Lightning & Boating: A Lethal Combination

Lightning & Boating: A Lethal Combination

As a skilled agent, you know that your clients around the world experience all types of weather year-round. From hurricanes to hail to lightning storms, there is no shortage of potential weather pitfalls. However, you know that giving your clients the information they need to protect themselves, including the best Recreational Marine Insurance Program, is the best way to protect their bottom line. In this article, we’ll explore pertinent information all boaters should possess before setting out during potential storms where lightning could be present.

Time it.

It’s impossible for boaters to guarantee they won’t encounter a storm on any given day. Depending on the location and time of year, thunderstorms can be rampant and form in less than 30 minutes. Before setting out, boaters should become familiar with the weather patterns and be prepared to make the trek back if ominous clouds approach.

Know what to look for.

According to Boating Magazine, a towering buildup of puffy, cotton-white clouds that rise to the customary flat “anvil” top is a good indication to clear the water and seek shelter — or move out of the storm’s path if possible. That’s if the storm is at least somewhat off in the distance (most storms are about 15 miles in diameter and can build to dangerous levels in fewer than 30 minutes). If lightning and thunder are present, just count the seconds between the lightning and corresponding thunder and then divide by 5 — this will provide a rough estimate of how many miles away the storm is.

Know what to do if caught in the storm.

Lightning seeks the highest point, which in open water usually equates to the mast of the boat. If the boat is equipped with a protection system, deploy it immediately. If there is a cabin in the boat, direct all passengers to enter and steer clear on metal objects. If the boat does not have a customary protection system, boaters can create their own using a rod and a ground plate to redirect electrical current that comes into contact with the vessel. Be sure to drop the anchor to prevent being swept away in high winds, as well.

Be mindful of electronic objects.

Never use VHF equipment during a storm, unless it’s a handheld device. Secure electrical items by wrapping them in tinfoil if a storm is building to prevent them from becoming conductors inside. Each passenger should put on a life jacket, just in case. Lastly, wait at least half an hour after the last roar of thunder to go outside.



About Merrimac Marine Insurance

At Merrimac Marine, we are dedicated to providing insurance for the marine industry to protect your clients’ business and assets. For more information about our products and programs, contact our specialists today at (407) 551-0174.