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  #1  
Old 08-09-2010
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Everyones scared to death of lightning

So I have been reading about the greatest fear at the dock and mooring. Lightning !!
Now maybe I am naive and I am a newbie at this, but there has to be a way to limit the chance of a lightning strike.
Is the answer to ground your boat so well it can take a direct hit or go the other way and try to limit the ground so well it hits to the boat in the slip next to you? And what about when sailing? Are you more or less at risk on the ocean?

Any advice and knowledge is helpful here.

Thanks in advance

This is a no smack down zone
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Old 08-09-2010
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I like to dock next to boats with taller masts than mine. :-)
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Very very smart but still only drops the risk a small amount. Maybe drop the mast when in the slip would be the Ideal way to go.
Just have to call ahead so it is raised before you get to the dock.
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Old 08-09-2010
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The two primary things that influence whether you'll get hit are the mast height and the surface area of the boat. Catamarans were reported as getting hit more often than monohulls, primarily due to their increased surface area.

There are two thoughts about grounding a boat for lightning protection purposes: 1) ground the boat and reduce the possible damage in the case of a lightning strike, but increase your chances slightly due to being grounde; 2) don't ground the boat and suffer greater damage but reduce your risk slightly since your boat isn't grounded.

I'd point out that most boats aren't grounded for lightning protection. I'd also point out that even if the boat is grounded, the chances that all the electronics and such will get fried is pretty high. If the boat next to yours gets hit, there is a really good chance that your electronics will get fried as a side effect.

Finally, where does a lightning bolt go... whereever it wants to.... Nothing you can do will prevent a lightning strike if it is going to hit your boat... and boats get hit pretty much at random...avoiding high lightning areas like Florida, is a good idea.
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Last edited by sailingdog; 08-09-2010 at 02:48 PM.
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Old 08-09-2010
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hell yeah,lightning scares me,so does drowning,heart attacks even angry old women but theres no magic bullet concerning lighting strikes,if its just a little stray energy maybe somesort of ground wire might carry it but a big direct strike no way,i wouldn't worry too much about something you have no control over
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Old 08-09-2010
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A boat two slips down the dock from me was hit and everthing was fried on his boat. All my electronics reset to the factory settings but continued to work. My current boat is bonded and I have a static disapator on the top of the mast. Unfortunately mine is the tallest mast right now at 85 feet, but I'm down the hill from taller trees and buildings. We had a big scare this Spring when as we passed Virginia Beach south of the Bay bridge / tunnel returning to the Bay, we got in a bad thunderstorm with 60 kt wind and lightening every where around us for 30 minutes. We wern't hit but the strikes were close. I don't know if the dissapator does anything more than a rabbit's foot but it makes feel better.

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Lightening strikes

The best protection is a good insurance policy. A friend of mine (really, it's not me) kept his 22 ft. boat stored on his trailer (rubber wheels, but metal on wood trailer tongue support) in the middle of a boat yard with a ton of other boats both larger and smaller with masts both taller and shorter than his. And it was his boat that got struck by lightening and burned - a total loss.
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Old 08-09-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by speciald View Post
I don't know if the dissapator does anything more than a rabbit tail but it makes feel better.
It doesn't do squat unless you have a rabbit's foot.

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Old 08-09-2010
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Sitting in my favorite bar some years ago I watched a horrendous summer storm in Ft. Lauderdale. I saw a direct hit on a powerboat in Bahia Mar marina next to the bar....dead on.

Guess what? In the slips on each side of this power boat were BIG sailboats with TALL masts!!!

That made me a believer: lightning is gonna do what it's gonna do. Tall masts or shorter ones don't count for anything :-(

Bill
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog View Post
The two primary things that influence whether you'll get hit are the mast height and the surface area of the boat. Catamarans were reported as getting hit more often than monohulls, primarily due to their increased surface area.

There are two thoughts about grounding a boat for lightning protection purposes: 1) ground the boat and reduce the possible damage in the case of a lightning strike, but increase your chances slightly due to being grounde; 2) don't ground the boat and suffer greater damage but reduce your risk slightly since your boat isn't grounded.

I'd point out that most boats aren't grounded for lightning protection. I'd also point out that even if the boat is grounded, the chances that all the electronics and such will get fried is pretty high. If the boat next to yours gets hit, there is a really good chance that your electronics will get fried as a side effect.

Finally, where does a lightning bolt go... whereever it wants to.... Nothing you can do will prevent a lightning strike if it is going to hit your boat... and boats get hit pretty much at random...avoiding high lightning areas like Florida, is a good idea.
Thanks SD and others that's what I needed to know. Can't help asking because I live smack dab in the middle of the west coast of Florida. And yes we are the lightning capital of the world.

So a good insurance policy is a must.
I want to google the science on what happens when the lightning hits the water. It has to go or do something with itself. It is interesting science to know anyway even if you are at the mercy of the weather and can't do a thing about it.

Last edited by w1651; 08-09-2010 at 03:30 PM.
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