BlueJacket Lightning Strike

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BlueJacket Lightning Strike

Postby GeoffSchultz » Thu Mar 02, 2017 4:31 pm

Believe me, this is not the post that I wanted to be making, but it's reality...

Last weekend when we returned to BlueJacket, which was on the hard at RAM marine in the Rio Dulce of Guatemala, we found that she had suffered a lightning strike which took out almost everything that had a semi-conductor in it.

It appears that the lightning entered/exited through the 2 VHF antennas, which were on top of the mast, and vaporized them. The charge travelled down the mast and through the boat's ground plane and then arced from the sink to a dehumidifier that we had sitting next to the sink and draining into it. The dehumidifier was plugged into a 120V extension cord which went through a thru-hull and down to the power pedestal.

At this point the failed systems include:

RayMarine SeaTalk ST80 depth and speed transducers
RayMarine Course Computer with gyro
5 RayMarine displays/controllers
ST60 wind instrument & display
Most interior LED lighting
LED running lights
LED anchor light
Victron Phoenix 3000 watt inverter/charger
Next Generation Power 3 KW generator run hour meter
Brand new Mermaid marine dehumidifier
Standard Horizon VHF RAM mic
2 VHF whip antennas (lightening entry point)
SEA235 SSB & 1635 tuner
SSB Whip antenna (????)
Bullet Platinum WiFi booster
Balmar Alternator
Bilge water sensor
120V side of electrical panel has melted wires/scorching
12V meter on electrical panel

What does seem to be working are the following:

Engine & tachometer
Sirius radio (display is funky) & external
Iridium Go & antenna
MarineAir AC
Refrigeration system w/electronic controllers & hour meters
Next Generation Power 3 KW generator
Electric winches
Class B AIS transponder
Water pump
Washdown pump

We will further test the generator, AC and refrigeration systems next week when the boat is in the water to pull the mast.

Needless to say, we aren't going anywhere any time soon...

-- Geoff
1997 Freedom 40/40
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Location: BlueJacket: Guatemala

Re: BlueJacket Lightning Strike

Postby Ereiss » Fri Mar 03, 2017 12:12 am


So very sorry. If I can help from up here in Mass you've only to ask.
Ed Reiss
Being There
F38 - #154
out of Marion, MA
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Re: BlueJacket Lightning Strike

Postby Camino » Tue Sep 05, 2017 9:32 pm

Darn! Just read this! $$$! Was the big culprit the dehumidifier? That was plugged in and running.... I was hit by lightning once in 2008 (my boat with us in it).
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Re: BlueJacket Lightning Strike

Postby GeoffSchultz » Wed Sep 06, 2017 7:43 am

The problem wasn't the dehumidifier. It was the lightning which simply chose the path of least resistance, which meant exiting via the dehumidifier (and destroying it).

I've now shipped all of the replacement parts to Guatemala and will be headed there in October oversee/assist the replacement of the equipment. At this point I'm replacing just about everything electrical:

Batteries, generator, alternator, lights (internal and vav), solars/wind charge controllers, inverter/charger, SSB, VHF, AIS, and all of the electronics.

Replacing all of the electronics has been a learning experience as I went from a RayMarine SeaTalk system to a B&G NMEA-2000 system. One of the things that I'm looking forward to is having a forward looking sonar, as I navigate in lots of places with very poor charting and lots of reefs. I'm also installing a video camera at the top of the mast which will provide good downward view. We do lots of reef passages, so this should give a much better view than you can get from the deck. There are also lots of places that have scattered coral heads, so this should help spot them.

All in all this will cost about $60K to replace everything. The 30% import duty sure didn't help. I've been very happy with the way that Falvey has handled this, but I wasn't happy with the fact that they cancelled my policy giving a BS answer as to why they did so. Finding new insurance with the repairs still in progress was extremely challenging.

-- Geoff
1997 Freedom 40/40
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Posts: 1011
Joined: Thu Dec 04, 2008 8:39 am
Location: BlueJacket: Guatemala

Re: BlueJacket Lightning Strike

Postby daletournier » Tue Oct 24, 2017 3:24 am

Hi Geoffrey, Dale (ex) Freeform owner here. Hope you don't mind me popping in, particularly now that I have a boat with wires holding the mast up!

I was wondering if the lightning strike affected the mast in anyway? It was always a concern of mine when I was in high lighting strike areas such as Singapore.

Cheers Dale.
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