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what happens when a boat gets hit by lightning?

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what happens when a boat gets hit by lightning?

Old 02-21-2014, 03:45 PM
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Nothing "good" can happen other then surviving. This is why we wear our PPE's while on the job. I was switching a 69,000 volt line in the substation, when the switch started to burn ...... Talk about an OH shit moment.


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Old 02-21-2014, 03:47 PM
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We ran in in a storm once, got to the dock, tied up the boat and ran to the truck. As soon as we shut the doors the boat got hit by lightening. All the nav lights went on, for about 10 minutes. When the storm passed and we went back to the boat electronics were fried. We missed being on the boat by 30 seconds!!
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Old 02-21-2014, 03:49 PM
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Last edited by C-phase; 02-21-2014 at 05:26 PM.
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Old 02-21-2014, 03:50 PM
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Default Even if you are NOT injured physcally.

Mentally I am.

I head for a bridge over water. Drop anchor. And sit out the storm on the beach close to the big rocks.

Near hits DO COUNT a lot.
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Old 02-21-2014, 03:51 PM
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Had a friend with large detroits in his boat got hit and the charge went thu his crankshaft on one motor siezed the motor like welding a spot on the crank
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Old 02-21-2014, 04:00 PM
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If you have running motors after a strike never turn them off until you are safely home. The unknown damage can be dealt with there.
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Old 02-21-2014, 04:33 PM
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Good logic Muskrat.
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Old 02-21-2014, 04:57 PM
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I've never been hit but a fellow running for the marina behind me did. I heard a VHF call for emergency services and someone was performing CPR on a victim while the boat was headed for the slip; never heard what happened to the him/her. That storm petrified me and I had my grandkids with me that day, Lightning is nothing to mess with..
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Old 02-21-2014, 05:16 PM
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Got hit by lightning once while flying a USAF F-111 fighter jet at about 5,000ft over the East coast of the UK. A rain shower was off to the right maybe 6-10 miles, and a bolt came from there and hit the nose of the jet. There was a huge round fireball right in front of the nose cone, a loud bang, and the electronic dampers on the flight controls caused the jet to violently shake for a few seconds. At the time, I was resting my elbow on the canopy rail with my fingertips on the glare shield to the front. I could see blue sparks come from my fingertips to the metal glare shield, and I could feel something like an electrical charge into the side of my neck. We headed for home and landed uneventfully.

Was out on Lake Erie once, when the next boat over got nailed. Trashed all his electronics, and his motors.
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Old 02-21-2014, 05:22 PM
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I have chased tornadoes and waterspouts (for a living - best job ever), which put me close to lightning. Have seen Saint Elmo's fire, static charge that made every hair stand straight out, and mono fishing line levitate. I hate lightning, because it is totally unpredictable. Best advice I ever heard for personal protection in an exposed boat was to get low, on hands and feet, so charge would exit the extremities, not cross the chest and affect the heart. About 5 years ago, the sailboat next to my boat (a ProKat on a lift, antennas down) in Gulf Shores was hit. The charge entered at the mast, blew the anemometer somewhere, fried the (limited) electronics, and exited through the keel. The boat on the other side had some charge bleed over, and toasted his electronics. The hard part about the northern Gulf is that lines of storm pop up, and it is a hard decision to slash through to get home, or Bob around and maybe get trapped.
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Old 02-21-2014, 10:28 PM
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When I was an adjuster I handled many many lightening strikes. The configuration of the boat, the location and intensity of the strike, and the quality of the bonding system will all determine if you get a burn mark, or lose every electrical item on the boat, or in some cases lose the boat.

**** NOTE*** - If your boat takes a direct strike, have the boat hauled immediately and check the thru-hull outer flanges. One of the most common exits is thru-hulls, and they often burn or crack at the point of the outer flange. I cannot tell you how many boats take a strike, fry the electronics, and the owner parks it at the dock with the idea of making a stiff drink and calling the insurance company in the morning. . . . only to find the boat sunk at the dock in the morning. Your insurance coverage will pay for the haul-out under the sue & labor clause which is in place to prevent further loss - no questions, no deductible applied.
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Old 02-21-2014, 11:45 PM
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Pause a moment for those ferro cement boats, with masts
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Old 02-22-2014, 02:51 AM
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I saw a photo of a Carolina Classic 28 that took a lightning strike on the tower. The entire starboard side of the cabin and hardtop were covered with molten aluminum that sprayed from the pipework. Amazingly enough, the people on board were not injured. It is incredible how much energy is involved.

I got caught in a big solid line of fast moving storm cells off Hatteras one morning with no way to escape. We put on the autopilot and headed the boat into the wind at 5 kts with lightning hitting the water all around with all sorts of weird buzzing from the tower and outriggers, 40 knot gusts, and incredible amounts of rain. My crew and I were flattened out on the deck as far away from anything metal as we could manage during about 15 minutes of terror. We got lucky and nothing hit.

The radar showed another big line of storms about 30 miles away headed for us. We came in as fast as my boat could run and tied up at the dock about 3 minutes before the storm hit. A much better experience watching the storm from the house even though we left behind a hot wahoo and yellowfin tuna bite!
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Old 02-22-2014, 05:07 AM
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I don't have time to read the whole thread right now, but will read it later.

I know what happens a little before lightning strikes you while out on the water. Your VHF antenna starts amking a sizzling noise from the tip. I suspect if it was dark you'd be able to see it, it was that loud. Also if you have rods in the T top holders they will be sizzling too. We heard the sizzling while we were cruising in trying to beat the storm to the inlet. We stopped and put the antenna and rods down. My brother got shocked when he grabbed one of the rods. I wrapped a dry T shirt around my hand and put the rest down and continued on. Be barely beat the storm and from what I've read barely missed getting struck by lightning.

It was a scary ordeal.
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Old 02-22-2014, 06:25 AM
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Originally Posted by baypro21 View Post
I don't have time to read the whole thread right now, but will read it later.

I know what happens a little before lightning strikes you while out on the water. Your VHF antenna starts amking a sizzling noise from the tip. I suspect if it was dark you'd be able to see it, it was that loud. Also if you have rods in the T top holders they will be sizzling too. We heard the sizzling while we were cruising in trying to beat the storm to the inlet. We stopped and put the antenna and rods down. My brother got shocked when he grabbed one of the rods. I wrapped a dry T shirt around my hand and put the rest down and continued on. Be barely beat the storm and from what I've read barely missed getting struck by lightning.

It was a scary ordeal.
that sizziling sound was exactly what we heard from our rods. creeped the shit out of me, rightfully so.
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Old 02-22-2014, 06:27 AM
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thanks all. hopefully ill never find out first hand. however, if it happens at least i now know to go check my thought hull transducer asap. never would have thought of that.

Thanks guys!
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Old 02-22-2014, 06:37 AM
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Old 02-22-2014, 07:02 AM
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Steering wheel sent a jolt up my arm if lightning hit close to boat...I figured s/s wheel connection to steering cable connected to out drive equaled a jolt...never had a direct hit
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