Struck by lightning
Phil May and Andrea Twigg
Tue 12 Aug 2014 01:09
We are now anchored next to Sandy Island, Carriacou, which is a part of the Grenada group of islands.
Last night we were woken at 5am by a violent electrical storm. The strikes grew closer and at around 5:30 am Andrea and I went upstairs to unplug anything electrical. Just as I was unplugging my laptop there was an almighty bang and the switch panel lit up like a Christmas tree. Everything turned on at once, all the internal, external and navigation lights, the VHF radio, chart plotter, autohelm, etc.
Remarkably the damage was only to the electrical switching system, which caused it to turn every control relay on. So far, my investigations have shown that none of the boat systems themselves were damaged. Our main issue is with turning things on and off, which we now have to do by removing and replacing the fuses on the damaged control boards rather than just pressing buttons on the master console.
I guess we took an indirect hit. Perhaps the lightning struck the seawater close by and the voltage surge came in via through-hull grounding plates.
The bad news is that three of the custom-built relay control boards were fried by the surge. I have emailed Catana to see whether they can supply replacements. Otherwise I might have to try my hand with a soldering iron, although my past experience, from when our house was struck by lightning, is that tracks on the circuit boards get vaporized and solder repairs are difficult.
Anyway, we were unlucky to be hit, but we were incredibly lucky to sustain such a small amount of damage to the boat.
Violent damage to the relay driver chip
The same chip is blown on each circuit board