What happens when lightning strikes a boat at sea? – Evening edition West-France

What happens when lightning strikes a boat at sea? – Evening edition West-France
What happens when lightning strikes a boat at sea? – Evening edition West-France

By the evening edition.

Alone on the open sea, it’s difficult to count on a tree to attract lightning. What happens when a storm hits a ship? The evening edition looks at the question in his podcast meeting.

Imagine yourself alone on the open sea, with big black clouds overhead. Anguish ? Now imagine that thunder starts to ring out, that lightning begins to cut across the horizon and that you no longer have time to return to port to avoid the squall.
Many sailors, amateurs or professionals, have already felt this stress. And fortunately, tragedies are not that frequent.

A circulation of electricity

You should already know that the ocean and its salt water can compete with your mast and attract lightning. If, despite everything, it hits the boat, all is not lost. Many boats are designed to guide electricity towards the sea. The current will flow over the conductive materials until it plunges into the water and disperses. In this case, the flash is painless.

On the other hand, some boats may have insulating materials, such as fiberglass or wood, which will cut off the path of electricity. There, the damage can be significant: deformed mast, cut cables or even fires and explosions. There is also the risk of damage to on-board electrical equipment: the radio, the GPS and the lighting can, for example, be damaged. For this reason, boaters are advised to turn everything off and remove the batteries while the storm passes. And when possible, it is better to return to a port if the weather forecast predicts a stormy spell.

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