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How do you provide lightning protection for a boat?

Allistair asks us: If you Consider a 3.5m long sailing boat, the
sailing boat is made of fiberglass and has a 5m aluminium mast. The mast is
held in place by three steel wire side stays. A mainstay that runs from top of
the mast to the bow of the boat and two side-stays that run from top of the
mast to port and starboard side of the hull. The foot of the mast rest on a
wooden body of the boat, 1m from the bow. Is it safe to sail a sailing boat
during a thunderstorm? Comment on your answer. If you had to design lightning protection for the boat, how would you go about doing it?

Hi Allistair,

Thank you for your question regarding boat lightning protection systems, it is our pleasure to help.

Many boats use imbed strips of copper to the outside of the hull, so that the copper is in direct contact with the water.  This becomes the primary electrode.  From that point, copper wires are run to the tip of the mast for use as an aerial.  Other key components, electrical generators, electronic systems, etc., are additionally bonded back to the same copper system so they are at the same potential, thereby protecting them.

We at E&S Grounding Solutions are certainly not experts in boat lightning systems, there are many others far more capable than we.  But, that should get you the basic theory for protection.  You can also review NFPA 780 for more information regarding boat lightning systems.


Best regards,

The Engineering Team at E&S Grounding Solutions


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