Join Date: Nov 2009
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Re: Boy killed by lightning in our anchorage, what would you do?
My opinion: ride it out on the boat, preferably inside the cabin, and stay away from the mast and anything electrically connected to it, the stays, lifelines, pulpits, etc. According to some lightning experts, the mast provides a "cone of protection" of at least 90 degrees, such that lighting that would otherwise strike in the "protected" area will attach to the mast and be preferentially conducted along the mast and any metallic conductors between the sky and ground (i.e., the water).
If your boat doesn't have a serious grounding system, you may regret it if you get struck and suffer structural damage like holes in the hull. Even if you have a good grounding system, you are likely to lose all of your electronics that are exposed to high voltages and high fields. Better to disconnect and wrap any portable/removable electronics (VHF, GPS, cell phone, etc.) in aluminum foil or otherwise place them in a metal box (if you have one, a boat's oven would do) to act as a faraday cage.
If you have insurance, read the fine print about replacing damaged electronics. My boat has had 2 lightning strikes over a 10 year period and I was glad my policy covered equipment replacement without depreciation. Not all policies--including BoatUS, last time I checked--would pay for full replacement.