If you have a large sized boat that you frequently take out in the open water, having lightning protection is not only recommended, it could save your life. Not every area of the ocean receives as many lightning strikes as others, but it is still a good idea to have a lightning rod attached to your boat’s mast and a proper conduit that leads to a ground.
Boat Lightning Protection
In the U.S. more than one in 10 lightning-related deaths happen on boats. Rather than take that chance, boats and their passengers must be protected. Just like a lightning rod attached to a home, a boat lightning rod should be at the highest possible point. On a sailboat it is at the top of the mast. A lightning rod not only will serve to channel the amps contained in a lightning strike to the ground, but it will also continually dissipate any charge the boat builds up which, if not dissipated, can attract lightning.
The rod is comprised of an air terminal which receives the lightning strike, a conduit leading vertically down the mast to a ground plate which is immersed in the seawater.
Lightning can strike boats sailing in both fresh and salt water. In order to protect the electronic navigational equipment on board and quite possibly the lives of the crew, adequate lightning protection that provides a pathway to grounding for lightning is essential.