Lightning!

The friendliest place on the web for anyone who enjoys boating.
If you have answers, please help by responding to the unanswered posts.

Off Duty

Guru
Joined
Oct 22, 2013
Messages
844
Location
USA
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.
 
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.
 
Best prep is to stay on good terms with Thor
I have a Norwegian built boat.
 
Last edited:
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
 
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
 
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.
 
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.


Jim
Sent from my iPad using Trawler Forum
 
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
 
I heard it helps if you wear one of those triangle hats made of aluminum foil.
 
i heard it helps if you wear one of those triangle hats made of aluminum foil.


ImageUploadedByTrawler Forum1429399882.250351.jpg
 
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.
 
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"?
 
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!
 
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.
 
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?


Jim
Sent from my iPad using Trawler Forum
 
.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.
 
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
 
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. :nonono: 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. :D 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. :eek::eek::eek:

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. :blush::angel:

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. :eek:

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. :eek: 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. :rofl: 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
 
Reading another thread started me thinking?

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

.

Yup. Chesapeake Bay, summer of 1998. Wife and I were living on the sailboat (4 year cruise) and had gone up the East Coast from the Keys to the Chesapeake to spend the summer up there. Cloudy day, but calm waters, and so we headed from the Western shore over to the Eastern shore (heading toward Onancock, Va). I was in the cockpit, boat on autopilot, thinking about nothing in particular. She was down below, reading a book.

There was an ear shattering crash and I saw the GPS screen act as if worms were crawling across it and then it went blank. Knocked out all electronics, blew a 300 amp fuse at the battery bank (but thankfully did not get into the batteries, as I suppose they would have exploded). Diesel engine kept running (no electricity required), and another sailboat in the vicinity came over to see if they could help.

Turns out they were from Onancock, so we followed them in (no GPS and no depth indicator). Dockmaster at Onancock let us have a slip, and my insurance company sent a guy from Virginia Beach to look it over. No water coming in, so he told us to take it to a boatyard.

Had to wait a couple of weeks (not much to do in Onancock) then took it to Zimmerman where Steve D'Antonio was in charge of boat repairs. They replaced all throughhulls, because the metal had been changed and they were very brittle. Did a lot of other work also. I replaced all of the electronics (Defender).

It was kind of a harrowing experience, and right after that my wife (my ex now) announced that we were going home and that the cruise was over. :)
 
When I was very young, there was a family reunion of my father's cousins and their families on Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia. The family had rented a house for the week and we were going to join them the second weekend. On Friday, one of the girls, 16 years old, was standing in the front yard between a couple of trees. It was a nice day, albeit a bit cloudy and some forecast of possible rain for later. No thunder. No lightning. One bolt. Hit her in the head and instant death. All the precautions in the world wouldn't have prevented it. It was eerily silent after with no more lightning or thunder for a couple of hours. Her older sister was standing about 10 feet from her when it happened and saw it.

All we can do is take reasonable precautions. If it destroys my home or boat, I can live with that. Just the thought of seeing family or friends struck by it causes me to panic. I've never taken extraordinary steps, and don't live scared of it, but I sure do understand the risk is always there.
 
I have too many lightning stories...

Decades ago I went to some sort of a resort in central FLA. There resort had a stadium for rodeos which the wife wanted to see. :rolleyes: The stadium was right next to the rooms so it was a short walk but on the way over you could see there was a serious storm brewing. Well, I did not want to see a rodeo in the first place but sitting on a metal bench with a few hundred other people did NOT seem like a smart move with a thunderstorm rolling in. :nonono:

We went and paid our money, no refund for a rain out by they way, :nonono: and just as we sat down the skies opened up and the Thor started throwing bolts around. :eek: SCARY to say the least. Thankfully, the stadium emptied quickly and everyone got into their rooms safely.

One bolt could have taken out hundreds of people sitting on those metal benches. Twas really stupid. The rodeo collected a bunch of money they did not refund though. :nonono::banghead: I really did not care since I was not hit by lightning and did not have to endure watching a rodeo while sitting on a metal plate. :rofl:

Later,
Dan
 
When I was in high school I spent my summer days on my Sailfish on Lake Huron in front of our cottage. I was out one day with my girlfriend on a clear day with light winds. We were about 1/2 mile off shore, paralleling the shore and having a great time.

Within a space of about 2 minutes the wind went from about 10mph to zero. Dead calm. I looked up the lake and could see this cloud bank that was maybe 1/2 mile high with clear skies above it. Lightening was frolicking around in the clouds and occasionally coming down to the water.

I knew we were going to be in its path so we dropped the sails and mast and lashed them to the boat then flipped the boat over. I didn't want any exposed metal. We used a line to tie the two of us together (darn, I hated to be tied to her! :) ). We had our swim belts on but no pfd's.

We tied our selves off and pushed away from the boat. The storm hit with 70mph winds and lightening activity and 3'-4' waves. We cuddled together (darn!) and rode it out.

After it was gone we righted the boat, raised the sails and sailed to shore. We got a very severe butt chewing when we got in. Both sets of parents thought we'd drowned and they were VERY mad that we were out there. At the same time they were glad we'd taken the precautions we did, so between getting our butts chewed we got hugged.

Go figure.
 
Hi. I sailed from Beaufort, NC to Hamilton, Bermuda once and we passed through a fast moving and violent front en route. We had a few rough days and ended up heaving to for 24 hours to wait for a wind direction change and get some rest.


When we arrived in Hamilton at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, we rendezvoused with a steel hulled boat from Montreal that we has met while prepping to go offshore in NC.


They had been hit by lightning. The boat was grounded to attenuate lightning, but in the end they sustained a direct hit to the mast which grounded done through multiple routes t the sea.


They did not have a fire. They believes that the grounding cables and plates had carried enough current that there was no fire. But the boat was magnetized, chain was magnetized, etc. Their compasses dis not work and all electronics were fried. They navigates using a hand held comps that worked on deck up near the front of the mast. Needless to say, this created interesting and challenging navigational experience. Hand steering, working from charts, checking bearīng every hour or so by moving up to the front of the cabin every hours. All this n 35 knot winds and 15-25 foot seas.


They made it to Bermuda without further incident, wiser and a bit greyer haired. And we enjoyed the recap of their experience in their cabin with many glasses of rm. (they had a 125 gallon rum tank their bridge)


In the end they had to arrange with a US navy degaussing ship to demagnatize the boat and then replace all electronics.


A great story. A bit scary and expensive.


Dale.
 
Never hit but close. Watching, with our fingers crossed, from the back deck.
 

Attachments

  • L4.jpg
    L4.jpg
    34.3 KB · Views: 115
  • L2.jpg
    L2.jpg
    25.6 KB · Views: 134
A few months back, a buddy of mine and I took our kids (my son's 29, his is pre-teen) and another guy and his teenage son out night fishing.

We had been watching the weather and radar, and decided we'd be ok where we were going (1st mistake!). After we launch, we decided to tuck into a little hole in the mangroves, and wait for this "one last cell" to pass in the distance, before heading over to the powerlines (Strike 2).
The next thing we know, we have lightning popping all around us.:eek:

So now it's decision time. Do we:
1) Head over to Bahama Breeze and wait it out. Hope it passes before they shut down the food and drinks.
2) Make a run for the dock at the public ramp <10 minutes away?
We chose 2, (strike 3) and off we go.


We're hauling arse, not like we can outrun it or anything, but it made everyone feel better. All along, I'm watching bolts hit all over the place, coming down in 2 and 3's, and watched one take out the lights on the nearby bridge:eek:. Needless to say, I'm NOT happy!:nonono:

The guy with the teenager is worried, so I go astern and sit down with them. We make sure everyone has a PFD, and keep your hands off the rail.
We chat, and when he finds out I spent a little time with Uncle Sam's Canoe Group, he asks if I've ever been out in something like this? Of course I reply, any time Uncle Sam sent me. For whatever reason, he suddenly settles down like everything's somehow going to be ok?
Hey, if it makes him feel better, then so be it. Personally, while I won't show it, I'm sure we're going to die.:rolleyes:

We set our docking plan about 5 out:
The kids are to take the keys and the old guy, and head for the truck/car.
My buddy and I will secure the boat and be right behind you.

Roped that bad boy down like a steer in a rodeo! And we're headed for the cars. Plan works great, and other than a little rain and a huge pucker factor, all was good.

So, while we're sitting in the truck, the old dude looks over at me and says: Have you ever been scared on a boat?
My response was of course, yes.

Then he asks, when?
You all already know the response....about 5 minutes ago:D

Ok, that's my lightning sea story.

Thanks for all the responses.
Picked up some great info.

SS
 
I don't think it is a good idea to increase the connectivity between the sky and water with your boat.

In spite of Calder, I have never seen any data which supports one solution over another.

There are simply too many people out there trying to sell ****.

Anybody who wants to do some of the suggested solutions, check out the amperage of an average Return Stroke of a lightning bolt and tell me what size wire would be needed?

All you would really be doing is temping the Pilot Leader to use your boat as a conduit.
 
I don't think it is a good idea to increase the connectivity between the sky and water with your boat.

In spite of Calder, I have never seen any data which supports one solution over another.

There are simply too many people out there trying to sell ****.

Anybody who wants to do some of the suggested solutions, check out the amperage of an average Return Stroke of a lightning bolt and tell me what size wire would be needed?

All you would really be doing is temping the Pilot Leader to use your boat as a conduit.


:thumb:

Like I posted in #16...try to outfox it is a losing battle...it is just not understood well enough and each situation is a bit different...trying to apply systems that work on land is different than a moving target.

And the worst is not getting hit but getting the damage.
 
Back
Top Bottom