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Old 02-09-2013
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In regards to Lightning

can you just carry a coil of wire with a copper tube on the end and connect to your mast and throw it over board when a storm approaches?
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Re: In regards to Lightning

Impossible to know.

Lightning is one of those forces that is so overwhelming you just can't figure out what it'll do. Trying to protect against it is like trying to wrap your automobile up in pillows in case it gets hit by a diesel locomotive. Of course that doesn't mean someone won't try to sell you some pillows ...
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Old 02-09-2013
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Re: In regards to Lightning

there are systems that are supposed to protect your boat from damage during a strike.

I think this old post in the Cruising Forum sums it up nicely: Lightning Strike!
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Old 02-09-2013
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Re: In regards to Lightning

Quote:
Originally Posted by mad_machine View Post
there are systems that are supposed to protect your boat from damage during a strike.

I think this old post in the Cruising Forum sums it up nicely: Lightning Strike!
That is a good summary, and all pretty much true. I hope some additional points help understand things.....

Bonding is a system of heavy wiring from a ground plate or keel to mast, rigging points, engine, and all major metal parts. Bonding is what helps to keep the lightning do minimal damage in case you get hit. Bonding does not do much to reduce likelyhood of a strike.

Lightning protection devices, like the Forespar thingie, work by leaking off electrical potential. This is intended to reduce the potential for being hit. As a mechanical comparison, if you lower the ambient air pressure in a room full of balloons enough, all the balloons get bigger and eventually one will burst. The balloon that leaks is unlikely to burst. By leaking off electical potention the risk of a strike is reduced. If you do get a strike, these protection devices do not protect. For that, see bonding in the earlier paragraph.

All efforts for lightning protection only reduce risk, they do not eliminate risk. You are fooling yourself if think you're safe in a thunderstorm if your lightning protection is anything less than being deep inside a full metal boat.

On a nasty direct hit you'll find that even handheld devices may be destroyed. Best protection for backup handheld electronics is keeping them wrapped in aluminum foil or stored in a metal box. The oven is good for that until you forget to remove things and roast your handheld vhf.

Notes above are well documented facts, notes below are opinions.....

Lots of people argue on both sides of the issue regarding lightning protection. My own experience has been that those who feel that protection systems actually attract lightning have little understanding how it works and less scientific background.

There are boat manufacturers who do not bond. The most known one is probably Catalina. They include a long explaination in their documentation which cites both sides to the argument and suggests the boat buyer make his/her own decision. I suspect this is done on the advice of their lawyers. It's a CYA so that the owner who's boat is damaged by a lightning strike cannot blame Catalina for a improper bonding system.

When military stockpiles explosives, they always have a lightning protection system at the site.

The people who invest billions of dollars on cell phone towers always have lightning protection on their towers.

My general conclusion is that the people smarter and more educated than myself believe in lightning protection, so I'm sticking with them.


G.J.
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Re: In regards to Lightning

Quote:
Originally Posted by wind_magic View Post
Impossible to know.

Lightning is one of those forces that is so overwhelming you just can't figure out what it'll do. Trying to protect against it is like trying to wrap your automobile up in pillows in case it gets hit by a diesel locomotive. Of course that doesn't mean someone won't try to sell you some pillows ...
I'd suggest you do a bit more research, I wouldn't throw my hands up quite so easily...

Lots of good info out there from sources such as Nigel Calder, John Payne, and this guy...

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Old 02-09-2013
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Re: In regards to Lightning

Quote:
Originally Posted by SailingJackson View Post
That is a good summary, and all pretty much true. I hope some additional points help understand things.....

Bonding is a system of heavy wiring from a ground plate or keel to mast, rigging points, engine, and all major metal parts. Bonding is what helps to keep the lightning do minimal damage in case you get hit. Bonding does not do much to reduce likelyhood of a strike.

Lightning protection devices, like the Forespar thingie, work by leaking off electrical potential. This is intended to reduce the potential for being hit. As a mechanical comparison, if you lower the ambient air pressure in a room full of balloons enough, all the balloons get bigger and eventually one will burst. The balloon that leaks is unlikely to burst. By leaking off electical potention the risk of a strike is reduced. If you do get a strike, these protection devices do not protect. For that, see bonding in the earlier paragraph.

All efforts for lightning protection only reduce risk, they do not eliminate risk. You are fooling yourself if think you're safe in a thunderstorm if your lightning protection is anything less than being deep inside a full metal boat.

On a nasty direct hit you'll find that even handheld devices may be destroyed. Best protection for backup handheld electronics is keeping them wrapped in aluminum foil or stored in a metal box. The oven is good for that until you forget to remove things and roast your handheld vhf.

Notes above are well documented facts, notes below are opinions.....

Lots of people argue on both sides of the issue regarding lightning protection. My own experience has been that those who feel that protection systems actually attract lightning have little understanding how it works and less scientific background.

There are boat manufacturers who do not bond. The most known one is probably Catalina. They include a long explaination in their documentation which cites both sides to the argument and suggests the boat buyer make his/her own decision. I suspect this is done on the advice of their lawyers. It's a CYA so that the owner who's boat is damaged by a lightning strike cannot blame Catalina for a improper bonding system.

When military stockpiles explosives, they always have a lightning protection system at the site.

The people who invest billions of dollars on cell phone towers always have lightning protection on their towers.

My general conclusion is that the people smarter and more educated than myself believe in lightning protection, so I'm sticking with them.


G.J.
Show me the data not the hypotheses. Its snake oil and a means of making money installing expensive sytems. Tell me exactly what you have done to prevent being struck and how it has minimized it. tell me what you have deployed like the military munitions dumps?

Notes above are well documented facts, notes below are opinions.....

They are all opinions and logical thoeries and nothing more

We had all the preventers/ dissapators/ bonding and wre still struck ( sideswiped) by lightning last year in the midst of 1000 masts.

The best rpevention for lightning, is not touching metal objects and a good insurance policy.
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Old 02-09-2013
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In regards to Lightning - overall not a good week.

Sigh.

Bear with me for a moment .... We are not very good at trading cars. We usually buy fairly good ones and then drive 'em into ground. The Wombet a Golf, me an Audi, both approx 12 years old. Trouble is they've been damn fine motors but alas this week the Golf repair bill for dead heater is more than the thing is worth and now my dear old A4 is gushing coolant. At least one, possible two new cars when I was hoping they'd both last until we disappeared over the horizon.

Then there was the failure of my repair(s) to our Zodiac after it had a run in with an oyster bed. Oyster won on a tko and despite three attempts on my part is still leaks like crazy.

So there you go not a great week. OK , not tragic just oh crap what next.

What next was climbing on board the Womboat yesterday to collect the Zodiac and send her to someone who is more capable than I. Unhooked the starboard covers to go forward, deflate, roll etc. Didn't even look at port side , nor turn on any of the electrics.

Well, thats that, pack up the zodiac, check the covers and there lying on the port deck is .... one TriColor masthead. What ? Wow that's weird, must have been some bird. Pick up tricolour, hey, what is all this black stuff. Hmmm.

Only then did we wander down below and oh dear .... no electrics on the house side. Engine started OK but no alarms, no lights, no engine instruments. House batteries, dead as dead can be. Barely enough in them to get a feeble glow from the panel diodes and no apparent charge going into them when engine running. Wind generator dead, solar also not charging. Top of the mast looks , through binoculars from another boat, like a blackened charred post nuclear strike mess.

Spoke with our mooring field neighbour who is a liveaboard and yep, last Friday he said the bang was so loud that he thought he had been hit and it turned the bay from night to day.

Now the Womboat has quite comprehensive lightning protection from masthead to keel yet still the anchor light and steaming light circuit breakers, which of course were turned off at the time, were nearly blown clear out of the board. I confess I didn't think to check the wiring where it exits the mast. I hate to think. She has no power running when we are not on board. Emergency bilge pump is left on of course but she takes no water so that would not have been a drain. Lightning ergo, seems to have taken out the house batteries.

Methinks a visit to our friendly insurer come Monday. Well at least they were friendly when they took our premium.

Andrew B
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Last edited by tdw; 02-09-2013 at 07:31 PM.
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Re: In regards to Lightning

Andrew,

So sorry to hear. We were struck last summer. Sounds similar in that the lightning was indescriminatet and knocked out what it wanted to. In ours the yanmar panel was fused but the ngine started and the batteries were fine. It avoided the radar pole and the radar bu crispfied the chartplotter and wind instrumnents leaving the depthfinder ok. It took out the white lights buty left the reds ok on the fixtures. It has a mind and path of its own and any attempt to contro or direct 65000000 volts is hokey pokey.

Make sure you get your thru hulls checked and look for pinholes in your fiberglass. Boat US ( Contineneal insurance) required and paid for an immediate haul and inspections. They were quiete good with our insurance claim which resulted in $12,000 in repairs

Sorry to hear my friend. We were in the cabin when we got struck and saw the flash ball from our panel. It sucked,

Dave
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Re: In regards to Lightning

Sorry to hear this TDW.
So, was your boat "bonded"; all interior metals connected by heavy wire etc.?

Sorry to hear about your automobiles as well. Eventually they become more expensive to repair than it is worth.
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Re: In regards to Lightning

before you think the bonding did nothing.. ever see what lightning can do to a tree? How about a house?

Trees, which are grounded through their roots.. the power of the electricity running through them usualy boils the sap causing them to explode.

Houses (and churches especially) used to burn down regularly before lightning rods were attached

Now look at your electronics.. which are very fragile and suseptible to static and voltage spikes and think how much worse it could have been. You could have had an aweful phone call that your boat had been hit and the glassfibre caughtfire and burned her to the waterline...

Giving a strike a clear path to the water (the path of least resistance) may not protect everything aboard, but it will certainly lesson the impact on your boat and wallet later
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