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There was a point during Wednesday’s drama-filled passage, I believe it was just after we had changed course to head for Ronde Island, that a bolt of lightning struck the water directly in front of us. It was at that point that both Rebecca and I were actually expecting our boat to be struck. It’s an awful feeling, believe me! I recall that during the tense moments that followed, thinking about several friends who have had to deal with the aftermath of lightning strikes, some of them quite recently.

Among the folks I was thinking about were Bill and Joanne, a couple friends of ours who sail on a large custom trimaran named Ultra. Back in August they were struck while cruising in the San Blas islands. They commented that they got off easy, and that the damage to their boat did not total in the 10s of thousands of dollars. That’s good news, because many are not so fortunate.

Read about our only lightning incident.

Some other friends, John and Holli, who sail on a Lagoon named Shiloh, had the misfortunate of being struck twice, in 9 months! Yes, that’s right, twice. Shortly after completing the repairs to their boat from its first strike that occurred in Florida, they were actually hit again while at anchor in the Bahamas. Crazy, right?

lightning

Our friends’ boat on the LTD Sailing dock, with lightning in the distance.
Photo taken by Jack Turquand Wednesday while we were sailing.
Note that this boat was NOT hit! It’s just an awesome photo.

Most recently our friend John has been the object of Mother Nature’s fury. His boat, Stingo, a 2007 Maxim catamaran, was struck in Panama. This is particularly unfortunate for him because he had just listed the boat for sale, planning to give up cruising (for now) and return to the UK.

An opportunity for someone!

I spoke to John about this, and he appears uninterested in investing the time to repair the boat himself. Ready to move on, John has simply lowered the price of the cat (a lot!), offering it for sale as is, where is, to someone who wishes to take on the project*.

While it’s been some years since Rebecca and I have been on Stingo, I remember thinking that it was the perfect size for a couple like us to cruise in. Also, as John is a single hander, I’m sure he has it pretty tricked out for someone who wishes to go it alone. I don’t know, John’s misfortune might just be someone else’s opportunity. If you’re handy, and looking for a deal on an owner’s version of a relatively new cat, send John a message. And let us know if you do. I’d like nothing more than to know that we helped put a couple people together in a potentially win-win situation.

*According to John, the initial estimate is that repairs would be less than $15k for someone who does the work themselves.

9 Comments

  1. I remember my Father telling me about a Boat he was sailing on “This Was Many Years Ago” Was stuck by Lightening and it blew a hole in the bottom– He said he stuffed his Tee shirt in the hole and made it back to shore..

    I have seen Sail Boats with a Cable hanging in the water from the mast to divert the Strike into the water– There Must be a better why nowadays to Divert a Strike into the water??

    • I am not sold on any lightning protection strategy. Knowing how much money lightning costs insurance companies, my thinking is that if there was a proven strategy for minimizing damage, it would be endorsed by them.

  2. Still working through our strike at the end of August. 2 months and counting and repairs have so far exceeded $45K. Good news is the hull appears to have escaped damage and no personal injury as we were not on the boat at the time. Still a painstaking recovery.
    Sorry to hear about Stingo. Glad to hear that you and Rebecca got through with only a big scare. Happy Halloween!

  3. My first boss when I graduated was a very good old school engineer and lifelong sailor – even though it’s been 20 years since I have seen Ken, it seems like all the things he told me years ago have turned out to be solid and true. I wish I had asked him a lot more!!

    So, with that said, he told me to wrap a chain around the base of the mast with both ends dragging in the water on either side of the boat. Luckily I’ve never tried it but it makes sense to me. It is my last ditch strategy.

    • I think there are a lot of folk knowledge with respect to what to do to protect against lighting, and next to no scientific evidence. I have to wonder if an action like you described might not even contribute to a lightning strike?

  4. Ok, so first off, I’m a stalker that has come out of the shadows with this post. Second, lightning fascinates me because I’m an electrical engineer and currently a marooned sailor (sailboat on trailer). I do not want to get struck by lightning… ever. I grew up in Florida and have been through many of electrical storms.
    The only way I can simplify how I look at a sailboat in an electrical storm would be a needle sticking up from a Styrofoam cup. Since lightning wants to find the easiest path to ground, the needle is a bad choice. However, the needle does not have any cables attached to it. Nor does it have any equipment mounted on it, such as an antenna, that may have a shielded cable tied to the ground of the electrical system which may provide a grounding path through the depth finder in the water.

    That all being said, lightning can really do whatever the heck it wants so be careful!

  5. The boat is SOLD. Congratulations to our friend John, and to Stingo’s new owner.

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