Lightning and safety at sea - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 59 Old 08-02-2009 Thread Starter
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Lightning and safety at sea

During a recent sailing trip in the Bahamas, we got to dodge numerous lightening storms. While I understand that my Bavaria 37 Crusier is "grounded" for lightning strikes, we naturally try to avoid lighting storm situations if possible.

Once, while anchored, and had the choice to stay and wait out a storm, or get underway to our next destination.

Question: Are you more likely to get a lightning hit while sailing or at anchor? Or does it matter?

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post #2 of 59 Old 08-02-2009
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It seems that the only variable would be if you were to have an all chain rode and if the metal gypsy on the windlass were bonded. Then, the question is if you are offering a path of less resistance that would facilitate a strike; however, if the chain increases the ability of the charge to exit your vessel without damage, that is an advantage. What puzzles me is the ability to dodge these electrical storms by moving about in a sailboat. I don't think that's effective. 'take care and joy, Aythya crew
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post #3 of 59 Old 08-02-2009
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I have heard that more boats are struck by lightning at anchor or at the dock than while sailing. That would, of course, make it seem as if you are safer sailing. However, it is also a fact that boats spend more time at anchor and the dock than they do sailing. (Therefore always be skeptical of statistics.)

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post #4 of 59 Old 08-02-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LuckyMon View Post
Question: Are you more likely to get a lightning hit while sailing or at anchor? Or does it matter?
Thanks
I have heard so many debates on this subject and the conclusion I have come with is that it's no one really knows the answer to it. With that in mind, I tend to not leave the dock when lightning is known to be in the area. If however I'm out on the water and front comes through, bringing lightning with it, I just hunker down, avoid holding onto the rig and hope for the best.

When I was bringing my boat back from Abaco Bahamas, sailing across the Bahama Bank, we got stuck in a very active lightning storm. There was one strike that the back of my hairs tell me hit ten feet off our stern. Luckily the electricity didn't travel through the shaft and into our wiring. Of course, my boat is bonded and theoretically protected from lighting strikes but I know very well that does not mean my boat is not going to get hit one day. I live and boat in South Florida so I am pretty certain that a lightning strike is inevitable.

The bottom line is that we can do everything we can to protect our boats systems and ourselves from the effect of a lightning strike but we can never predict when one will happen.

Lucky Mon - Moored or Underway? It doesn't matter.
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post #5 of 59 Old 08-03-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LuckyMon View Post
Once, while anchored, and had the choice to stay and wait out a storm, or get underway to our next destination.
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I would think that getting under way during or just before a storm would have more issues than just concerns over lightning.
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post #6 of 59 Old 08-03-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LarryandSusanMacDonald View Post
I have heard that more boats are struck by lightning at anchor or at the dock than while sailing. That would, of course, make it seem as if you are safer sailing. However, it is also a fact that boats spend more time at anchor and the dock than they do sailing. (Therefore always be skeptical of statistics.)

Also, try to avoid people who make posts and say absolutely nothing. Like this one.
Of course!! At anchor or at the dock you are an easy sitting target... And while underway you are a moving target and harder to hit..
But what really matters is; Did you turk off the big guy up in the sky? Did you?
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post #7 of 59 Old 08-03-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptainForce View Post
... What puzzles me is the ability to dodge these electrical storms by moving about in a sailboat. I don't think that's effective. 'take care and joy, Aythya crew

Maybe since you are heeling, you've lowered the height of the mast. Just saying...

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Last edited by Bene505; 08-03-2009 at 06:10 PM.
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post #8 of 59 Old 08-04-2009
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Never ending story!

About the best advice, and most useless that I've seen goes like this- "When lightning is taking place, stay away from the mast" So the remedy is to get in the dinghy??? I know I let go of my metal wheel upon a flash We were at anchor on Nantucket when a nasty thunderstorm came through at about midnight and our only consolation was the multitude of taller masts around us. I'm very happy that we don't read a lot about direct hits on sailboats!

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post #9 of 59 Old 08-04-2009
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About the best advice, and most useless that I've seen goes like this- "When lightning is taking place, stay away from the mast" So the remedy is to get in the dinghy??? I know I let go of my metal wheel upon a flash We were at anchor on Nantucket when a nasty thunderstorm came through at about midnight and our only consolation was the multitude of taller masts around us. I'm very happy that we don't read a lot about direct hits on sailboats!
When you see the flash it is already to late to let go of that wheel.
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post #10 of 59 Old 08-30-2011
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Exclamation lightning at sea

Quote:
Originally Posted by LuckyMon View Post
During a recent sailing trip in the Bahamas, we got to dodge numerous lightening storms. While I understand that my Bavaria 37 Crusier is "grounded" for lightning strikes, we naturally try to avoid lighting storm situations if possible.

Once, while anchored, and had the choice to stay and wait out a storm, or get underway to our next destination.

Question: Are you more likely to get a lightning hit while sailing or at anchor? Or does it matter?

Thanks
Hi Mon.
Tell me please. Did you recieve any answers of any value at all?
The only answer that made any useful sense to me was Joesalia and his taller masts. That's gotta help.
Cheers
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