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Old 07-23-2012, 02:27 PM   #1
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Lightning

I did a search of the site, and did not find any specific threads on the subject of lightning. Is anyone doing anything to protect against lightning or the effects of a lightning strike? We have had many severe thunderstorms this season. Some have been extremely violent. Just wondered if I am missing something that I should do.
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Old 07-23-2012, 04:47 PM   #2
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My understanding is that any lightning ground system needs to be separate from all other grounding systems on the boat. So if you're going to use the mast as part of that system, the anchor lights or other mast electronics can't use the mast for ground. They should be separately grounded with their own grounding wire.

It's always safer to pre proactive anda lower your profile when you're at the marina by lowering your antenas and such if you can.
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Old 07-23-2012, 07:24 PM   #3
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There are drastic and expensive ways to cage your boat...just unhooking your electronics is far cheaper even if a few get whacked from time to time unless you have $20k plus systems aboard.

Having observed lightning for a lifetime of boating, 20+ years as a USCG helo pilot (and flying in way too many thunderstorms), and another 10 years on the water as an assistance towing captain....I see lightning as a roll of the dice...way too many variables and the "big sky" theory to worry about it. Protect yourself/loved ones and have good insurance on your boat/electronics. If on a cruise and thunderstorms are predicted....get in or near a marina and the chances of you getting hit are greatly reduced.
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Old 07-24-2012, 01:02 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonstruck View Post
I did a search of the site, and did not find any specific threads on the subject of lightning. Is anyone doing anything to protect against lightning or the effects of a lightning strike? We have had many severe thunderstorms this season. Some have been extremely violent. Just wondered if I am missing something that I should do.
I posted a thread (02/01/11) that started out as a question about whether flybridge radar towers painted a good radar target themselves, and the discussion moprhed into some ineresting accounts of lightning/trawlers.


Search RADAR/LIGHTNING

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Old 07-24-2012, 01:47 AM   #5
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Go fly a kite Don, but not before handing Lou the video camera!

(another "Hold my beer and watch this!" moment)
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Old 07-24-2012, 06:34 AM   #6
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This link seems to have some good info. I bought a set of electrodes from him and haven't been hit by lightning since. I may even get around to installing them someday. ;-)

Marine Lightning Protection Inc.
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Old 07-24-2012, 07:51 AM   #7
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If you have a trawler, the safest place to be is inside a ring of sailboats!

There are dozens of articles (and opinions) on the subject on the Internet. Do a web search, read a few, then decide what you think is reasonable.
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Old 07-24-2012, 08:25 AM   #8
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This link seems to have some good info. I bought a set of electrodes from him and haven't been hit by lightning since. I may even get around to installing them someday. ;-)

Marine Lightning Protection Inc.

Thank you for the early morning laughs!!
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Old 07-24-2012, 08:56 AM   #9
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My boat got popped a few years ago. I think the batteries exploded. When I rebuild the batterie station I am going to buy some nice container that limit the amount of gas and or vent that area with a little blower, or in the very least mount a fire extinguisher pointing at them.
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Old 07-24-2012, 09:24 AM   #10
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My boat got popped a few years ago. I think the batteries exploded. When I rebuild the batterie station I am going to buy some nice container that limit the amount of gas and or vent that area with a little blower, or in the very least mount a fire extinguisher pointing at them.
You think the batteries exploded?

That should be pretty easy to determine.
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Old 07-24-2012, 10:14 AM   #11
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It is my opinion that with respect to lightning that prevention is better than the cure .

My friend lost his electronics when lightning hit his VHF antenna even when he was on the move.

Towards that goal, I always lower my VHF antenna when not needed the horizontal to reduce the risk.
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Old 07-24-2012, 11:33 AM   #12
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Surounding your boat with sail boats maybe not so good an idea.

While my boat was moored in Portage Bay" in Seattle" when a 40' Valiant sailboat was struck. The sail boat was seperated from my boat by a 40 Advanti express cruiser. The lightning exited the sail boat at the water line burning a 1-1/2" hole in it and blew all of the electronics and electrical systems out of the Advanti, jumping maybe 10'. The only damage to my boat was the shore power cord a blown fuse at my shore power receptacle. The Valiant was completely rebuilt. The area around Portage bay is hilly and the Valiant was docked about 200' from the shore and tall trees and power lines Why the Valiant? I guess when it's your turn it's your turn. Why would the lightning goes sideways rather than directly into the water?
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Old 07-24-2012, 12:28 PM   #13
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It is my opinion that with respect to lightning that prevention is better than the cure .

My friend lost his electronics when lightning hit his VHF antenna even when he was on the move.

Towards that goal, I always lower my VHF antenna when not needed the horizontal to reduce the risk.
Lowering your antenna is probably not really doing a lot to prevent a strike...a strike if it is imminent in your area is probably going to happen. Your lowering the antenna may prevent a "spike" from jumping over...but if the strike is close by and your radio isnt disconnected and possibly in a metal box...the EM may destroy it anyway.

Thinking lightning always hits the tallest object has been disproven many a time...it's all about the potential and where it's the greatest and the best path. While never being next to the tallest object is a great idea...being near it doesn't mean you are safe either...
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Old 07-24-2012, 04:27 PM   #14
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Hello psneeld.

What you say is absolutely true about lightning strikes.

Round and round she goes where she stops no body knows.

I have a 40 ft Amateur radio tower on my property, we took a hit it was not at the top of the metal cage as one would expect the spike hit and shattered a large ceramic insulator part way down one of the lower guy wires.

You no doubt have notices lightning rods at the highest point of some buildings makes you wonder why they were installed there.
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Old 07-24-2012, 05:24 PM   #15
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Hello psneeld.

What you say is absolutely true about lightning strikes.

Round and round she goes where she stops no body knows.

I have a 40 ft Amateur radio tower on my property, we took a hit it was not at the top of the metal cage as one would expect the spike hit and shattered a large ceramic insulator part way down one of the lower guy wires.

You no doubt have notices lightning rods at the highest point of some buildings makes you wonder why they were installed there.
Big difference in protection systems that either dissapate the potential, carry the strike or just cage and protect the interior....totally random pieces and parts like boat antennas may or may not do anything at all.

So I have no wonder why rods are up there as I have studied lightning systems and their effectiveness since I lived on my first sailboat in Ft Lauderdale back in the early 80's. Flying helicopters around in it for 20+ years and then being in charge of the safety program for USCG Aviation also required a lot of research and though on the subject. A good friend of mine had a severly damaged Falcon Jet from a stike over Gulfport, Miss. I got to read the entire safety report on it..fascinating what all the experts "think" happened.
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Old 07-24-2012, 05:50 PM   #16
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Our idea of dealing with lightning is not to be around it - which is not always possible. About 10 years ago, offshore, we had a front coming at us with lots of thunder and lightning. We use a PC for navigation so to protect the laptop, we put it in the oven figuring that it would be well shielded. A couple hours later, I lit the broiler for dinner. About 10 minutes later I checked to make sure that it had lit - and realized that the laptop was still in the oven. The top of the laptop was distorted and partially melted. After a few words and beers, we turned it on and it worked. The idea of shielding the electronics is sound but we haven't used the oven as a shield since.
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Old 07-24-2012, 06:15 PM   #17
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Our idea of dealing with lightning is not to be around it - which is not always possible. About 10 years ago, offshore, we had a front coming at us with lots of thunder and lightning. We use a PC for navigation so to protect the laptop, we put it in the oven figuring that it would be well shielded. A couple hours later, I lit the broiler for dinner. About 10 minutes later I checked to make sure that it had lit - and realized that the laptop was still in the oven. The top of the laptop was distorted and partially melted. After a few words and beers, we turned it on and it worked. The idea of shielding the electronics is sound but we haven't used the oven as a shield since.

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Old 07-24-2012, 06:19 PM   #18
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There are drastic and expensive ways to cage your boat...just unhooking your electronics is far cheaper even if a few get whacked from time to time unless you have $20k plus systems aboard.

Having observed lightning for a lifetime of boating, 20+ years as a USCG helo pilot (and flying in way too many thunderstorms), and another 10 years on the water as an assistance towing captain....I see lightning as a roll of the dice...way too many variables and the "big sky" theory to worry about it. Protect yourself/loved ones and have good insurance on your boat/electronics. If on a cruise and thunderstorms are predicted....get in or near a marina and the chances of you getting hit are greatly reduced.
PS, Helo pilot? That's awesome. Where we're you stationed? Rescue missions I assume?
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Old 07-24-2012, 07:20 PM   #19
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PS, Helo pilot? That's awesome. Where we're you stationed? Rescue missions I assume?
Navy Flight school, Miami, Polar Operations (3 trips Acrtic/ 1 trip Antarctic Icebreakers), Cape May, Nj 2X, Kodiak AK, Wash, DC.

USCG does all its missions when airborne...
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Old 07-24-2012, 08:36 PM   #20
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You think the batteries exploded?

That should be pretty easy to determine.
Well after removing 5 dumpsters that hold about 20 yards of burnt trash I found the batteries and they were burnt, they were intact on the bottom but the tops were missing. I don't really know enough about lightning strikes to know what blows up. Just a laymans opinion.
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