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post #23 of Old 04-06-2005
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Lightning Anyone?

My 02.
I''ve lived in Florida 56 yrs and on sailboats 10+ along the ICW. Seen many boats struck and talked to people who were onboard or near during the strike. Boats I''ve looked at have had their aluminun masts melted and fiberglass hulls blown to pieces and sunk. Others were everything else from standing rigging bolts punched out to St Elmo''s Fire and no damage. The ones with "grounding wires" hanging into the water from a stay survived way better than those without...always.

When you get hit and it only takes out electronics it is a "feeder" strike. Study the numbers and you will see nothing survives a strike by the main bolt. It blows or melts everything from too much pressure or heat. The is no practical way to conduct that much juice to prevent damage.

The only thing you can do is bleed static charge away and prevent attraction. The highest point will be struck if charged more than the surrounding areas. I put a handheld miliamp meter on an aluminum mast. Everytime the wind gusted the needle pegged showing static charge. The static bled off faster with a grounding wire clamped to the stay and dropped in the water compared to nothing in the water. Anyone can do this test on their own boat to see. An old electrical contractor/sailor showed me this. He did mostly high voltage and lightning protection for buildings and farms.
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