Marine Lightning Protection

Lightning is the natural-born enemy of a yacht’s electrical system.

Marine Lightning Protection

Lightning is the natural-born enemy of a yacht's electrical system. The good news: The science of lightning protection for watercraft has advanced dramatically over the past five years. Marine Lightning Protection has installed systems to protect more than 30 vessels ranging from personal watercraft to ocean-crossing trawlers. Decades of research at the University of Florida determined that the traditional mast-to-ground-plate system, while better than nothing, frequently failed to protect a yacht's systems. Simply put: Lightning that hits a boat wants to exit the vessel at the waterline, not at a plate near the keel. This improved system uses heavy-gauge cables to connect lightning rods to exterior metal such as stanchions, rails, and special thru-hull electrodes. These "sidearc electrodes" (shown) are spaced along the hull just above the waterline to provide the lightning with multiple exit paths. The grounding plate is also positioned near the waterline. Retrofitting a 60-foot yacht would typically cost $10,000 to $20,000, though the process is less expensive if incorporated during the original build. Marine Lightning Protection, (352) 373-3485; www.marinelightning.com