What do you get when you cross a parott and King Kong?
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I don’t know but when he talks you listen.
My point with the joke is that lightning is such a powerful force that it goes wherever it wants to and destroys whatever it wishes
Kimberlite was struck by lightning in about 2006. Over $100,000 worth of damage. It even blew the prop off the bow thruster.
From memory here are some things that were blown out:
Bow thruster assembly, jack, thruster motor. Main furling motor.
175 amp alternator, circuit board in the generator, all batteries.
2 radar chart plotters, linear autopilot, and computer, all sailing instruments, vhf radio, ssb radio , 2 instrument repeaters, 2 autopilot heads, Stereo, engine starter motor, and a lot more that I cannot remember.
Fortunately in my case
It did not put any holes in the hull
The insurance adjuster asked how I knew I was hit by lightning ? I showed him what was left of my VHF antenna the last 8 inches the other 20 or so inches was vaporized like a welders rod.
If you look at old barns with lightning rods you will see that they use at least 1/0 gauge wire sometimes 00 gauge. This would be difficult to install in a sailboat.
Even if it was installed, it doesn’t guarantee prevention of lightning damage.
Kimberlite Amel Super Maramu #376
From: amelyachtowners@... [mailto:amelyachtowners@...]
Sent: Saturday, May 09, 2015 12:54 PM
Subject: Re: [Amel Yacht Owners] Maramu - Main Mast Grounding / Bonding
as often, Bill has answered already the right way. He's faster than me (but I was on a business trip).
Let me add the following:
On a GRP vessel, while struck by lightning, connecting the mast/rigging to the keel will never prevent damages. The power is too high for a wire, even a big one.
When AMEL started to install electric equipments in the rigging (furlers, RADAR antennas, lights...) they (Amel and Carteau) decided not to connect the mast to the keel/bonding circuit (the yellow/green wires) because in case a wire was damaged in the mast, it would bring voltage to the bonding and therefore electrolytic corrosion.
As experience built up, there were more cases of electric leaks that caused corrosion on the deck fittings/hardware (on stanchions, guardrails, chain-plates, masts) because of leaking power and permanent salt on the deck.
This is why AMEL developped the leak detector system (on the last SMs, and every boat since). This system lets you know if a +24V or a -24V is leaking to the bonding system. This system is very good but, as the masts were not connected to the bonding system, you could not detect a leak on one of the (more and more numerous) electric equipments of the masts (spreaders'lights, motor driven satellite antennas, etc...).
This is why AMEL, then, decided to connect the masts/rigging to the bondong system (including the keel, as you know). This happened around 2009.
When I worked at AMEL, some clients absolutely wanted to have their mast connected to the water. In that case (when these people insisted a bit...) AMEL made an equipment "for lightning protection", two pieces of 10mm chain in a hose (to prevent chafing along the hull) that the captain would attach to the main mast top shroud chain-plate, in case of being caught in a thunder storm.
I've never heard people saying they had used it in a thunder storm.
I heard people saying they had been struck by lightning, directly on the vessel, or even 100 meters aside, and that all their electronics were destroyed (including alternators, battery chargers). With lightning, there is no rule...
I guess some people have better peace of mind if they know they have a means of connecting their rigging to the water...
Some other think that if they put a piece of chain between the rigging and the water, they will necessarily be struck.
The only thing I'm sure of, is that lightning strikes randomly, and even alone, with no sailing vessel around within 10 miles, you may be struck... or not...
Conclusion: having the mast connected to the keel will help you finding power leaks (if you have the leak detector system) but will for sure never protect you from damages due to a lightning.
All very good questions which I would like to know the answer to. Our boat was struck by lighting in 2011 prior to our ownership, most of the electronics were destroyed, and some wiring was burned as well. It cost the previous owner who was self insured a about 25k in repairs. It would be nice to be able to avoid such problems in the future, but I've never heard of a sure way to do that. Hard to overcome the power of Mother Nature.
St Augustine, FL for a few more weeks.