My pet fear - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 41 Old 08-28-2012 Thread Starter
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My pet fear

In another thread, someone was discussing the fear of being knocked down, a fear I have now managed to control. However, my pet fear is thunderstorms. I think my fear is fairly rational considering how nasty they can be here in FL. Even if you know the direction the storm is moving, the direction of the wind is often unpredictable from one minute to the next. Wind speed also changes radically in a very short period of time.
Add to all that, lightning. I am totally convinced that lightning will eventually kill me as I have been nearly hit several times in spite of doing all I can to avoid it. A lone sailboat in a thunderstorm has a fairly good chance of being hit.
Fortunately, you can often avoid them when you can see them coming. Next, they are mostly short lived, an hour would be a very long one.
How do I avoid them? Mostly I don't sail in the summer it is too hot anyway. When I hear thunder, I come in. I won't even go out in my 20' powerboat when I think they are likely except I might go out in the morning when they are less likely. If I cannot avoid one, all the sails come down engine goes on , the anchor is gotten ready, everybody puts on lifejackets no matter what, instruct everyone not to touch rigging, rails, etc.
I'd rather be anchored in a thunderstorm because then I can deploy my lightning ground, a 2' X 2' sheet of copper bolted to a 20' length of 00 guage tinned stranded wire that is then bolted to the mast up high near the boom to avoid much bending of it.
Do I sound paranoid?
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post #2 of 41 Old 08-28-2012
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My pet fear

I like your grounding plan. Now if you could get struck we'd know whether it works or not. of course one data point is not really proof of anything, you may just get lucky, or not. So you need to overcome your fear and sail a lot more often. In the name of science!
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post #3 of 41 Old 08-28-2012
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Re: My pet fear

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However, my pet fear is thunderstorms.... Do I sound paranoid?
Totally. For example, right now I'm sitting out on the Chesapeake with thunderstorms in all directions, lightning stabbing down within a mile of my boat and nothing has happ

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post #4 of 41 Old 08-28-2012
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Re: My pet fear

After those recent deaths I did a little research and it seems there is no easy solution when you see a storm coming. However the consensus seemed to be that in the cockpit and on deck were the worst places to be if struck. The best places to be were either on land, or down below sitting in the salon, well away from the mast.

So your plan to head in if there's time to do it seems like a good one.

If there wasn't time to head in, and if I had the sea room I'd heave to with well shortened sail and get below. But that's assuming the boat has an effective lightning ground arrangement installed.

Bristol 31.1, San Francisco Bay
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post #5 of 41 Old 08-28-2012
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Re: My pet fear

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Totally. For example, right now I'm sitting out on the Chesapeake with thunderstorms in all directions, lightning stabbing down within a mile of my boat and nothing has happ
Dude, you are ridiculous.

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post #6 of 41 Old 08-28-2012
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Re: My pet fear

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Originally Posted by Frogwatch View Post
I'd rather be anchored in a thunderstorm because then I can deploy my lightning ground, a 2' X 2' sheet of copper bolted to a 20' length of 00 guage tinned stranded wire that is then bolted to the mast up high near the boom to avoid much bending of it.
Do I sound paranoid?
Where does the 2x2 sheet of copper go? In the water?

It seems to me you are just creating a path ground which is exactly what lighting is looking for.

My boat is not bonded, and therefore presents a much higher resistance path to ground which minimizes the chance of being struck. Unfortunately, it also likely increases the likelihood of damage to the boat if I am struck.

And yes even though lightning is my biggest boating fear, I think you are being a bit paranoid. On a mid sized cruiser, I don't think you are likely to have injuries even if struck. Damage to the boat, possibly severe, yes, but I believe the mast and rigging will tend to carry the current around and away from the occupants so long as they are not near any rigging.

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post #7 of 41 Old 08-28-2012
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Re: My pet fear

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Originally Posted by PalmettoSailor View Post
Where does the 2x2 sheet of copper go? In the water?

It seems to me you are just creating a path ground which is exactly what lighting is looking for.

My boat is not bonded, and therefore presents a much higher resistance path to ground which minimizes the chance of being struck. Unfortunately, it also likely increases the likelihood of damage to the boat if I am struck.

And yes even though lightning is my biggest boating fear, I think you are being a bit paranoid. On a mid sized cruiser, I don't think you are likely to have injuries even if struck. Damage to the boat, possibly severe, yes, but I believe the mast and rigging will tend to carry the current around and away from the occupants so long as they are not near any rigging.
Rigging is not the only hazard. The wheel is another, the rudder being in the water. The worst case scenario is if you are holding the wheel in one hand, and the rigging in the other, and the lightning grounds through you. That's why you should stay out of the cockpit.

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Last edited by MarkSF; 08-28-2012 at 05:49 PM.
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post #8 of 41 Old 08-28-2012
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Re: My pet fear

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Rigging is not the only hazard. The wheel is another, the rudder being in the water. The worst case scenario is if you are holding the wheel in one hand, and the rigging in the other, and the lightening grounds through you. That's why you should stay out of the cockpit.
You got that right!!

I was holding the wheel when a strike occured close by. Boy does that make you jump. Smarts a bit too!

I say nearby because the flash and bang were simultaneous. The bright flash and concussion was debilitating (so was the shock (and the shock)). But everything electric/electronic was fine.

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post #9 of 41 Old 08-28-2012
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Re: My pet fear

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Rigging is not the only hazard. The wheel is another, the rudder being in the water. The worst case scenario is if you are holding the wheel in one hand, and the rigging in the other, and the lightening grounds through you. That's why you should stay out of the cockpit.
Another reason for liking my wooden tiller!
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post #10 of 41 Old 08-28-2012
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Re: My pet fear

You are not paranoid. Lightning is something to be afraid of, but unfortunately, when you are caught on the boat, there's not much you can do.
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