⚡Lightning And An Electric Boat?
Lightning damage isn’t something that keeps us up at night, but just the thought of getting struck makes my heart sink to my stomach. Because it’s not something we can escape or avoid. It can be fatal at worse and kill our electronics at best.
Now here we are, building a hybrid electric catamaran with an all-electric galley and a whole bunch of other fancy electronics that we would like to keep shiny and new for a long time. This means we’ve been doing a ton of research on lightning protection, strikes, and the aftermath of a strike. And, as the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So, in this video, we visit a couple of boats recently hit by lightning to get some firsthand experience and check out the latest lightning prevention tech that is making some very bold claims.
Opinions and claims fly from all directions about lightning prevention on a sailboat. But the reality is, we haven’t found a solution that is recommended by the insurance companies or one that they are willing to give a discount on for installation…which says a lot. After filming this video we spent days that led to weeks researching all the current options. We know more about lightning than we ever wanted to know. And sadly it seems a lot of solutions are just snake oil.
The answer seems simple to us. There are ways to recreate lightning in a lab. If a company wants to prove its lightning prevention system works, all they need to do is take it to the lab and film what happens. Or maybe I’m oversimplifying and expecting too much? If the Sandia National Lab could simulate lightning in 1982 and fire it at an F14 Navy Fighter Jet, why can’t we take a little aluminum dome and blast a lightning bolt at it?
Loose Cannon wrote some interesting articles about both systems and his findings only cause more concern:
In other words, we’re still not convinced about any lightning prevention options yet. And until we are, our best protection is grounded in a good insurance policy.
Lightning & Hybrid Electric Engines
The Ecodrive on our new HH44 is a parallel hybrid (more on this soon), not a serial hybrid with electric motors relying on a generator. And our parallel hybrid is built on two separate mechanically aspirated diesel engines, not an electronically computer-controlled common rail system such as the Yanmars mentioned in the video. What does this mean? Should the entire boat ever be fried from a lightning strike, our engines will still start and we can motor along to safety.
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