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Old 11-02-2012
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Re: Boy killed by lightning in our anchorage, what would you do?

Not being deliberatively argumentative, but steel's point about a steel hull providing a faraday cage would be true if there weren't any holes in the steel larger than the openings in the mesh on your microwave window. Lightning is a very short-duration electrical event with correspondingly high frequency (e.g., radio frequency) components that will pass through your hatches, companionway, etc.

Also, surge protectors can't hurt, but are not likely to make much of a difference in a direct strike, which will not only electrify your wiring with a conducted, transient high voltage, but will also generate a radiated electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that can impress a high voltage across a circuit board--well above the breakdown voltage of any semiconductor.

How do I know that? I lost a wheel pilot control unit in an indirect strike. It was sitting on a shelf, not connected to anything. I lost all of my other electronics, too, including a VHF that had in-line littlefuses that looked like popped flash bulbs. That radio circuit was electrified, even though its circuit breaker and the master breaker were in the "off" position.

I also wouldn't ground your tiller/wheel, unless you don't want your mast to act as your primary lightning rod to keep the main discharge away from the cockpit. There's a reason that injuries from lightning strikes are less severe or less numerous statistically on sailboats compared to power boats. It's all about the height of the mast and the larger cone of protection on a sailboat!

I've already indicated in previous post that I have had 2 lightning events with my current sailboat. Your best defense is an insurance policy that does not depreciate your electronics (as does BoatUS, last time I checked).
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