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FAQ: Lightning Protection 

 

Can I use Chain or Cables for Quickie Lighting Protection?

 

Original Message:
Quickie Lighting Protection
Latitudes & Attitudes Mag had a short article on Quickie Lighting Protection. I am looking for comments on this.
1: Take a 10 foot piece of galvanized chain, wrap it around backstay (or sidestay) to the main (stay that goes the highest) and drop it in the water during a thunder storm.
OR
2: Clamp a pair of good jumper cables to the stay as listed in #1 and drop the other end in the water. The edges are covered with plastic and will not mar the boat.
OK What do you think....Piece of mind in a lighting storm? Meets the K.I.S.S. theory!
Capt Al, #55 C34 _/) "Kindred Spirit", ALWSAIL@aol.com

RE: Quickie Lighting Protection
Capt. Al,
I don't know if either of those will work, but I can tell you that my wife and I were caught in one of the worst lightening storms I have ever seen. I will tell you that I am a grandfather with "more than most" life experiences being a Veteran of Vietnam and a pilot, etc., and I have never had a more frightening and helpless feeling than at that time. We had lightening strikes all around us and somehow did not get hit. My answer, prayer, as my wife and I were doing one whale of a lot of it. As for the future. I will do all within my power to avoid being on the water in a lightening storm. I had been far too casual about the storm that I knew we were sailing into. Won't happen again!
Ken Killian, #19 Puff, kenkillian@netzero.net

RE: Quickie Lighting Protection
I've been in 3 major lightening storms in the past 4 years. Had the jumper cables ready to go, but with strikes hitting the water all around us, I made the decision not to deploy the cables. I'm not an electrical engineer, but at the time it seemed to be a choice between attracting the strikes (with our tall mast being the highest "ground") and not connecting the cables in the hope of not being hit. I wasn't sure of just how much current we could dissipate with the cables. While several other boats nearby were hit, we managed to escape untouched (dumb luck). At least one skipper who was hit had dropped an anchor and later said the all-chain rode might have grounded him. Still quite a lot of damage to his electrical system.
So is it better to ground the boat and attract the strikes - or to hope for the best and not deploy a ground? In one storm, we watched a tower (higher than our mast) receive more than a dozen hits in less than a minute. Any thoughts on whether to deploy or not?
Bob and Cherie Bonnington, C34MkII #1304, rab1090@sttl.uswest.net

RE: Quickie Lighting Protection
<<OK What do you think....Piece of mind in a lighting storm? Meets the K.I.S.S. theory!>>
Yeah, it may certainly give you peace of mind.... but not adequate protection based on the area needed in underwater contact. But, if the theory is.. something is better than nothing... go for it.
Ken Kloeber, WkndrBag2@aol.com

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Last modified by Phil Imhof, Wednesday, August 11, 2004 . Copyright 2001 by Catalina 34 International Association.  All rights reserved.