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Okay brain trust.  My Express 37 took a lightning strike.  No twisted metal or blown out through hulls, but lots of electronics that no longer do what they used to,  But never mind that.

My carbon fiber Waterat rudder has a number of very tiny pinholes.  More than 20, probably fewer than 100.  Very small.  Don't look deep, but not sure yet.  Distributed randomly over both sides of the rudder.  There's also one spot about the size of a quarter at the very top of the rudder that's rough and the paint is gone.

So, cosmetic?  Throw some paint on it and get back out there?

End of the world?  Abandon all hope?

Don't know.  Need more information.  How do I get it?

Is Waterat still in business? 

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Sorry.  No pictures as of now.  Points are very randomly distributed.  No clusters.  At least several to many inches apart.  Surveyor/ insurance adjuster comes tomorrow, but he also surveys barges, so I'm not sure how familiar he is with carbon.  Fingers crossed.

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Rudder: old school... grab it and see if it feels ok 

if it breaks off, it isn’t 

**
otherwise??? Aw shit!!! Every lightning strike boat I have ever repaired has had at least a dozen “Wow!! it fucked that up too.”

Do NOT ket the insurance company close out your claim for as long as you vacancy hold them back and if they insist, YOU INSIST, there is something in writing about “If other as yet unnoticed damages are revealed ....”

one Beneteau 235:

every interior light 

the switch panel

Torched ashes all around many wires whose insulation was melted off . We had to remove the entire Foam backed ( I hate that shit)  liner and replace it. 

The compass globe was fractured

its light was fried

there was a hole in the side of the boat where the electricity jumped to the adjacent metal dock. 
the outside of the hull had a tiny hole.

the inside had a two foot diAmeter charcoal liner and fiberglass laminate. Only the gelcoat was good so we had a two foot hole to repair.

tge boot holes for the  chainplates were black and enlarged.

the tricolor mast head light was sitting on the deck like somebody set it there 

the halyards inside the mast were melted in a few places . 
some insulation was melted off the mast wiring 

there's a mast support column inside the boat... the cabin sole was charred all around the base of that pole. 

the wood cover around the mast support pole on the underside of the cabin roof was hanging down and it was charred around the screws

the way node on one side was cracked and melted like the screws had a charge and f their own. I think the lightning jumped from an adjacent interior light

one wall of one bulkhead looked like charcoal. I never figured out a cause  

one keel bolt was surrounded by black burnt stuff.. it cleaned iff relatively easily and. I decided it was not the hull

Boat US went through six different adjusters as the first four were “no longer with the company. 
I finally convinced adjuster number five to hire a local surveyor, she knew him from another claim and  l, after number five left the company, he was who finally extracted a settlement from adjuster number six. 
 

note: the couple who own the boat got a divorce part way through the saga and I still have the boat sitting in my yard. Last contact was “her Dad is building a trailer and they will come get it the week after Easter. .... maybe next Easter?? 

I blame everything including the divorce and COVID 19 on that damned lightning strike. 

 


 

 

 

 

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They do laminate ultrasound inspections. The carbon bike frames cost thousands. After they are crashed with some damage it’s good idea to get the rest checked. 
 

Why not have the insurance cover it. They would prefer it to not break in the future. My concern would be the rig. Any visible damage?

When I was a kid I watched a 50’ on mooring. One of the thunderstorms stopped over the Harbor. The aluminium mast got hit a dozen times. The thing was litterly glowing. 

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Yeah I'd be worried about cooked resin in the stock. Hard to NDT the stock inside the blade though! If the resin is melted locally not much holds the rivers in place. I'd consider a bending test. Hold the stock in a clamp jig where the bearings are and then load up the blade with some wide nylon straps and some come alongs. Talk to Waterrat about their experience with lightning strikes and NDT.

Just make sure the claim is not so high the boat gets written off.

Assume everything electrical has been compromised not just electronics.

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Thanks for feedback so far.  To the question of other hull damage, here's a chunk of bottom pain blown off the strut.  Other than that and the pinholes, haven't seen anything else so far. 

Cooked items include all networked Raymarine gear, all exterior lights, VHF, separate GPS.  Top ends of rod lower stays are blue.

Fun with boats.

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To the grounding question, it basically isn't.  Thru hulls are Marelon.  Chain plates connect to a wood bulkhead.  Keel isn't connected to anything. 

Rig is mostly okay.  Mast looks good.  Lower stays (rod) are discolored blue at the lower spreaders.  They're only 3 years old, so color is new.  Mids and cap shrouds look fine.  Backstay good.  Furler (I know, on an Express that's sacrilege, but I'm single handed 90% of the time) shows some carbon dust and some heating down low.  At the moment, we think most of the mast current came down the internal wires. Those are toast.  As always with lightning, the patterns makes no f-ing sense.

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17 hours ago, Gouvernail said:

Rudder: old school... grab it and see if it feels ok 

if it breaks off, it isn’t 

**
otherwise??? Aw shit!!! Every lightning strike boat I have ever repaired has had at least a dozen “Wow!! it fucked that up too.”

Do NOT ket the insurance company close out your claim for as long as you vacancy hold them back and if they insist, YOU INSIST, there is something in writing about “If other as yet unnoticed damages are revealed ....”

one Beneteau 235:

every interior light 

the switch panel

Torched ashes all around many wires whose insulation was melted off . We had to remove the entire Foam backed ( I hate that shit)  liner and replace it. 

The compass globe was fractured

its light was fried

there was a hole in the side of the boat where the electricity jumped to the adjacent metal dock. 
the outside of the hull had a tiny hole.

the inside had a two foot diAmeter charcoal liner and fiberglass laminate. Only the gelcoat was good so we had a two foot hole to repair.

tge boot holes for the  chainplates were black and enlarged.

the tricolor mast head light was sitting on the deck like somebody set it there 

the halyards inside the mast were melted in a few places . 
some insulation was melted off the mast wiring 

there's a mast support column inside the boat... the cabin sole was charred all around the base of that pole. 

the wood cover around the mast support pole on the underside of the cabin roof was hanging down and it was charred around the screws

the way node on one side was cracked and melted like the screws had a charge and f their own. I think the lightning jumped from an adjacent interior light

one wall of one bulkhead looked like charcoal. I never figured out a cause  

one keel bolt was surrounded by black burnt stuff.. it cleaned iff relatively easily and. I decided it was not the hull

Boat US went through six different adjusters as the first four were “no longer with the company. 
I finally convinced adjuster number five to hire a local surveyor, she knew him from another claim and  l, after number five left the company, he was who finally extracted a settlement from adjuster number six. 
 

note: the couple who own the boat got a divorce part way through the saga and I still have the boat sitting in my yard. Last contact was “her Dad is building a trailer and they will come get it the week after Easter. .... maybe next Easter?? 

I blame everything including the divorce and COVID 19 on that damned lightning strike. 

 


 

 

 

 

What foolish adjuster didn’t write this boat off? 

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19 hours ago, Zonker said:

Yeah I'd be worried about cooked resin in the stock. Hard to NDT the stock inside the blade though! If the resin is melted locally not much holds the rivers in place. I'd consider a bending test. Hold the stock in a clamp jig where the bearings are and then load up the blade with some wide nylon straps and some come alongs. Talk to Waterrat about their experience with lightning strikes and NDT.

Just make sure the claim is not so high the boat gets written off.

Assume everything electrical has been compromised not just electronics.

rudder stock probably metallic assuming original E37 era...it is probably fine...maybe just filled its role as a big wire...rest of rudder hard to know....Terry A and the team did a pretty good job all things considered but...

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I’d be surprised if the insurance company wouldn’t cover the rudder. It’s carbon siting in water. There is evidence that it  got juiced. Rudders in good shape occasionally fail catastrophically. Dangerous when you can’t steer in a sea that caused the rudder to snap. 
 

I’d tell them it’s fucked. Then the onus is on them to prove it and take any future liability. I doubt a surveyor would sign off on it. 

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Blue color on s.s.rod is bad. It got very hot (over 600C). Didn't find exact temp / color chart for Nitronic 50, just regular s.s. The high chromium in Nitronic makes the color change happen at higher temperatures. 

But that's maybe getting close to it being annealed I.e. softened. I would insist on replacing it unless the adjuster wants to pull test one to destruction. Which costs more than the rod... I would also pull the mast and check all other upper terminals. The cross section area of copper mast wire is pretty small to take any current. 

You could also do a cheap and simple non destructive sideways bend test of the tube between 2 sawhorses. If mast builder is still around they could tell you expected deflection for a given load and support spacing. 

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Regarding rudder, yes, all carbon including stock, made by Waterat about 5 years ago.  It's a Schumacher upgrade for the original E37 rudder.  The original rudder was stainless stock and fiberglass blade.  It did everything well except keep the boat pointed in the direction you wanted to go. I don't miss it.  I think I probably had the last Express that wasn't upgraded.  The new rudder is/was awesome.

Totally agree blue on rod is not good.  It 's going away regardless of insurance decisions.  Too bad, though.  It was new 3 yrs ago.

Fun with boats.

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