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post #31 of 39 Old 07-06-2007
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Preparation for thunderstorms w/ lightning shares a lot with preparation for hurricanes.

Don't buy electronics you can't easily afford to replace. Keep the boat insured. Make sure you have a steel hull and not a fiberglass one. Have storm sails. Stay away from the hard stuff on the edge of the water. Do everything you can to avoid disaster and at the same time be prepared to lose everything and start over.
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post #32 of 39 Old 07-06-2007
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Originally Posted by wind_magic
Make sure you have a steel hull and not a fiberglass one.
Thanks, Wind Magic. I'm going to go out and get my fiberglass hull replaced right now!
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post #33 of 39 Old 07-06-2007
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Originally Posted by sailhog
Thanks, Wind Magic. I'm going to go out and get my fiberglass hull replaced right now!
Yeah I couldn't resist, but at least I didn't say anything about gas vs. diesel, best type of anchor, celestial navigation, west marine, fin vs. full keel, or religion/Iraq.

Btw, I have a fiberglass hull too!
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post #34 of 39 Old 07-06-2007
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post #35 of 39 Old 07-07-2007
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Especially at this time of year, watch for the vertical development of clouds. The greater the vertical development, the more violent the weather will be. Just because it is a beautiful sunny day, does not mean that that cumulus cloud, rapidly growing into a cimulonimbus, is benign. If you're watching them grow, you really have no excuse for being surprised when a violent squall comes through. Think "Animal House"- reefing, what a great idea!

Lightning? Twenty years at sea-never been hit. Follow whatever grounding philosophy makes you feel better. Put your electronics in the microwave-and then throw the microwave overboard-it'll be safer yet. Get a golf ball and practise your putting on the foredeck. If, on the odd chance you sustain a hit, you're probably not going to have much to worry about. It's a good idea to laugh when you see the lightning bolts, especially the close ones. The fact you're seeing them means you're still alive. It's the one you didn't see that killed you. If agnosticism is your belief of choice, this might be the time to sell short.(g)

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post #36 of 39 Old 07-07-2007
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Do not forget the hard-hat and grinder's mask for the hail/ice and driving rain for the helmsman, while the crew takes shelter in the cabin.
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post #37 of 39 Old 05-28-2013
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Re: Sailing in a thunderstorm

I got hit by a pretty viscious thunderstorm yesterday, one of those ones when i got to the mooring prople talking about hoe their dinks were airborn and asking if I saw it. Yeah i saw it, I was 5 miles off thr coast in the gulf of mexico when it hit me. I saw it coming, so i took in the sails and closed all the hatches and got ready. When it hit it hit really hard, pouring rain, 40-60+ knot wind, the seas went from from casual 1-2 ft to 4-6ft in the matter of minutes. It took everything i had to stay angled into the waves, waves were crashing over the bow the entire time, I was getting nervous, all I cared about for 15 minutes was angling into the waves. Then as quick as it started the wind died to nothing, the rain stopped and the seas began to calm down. That was my first squal.
If it would have been to much worse I'm not sure i couldve maintained control of the boat. So what then? Heave to, lie ahull and jump in the cabin??
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post #38 of 39 Old 05-28-2013
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Re: Sailing in a thunderstorm

The chances of being struck does not change with grounded vs ungrounded because at multi-million volt potentials every surface is a conductor.
A metal plate hung overboard connected to a shroud (#4 wire)is a good way to dissipate a strike and minimize damage. Note that getting rid of the current once you are hit is entirely different from attempting to reduce the probability of being hit. Once you are hit, you have to get rid of the current as easily as possible hence the metal plate (sheet) and big conductor.
Putting your electronics in the microwave or just wrapping them in foil should protect them and it does not matter if they touch the sides.
I have some doubts of the efficacy of rigging as a "Faraday cage" but it is certainly better than nothing and your mast is certainly more likely to be hit than a person in the cockpit.
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post #39 of 39 Old 05-28-2013
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Re: Sailing in a thunderstorm


I think you did the right thing and you could have kept doing that for another hour or so without problem.

The thing with sailing in the correct season is squalls like that pass very quickly. That 15 minutes you had puts you through the leading edge of the storm, in your case to where it quickly died away, in other cases it will drop down to, say, 25 knots for a while... Something manageable.

But you did the right thing: head up into the waves and hang on. Just keeping the boat under the best control you can.
I check my lines and then get the engine on to assist, I de power the main, and furl the genoa right up... And then just hang on.

If it does last a long time, more than am hour, then by that time you will have worked out if its a squall or some huge weather front and be able to take appropriate measures...l in a big squall I tend to sail at 90 degrees to the wind hoping to get out of the edge of it. If its a huge weather front then work out your options that include heaving to...

After a while they become less scary.... Even fun.


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