Mother Nature always wins
Published on January 28th, 2020
If you saw the startling video last year of a lightning strike on a docked sailboat, and wondered what happened, Cruising Club of America member Drew Plominski shares the story:
Our 1978 Bristol 29.9 Perseverance was struck by lightning on the evening of July 6, 2019 while tied up to the dock in Dorchester Bay, preparing to set off for the Marblehead to Halifax Ocean Race in the morning. The event was captured in extraordinary fashion on a now viral video.
The crew had come into town from Seattle, San Francisco, and the south shore of Massachusetts to help finish boat prep and loading out of gear ahead of the start for the Marblehead to Halifax race. This race was going to be the first for the boat and my first time putting together an offshore program as the boat owner and person in charge.
We had just completed removing all unnecessary gear aboard and took a break to wait out a summer storm that was quickly approaching. We walked up the street to my home where the plan was to grab the rest of our personal gear and a bite to eat before bringing down the rest of the supplies once the rain subsided.
The storm started bearing down on the area a few minutes after making it back to our condo. The rain came down in torrents for several quick minutes, but there was not a lot of wind. Then, at what felt like the peak of the storm, a deafening thunderclap shook the structure of the house.
Less than a minute later, I received a call from a friend who stayed at the yacht club to watch the storm blow through from the safety of the club’s porch. He asked if I had heard the thunder and was sorry to make me aware that the origin of the noise was a bolt of lightning that struck the mast of the boat we had just left on the dock minutes before. I almost didn’t believe him and thought this was just some friendly banter between boat owners.
Regardless, I ran down the few blocks to the yacht club dock to inspect the vessel, hoping this was just a joke. She was sitting just as I had left her 15 minutes earlier on the dock. A quick visual inspection found nothing obviously wrong and there was no immediate evidence of a fire so I opened up the cabin and checked down below.
I instinctively reached for the interior cabin lights switch as I climbed down the companionway steps and they (miraculously) were still functioning. There was a hint of smoke in the cabin, but things seemed OK. Full report.