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Old 08-09-2011
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Originally Posted by GaryHLucas View Post
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
If your serious about testing, I am sure there are lots of derelicts states like Florida will gladly have you use. There may also be the odd boat in a marina that hasn't paid their fees for some time.

If you do this, can you let all know what you came up with?

What a lot of people are forgetting is that lightening does not just come from the clouds to the ground, but from the ground up (positive lightening), and your method may well encourage flow of electrons through the boat, rather then dissipate them.

Just a thought.

Last edited by cupper3; 08-09-2011 at 11:34 PM.
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Old 08-10-2011
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We moved in 3 years ago and within a month one of the neighbors across the canal lost a tall palm to lightning .... it was about 400 ft away.

Last year another palm got hit, again across the canal about 200 ft away.

Monday the wife and I were having coffee when we heard a LOUD bang! My next door neighbor's old oak, about 75 ft from my boat:

Last night the wind put it in the pool:

I kinda feel like the lightning is zeroing in on my boat!

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Old 08-10-2011
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400; 200; 75...

That's known in the military as "creeping fire". They haven't got you bracketed just yet, but based on the incremental corrections I'd seriously consider moving the boat away from the impending registration point.
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Old 08-10-2011
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One point that can be made amongst all the confusing and contradictory data regarding lightening strikes, is the important difference between protecting "people" and protecting structure.

Caging works to protect people. No doubt about it. Its why airplanes and cars rarely have injurious strikes. Its why they lay chicken wire into composite aircraft structures that have otherwise lost their caging capability. How practical it is on boats? I don't know.

Back to the confusion for a sec.....I'm not convinced that grounding a boat does anything except offer the electrons an easy path to the ground (water), but offers no guarantee that it will take it, or if it does, that it still won't harm anything. I believe that's been stated several times here, even by those who have disagreed on other aspects.

My question (based on experience in antenna construction for Ham radios also) is will grounding increase the attractiveness of masts to strikes? After all, the argument for their effectiveness is that lightening will "prefer" the simple path to ground. I'm not saying I buy that, but it does seem that given boats are often the tallest (if not only) elevated structure (and aluminum at that) on the water, lightening strikes upon ungrounded boats really seems pretty rare. For some reason, fiberglass floating on water, even with a mast, just seems to not be very attractive. JMO. Good thread.
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Old 08-10-2011
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Not a techie, but owner of a boat that got hit by lighting...get it surveyed and get ahold of your insurance company...then hold on for a wild ride...
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Old 09-02-2011
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I have sailed with a very capable ex RN Captain who ALWAYS threw a heavy chain overboard with the onboard end bolted to the mast. I dont know if it would work or not but it certainly made me feel better
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Old 09-03-2011
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Chain would scare the hell out of me. All those infinitely small points of contact between two right angle cylinders is just MADE for high resistance and lots of arcing! I hope he never actually got it tested.

This reminds me of when I was a kid and my dad and I used to read Popular Mechanix and in one issue they showed how to make a battery carrying handle from a short piece of chain and two flat pieces of metal that fit over the battery posts. DUH!!

Gary H. Lucas
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