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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest > General Discussion (sailing related)
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  #1  
Old 07-25-2012
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What did you see?

We were out Racing on Lake Ontario and got sandwiched between 3 fast moving storm cells, lightning everywhere, cloud to cloud, cloud to water strikes. While we were making a hard motor-sail to a safe port in the dark we expirienced some odd occurances:
- really bright blue white flashes in the cockpit of our C&C that blocked out the surrounding area; like a dim flashbulb from a camera
- at these times of the flashes we could not see anything around us, even in the cockpit
- when it flashed there was almost no noise
Looking at our gear (jib/main/hull/foul weather suits) we saw a strange pattern which looks like a small pinsized low intensity "burn mark" with a centered cross everywhere.
- VHF no longer transmitted only recieved intermittently (good thing we have a portable backup VHF in the ditch bag)
Has anyone else expirienced this? We are trying to figure out what happened to us out there.
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Old 07-25-2012
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Re: What did you see?

um... is Mississauga anywhere near Area 51?

Thats sounds really cool, if you where not on the boat.
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Old 07-25-2012
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Re: What did you see?

Ball lightning? Were the "burn marks" with crosses possibly retina dazzle, like you get from a flashbulb?
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Old 07-25-2012
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Re: What did you see?

Saint Elmo's Fire? If so: very cool!

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Old 07-25-2012
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Re: What did you see?

Barquito - I wish i was in A51 but unfortunately got cornered in the storm approximately 21nm north of Olocott, NY on lake Ontario.

If you see from the radar of the storm, it was moving from N-S, we were going E-W, then punched a Motor-sail through the only gap going north to Bowmanville Ontario Canada, Olocott was our second option safe port but decided to go to Bomanville based on storm direction and closest port.

johnnyquest37 - I have not seen ball lighning before, but it was like we were IN the flash.

flyingwelshman - I thought st. elmo's fire was greenish, this was definitely blueish-white

then next time I'm on the C&C 29 MKII i'll take some pics of the marks, as well as on my Foul Weather suit, my Skipper's suit has more marks, all of the marks look the same, really weird.
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Old 07-25-2012
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Re: What did you see?

That was a seriously freakish system that blew over on Sunday. We had nothing but sunny skies and warm breezes in Port Dover, while less than 30 miles to the ENE it was raining hell from above.
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Old 07-25-2012
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Re: What did you see?

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.
Scary
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Old 07-25-2012
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Re: What did you see?

I've seen ball lightning. Not what you describe. You can see a large bouncing ball and hear the electricity crackle. Very intimidating. Scared the crap out of me.
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Old 07-25-2012
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Re: What did you see?

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Map View Post
flyingwelshman - I thought st. elmo's fire was greenish, this was definitely blueish-white
I haven't seen it, but it's described as being bright blue to violet. (Wikipedia)
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Re: What did you see?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ccriders View Post
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.
Scary
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.
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