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Tips on Lightning Protection

By Sue Richards last modified Sep 01, 2008 05:05 PM

Published: 2008-09-01 17:05:41
Topics: Cruising Information

Having suffered one lightning strike in a Croatian marina which wiped out most of my electronics I don't want a repeat performance. I have tried to find if there is any way to minimise lightning damage, but to date it appears that we have to rely upon luck of not being struck.

I'm intending crossing the Indian Ocean at the end of the south west monsoon where my little mast would be the only lightning conductor.

Any ideas to mitigate potential damage would be most welcome.

David Woods,
S/Y Nicola


The chances of a lightning strike at sea are much, much lower than in a marina, so you must be very ulucky indeed to be struck by lightning while sailing offshore.

The most important thing to do if you are in a critical situation is to unplug all electronics and any electrical equipment that can be unplugged (not just switched off!) and for the crew not to touch any of the rigging or metal parts of the boat.

Good luck!

Jimmy Cornell

Thanks Jimmy,

The only advice I found (other than yours) is from NOAA. I was planning to do the trip from Croatia (no EU VAT boat tax for ex-patriate European citizens) to home in South Thailand last year, but work got in the way. So instead I religiously downloaded all the 5 day Ugrib forecasts for the route for the intended period for analysis to determine the best time to travel (which in fact fitted in exactly with your World Cruising Routes 5th Edition).

Crossing from Salalah to Galle at the end of the monsoon, to have some decent wind, I also have accepted heavy rain and I suspect electrical activity.

I intend to connect a heavy engine starter type cable from the shrouds to a copper plate, which I'll trail in the water (I don't want to interfere with my fitted radio grounding plates) and I'll fit some quick disconnect plug/sockets in place of the "chocolate block" type screwed mast wiring connections below deck beneath the mast. When I see a storm approaching I'll take action. I may be being too careful but who knows?

Thanks for your response.

David Woods

Hi David,

Now that you are so well prepared I am absolutely convinced that nothing will happen to you... this is how it normally is!

All the best.

Jimmy Cornell