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Old 08-08-2019, 10:08 AM   #1
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Family was freaking out on the boat in a thunderstorm

Took boat out on the river within a mile of our slip, a storm started brewing up, no waves, or wind, mostly lightening and dark skies. This did not worry me, but wife daughter and then 5 and 6 yr old grandkids, perhaps reacting to them, insisted the boat was going to be hit by lightening and had to get back to the dock.

So we did and sat at the dock in pouring rain and thunder for about 30 minutes.

It did not help to see multiple boats racing back in passing us.

I felt like I was surrounded by drama queens.
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Old 08-08-2019, 10:15 AM   #2
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Took boat out on the river within a mile of our slip, a storm started brewing up, no waves, or wind, mostly lightening and dark skies. This did not worry me, but wife daughter and then 5 and 6 yr old grandkids, perhaps reacting to them, insisted the boat was going to be hit by lightening and had to get back to the dock.

So we did and sat at the dock in pouring rain and thunder for about 30 minutes.

It did not help to see multiple boats racing back in passing us.

I felt like I was surrounded by drama queens.
Think of it this way - if you hadn't gone back in you may have been putting your boat on the market this morning.
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Old 08-08-2019, 10:29 AM   #3
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Yeah, what menzies said. Better to be safe than sorry and sometimes that feeling of safety isn't yours but the feeling of others. You can't be on the water too very long with other people before something like this comes up. Don't hold it against them; they need to feel safe, too. Another boating day will come around and it will be beautiful weather.

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Old 08-08-2019, 10:30 AM   #4
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Think of it this way - if you hadn't gone back in you may have been putting your boat on the market this morning.
I think they felt better tied to a dock with tall masts. They think they would get hit and not us.

So has this happened to others, the extreme angst?
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Old 08-08-2019, 10:41 AM   #5
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Think of it this way - if you hadn't gone back in you may have been putting your boat on the market this morning.
Because being tied to a dock provides a magical cone of protection?

We have had a boat hit by lightning and we had a shorter mast than others around us.
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Old 08-08-2019, 10:47 AM   #6
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Was on a group paddle one Saturday

A storm rolled in and the group wanted to take shelter in the nearby harbor. I said "why", "what do you hope to accomplish"? No good answer was given, just a fear driven rush to "shelter" from the storm. My buddy and I paddled on in what was an incredible drenching rain. As we were laughing at how much water was splashing up from the droplets we jumped from the bolt of lightning that smacked a mast in the harbor. Like rats chased from a flooding tunnel they all came scurrying out of the harbor. Kayaks are low and we enjoy rough water, so why go into an electrified harbor and hide under a dock next to a lightning rod?
This being said, if it keeps the family happy........ probably not safer. I prefer safer to happier, it makes me happier. A happy wife is a happy.............
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Old 08-08-2019, 10:49 AM   #7
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As captains of our boats we have the responsibility to conduct the business of the boat in a safe and legal manner. Safe and legal for the members of TF should be fairly easily understood. Itís that bit about the business of the boat that can be a bit harder to understand. On a pleasure boat the business is making sure all aboard enjoy the cruise and have a positive experience. Returning to shore to keep your passengers at ease was the correct decision. You and your boat can very likely handle more than your family can. Had you been out with like minded buddies? Well that would have been a different cruise and the business of the boat could have been adjusted accordingly.

Yes it's happened to me. When I was a kid Mom was terrified of anything rougher than a mild chop, so Mom didn't go or came back in. My ex wife was a bit tougher but she had her limits. Sometimes I had to come back in when I knew it was OK to keep going.
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Old 08-08-2019, 10:58 AM   #8
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Perceived dangers are a dangerous thing. I've seen many injuries and one fatality due to the perceived dangers of being on a boat during a storm. It's not uncommon for boats to be struck by lightning. Based on data I recently read it's fairly rare given how many boats are actually in the water. I wish I could remember the website where I read that info. It was a culmination of insurance providers claims, IIRC.

The one fatality I was close by to witness was a man with his scared family huddled low in the center of the boat, a bowrider. He hopped out of the boat on to the dock but slipped off the edge. The outboard was at idle but still in forward gear. I don't know if this was an error due to his haste or intentional. When he fell back off the dock, the boat was passing by headed for the ramp. The prop struck him in the head.


The storm never made it to the lake. It stayed off in the distance and was barely in view.
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Old 08-08-2019, 11:14 AM   #9
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My wife handles big seas very well with the boat rolling and pitching and water coming over the bow; but if I have the sails up and heel more than 15 degrees, her nails start to dig into my thigh. She is sure we are going over. She is my reminder to reef early.
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Old 08-08-2019, 11:16 AM   #10
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I was sleeping (trying to) on a sportfisher in the marina one night during a powerful storm in Ocean City Md back in 2004 or 2005. One lighting strike was especially loud, sounded like it hit right next to the boat, the sound was incredible and I swear the boat felt like it shook but I figured my senses had exaggerated things and fell asleep after the storm passed. The next morning, when I stepped out into the cockpit, it was littered with bits of antenna. The boat in the next slip had been struck. Both boats had ~30+ long outriggers but ours were slightly taller, the lighting struck either the neighbor's rigger, antenna or probably both. Boats was fine structurally but it fried about $30K in electronics including the controls for each diesel, he lost about a weeks worth of charters. You can only do so much to avoid lightening but I don't want to be that close again.
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Old 08-08-2019, 11:28 AM   #11
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If boating is a long term goal of the OP, heading back was a wise decision. One less reason the wife will have for getting rid of the boat.

I know of too many new boaters, whose wife refuses to go out on the boat because they were subjected to scary conditions, embarrassment docking or the husband shouting orders or yelling at them.

I advise new boaters to take it easy at the beginning, not to go out if the wind is strong to avoid large waves and difficult docking. And certainly avoid thunderstorms.
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Old 08-08-2019, 11:29 AM   #12
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Think back to the first time you were out on a boat and got caught in a bad thunderstorm
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Old 08-08-2019, 11:40 AM   #13
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Above all remember, boating is supposed to be fun.
If it is not fun, look for a safe place to wait out the weather, if possible.
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Old 08-08-2019, 11:51 AM   #14
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Nope. I like the adventure. Cast off before the storm and head into it. Just make sure my puke pail is close by.
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Old 08-08-2019, 12:09 PM   #15
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My wife is also terrified of lightening so I try to avoid thunderstorms as much as possible. If I see one coming I usually reverse course to get away from it and let it pass if possible.
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Old 08-08-2019, 12:30 PM   #16
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My wife is also terrified of lightening so I try to avoid thunderstorms as much as possible. If I see one coming I usually reverse course to get away from it and let it pass if possible.
But you do have the lightining attractor sticking up in the middle of your boat...
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Old 08-08-2019, 12:31 PM   #17
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Because being tied to a dock provides a magical cone of protection?
No, because if the wife ain't happy, then the boat gets sold.
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Old 08-08-2019, 12:34 PM   #18
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No, because if the wife ain't happy, then the boat gets sold.
Exactly!
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Old 08-08-2019, 12:41 PM   #19
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This happened to us 2 years ago. We were cruising on a lake on Rideau waterway, followed by another trawler. In 10 minutes sky was dark, wind picked up and we were seeing the storm getting to us from behind. 10 min later the trawler disappeared within the rain pouring like hell and it was soon our turn to get it. It was scary with wind, waves and lightning striking everywhere around and both of us alone in the middle of the lake. Everything went well at the end but it was a tensed moment. I dis not choose to take refuge to a marina we went by because with the wind it would have been more dangerous to try to dock in the middle of other boats than to stay on the lake.

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Old 08-08-2019, 12:44 PM   #20
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Several year back we had a state parks patrol boat get hit by lightening at the dock.
It hit the radio antenna and that's all she wrote.
Fried ALL the electronics, radar, chart plotter, radios, computer on the outboard engine, etc.
Sure made a mess of things!
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