When Lightening Strikes


1.2 in 1,000 are the odds of a sailboat being struck by lightening based on the Boat US Insurance department (no we don’t have insurance, yet) and yes Wanderer was hit while at our dock during a server lightening storm.  Wanderer is ok.   We were in the comfort of our apartment and heard a loud boom, we looked at the boat as best we could from our place with flash lights, the lightning lasted over half an hour long with torrential rain.  All looked in order, we assumed it was a telephone pole or transformer that was hit (pretty common here in the Keys), we went to bed.

The next morning after coffee we took Riley out to go for a walk,  jokingly I said “well at least our mast is still standing” (this being funny and true because we have been swapping out new chain plates one by one, and the thunderstorm had high winds.) As soon as I made the joke we both looked up and noticed our windex was missing…this lead to inspection, which lead to us determining that yes our boat was struck by lightening.   I guess Mother Nature  just wanted to give us her own blessing before we head out.

When you discover your boat was hit by lightening your heart sinks and you explore every nook and cranny looking for any and all damage.   I was in shock, I couldn’t believe it happened, I couldn’t believe how well she handled it; our batteries were ok, our new solar panel survived!  She wasn’t sinking or burning, but still I was in shock.  Wanderer feels like an old friend to me already and the fact that she’s ok, that brings a huge smile to my face.

I am so thankful we were not onboard,  so very thankful Bill had put two of the new chain plates back in the afternoon before the storm and reattached the grounding wires, that we were still near friends (thank you Mark and Nick) for helping us fix her, and that we still had easy access to replacement parts.

The Damage Rap Sheet:

  • A non existent radio antenna and windex (explosion we heard?)
  • Navigation/Running Lights not functioning
  • VHF not working

Not all items are fixed yet, but we are working on it.

The feeling of shock settled in next to thankfulness because it really could have been so much worse.  I always wondered what would happen if we got struck by lightening, now I have a better understanding.  Wanderer can handle a bit of light in her life (thank you Wanderer.) Also I made it more than halfway up the mast (soon I will get the nerve to climb to the top) and replaced our spreader lights!  I’m taking my shock and frustration and spinning it into a learning experience.  So, thank you Mother Nature and Wanderer, two extremely tough chics.


2 responses to “When Lightening Strikes

  1. I was sailing back from Key West to Naples in the summer, (which means motoring) when the sky turned an eerie shade of dark grey. I looked on the radar for an opening in the clouds and found none we were half way between Key West and Naples. I battened everything thing down, (I had a passenger with NO sailing experience on board) it was all I could do, there was no cell phone signal and why bother calling anyone on the radio. It was hours of pretty much hell. I clocked the highest wind at 68 mph before what I believe was a lightening strike. I will never know for sure, lighting was hitting the water all around us, I didn’t feel like we got hit but all of a sudden we lost most of the electrical. We lost the VHF, we lost all nav lights including my instrumentation lights and by now it was late at night and dark. The cabin lights were still operating as was the motor but we were dark and couldn’t call for help. It was a kind of a surreal experience. We made it back and after tying off the boat I passed out at home in my bed. I didn’t set foot on my boat for a month. I guess I was traumatized, I can’t imagine it getting much worse out there.
    This turned into a longer story then I meant perhaps the beer I just opened is at fault. Apologies.
    Interestingly enough when I eventually returned to the boat. All the systems were working and even an electrician couldn’t find the problem. no loose wiring etc. Ghosts in the machine? Who knows.
    Again apologies for going on a tangent I meant to say lightening strikes can be tricky.
    For the record I would live that night all over again if it meant the next day I was taking off to do what you guys are doing. Have fun.

    • Gerry, sounds like you got pretty lucky with that lightening out there! Be safe and thanks for the encouragement.

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