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by Frank N. 05/04/22 07:38 PM
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Struck by lightning #141683
05/01/08 08:39 AM
05/01/08 08:39 AM

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I am just curious how many people have seen, been on a boat or have creditable reports of sailboats being struck by lightning?

I live in the lightning capital (the Tampa area) and have been caught in several storms, heard my share of thunder and been nervous about it, but dont know of anyone ever actually struck.

The 72 year old boat repair guy (who still sails often) claims he only knows of 1 instance - a girls sunfish was struck. She was in it... it blew holes in the hulls but she was fine (minus 1 pair of panties).

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Re: Struck by lightning [Re: ] #141684
05/01/08 08:49 AM
05/01/08 08:49 AM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 342
Indianapolis, IN - Midwest USA...
IndyWave Offline
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My old boss kept his boat in a marina north of Chicago, and the sailboat next to his got struck. It jumped from the mast base, through the cabin, and blew a hole in the hull directly below it, sinking the boat. It made no sense because the marina was full of sailboats, and the one struck was not the tallest.

My personal experience was not a direct strike, but after getting capsized by a squall in my Interlake, I was holding onto the boom while bailing, when lightning stuck nearby. The mast acted like an antenna; and I felt the charge go from the boom, through my arm and body, down to my feet in the water. I wasn't hurt, but I decided I could wait till the storm passed to bail the boat!


What - Me Worry?


2006 Hobie Wave 7358
"Ish Kabibble"
Re: Struck by lightning [Re: ] #141685
05/01/08 09:01 AM
05/01/08 09:01 AM
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 5,558
Key Largo, FL & Put-in-Bay, OH...
Mary Offline
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There are numerous threads and posts about lightning on this forum. Go to "Search." Select "All forums." Put in "Lightning" as key word. Select "in subject." Select newer than 5 years.

Re: Struck by lightning [Re: Mary] #141686
05/01/08 12:47 PM
05/01/08 12:47 PM
Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 733
Home is where the harness is.....
Will_R Offline
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Home is where the harness is.....
My father's J80 was struck and went to the bottom.

I've seen people get mild zaps at cat regattas.

I've also seen several sailboats that have been hit b/c they were in our shop for repair.

Re: Struck by lightning [Re: Will_R] #141687
05/01/08 03:16 PM
05/01/08 03:16 PM
Joined: Sep 2001
Posts: 756
Newport, RI
wildtsail Offline
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Can't blame you for being nervous... i've never been so nervous of lightning in my life as I was during that hangover regatta you guys had back in January! It was a damn good thing we found Anclote in the fog when we did or I might have been able to answer this question!

Re: Struck by lightning [Re: wildtsail] #141688
05/01/08 04:14 PM
05/01/08 04:14 PM

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And That day was very mild for this area... that was a few bolts... we can have literally 1000's of bolts per hour in the area on a bad day... and we pretty much can count on thunder storms every afternoon... somewhere in the area..

The thing that bothers me about that is that people around here get struck by lightning from storm clouds up to 20 miles away... you can be in the sun, not a raindrop around and still get whacked!... that being said... the drive to the beach is the most dangerous part of the day.

Re: Struck by lightning [Re: wildtsail] #141689
05/01/08 04:43 PM
05/01/08 04:43 PM
Joined: Sep 2007
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japan
erice Offline
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japan
my limited understanding is that with lightning you really don't want to be the "spark gap" that gets bridged when the massive pulse comes through

i can see where an alloy mast makes a perfect antenna for the charge cloud to gather around and if it gets struck that the flow down to a glass hull would try to limit the flow and get carbonized in the process, sinking a glass monohull.

a wooden mast probably wouldn't have the same problem. be interesting to know if that sunfish was an oldy with wooden mast and board or a more modern sailfish? type with glass hull and alloy mast

on a cat like my old nacra there would be fireworks when the pulse came down the mast and met the nylon ball pivot, but from there it would streak out along the main beam and then discharge through 2 hulls, might be more sparks at the beam straps depending on size of the strike...

on my 5.2 the charge would also flow back to the rear beam via the mid-tramp pole so you probably wouldn't want to be sitting on or touching the rear beam when it came through (or holding the rigging) but the more paths to carry the charge the less the damage i think

but for most beachcats with rotating masts i'd say there'd be a big bang from the mast base, and maybe some molten nylon flying about, but as long as you were on the tramp/hull you might get a shock but not the massive burns that kill lightning victims

airliners get struck by lightning all the time but because the charge can't conduct anywhere they rarely notice anything but the bad weather. on inspection you can find tiny fused pits around the skin rivets where a bit of corrosion put up a fight against the flow and got fused as a result

final bit from the lightning useless knowledge pool

if walking in an area with a high chance of a lightning strike try to keep your arms and legs close to your sides so any plasma pulse flows around the body and smokes your clothes off. you really don't want it flowing between your legs and going between your arms and chest as the resulting constriction is likely to increase the burns at the most vulnerable parts of the body:o)


eric e
1982 nacra 5.2 - 2158
2009 weta tri - 294
Re: Struck by lightning [Re: ] #141690
05/01/08 09:39 PM
05/01/08 09:39 PM
Joined: Nov 2005
Posts: 5,582
“an island in the Pacific....
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(minus 1 pair of panties).

Was that caused by the lightning or post strike high speed evacuation of the lower bowel?


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Re: Struck by lightning [Re: hobie1616] #141691
05/02/08 08:17 AM
05/02/08 08:17 AM

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Option 2

Re: Struck by lightning [Re: ] #141692
05/02/08 09:54 AM
05/02/08 09:54 AM
Joined: Feb 2005
Posts: 221
North Carolina
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I searched on the web for information on lightning and found a great article. It said that grounding the mast using metal plates on the bottom of the boat (more for monohulls) will protect the boat but increase the chances of being struck. When Hobie offered the retrofit of the comptip mast for my '85 H-16, they pointed out that the shortening of the aluminum part of the mast would reduce the size of the cone of protection that the mast provided. The article on lightning ended up saying that there is only one thing more dangerous than being on the water in a storm on a boat with a mast and that is being on the water in a boat without a mast.

Howard

Re: Struck by lightning [Re: ] #141693
05/02/08 10:30 AM
05/02/08 10:30 AM
Joined: Sep 2004
Posts: 75
Clearwater, FL
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Clearwater, FL
I have never heard fo an example of a cat being hit by lightening while on the water. All of the strikes were when the boat was on the beach or in storage. I admit to running for the beach and wanting to get off the boat, but maybe its better to sit tight on the water if you can't get to the beach and far away from the boat.


Steve Fisherkeller
P19MX
Re: Struck by lightning [Re: hrtsailor] #141694
05/02/08 10:55 AM
05/02/08 10:55 AM
Joined: Oct 2002
Posts: 606
Maryland
Kris Hathaway Offline
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Maryland
Quote
It said that grounding the mast using metal plates on the bottom of the boat (more for monohulls) will protect the boat but increase the chances of being struck.
Howard


Growing up sailing on a monohull, it was SOP to attach the anchor chain to the mast and cast the chain into the saltwater. Wisdom was to provide the least path of resistance to ground.

Kris
F-16

Re: Struck by lightning [Re: hrtsailor] #141695
05/02/08 11:19 AM
05/02/08 11:19 AM
Joined: Jun 2002
Posts: 1,658
Florida Suncoast, Dunedin Caus...
catman Offline
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Quote
When Hobie offered the retrofit of the comptip mast for my '85 H-16, they pointed out that the shortening of the aluminum part of the mast would reduce the size of the cone of protection that the mast provided.


...and yet I've seen a comptip that has been struck almost at the top. The best rule is to seek cover asap. If you do the search Mary talked about you'll find a good article by a U of Florida researcher.


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