Sunday, November 8, 2009

Lightning and Boats

There has been a discussion on the Single Handed Sailing Society message boards about lightning strikes and how to protect a boat against them. A couple of years ago, I ran across some great work done as a Sea Grant project at the University of Florida.  The authors studied quite a number of lightning strikes on boats and combined it with the meterologic knowledge to come up with a series of recommendations for boaters.

The work is summarized hereScience Daily ran this article, when the work was first published.

It is very difficult to decide how to implement a protection plan even with this type of information available.  I have heard of dynaplates that exploded due to the rapidly expanding water that instantly boiled as the lightning passed through it.  I have attempted to increase surface area on my plate by bolting several layers of wire mesh over my plate.  Such a violent explosion in a plate has the possibility of seriously damaging a hull.

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