Quit calling me a member
Join Date: Oct 2006
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 10
In all the reports I have ever heard of boats being struck by lightning, I have never heard of one where any of the crew was injured (doesn't mean it doesn't happen, I'm just saying). The boats seem to take a lot of damage, and I recall reading one story where a boat was hit repeatedly and the discharge path went through one of the quarter berths - twice. Even then, no one was killed. The danger seems to be primarily to electrical and electronic gear, and to hull structure if there is insufficient capacity in the grounding path to prevent explosive arcing.
To prevent damage to my gear in a lightning strike, I would try to avoid getting hit by lightning. That means getting the boat to be at the same potential as the surroundings, thereby making it "invisible" to lightning. Typically, this involves grounding the stays to a grounding plate using heavy gauge wire with as few bends in it as possible, using a charge dissipator on the masthead (fuzzy metal fingers which break up the ion concentrations that initiate a strike) and making sure there are no floating grounds anywhere on the boat when operating in an electrical storm. Only once I had done those things would I worry about building myself a Faraday cage. People have reported that gear stored in their ovens (a simple Faraday cage) was destroyed during a strike, so I'm not sure how much confidence I'd place in a copper foil lined box. Don't forget, the voltage and current involved in a lightning strike are tremendous.