they move across the sky in big towering black clouds. About two miles NE of Marsh we saw a Giant one heading our way. I decided to take down sail and anchor while it blew through. Water in the Sea of Abaco averages less than 15 feet so anchoring anywhere is no problem.

Not to start an anchor war, but our 45lb Manson Supreme held, well, supremely, as it always has. The Admiral was down below while I stayed in the cockpit to keep an eye on things and make sure we weren't dragging, although we were a mile from the nearest shore. The storm passed right over us.

I was looking forward toward the mast when there was a sudden BOOM!, sounded like a 155mm howitzer going off next to me. An electric blue light came down the mast and then disappeared. I knew we had been hit.

The first thing I did was to go down below and check for incoming water from anywhere. After a minute of frantic searching I found none. Thankfully the CSY is built for easy service and all through hulls are quickly accessible. We waited for the storm to pass over which it did in less than a half hour. It was already getting dark anyway so I decided to stay where we were until morning before trying to enter Marsh.

I soon discovered our losses. Some, but not all, of our interior lights had been blown out. The VHF, depth sounder, and Navtex were no longer working. Our nav lights were also blown but I didn't discover this for a few weeks. We have no masthead light so no problem there, but I did notice that the VHF antenna was completely missing. The alternator on the engine was no longer charging, something I discovered the next morning when we motored into the harbor. Thats it. Not even enough for an insurance claim if we had had insurance. And the Navtex wasn't really damaged.

In harbor the next day I gave the boat a thorough going over. There was no indication of where the lightning exited the boat. I inspected the hull around the waterline but could find no sign of damage. And what wasn't damaged is just as interesting as what was damaged.

Everything connected directly to the battery bank - not going through the breaker panel - was undamaged. The Adler Barbour fridge, the CPT autopilot, the inverter, and the solar panel were working normally. The two handheld VHF's and my three handheld GPS's were undamaged - I don't have a built in GPS. And the Navtex held a little surprise.

The built in VHF and depth sounder were both fused on the positive side, as is usual. The fuses were not blown but the devices were toast. The built in navtex has two fuses - one on pos and one on neg. The one on neg was blown. I replaced it and it came back up like nothing had happened! Makes me believe that the bolt came down through the negative side. From that moment on I decided to fuse BOTH sides of every important piece of equipment.

And no, the boat is NOT GROUNDED. Every through hull is on it's own. I have absolutely no evidence to support this, but I have this fear that a grounded through hull might have been blown out of the hull as the bolt went to ground through it.

Being in the Abacos you can live without the things we lost, except for the alternator. Fortunately I always carry a spare alternator and starter motor, although there is an alternator shop in Marsh. We spent the next month just hanging out in the Abacos. It wasn't until we made the crossing back to Florida that I discovered the nav lights weren't working. Don't know why I didn't check them sooner.
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Old 06-07-2015, 18:31   #30
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Re: Have you suffered a lightning strike?

Nothing to contribute other than this thread scares the crap out of me. Lots of places mentioned are where I will be sailing, want to sail, and have sailed.

Anybody else got a line on that Phasor company?

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