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    Lightning at sea
    From: Lisa Fiene
    Date: 2004 Oct 15, 09:20 +1000

    I distinctly remember being in a 47kt gale once.  We were surrounded by
    storm fronts, and there was much lightning and rain.  As we had a
    following sea which was not too large at the time (only about 4-5m), and
    the wind was from the NE & blowing us where we wanted to go,  we decided
    to run with it, after double reefing. We had a plan to heave to should
    we start to get pooped, but that never happened.
    It occurred to me at the time (among other things), that our mast was
    the highest thing out there - thoughts of Benjamin Franklin actually
    came running through my brain.  The lightning was no longer cloud to
    cloud, but vertical.
    Ahem, I thought.
    In this situation, as our boat is constructed of steel, if we did
    receive a lightning strike on the mast, what would have happened?
    Would it blow through the hull, (as I know has happened on GRP and
    timber yachts), or would it dissipate in some way as it's steel?  Would
    it possibly though still have the chance of arcing across to us if we
    remained in the cockpit anyway, even if steel IS some kind of advantage
    in this situation (if that's the word)?
    I guess what I'm asking is that if we're ever in that situation again,
    what should we do:
    a)  Heave to, go down below, have a shot of rum and pray for the day.
    b)  any other suggestions?
    As a complete novice in the wiles of electricity, your opinions would be
    greatly appreciated.
    Thanks, Lisa

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