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post #1 of 41 Old 09-05-2013 Thread Starter
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When Lightning Strikes

Ok, another Green-horn question... I have been surfing the web trying to find info on what happens when the boat you are gets struck by lightning. There is a ton of stuff about what can happen to the boat but nothing on what happens to the boat's occupants.

Anyone have the joy of this experience who can shair without a senace?
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post #2 of 41 Old 09-05-2013
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Re: When Lightning Strikes

Everyone dies.




The reality is that you can't change the effect of lightning strike on a boat with any sort of lightning arrestor(etc), nor can you change it on land. So you have the same chance of being hit on a boat as on land.

The good news is is very rarely happens.

I have been on the pick in some areas where the lightening just doesnt stop: Colon in Panama was one storm for 3 days... damn stuff hitting the water, trees and buildings everywhere except not a boat!

The very few people who have been hit have their electronics fired. So disconnect what you can. I turn off my electricity and disconnect my handhelds and laptops.

Apart from that, no one has been killed or injured on a boat that I know of.

So just dont worry about it. Similar to all the threads about hitting containers at sea. Some things only happen once in 10 million... but you may win the lottery as well!

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post #3 of 41 Old 09-05-2013
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Re: When Lightning Strikes

anything and everything can happen..friends of mine were in cartagena and were struck by lightning -- trimaran--their carbon fiber mast on their return to zihuatenejo then ultimately sd via mazatlan, shattered when they were off nicaraugua--
some other friends sustained a hit while in la cruz de huanacaxtle, and their wifi antenna was what was hit, and the conduction caused a burn in their electrical panel and some fail in their electrical system...
i know a boat in louisiana that was hit twice-- was in same place both times--at the dock behind the house they owned--- first time the boat took about a year to repair---dont know the damages--second time it was a write off---sunk at dock, and the electrical cord was burned half way to his house...oops......
anything is possible.
another friend was hit and sustaned minimal damages-- electronix were damaged..... different boats different damage and different bolts each hit different...cannot be predicted.

the storms can be predicted, the lightning hits cannot. and yes it does hit same place twice.

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post #4 of 41 Old 09-05-2013
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Re: When Lightning Strikes

A Hunter..mebbe a 34 footer was hauled out at our marina a few weeks ago. Apparently struck while out on the Bay summeres.
Had a nifty bend in the mast; purportedly by having the heat near melt it whie going down, mebbe a 6 or 8" bow in the middle...from tension on the guys, I suppose. Also had two blown out and charred spots on the hull at the fwd waterline at the exit points. Onr, no bigger than 2.5 " and the other could be covered by a dollar bill.
Not too much ta fix those ( IF they were the only hull damage!) but the mast was toast, as was the rigging, prolly.
Sad; but it happens.
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post #5 of 41 Old 09-05-2013
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Re: When Lightning Strikes

I've been lucky enough to have the closest lightning bolt hit the water about 100 feet away from me, a long time ago.

But lots of lightning in the steamy Gulf south, so I tell my sailing students (usually in daysailing-type sport boats) that I'll put as many of them inside the very small cuddy cabin as possible, and the rest of us on deck will get sails down early and try to avoid touching anything metal, such as stays or mast/boom, or even lifelines. The point is to not be a ground conductor, meaning don't form a pathway for a charge to pass through you. Let the rigging and the wet decks dissipate any charge.

I hope I never have to find out if this is the right advice. Better to get in before the squall, but not always possible.
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post #6 of 41 Old 09-05-2013
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Re: When Lightning Strikes

Do a search. I posted here a while ago about being hit by lightning while sailing. I'm still alive. What usually happens is you change your underwear.
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post #7 of 41 Old 09-05-2013
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Re: When Lightning Strikes

Sadly I can't directly answer your question, but I'm pretty sure "dead" isn't the answer. I've not heard of a fatality on a sailboat that was struck. There was a sailboat struck at my marina a year or two ago; it and a few of its neighbors lost all electronics but I believe there was no other damage. I assume at least one of those boats was occupied at the time (many liveaboards here), but I don't know for sure.

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post #8 of 41 Old 09-05-2013
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Re: When Lightning Strikes

We were hit going to Bermuda in the early 80s. The remarkable thing was how long it took to be hit with strikes all around us for 20 minutes of more before. Burnt out all the nav lights and the engine's voltage regulator. The person who was holding the wheel did not feel anything. The effects seem remarkably capricious.

After the refit we have decided to sell Ainia. We want something smaller that would be could for the light summer winds of Lake Ontario, although we plan to spend at least a couple of winters in the Caribbean before heading north.
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post #9 of 41 Old 09-05-2013
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Re: When Lightning Strikes

It seems staying on the boat is safer than getting out. There was a tragedy last fall on Lake Superior in which a 9-year-old boy died from a lightning strike.

They were in a swing-keel boat, so they headed for shore and beached it. They got off and were wading in when it happened. Very sad.

Iron River boy dies after lightning strikes family seeking shelter with sailboat | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota
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post #10 of 41 Old 09-05-2013
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Re: When Lightning Strikes

Originally Posted by Vasco View Post
...I'm still alive. What usually happens is you change your underwear.
I assume your underwear had burn marks?
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