Busy Week On Lightning Recovery

A lot of progress was made this week on recovering from the lightning, but on a percentage basis we have only just scratched the surface. We have had some good news, and some bad news about the state of the electrical equipment on board. Some of the bad news doesn’t have to do with damage. Over the weekend, I continued to diagnose the inverter/charger hoping it was a fuse or something. But, the tests just confirmed it was likely to be dead. Similar tests confirmed problems with the autopilot control display, chartplotter, and the windlass.

I sent E-mails to dealers and manufacturers for both the windlass and the inverter over the weekend. On Monday I also called the Raymarine dealer/service rep who is located at Raffles Marina not far from us, but in Singapore. He only sees boats at Raffles, so we would have to move the boat. And, he is busy until next Tuesday. We may or may not go over to see him.


On Monday night, the weekend was finally over back in the US. I called our boat insurance contact and they said they were sorry to hear about the lightning and would have a claims representative work with me by E-mail. He did contact me over night, and said he would work with me to smooth the process as much as possible. We have a very high deductible, so a large percentage of the equipment costs are out of our pocket. But, we have found the costs are going to be higher than anticipated (more below), so the insurance may actually help defray the bigger costs.

Inverter Found and Now Installed

inverterOn Tuesday, after no replies to E-mails, and now having the insurance blessings, I started calling inverter people. We have a Victron Energy Inverter/Charger, and a Isolation Transformer (that converts from 220V to 110V so we can use local shore power). The damaged inverter/charger was the highest priority on our repair list because we couldn’t connect to shore power or run our generator to charge batteries. We had to run our engines for long hours instead (which do not have high-output alternators) to re-charge. I found two Victron dealers in Singapore. The first just sells boxes and doesn’t provide services or help with technical issues. They recommended the other place. I called them and was referred to their technical guy who was a great help. He confirmed based on my tests that the unit was not functioning properly, and unlikely to be repairable. It turns out he had two of the units we needed in stock and he was willing to give us a good price. His price was about 1/2 their list price – about par with the US-based prices I had seen online. So, I was sold on that.

We just needed to get it to Malaysia from Singapore. I asked him to look into shipping, while I investigated whether we could just go pick it up, and bring it across the bridge into Malaysia. The marina staff said that although we are a “yacht in-transit”, which gives us duty free status in Malaysia, they thought it would be better to have it delivered. But, I talked to some yachties here, and several said they hired cars to bring stuff over without any trouble. As long as the bill is marked with “Yacht in-Transit”, you have the proper handling code, the ship’s papers, ship stamp on the bill, and a letter from the marina saying you are located there, you should get through.

So, the next day – Wednesday – I hired a taxi to go get the unit in Singapore and bring it across. I had to first stop at a couple of ATMs to get cash to pay for the unit because they didn’t take credit cards. After picking up and paying, we headed back out of Singapore. When leaving Malaysia immigration, customs stopped us and asked about the big box in the back of the car. Uh oh. The agent heard what the package was and the cost, and I explained and pulled out the bill that we were a yacht in-transit. He listened, and looked up the code, but he said that I was told wrong. The procedure only applies for shipments or couriered services, not the transits across the bridge. But, after I explained our urgency due to failing batteries and he asked questions to confirm our travels and saw my port papers, he let us through saying we should use a courier or delivery service in the future. Whew! A high tax would have applied if he didn’t accept our foreign yacht status.

Got back to the boat, and removed the old unit and put in the new one (a couple of hours process). Initially, it didn’t turn on. But, with some thoughtful discussions from Dave on s/v LeuCat, who came over to visit, I realized that we might have a problem with our remote panel network switch box. So, I removed the wire connecting to that and then the new inverter/charger worked! The picture above shows the inverter installed and some of the wires I had to connect. Unfortunately, without the remote panel, I can’t easily change the charge controller settings to match my batteries’ parameters, so we can’t let the new charger fully charge until I get a replacement for the other box. The same outfit is looking to get me a new box.

The really good news was that with the inverter on, we were finally able to check our 110V appliances. So far, everything on the AC side seems to be working. We still need to run the washer dryer, and try our onboard A/C units. Both of these have to be done with the generator.


The damaged windlass is second on our priority list, because we can’t properly anchor without it, so we can’t move up the Malacca Straights. So, I called a dealer for the windlass in Kuala Lumpur. They don’t have the parts on hand, but offered to get them from the manufacturer for me. I sent them photos of what we need, and they said they would get back to me. After two days, I e-mailed them back and they said they have contacted the manufacturer twice, but are still waiting for pricing and availability. They understand the urgency.

Bigger Job Than Expected

Meanwhile, I started investigating replacing our Raymarine equipment. I discovered this may be a real pain. Our boat was built with 2007 model Raymarine equipment. Not that old, but the technology had already been out for 5+ years. Since we left, I was peripherally aware Raymarine had been upgrading with next generation equipment. Well, it appears the old stuff is now no-longer supported. No replacement units, and not even repairs on some of the equipment. The network protocols used by the instruments have been replaced with more current standards. The problem is that our main chartplotter – which also serves as the integration tool for showing our Radar, AIS, Sonar, and other information not viewable on other instruments – is dead. If we replace that, we have to also replace all the other instruments, and the thru-hull transducers for things like speed, depth, and sonar. And, even the wiring has to be replaced. I’m afraid this is going to be the biggest cost and a huge job on the boat. Plus, I now have to evaluate current equipment available on the market and select what will best meet our needs. If possible, I plan to hire someone to help with the installation. But, it may take several weeks to select, order, ship, and pick up all the equipment needed for the job. And, we need to time this with our haul-out in Pangkor because of the thru-hull replacements.

Social Life

We had some surprise visitors yesterday – which I’ll talk about in an upcoming post. Our friends on s/v LeuCat got a part they were waiting for from Singapore, and left yesterday for Pangkor Marina to haul-out. And, we found out s/v Totem will be coming here to Puteri later today. So, at least our social lives have been interesting this week.

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1 Response to Busy Week On Lightning Recovery

  1. Volker says:

    Glad nothing worse happened!
    Just in case it comforts you: Our house was hit by lightning some years ago and it took us a lot of work and money to recover too. We would have been back in stone age for at least two weeks if we hadn’t have help from neighbours.

    It didn’t burn, but since then my trust in statistics is kind of vaporized 😉

    Take care

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