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Old 04-18-2015, 08:15 AM   #1
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Lightning!

Reading another thread started me thinking?

Has anyone here ever had an actual lighting "strike", not close but actually hit the boat, while underway?

I've been out in the stuff many times over the years, usually not of my own will, and had the stuff all around us. Thankfully we were never hit.

For those of you liveaboards, how do you prep for it?

Just curious.
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Old 04-18-2015, 08:43 AM   #2
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Sailed thru a couple of bad thunderstorms thru the years and have never been directly hit. A couple of close strikes (scared me to no end) but fortunately lots of rain so I wasn't sure how close.
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Old 04-18-2015, 09:00 AM   #3
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Best prep is to stay on good terms with Thor
I have a Norwegian built boat.
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Old 04-18-2015, 09:20 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Off Duty View Post
Has anyone here ever had an actual lighting "strike", not close but actually hit the boat, while underway?
No personal experience with lightning strikes, but Shear Madness (72' Nordhavn) suffered a lightning strike that destroyed a lot of electronic equipment. It makes for interesting reading:

Lightning Strike | Shear Madness
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Old 04-18-2015, 09:26 AM   #5
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not me

I know a guy that just repowered. With new electronic diesels in older boat that had old mechanical diesels had to get towed in on the first trip with new engines lighting had fried the computer makes you thing about if you want those new engines
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Old 04-18-2015, 10:21 AM   #6
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No personal experience with lightning strikes, but Shear Madness (72' Nordhavn) suffered a lightning strike that destroyed a lot of electronic equipment. It makes for interesting reading:

Lightning Strike | Shear Madness

Holy crap!!!

I will never complain about boat chores again. Neither will I covet a large boat with all electronic controls.
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Old 04-18-2015, 11:42 AM   #7
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Holy crap!!!

I will never complain about boat chores again. Neither will I covet a large boat with all electronic controls.
Man, I hear ya! Lol
after reading that link, I'll probably complain less about insurance in the future.

I'm a huge believer in simple is better when the SHTF, but this crop of new diesels...The efficiency and economy...both hard to overlook.

I can definitely see the need for non wired in back up coms and nav options.
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Old 04-18-2015, 12:17 PM   #8
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We had a near hit a couple of years ago that blew out our electronics. Here's a link to a thread I wrote at that time.

What a storm we hit!!!
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Old 04-18-2015, 12:41 PM   #9
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I talked to the owner of a KK54 that had a lightning strike 2-3 years ago and he spent months replacing systems and rectifying insurance claims. I believe all the electronics had to be replaced. Not sure about wiring. I'm don't know if the owner is on this forum.


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Old 04-18-2015, 02:56 PM   #10
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Man, I hear ya! Lol
after reading that link, I'll probably complain less about insurance in the future.

I'm a huge believer in simple is better when the SHTF, but this crop of new diesels...The efficiency and economy...both hard to overlook.

I can definitely see the need for non wired in back up coms and nav options.
The latest Tier compliant JD engine we are looking at burns more fuel than the engine it replaced. Not that big of deal but I would much prefer a non digital engine. The new engines need fuel, air and now electrical power. Loose any one of those things and the engine will not work.

At least for now, the EPA is not going to require DEF in small marine engines. If they do, that is really going to drive down reliability and increase risk.

Seems that at a minimum, any boat with a new engine, needs to carry at least a spare ECM, kept in a metal box that will work as a Faraday Cage, if travelling out of tow range.

Later,
Dan
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Old 04-18-2015, 05:03 PM   #11
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I heard it helps if you wear one of those triangle hats made of aluminum foil.
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Old 04-18-2015, 07:31 PM   #12
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i heard it helps if you wear one of those triangle hats made of aluminum foil.

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Old 04-19-2015, 07:06 AM   #13
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Chose a slip next to a tall sail boat , or between 2 sail boats.

For storage take down high pointy things like antennas , and remove all the electronics you want safe.

Just disconnecting all wiring might work, and be less PIA , but no guarentees .

Here in SW Central FL its a great Hurricane hole , but further north by Disney is the lightning capital .

Some folks hang their chain in the water in a hope to ground the boat , we never have.
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Old 04-19-2015, 01:05 PM   #14
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So, what do you do when lightning is imminent?
I've read attach chain or cable to tallest metal structure (maybe VHF antenna) and lay it into the water-like a lightning rod. But I've never read where anyone actually did this to any benefit

So, anything you can do other than "hope it misses"?
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Old 04-19-2015, 01:50 PM   #15
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When we were cruising Apophyge, we had a chimney brush on the mast and dropped a zinc "fish" attached to a stay in the water. We were never hit by lightning. On the other hand, "may your house be safe from tigers" may work as well. I also tied an overhand knot in the power cords to radios, plotters etc. on the assumption that a giant power surge would blow out the cord before hitting the electronics. Probably an old wives tale too but my house is safe from tigers!
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Old 04-19-2015, 01:58 PM   #16
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It's not only a direct strike, the EMP will fry most things with a fair amount of wiring in them.

Carry insurance, disconnect what you can, protect people and wait and see.

Lightning strikes usually follow little in the way of logic...so trying to outfox it is a losing battle from my experience.
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Old 04-19-2015, 05:04 PM   #17
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Nigel Calder has some suggestions on protection for lightning, involving installing a lightning rod at the top of the mast and grounding the mast, either directly or with 4/0 cable to a copper plate on the hull and into the water. Evidently the most direct route is preferable as lighting "doesn't like" to turn corners (at the risk of being anthropomorphic). The mast on a KK42 is directly above the galley cabinets, so I can only imagine what the admiral would think of a single 4/0 cable proceeding down through the cabinet and into the kitchen counter...then where to?


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Old 04-21-2015, 06:13 AM   #18
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.then where to?

The wire would be lead from the lightning rod over the side in a smooth line to the copper ground plate.

NOT into the boat at all.
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Old 04-21-2015, 10:14 AM   #19
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I will try to find info that was passed on to me and post later.. but in a nutshell.. the " latest" seems to be:

multiple sharp metal points at all corners and the mast providing umbrella coverage of the top structures of the boat, all tied together by heavy ground strap lead down to the waterline to multiple water contact points at the waterline.. not deep under water.

I have been at sea and watched lightening hit the water around me and at anchor and had the same experience.. while the boat being the tallest thing for miles.. no matter how much I am around it lightening still scares that crap out of me!

here is some interesting reading.

Marine Lightning Protection Inc.

HOLLYWOOD
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Old 04-21-2015, 11:25 AM   #20
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I mentioned this link to Kasten on the other thread. It has the best write up about lightning I have found and links to more information.

Lightning Attenuation Onboard

You can do what is suggested in the link and other pages he has linked but the bottom line is that the one certainty with lightning is that there is no certainty with lightning.

Our house is surrounded by forest and we are on a rise that is the highest ground for a couple of miles. Lightning kills plenty of our trees. There is NO certainty to which trees get hit at least none we can tell. It certainly is NOT all about height.

The dead trees need to be cleaned up so we burn them to heat the house. 3-4 years ago I needed to split some firewood. It was in April. However, there was a front on the way and looking at radar the front was 30-40 miles away and moving slowing. I had enough time to split some wood but not do everything I wanted not did I want to start and then have to stop and run around getting things covered up when it started raining.

Instead, I called my parents. An hour or so into the phone call, I looked out to the west to see if I could seen any clouds. No clouds at all. Perfectly blue sky that suddenly went WHITE followed by a huge BOOM! The phone call ended, the wife and kids screamed, and I needed some new Fruit of the Looms.

A lightning bolt had hit a tree about 125 feet from the house. Not a cloud in the sky.

The tree that was hit was NOT the tallest tree around but it was the tree I would have been under if I had been splitting wood. I was using that tree to provide shade and the log splitter was setup under the tree. I don't know if I would be here if I had gone out to split wood that day.

That front dropped tornadoes over eastern NC and killed a couple of people including a coworkers family member.

The tree had leafed out prior to being hit and about three months later the green leaves just DIED over night. Very odd. The lightning had blown tree bark 100 feet from the tree so we were pretty sure the tree would died but it took three months and then the leaves just died. Still need to cut down that oak and make firewood....

No problems with any electronics in the house. Knock on wood.

Years back we were on the Outer Banks and I went out Kayaking in the sound. A small hurricane had gone through a month or so previous and roofers were on the house next to the place we were renting repairing the shingles. While I was out paddling, a thunderstorm popped up and was heading right towards me and the town. I paddled like heck to get home to beat that storm and barely made it. The storm was dropping lightning bolts as it moved up the island and we could see the hits as the storm got closer and closer....

The roofers could see the bolts as well but those fools stayed up on the roof with hammers in hand pounding down nails. Unreal.

The storm arrived over the rental houses and Thor was throwing down all around the house. We did NOT feel secure in that house on stilts with thin walls that is for sure. Lightning hit a good half dozen times right around the house including several power poles. The whole time the roofers stayed on the roof. Just plain stupid but they did survive.

A couple of weeks ago we had yet another bad lightning storm while I was driving home. I got to town and out of the corner of my eye I saw part of the lightning bolt and turned my head in time to see the main bolt hit the ground. I guess I saw the leader flash a fraction of a second before the main strike which looked to be three feet in diameter before everything whited out. The strike either hit a commercial building or the trees behind it. Down the street a fire truck was at a house that I assume got hit a few minute prior.

Another storm went through last night and there was a very close hit. I guess by the end of the summer we will see if there is another dead tree...

My dad's sail boat was hit by lightning and he was lucky. Back then there was not much electrical stuff on a boat and the bolt only took out the antennae, VHF, and maybe the depth sounder. He was lucky that the bolt did not hole the boat and sink it. The boat was docked on a canal in a subdivision. The people who owned the house where the boat was docked did not have any damage. Why did his boat get hit and not another boat, a nearby house, tree or power pole? Only the Lightning knows.

Lightning scares me. And with good reason. Best I can tell is that you do the things listed on Kasten's website, carry spares in a Faraday cage, have good insurance and hope for the best.

Later,
Dan
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