When you said dim flash bulb, I thought static build up from all the lightning in the area, but could that leave marks on your clothing? Probably not. Did you hair get all frizzed up? That would be a sign of static electricity. I have been in a highly charged area with lightning all around and antennas up in the air. While we did not take a direct hit, the smell of ozone was palpable and there were popping sounds and flashes all around as the static build up discharged.
How do you know you could not transmit? Was your VHF damaged? Normally the receiver gets knocked out by lightning before the transmitter (unless the transmitter is keyed when the lightning strikes).
Have you talked to other captains in the race about their experiences.
It is interesting to figure out what happened, but knowing won't help in the next situation. Getting the H out of there is about all you can do.
I work with electricity by trade and thought that it was static buildup as well then discharging when it reached a potential that could not be increased any further like a capacitor. Niether the Skipper or myself felt any hair buzzing since we we in full foul weather gear...this brings up another interesting point though, our foul weather suits are waterproof fabric with a layer of PVC, non conductive of course. At the point of the flashes there was tons of rain falling and huge amounts of spray, i wonder if the spray plus the PVC in our suits helped insulate us from the potential voltage difference?...making the water plus spray the least path of resistance to ground than through our skulls
we couldn't use the transmitter afterwards, we tried calling Coast Gaurd radio, to report position and heading after the strikes just in case we blew a hole in the hull, no response, tried the low power ditch bag VHF when we got closer which worked then used cell to communicate with CG to save battery on backup VHF. Coast gaurd could not hear our hails, but we could pick up other radio chatter.
We have not had a chance to talk with the other captains yet since by the time we got back to the start finish most other crews had already checked in and left (raced the LO300), there was one single handed boat still out there who was behind us but we didn't stick around since our Families wanted to make sure we still had hair on our heads
Agreed, turn and burn out of the area is the best option, even if it does mean we have to retire from the LO300.