We had friends whose boat - a Bristol 35.5 -(with them on it) was hit by lightning last Sunday, July 25, at Duck Island Roads, an anchorage off Westbrook CT, about 01:00AM. A witness who went out to to speak with them later that morning said he saw the bolt hit and that the boat glowed. He called 911, thinking that the boat's propane tank had exploded. (It had not.) Our friends, on board and awake (who could sleep with all those bright lights and thunder) thought the bolt hit nearby, then heard all their electronics popping and frying. The masthead VHF antenna twisted into a corkscrew, with the insides of the ceramic housing totally vaporized. The police showed up to check on them that night and again the next morning, but the boat appeared to be OK except for the overcooked electronics. Don't know if they had engine problems or not. They hauled to check for dezincing, (mentioned above) and continued on their cruise later on Monday. Craig Smith, knowledegable about extreme waves and lightning, seems to think that the backstay of the Bristol 35.5, running down to a big external chainplate at the transom near the swim ladder (which may have been down, too ) provides a nice path for a hefty electric current to take when the need arises. A cushion left near the backstay was singed. Our friends are happy to still be sailing, though it's going to take almost three dozen boat unit$ to fix their electrical system and replace the components.
Last edited by paulk; 07-29-2010 at 03:54 PM.