Join Date: Jun 2006
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A new Hunter 44 (or 42, anyway, it was big and fresh from the factory) was at a mooring at our club when we were having lunch and looking out the second floor windows. Storm rolls in...KABOOM...and I see an eight-foot browish plume of smoke from the mast of the Hunter, which is apparently an artifact of Nature's spot welding.
We went out later and saw that an irregular line of blackened holes, about the size of quarters, had been punched out of the forward starboard hull a couple of inches above the waterline. None AT the waterline, but the holes were patched with tape and back went the boat to the shop, having never been sailed.
Apparently, it started fine and all electrical parts worked and the motor turned over immediately. The charge went down the mast and somehow into the hull (instead of into the keel, which is what I thought that big plate was for), where it meandered out the bow.
I think lightning is essentially chaotic when it hits fibreglass boats, and sometimes you get off lightly and other times every wire on the boat melts or you get a fist-sized hole out the bottom. A couple of guys at the club have been struck (the boat, not them) while sailing and have been knocked flat and bruised but not actually electrocuted. They both said that it's quite an overwhelming experience and that no dramatic depiction does it justice.