The actual odds of being hit by lightning

A forum for discussing topics relating to MacGregor Powersailor Sailboats

Moderators: kmclemore, beene, NiceAft, Catigale, Hamin' X

drams_1999
Chief Steward
Posts: 95
Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2009 7:04 pm
Sailboat: MacGregor 26M
Location: S/V Aquarius Miami, FL

Re: The actual odds of being hit by lightning

Post by drams_1999 » Wed Aug 13, 2014 1:46 pm

I agree with Catigale.

A senseless tragedy. I would very much like to know what happened to him out there, although it's doubtful we'll ever find out what happened. My condolences to his family.

User avatar
Sloop John B
Captain
Posts: 871
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2004 2:45 am
Sailboat: MacGregor 26X
Location: Florida 'Big Bend'. 02x Yamaha T50

Re: The actual odds of being hit by lightning

Post by Sloop John B » Thu Aug 28, 2014 8:15 am

Anchored out in the Western Gulf in a large fishing boat. Clear blue sky but there's a distant storm to the south, maybe 20 miles. The aluminum framing supporting the "tent" shelter aft lights up fuzzy blue.A moment later, blam! Very loud with flash bulb surround light. Eight people all okay with ringing ears. No rain, still clear (?). Electronics are toast. Everything else appears all right. Fifteen minutes go by. Crew member goes to pull up nylon anchor rode and burns his hands on the line. Nothing made any sense.

mika
Chief Steward
Posts: 76
Joined: Sat Oct 30, 2010 11:52 am
Sailboat: MacGregor 26M
Location: Flushing, MI

Re: The actual odds of being hit by lightning

Post by mika » Thu Aug 28, 2014 9:25 am

This has been an interesting discussion re lightning. From this discussion, I have drawn the following conclusions:
(1) No one knows for sure with any certainty the probability of our being hit by lightning on a Mac 26, but that it definitely has and can happen.
(2 No one knows for sure with any certainty what, if anything, can be done to mitigate that probability.
(3) The original post and it's title were very misleading, since the report ONLY dealt with general statistics re lightning . . . not objects with 30' vertical, metal lightning rods on them.
(4) Many of us are clearly very anxious about being struck by lightning when on our boats and for very good reason.
(5) It is only prudent and wise to avoid being aboard our boats when lightening is occurring.

One more comment re that grounding issue. Admittedly I'm no "expert". But when I took science classes back in the day, we learned that lightning was a massive flow of electrons between the earth and the clouds, due to a build-up of electrons on the earth resulting from the rain. And so, if that's true, doesn't it seem that the better a boat is grounded to the earth the better the chances of those electrons(the lightning) flowing through our boat? They used to say that we were safe from lightening in our automobiles BECAUSE the rubber tires insulated the car from the ground, so the car was NOT grounded to the earth. Made sense. Hmm. Just sayin'. I wish we could have an entry here from from a real scientific expert in this regard. In the meantime. I'm continuing to get the heck away from my Mac when the lightning starts up!

User avatar
mastreb
Admiral
Posts: 3944
Joined: Wed Feb 09, 2011 9:00 am
Sailboat: MacGregor 26M
Location: Cardiff by the Sea, CA ETEC-60 "Luna Sea"
Contact:

Re: The actual odds of being hit by lightning

Post by mastreb » Thu Aug 28, 2014 3:59 pm

(3) The original post and it's title were very misleading, since the report ONLY dealt with general statistics re lightning . . . not objects with 30' vertical, metal lightning rods on them.
On the second page of the article it talks specifically about boating lightning strike statistics taken from marine insurance claims.

mika
Chief Steward
Posts: 76
Joined: Sat Oct 30, 2010 11:52 am
Sailboat: MacGregor 26M
Location: Flushing, MI

Re: The actual odds of being hit by lightning

Post by mika » Thu Aug 28, 2014 7:03 pm

mastreb. Yes, I read the entire article. Yes, I know it talked about lightning and "boats". But if you read my comment again, I didn't say the article did not mention "boats". My point was that it didn't mention stats re lightning striking masts on "sailboats". Having a tall, vertical mast is a likely game-changer. Hence, that article may not have been all that relevant to our discussion about the odds of having our sailboats being struck by lightning.

User avatar
Russ
Admiral
Posts: 6117
Joined: Thu Oct 11, 2007 12:01 pm
Sailboat: MacGregor 26M
Location: Bozeman, Montana "Luna Azul" 2008 M 70hp Suzi

Re: The actual odds of being hit by lightning

Post by Russ » Thu Aug 28, 2014 7:13 pm

Sloop John B wrote:Anchored out in the Western Gulf in a large fishing boat. Clear blue sky but there's a distant storm to the south, maybe 20 miles. The aluminum framing supporting the "tent" shelter aft lights up fuzzy blue.A moment later, blam! Very loud with flash bulb surround light. Eight people all okay with ringing ears. No rain, still clear (?). Electronics are toast. Everything else appears all right. Fifteen minutes go by. Crew member goes to pull up nylon anchor rode and burns his hands on the line. Nothing made any sense.
Wow, just goes to show how far lightning will travel. Wow!

User avatar
mastreb
Admiral
Posts: 3944
Joined: Wed Feb 09, 2011 9:00 am
Sailboat: MacGregor 26M
Location: Cardiff by the Sea, CA ETEC-60 "Luna Sea"
Contact:

Re: The actual odds of being hit by lightning

Post by mastreb » Thu Aug 28, 2014 8:49 pm

mika wrote:mastreb. Yes, I read the entire article. Yes, I know it talked about lightning and "boats". But if you read my comment again, I didn't say the article did not mention "boats". My point was that it didn't mention stats re lightning striking masts on "sailboats". Having a tall, vertical mast is a likely game-changer. Hence, that article may not have been all that relevant to our discussion about the odds of having our sailboats being struck by lightning.
Ah, sorry I didn't pick up on that, probably because I expected that the vast majority of strikes would hit sailboats rather than powerboats. In any case, if 100% of all lightning strikes hit sailboats, then the stats are 1:1000. If the percentage is any lower than that, then the odds are even more remote.

1:1000 odds are not odds that people should generally concern themselves with. Your odds of dying in a car accident are 1:5000 -->every year<-- for example, and the same as your lifetime odds of dying in a bicycle accident if you ride a bicycle on city streets.

In my opinion, the real take-away from the article is simple: If you live in Florida, you should be concerned about lightning strikes and study the problem to determine your best course of action. Outside of Florida you should do nothing because the expected risk is so low.

User avatar
Catigale
Site Admin
Posts: 10476
Joined: Fri Jun 11, 2004 5:59 pm
Sailboat: MacGregor 26X
Location: Admiral .............Catigale 2002X.......Lots of Harpoon Hobie 16 Skiffs....Island 17
Contact:

Re: The actual odds of being hit by lightning

Post by Catigale » Fri Aug 29, 2014 4:20 am

They used to say that we were safe from lightening in our automobiles BECAUSE the rubber tires insulated the car from the ground, so the car was NOT grounded to the earth. Made sense
Makes sense but wrong. Lightning jumps 2-3 miles and 3 inches of rubber insulates it? Not really.

The current model of lightning is much more sophisticated than charge jumping from ground to earth. I've actually worked on some laser projects inducing lightning strikes by breaking down air...very cool.

User avatar
Tomfoolery
Admiral
Posts: 5777
Joined: Tue Jul 05, 2011 7:42 am
Sailboat: MacGregor 26X
Location: Rochester, NY '99X BF50 'Tomfoolery'

Re: The actual odds of being hit by lightning

Post by Tomfoolery » Fri Aug 29, 2014 5:21 am

Catigale wrote:
They used to say that we were safe from lightening in our automobiles BECAUSE the rubber tires insulated the car from the ground, so the car was NOT grounded to the earth. Made sense
Makes sense but wrong. Lightning jumps 2-3 miles and 3 inches of rubber insulates it? Not really.
I've always been under the impression it's because you're sitting in what amounts to a Faraday cage.

fdnynapes
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Jul 29, 2014 7:40 am
Sailboat: MacGregor 26M

Re: The actual odds of being hit by lightning

Post by fdnynapes » Fri Aug 29, 2014 8:56 am

I have been reading lightening article for years. The authors claim all deaths in boats are open boats. No deaths in sailboats were reported at the time of these articles. So sailboat l strikes are very low. One article stated a cone of protection exists in sailboats where the electric goes around and on the shrouds. Further safety precautions we can take.
If you can hear thunder you are in danger.
Anchor, go below, don't touch or be near metal.
Have a portable VHF! Keep it turned off.
If your craft is hit expect you have hull damage and are sinking.
Call mayday for help. Turn radio on it might work.
If you get shocked get med. Help even if you thing you are OK.
Because 26m has no rear stay consider it an open boat, most if not all strikes affect open boats.
I was nearly hit by ball lightening while operating in the bucket of a tower ladder at a fire. It sizzled right by my head. Fantastic amount of energy.
Lightening scares me.
R Naples S/V Styx 26M
Lt. L-18 FDNY Retired

User avatar
seahouse
Admiral
Posts: 2182
Joined: Sun Dec 07, 2008 9:17 pm
Sailboat: MacGregor 26M
Location: Niagara at Lake Erie, Ontario. 2011 MacM, 60 hp E-Tec
Contact:

Re: The actual odds of being hit by lightning

Post by seahouse » Thu Sep 04, 2014 9:45 pm

Tomfoolery wrote:
Catigale wrote:
They used to say that we were safe from lightening in our automobiles BECAUSE the rubber tires insulated the car from the ground, so the car was NOT grounded to the earth. Made sense
Makes sense but wrong. Lightning jumps 2-3 miles and 3 inches of rubber insulates it? Not really.
I've always been under the impression it's because you're sitting in what amounts to a Faraday cage.
Yup, you're safe in a car because the car forms a grounded Faraday cage, and rather than being insulators, the tires (containing a high percentage of conductive carbon black, not to mention most likely being wet from rain) actually conduct electricity (even at voltages much lower than those present in lightning) from the rest of the car (which forms the other part of the "cage") to ground.

-B. :wink:

User avatar
dlandersson
Admiral
Posts: 3584
Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2010 10:00 am
Sailboat: MacGregor 26X
Location: Chicago metro, USA

Re: The actual odds of being hit by lightning

Post by dlandersson » Fri Sep 05, 2014 3:50 am

So when there's a storm - we should all run out and sit in our cars? :?

User avatar
Catigale
Site Admin
Posts: 10476
Joined: Fri Jun 11, 2004 5:59 pm
Sailboat: MacGregor 26X
Location: Admiral .............Catigale 2002X.......Lots of Harpoon Hobie 16 Skiffs....Island 17
Contact:

Re: The actual odds of being hit by lightning

Post by Catigale » Sat Sep 06, 2014 3:20 am

We should curl up in a ball in a metal tub in the back of a pickup truck with your dog.

After the storm, you've got a great c&w song too.

User avatar
beene
Site Admin
Posts: 2551
Joined: Tue Sep 19, 2006 5:31 pm
Sailboat: MacGregor 26M
Location: Ontario Canada, '07 26M, Merc 75 4s PEGASUS

Re: The actual odds of being hit by lightning

Post by beene » Sat Sep 06, 2014 5:37 am

TORONTO – A first-year engineering student at the University of Waterloo was killed Friday morning after being struck by lightning on campus.

University officials said the female student was hit while walking along a pathway from Ring Road to the student residences known as Student Village 1 around 9 a.m.

She was taken to hospital where she later died.


http://globalnews.ca/news/1546163/stude ... oo-campus/

User avatar
Divecoz
Admiral
Posts: 3803
Joined: Sat Oct 16, 2004 2:54 pm
Sailboat: MacGregor 26M
Location: PORT CHARLOTTE FLORIDA 05 M Mercury 50 H.P. Big Foot Bill at Boats 4 Sail is my Hero

Re: The actual odds of being hit by lightning

Post by Divecoz » Sat Sep 06, 2014 6:25 am

I live in Lightening City Florida hahahaha OK OK there is no such city but most cities down here could qualify.. yet there are very few hits down here that I hear of, or read about.. Very Few.. as in NONE among those fellows I know.There are Over 1,000,000 boats Registered in Florida. That said , the boating insurance industry has all the specs and I would like to know , how many boats are hit , while on open water , versus at home dock/boatlift versus at a marina .. You can read a little more about Lightening in Florida here http://www.floridadisaster.org/kids/lightning.htm Notice age chart.. None of us are at the top 10-19 y.o.a. :) We have a lot of Lightening because we are all but surrounded by water and the distance between the GOM and The Atlantic isnt much.. under a 100 miles. The pie isnt that easy to slice. You would have to include how many hours a year you boat is in the water etc etc etc.
http://www.sportfishingmag.com/news/lig ... ikes-boats
Associate Editor Chuck Fort reviewed five years of lightning strike claims data from the BoatU.S. Marine Insurance claims files. What he found might surprise or confirm your suspicions about lightning strikes.

The feature reports that in any one year the odds of your boat being struck by lightning is about 1.2 in 1,000, with 33% of all lightning claims coming from the sunshine state, Florida. The second most struck area in the country was the Chesapeake Bay region (29%), while on the opposite side, 13 states had no lightning-related claims, including states such as Idaho and Nebraska.

The rate of lightning strikes for sailboats was about four boats per 1,000, while motorboats averaged 0.5 per 1,000. A surprise finding was that multi-hulled sailboats were struck more than twice as often as monohulls.
Interestingly, the files also showed that many boats equipped with lightning dissipaters were also hit, questioning their effectiveness. Most electronics aboard a boat were found not damaged by a direct hit but rather from surging electrical current created in the wiring by the strike.

Post Reply