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Go Back   WakeWorld > >> Boats, Accessories & Tow Vehicles Archive > Archive through August 27, 2006

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Old    Tallredrider (talltigeguy)      Join Date: Sep 2003       07-25-2006, 7:22 AM Reply   
This isn't a thread about one of Centurion's boats.

Yesterday I am at the lake and some clouds start to develop and I can see a trememdous amount of lightning coming. The newsapaper headline today was that 52 fires were started yesterday from all of it. We just continued to do our thing on the lake and I was getting anxious that we should leave, but the kids and friends were having a great time, so we stayed. Finally as the wind did start to pick up, we left and never had any lightning come close.

My mother taught me never to be in the water in a lightning storm. I became even more paranoid knowing that I am basically surrounded by a big metal cage (lightning rod). But, come to think of it, I have never heard of a wakeboard tower getting struck by lightning in the water. Has anyone ever heard of it? Could my mother be perpetrating a lie?
Old    Paul (psudy)      Join Date: Dec 2003       07-25-2006, 7:46 AM Reply   
That always makes me nervous as well. I have never heard of it happening before, but who knows. My wife was getting ready to board one time a few years ago, standing on the swim deck. We noticed some rain clouds with thunder in the distance, but didn't think anything of it. I turned around to talk to her and noticed her hair was standing straight up. This scared the hell out of me. I figured she was arching and was about ready to get hit, so I pushed her in the water in an attempt to break the arch and we all hit the floor, got her back in the boat and bolted for shore. The same thing happened to my brothers friend many years ago, but they didn't get hit either.
While I never stay on a lake when its thundering, I do wonder about lightning hitting water. Lightning wants to find the quickest ground, which would be shore. It would be interesting to hear others experiences.
Old    Tickle (showtime)      Join Date: Nov 2005       07-25-2006, 7:49 AM Reply   
duh huh -- there is nothing grounding the boat -- a tower boat in the middle of an open lake is pretty dangerous. you would be much safer swimming than in the boat. it's still possible to get electricuted (sp) in the water, but lightining would have to be super super close.
Old    Buzz (buzz_grande)      Join Date: Mar 2004       07-25-2006, 7:51 AM Reply   
I would not chance it. Sounds like a bad place to be. Heck, I sure can't win the lottery, but I am pretty sure I have a better chance of getting zapped.

Paul,

That's nuts! That would have scared the crap out of me!
Old    Dante (hal2814)      Join Date: Feb 2006       07-25-2006, 7:54 AM Reply   
I'll defer to the CDC on this issue: http://www.cdc.gov/nasd/docs/d000001-d000100/d000007/d000007.html

Lightning can strike you and it is very bad for a small non-metal ship.
Old    Paul (psudy)      Join Date: Dec 2003       07-25-2006, 8:11 AM Reply   
Good info Dante.

Yes it did scare the crap out of me.

(Message edited by psudy on July 25, 2006)
Old    BT (patoloco)      Join Date: May 2002       07-25-2006, 9:34 AM Reply   
We got caught out a few years ago in the middle of a lake in a rain/lightening/hailstorm with lightening strikse on all sides of us.

My buddy and I both got a simultaneous slight electrical jolt from his metal windshield frame while making our way back to the dock.

My friend works at a large i/o dealer and said he has seen many boats come in with strange damage. He said it often leaves lots of pin-sized holes in the fiberglass from a direct hit.

(Message edited by patoloco on July 25, 2006)
Old    Rich (rich_g)      Join Date: May 2003       07-25-2006, 9:59 AM Reply   
I am thinking that some of the folks that have been struck by lightning haven't logged on in a while.
Old    Tickle (showtime)      Join Date: Nov 2005       07-25-2006, 10:43 AM Reply   
hahahahahaah^^^^^^^^
Old    Rod McInnis (rodmcinnis)      Join Date: Sep 2002       07-25-2006, 10:55 AM Reply   
lightning doesn't need to make a direct hit in order to kill.

The wakeboard tower would definately not save you and could easily make things worse. It takes some massive wires and a large ground plate to conduct the current surge from a lightning strike down to "ground". All the tower would do is provide a few feet of easy path and then the lightning will jump again. And no, the fiberglass will not provide adequate insulation.

It is not unusual for a sailboat to get hit. It is also common for the lightning to punch a hole through the bottom of the boat and sink it.
Old    Jim G (heem)      Join Date: Dec 2005       07-25-2006, 12:18 PM Reply   
Two teens were killed at Tahoe a couple of days ago reportedly by lightning. They wern't boating but rather on the edge of the lake. If thunderstorms are present you best be off the lake, not only due to lightning but erratic winds pose a huge problem as well. There's always tomorrow!
Old    David Polk (smackus)      Join Date: Apr 2004       07-25-2006, 3:55 PM Reply   
I was sitting on a jetski in the water in a dock slip hanging on to metal structure of the boat dock during a quick passing storm. Lightning hit the water several hundred yards away. I got a nice "jolt" similar to 120 or 240 household contact. Needless to say I got off the jetski in a hurry. It scared the S*** out of me. It can and does happen
Old    bad bob (badbob13ftw)      Join Date: Dec 2005       07-25-2006, 6:32 PM Reply   
... I turned around to talk to her and noticed her hair was standing straight up. This scared the hell out of me. I figured she was arching and was about ready to get hit, so I pushed her in the water in an attempt to break the arch and we all hit the floor,... hmmmm I'm going to have to remember that
Old    Kraig Kaiser (kraig)      Join Date: Dec 2002       07-25-2006, 7:01 PM Reply   
I'm not condoning being on the water duing a storm, and I always get off the water when a storm comes up, but aluminum is NOT a good conductor for electricity. Lightning would probably hit the water or a steel pole of some sort before it chose to hit an aluminum tower.
Old    David Polk (smackus)      Join Date: Apr 2004       07-25-2006, 7:10 PM Reply   
Sorry dude. Aluminum is a great conductor. Second only to copper used in wires. What do you think is strung between the poles in your electric systems. Better than steel, better than water.
Old    King of PoP (troyl)      Join Date: Feb 2002       07-25-2006, 8:59 PM Reply   
I understand the risk and danger...but seems like we would have pictures of damaged boats on this site with as many people as we have running around with towers.
We have waited out a few big lightning storms on Mead, but I always head for a cove with 100ft + cliffs above the water. I have been stuck (not struck) in that cove until 11pm a couple times waiting out the storm. Scary, but facinating.
On Lake Mead, thunder heads are almost an everyday phenom from July to September, picking which one will develop into lightning is a crap shoot.

Does a story with pictures exist of a wakeboat on a lake being struck?

Is it even likely to be struck when close to shore? Why wouldn't there be plenty of us with stories of strikes to towers? What about moored boats? I see the same boats moored all summer and they never sink from lightning?

I am just curious, not trying to get lectured on safety. I always get off the lake if possible as the wave action on Mead can go from flat to 3ft in 10 minutes.
I have googled and looked for over two hours only to find info about sail boats in large open water areas....ocean!!
Old    Kody (kody_a)      Join Date: Aug 2005       07-25-2006, 9:32 PM Reply   
Haha, I have a great solution, powder coating. Sadly not every powder coating job is done all that well. It is know to chip and that would expose metal.
Old    Craig (yosquire)      Join Date: Jun 2005       07-25-2006, 11:29 PM Reply   
As David said, Aluminum is an excellent conductor. Have you ever seen silver wiring in house wiring, that's aluminum.

Next time you're drinking a beer/soda, break the pull tab off and stick it in an outlet. If you're right, no shock.
Old    Tallredrider (talltigeguy)      Join Date: Sep 2003       07-26-2006, 4:35 AM Reply   
Craig, LMAO!!!! Great idea!

I'm with Troyl. I think in theory it sounds like it should happen all the time, but have never seen it on this board other than what has been discussed in this post. But then again, maybe the people it has happened to aren't talking. ;)
Old    Bob (bob)      Join Date: Feb 2001       07-27-2006, 1:52 AM Reply   
I have thought about this for quite a while as florida is the lightning capitol. Spoke with someone in authority about doing a sailboat set-up, ground wire from the tower to the engine to dissipate the charge and he advised strongly against it as the lightning would then SEE your tower as a good ground to earth and increase the risk. ???So why do sailboats all run a ground plate under the hull with heavy gauge wire??? What is safer?? If we had to run every time we hear thunder in florida (every afternoon) we would never be on the water.
Old    Ridin Dirty (duffy)      Join Date: Feb 2006       07-27-2006, 5:10 AM Reply   
That authority is full of s#%t. I also live in Florida and yea every day we get our afternoon showers but it usually only lasts for 30min to an hour then its nice again.I build sub stations and power lines and yes it is safer to ground your boat.Every pole that is metal is grounded on a power line so the lightning goes to the ground not the line. In every sub station there is a lightning mast put in as well as every standing structure grounded with copper to an underground ground grid to ensure no power outages.So the sail boat might be more vulnerable to lightning with ground protection but you will be safer.Because if not installed it is probable that lightning will blow a hole in the bottom of your boat.Someone mentioned aluminum,aluminum is a great conductor we use that as wire for power lines so dont think its not a good conductor.Wakeboard boats are very vulnerable to storms.Lightning can strike up to five miles away also.So dont be fooled if you see a storm off in the distance and have blue clear skys over you.There was a story years ago about a man on a mountain bike was riding a ridge and dropped dead for no reason on a clear day.Well there was a storm 7miles away and he got struck.the odds 1 in a billion but are you that 1 in a billion?
Old    Rod McInnis (rodmcinnis)      Join Date: Sep 2002       07-27-2006, 1:03 PM Reply   
There are four basic approaches to deal with lightning:

1) Ignore it, hope the odds are in your favor

2) Avoid it, try not to get hit.

3) Absorb it

4) Disipate it.


Ignoring and avoiding are self explanatory.

Absorb it means to have a "lighting rod" with a HEAVY conductor that takes a straight path (surge currents behave as if it has momentum and doesn't like turning corners) with a really good connection to ground. On land this is a big copper stake pounded deep into the ground, on a boat it is a large metal plate in contact with the water. The key is to be able to handle the thousands of amps that the lightning produces. If the system won't handle the current then you may actually create a worse situation.

Disipate it means to reduce the electrical charge BEFORE it builds to the point that it will jump. When you see what resembles a large metal bottle brush on top of the mast this is an attempt to dissipate the static charge in the area and create a "safe zone".
Old    Leo Lasecki (malibuboarder75)      Join Date: Jan 2004       07-27-2006, 5:24 PM Reply   
I was watching discovery and saw a show on this a long time ago. A girl on a jetski got struck from a storm miles away. She lived, but I can't imagine always being that lucky.
Old    sking55405            07-27-2006, 6:29 PM Reply   
I live on a lake and there are some hard top pontoon boats on the lake. Once one was hit in the stern lite and it fried the hole boat.

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