Lightning

We had a good passage south from Tioman yesterday. We even got to sail for 2+ hours when a nice 15 knot fresh breeze came from the west for a while. We had to put the sails down when it clocked to the south and died some though. The rest of the way was a pleasant motor.

We decided to go past the island of Sibu for two reasons. 1) to get a few more miles south to reduce the trip for tomorrow. And 2) to see if we could get 3G Internet from the shore. We stopped at the southern islets of Sibu. But, alas, the best Internet we get here is G. I was going to try putting the phone up the mast to see if I could get a better signal, but a rain storm showed up.

As the rain started easing up, we heard a few thunders from lightning – we reckoned from the back side of the storm. I was watching a movie on my laptop when we had a FLASH-BANG. VERY loud. A few seconds later, our anchor windlass started up on its own. Uh oh. I rushed and hit the circuit breaker to OFF on the windlass (which fortunately was running down – not hauling the anchor up). I ran outside to check on the windlass and smelled VERY strong ozone. We also smelled electrical smell inside. I rushed to check the batteries.

There was a lot of heat and smell coming from the engine starter battery. I immediately disconnected the starter battery with a pair of pliers. It was too hot to touch. The battery was getting old anyway and I planned to replace it. But, the fact it was super hot right after a lightning strike shows where a lot of the power went. We are able to start our engines off the main battery bank, so we can still move.

We then started checking other power items. Most things seemed fine at first. But, the final results were not good.

We have no functioning radar/plotter (the Raymarine E120) Without the chartplotter we get no Radar, no sonar, and no AIS – and a host of useful wind and course statistics. It won’t power on. The autopilot also is out – major bummer there. We’ll have to hand steer now. Wind speed and depth gauge are working though. But, we found out today the wind direction is not working and won’t calibrate. Also, it appears the Seatalk network doesn’t work so no inter-communication – which probably explains why the speed log doesn’t work.

Fortunately, the anchor windlass came back on after power reset, BUT the remote control for the windlass at the helm is out. This morning we also found we can’t use the down button or it just runs continuously. Fortunately, the UP button works! The remote control will be missed until we can replace it – especially the digital read-out for how much chain is deployed. We don’t have marks on the chain…so we’ll have to guess our scope.

For some reason, the circuit breaker throws on the deck lights. But, the anchor light works. Other lights all seemed ok, except we found our step lights weren’t working. Importantly, the fridge and freezer are working (thank God!).

The big one (well, maybe not as big as the autopilot) though is the inverter. I can’t get it to power on, and the control panel doesn’t show the option for it to be turned on or off. Without it we can’t use the generator for anything as it drives through the inverter for charging and running power on the boat. And, we can’t use shore power without it because it converts between 230 and our 115V system. That means we have to run the engines to charge until I can get this fixed. Major priority on that. I was not able to find a circuit breaker or fuse effecting the inverter. It is getting power to the box.

I have gone through a lot of the wiring/systems looking for circuit breaker and fuses. Nothing found to fix the major items though. Sigh.

We have heard that near-strikes like this one (if it had been a direct hit we would have lost far more), can cause problems in mysterious places. We may find other problems in the coming days.

We hope to get to Puteri Harbour by tomorrow before any other problems reveal themselves. Not looking forward to having to use the engines to re-charge though.

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One Response to Lightning

  1. Pete Decker says:

    Wow Frank & Karen, so sorry to hear about all the boat problems from the lightning strike. Do you have insurance to cover any of the damage? We hope that you will ge repaired soon and be on your way again.

    We are very excited that Jason & Lara will soon be home.
    Pete

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