Ship’s Log 7/16/14 2:10am
We were awakened by a sprinkling of rain increasing by the second into a downpour, accompanied by the loud crash of thunder and flash of lightning. Unlike when we were at home, I can’t imagine ever sleeping through an electrical storm on the boat. It blew in so suddenly and seemed to be hovering directly over the boat, as if God were about to smite us. The thunder sounded like it was coming from the top of our mast and the lightning flashes were bright enough to hurt my eyes.
I wondered aloud what would happen if we were hit by lightning, which would seem quite likely had we not been surrounded by fifty other lightning rods on the water. I asked Jon if he had noticed whether or not we had some sort of grounding mechanism installed, and in typical Jon fashion he just smiled and said, “hopefully.”
I thought about the likelihood that someday we will be all alone on the water in the middle of a storm like this, at which point I will surely be feeling frightened rather than just curious. But this time the storm passed over our little harbor in less than five minutes, though the rain came and went throughout the night. Still we were unable to fall back asleep until around 4:30am.
Should you now be wondering what would happen if a sailboat were struck by lightning, have little to no fear. Most boats, ours included, have grounding systems in place. There are wires connecting the mast and rigging to thru-hulls, metal fittings below the waterline, that will direct current around us and into the water. In theory this should be enough to keep us from getting fried, though our electrical systems may not fare as well.