I have an idea I'd really like to test, but no one seems willing to donate their boat to science. You know if you were designing a conductor to handle lightning you'd really have to work to find something better than a large diameter aluminum mast! It an almost perfect lightning conductor because high voltage electrons only flow on the skin of a conductor, not down the center. Stop at a substation and look at all the large diameter round bare conductors tying all the switches and transformers together. They are all thin wall hollow tubes.
The bad crap happens when the lightning gets to the end of the perfect conductor and finds a whole bunch of high impedance connections that can't carry all that power. So it arcs, jumps all over the place and does all kinds of damage.
But what if it had a path just as good right into the water? What if instead of a cable you got a length of thin cooper or aluminum flashing and attached it to the mast by bending it around the mast and fastening it with stainless hose clamp. Then toss the loose end over board, maybe with a weight on the end, and keep all the bends very gentle. Now the lightning has a large surface conductor capable of carrying all the energy of the strike.
I came up with idea years ago when I was an electrical contractor. One of my best customers was having huge problems with their computers due to interference from high voltage high frequency induction furnaces used to grow germanium crystals in the same building. They had us install a 4' x 8' galvanized steel sheet in the ground outside the building. Then every induction furnace was connected to the plate by a horridly expensive 2" wide braided flat copper cable bolted the frame of each furnace. I was skeptical, but like magic all the interference problems went away!
If you live aboard and only move occasionally then this setup could be cheap insurance. Anybody got a boat to test it on?
Gary H. Lucas