The Boating Forum

Got Hit By Lightning

Old 06-20-2016, 11:09 AM
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besides the obvious person injury or death lightning strikes can reek havoc on a boat.

I suggest you inform your insurance company of the incident, and I suggest you haul the boat ( if you have not already done so ) to check for damage, check the batteries and connections a well

Fittings can "burn" and all electrical components right down to a neutral safety switch can fail
Old 06-20-2016, 11:34 AM
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Originally Posted by wismo View Post
I had lighting hit a dog fence wire buried in the yard it blew the control box off the wall in my basement .Lightning is some scary stuff im glad you guys made it out ok.
Saw that happen several years ago to a house near me. There was a burn line all the way around the perimeter of the yard.

Originally Posted by Tidefighter View Post
Is the rule get to land, any land quick? And how do slow moving trawlers survive being caught in these situations? Are those boats, and other commercial vessels protected to some degree based on design?
They're giant steel Faraday cages essentially. Electricity will flow around the outside of the cage as long as it has a path to ground (water).
Old 06-20-2016, 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Kack View Post
At that point I would have headed straight for the leeward shore of that beach on the right ..
X2. Why not? Glad all are ok.
Old 06-20-2016, 12:27 PM
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very scary, glad your son and you and everyone else is ok.

i dont leave the dock without xm weather and an EPIRB.

question. why didn't you beach the boat on the land to the stbd? was that viable? just asking.

again, glad you are ok?
Old 06-20-2016, 01:07 PM
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My dad's 23 Uniflite was hit by lightening at the dock in the worst possible scenario. Our neighbor at the time had a 25 Grady woth out riggers he left up all the time. We just bought our boat home, after buying it, and we're in the middle of redoing the runway to the dock. The top half was done but the bottom half had no walking planks on them. It started to rain so my dad and I packed up and went into the house. I was watching tv and could see out the window to our neighbors boat, when a lightening bolt came down, thru the out riggers on his boat, and hit 1 vhf antennae on my dad's boat then arced and got the other one. The boat, which was soaked seconds before, was now enveloped in a sheet of whit for what seemed like an eternity. When it left, the boat was dry and now looked like it was burning. I ran outside with my mom and to our relief it was steam from the hit. Moral of the story is anything electronic on the boat was toast. Radios, depth finder, gas detector, engine electronics, evertything. It unwrapped the fiberglass antennas down to the copper cores and backed the 4 nuts on the retaining bolts almost off.

I would go over the boat with a fine tooth comb and no matter how unlikely, check it or have some one do it for you.
Old 06-20-2016, 01:24 PM
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Those skys in that pic show no mercy, glad everyone onboard is safe
Old 06-20-2016, 01:47 PM
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In open ocean I feel safer than the river... On the Offshore Supple Vessel I run I have been through some of the gnarliest thunderstorms I have ever seen. Amazingly enough this giant hunk of steel has never been struck while I was on it, or enough to damage it. It's amazing how few times I've seen a platform hit either I think once or twice. In the ocean Salt water is a perfect ground and the area is so vast that I think you have better odds. In the rivers and bays the area is obviously smaller and lightning is still likely going to hit the water, it just so happens that the water there has much more vessels per given area.
Old 06-20-2016, 04:18 PM
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According to a very knowledgeable and experience marine surveyor the debate on the best practices to protect the boat from the strike and to mitigate the damage is still raging on with no clear answer in sight.

Many people advocate installation of grounding systems but in fact the grounding systems may cause the lightning to strive the vessel more frequently as you provide a nice route for the lightning to pass through.
In fact standing 10 feet from a lightning rod during a storm doesn't make you safe at all.
Old 06-20-2016, 05:02 PM
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There were 4 of us out fishing on another guys boat and I seen the west sky getting dark so I told them we should be getting ready to run in. Well they all thought it was funny that I didn't want to be on the water during a thunderstorm. It kept getting darker and darker and we could see the lightening and it was heading right towards us. I put my rod down and went under the hard top which was met with comments about me being a sissy, etc, etc. I was watching the storm coming and all of a sudden the fishing lines lifted straight out of the water. I could hear a crackling sound so I thought we were about to take a direct hit, one of other guys on the boat yelled and jumped up, then he yelled again and dropped his rod on the floor. He was getting shocked from the electricity in the air and he was getting shocked from his metal fishing reel.

Needless to say we headed in right away.

Have any of you guys seen the fishing line float right out of the water and hover in the air? That's one of the creepiest things I've ever seen and scared the crap out of all of us.
Old 06-20-2016, 05:54 PM
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Default Been hit a few times

Last time was on a carbon fiber boat. Little pin holes on the hull all over the place. Some melt on a few electronics. Motor kept going. A few of us got a major shock but all ok.

Last edited by RDL; 06-20-2016 at 05:55 PM. Reason: Spelling
Old 06-20-2016, 06:08 PM
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Default Lightning

10 years ago i was fishing with my grandfather and we saw the huge black storm so we headed back to the dock as fast as she could go. About a mile from the ramp we passed a smaller boat and couple minutes later we made it to the dock and heard a huge lightning bolt strike nearby. Turns out it was the other boat and we saw the ambulance at the ramp. The bolt struck the man in the boat dead and his wife drove him back to the ramp while calling 911. So close could have been us. Be careful out there and try not to take uneccessary chances.
Old 06-20-2016, 06:35 PM
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glad you are ok, I have never worried on saltwater much about the lightning, have at times in the past had the lightning hitting so close to the boat all your hair was standing up and and it would knock a hole in the water and throw pelting spray against the boat and lit the water up on the other side, more than one time, it's hard to get away from a front when you are offshore and it's fast moving. I do know a guy that it killed his electrical system, so I guess just been lucky. wonder if any of the shrimp boats got struck that day?
Old 06-20-2016, 06:42 PM
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Originally Posted by USMCsilver View Post
I have a PLB in there, along with a handheld radio, and Garmin GPS.

I have not configured it yet. I need to. I know that. It'll be done before I go out again.

I also will not be found in saltwater again without REAL life jackets with whistles and strobes. Those cheap orange things gave me no sense of security. I've never "had" to put one on before. I've only used them to sit on at the lake and drink beer.
Go ahead and get the life jackets with reflective tape. Our pilots fly with night vision goggles and sweep their spotlight back and forth. The reflective tape really pings in the NVGs. I would also offer that if you are so afraid that your crew is cowering on the deck, that you should go ahead and hit your VHF DSC. You were legitimately in fear for your crew and your vessel. You can always call the CG off when the threat no longer exists.
Old 06-20-2016, 07:01 PM
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RussH, I have experienced the "levitating fishing line" in a Center Console. Many years ago, I was on a project chasing waterspouts out of Key West. Since they have two periods of maximum frequency during the day, we brought along fishing rods for the slack times. Hey, all work and no play... We were tracking along a line of thunderstorms, and I was on a hand-held radio with one of our airplanes. I heard this steady buzzing, which was interfering with my ability to hear the fellow in the plane. I lowered the radio, and the antenna stopped buzzing, but the upright fishing rods were all buzzing. I had lost a jig on one rod, and the line was standing out as straight as if it were starched. My hair was standing out straight, and the fellow on the bow had the glow of St. Elmo's fire. I hollered into the radio "we're getting the hell out of here", which amused everybody on the radio net. After we had run maybe 45 seconds or so, a solid hit on the water near to where we had been about blinded me. Having chased severe weather for many years, lightning is the only thing that really scares me.
Old 06-20-2016, 07:16 PM
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Originally Posted by alacrity View Post
question. why didn't you beach the boat on the land to the stbd? was that viable? just asking.

again, glad you are ok?
Winyah Bay is an odd bird. There's shallows all over the place. Before I knew it, I was in a mess. When it hit, it hit without warning (minus the black skies). Had I tried to turn to the closest "shore", I would have been parallel with the waves/wind and probably would have capsized. If that didn't happen immediately, there was a good chance I'd strike bottom on the way and then the boat would capsize. I really don't think that was a viable option.
Old 06-20-2016, 07:27 PM
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Scary stuff, where was this?
Old 06-20-2016, 07:28 PM
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Wow those skys just look scary. Glade you made it back safe and thank you for sharing your story.
Old 06-20-2016, 07:40 PM
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Originally Posted by reelassets View Post
Scary stuff, where was this?
Winyah Bay in Georgetown, SC. It's about 30 miles south of Myrtle Beach. Maybe 70 miles north of Charleston, I reckon. ;?
Old 06-21-2016, 07:32 AM
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Regarding contacting insurance --

I'm going to test stuff tomorrow or Thursday and get up under the boat to inspect the hull.

Really, the only things for me to check are the VHF, bilge pump, livewell pump, and washdown pump. Everything else was working when coming in.

I appreciate all the advice here and kind words.
Old 06-21-2016, 08:02 AM
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Luck was on your side. I've seen the power of lightning stop a man's heart and break his leg as it travelled through his body (on a boat). He lived to tell after CPR and emergent care. I'm a believer in being scared of a thunderstorm.

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