If lightning hits your boat, hope Zeus zaps it lightly, like he did Soulianis. After a thunderstorm rolled through St Augustine, Florida, we weren’t even sure if we’d been hit. But over the next couple of days, we discovered more and more electronics that no longer worked. An osprey has begun perching atop our mast where our VHF antenna used to be.

We start an insurance claim, and begin the business of getting to the bottom of our lightning mishap. The boat is hauled out for a survey and electrical inspection. Ultimately the damage found is minimal, and we decide to tackle the broken electronics and mast rewiring after our seasonal migration north to see family and friends.

Hope you enjoy!

Lauren & Kirk

FILMED: July/August 2019



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Thinking About Buying a Boat?

Boat Buying Dashboard

Episode Dialogue

– Previously on Sailing Soulianis. I don’t if I’ve ever seen lightning repeat itself so often. Oh my god. We’ve been hemming and hawing over what to do with our boat for a couple months this summer. We wanted to find a safe place for her on the hard while we headed north to visit family and friends.

– So we had a little squall go through yesterday afternoon and it was just a tiny little blob. But I think at this point we can say it was the worst storm we’ve been through because of the lightning. In real life, you don’t have to pump out your car when it rains.

– Thank you.

– [Kirk] Have a good day at work. Oh wait, you need this.

– Thank you.

– [Kirk] Bye love.

– Bye.

– [Kirk] You have a short commute.

– I know.

– Especially when it’s downstream. Lauren’s going to work in a nice air conditioned coffee shop, where she gets her cortadito. I am going to be taking our steering wheel apart.

– Our authelm hasn’t really been working right ever since our Gulf Stream crossing. We think he got really, really salty.

– So the issue I’m trying to fix here, this guy, this handle, engages before it’s supposed to. In the manual, it says just douse some clean water in here which we tried a few times, but there’s not very good way of getting water down inside of this. The only other option is to take the whole wheel off so that this whole piece comes off with it. Four days ago now, right behind me, we thought that lightning struck this building. The guys in that building thought lightning struck our boat. We’ve lost a bunch of equipment and now we really need to get hauled out here. We need to make sure that the haul is still solid. You know, the seacocks are fine and that the rig is fine, that the mast is fine. We don’t know the extent of the damage yet. It seems like it’s pretty minimal, especially compared to what we’ve heard other people go through. But still with lightning, it has a mind of its own. It’s weird what it damages and what it doesn’t. We stopped and saw seven different marinas last week before we got struck by lightning and pretty much struck out seven times. We were on a waiting list at the yard we really wanna get into. I’m just trying to keep moving. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming. Way too big. Way too small. Just right. I busted out our little USB stereo. Got it cranked as loud as possible ’cause our stereo died. I’m trying to jam out as loud as I can, which is not very loud. Hopefully getting something done will make me feel a little better. I disassembled the autopilot to see if I could find any other problems. I cleaned it all out with water and put it back together. But the next time we tried to use it, it still had the same issues. Anybody have any troubleshooting ideas? Looks pretty clean. Today is winch rebuilding day. We have four that I’m gonna rebuild today. Two of them are Lewmar, which I can take apart without any tools, which is kind of cool and the two Harkens on the cabin top, you just need a screwdriver to take apart. All should be pretty straightforward after that. So these guys actually come apart further and these are the little palls. they allow it to spin this way, but not back the other way. So those are the things that you’re really looking to clean all the gunk out of. Like this one’s got hair in it from somebody.

– [Lauren] Head that.

– [Kirk] That what needs to be cleaned out. These are the little guys that you need to be careful of. These little tiny springs fit in here and is what makes these little palls click in and out. So you need to make sure that these aren’t rusted and that they’re still springy. And that when you take these two pieces apart, they don’t shoot out of there. So I’ve got a bunch of spares of these, but they still look good so I’m actually going to put them back in. All ready to start to put the gears back in. Voila.

– [Lauren] How does it feel?

– Before, it was… How did it sound? It was like it was almost vibrating.

– [Lauren] It almost sounded crunchy.

– Yeah.

– [Lauren] It didn’t sound like

– Yeah, didn’t sound good, right?

– [Lauren] Yeah.

– [Kirk] Lauren what’s happening? I’m just waiting to see if he lands somewhere else. Hope he’s just gonna come back.

– [Kirk] He’s coming back.

– We’ve had an osprey now taking to sitting on the top of our mast because our VHF antenna isn’t there anymore and so it’s a perfect landing spot. And I just smacked the mast so hard my hands hurt.

– [Kirk] Aw. .

– We are at Oasis Boat Yard and Marina, I think is their name. We just walked into the office and the office manager we need to talk to is with another customer, but as soon as we walked in, she looked at us and said,

– “I can haul you guys out.”

– “I can haul you out now.” So we just need to get some quotes to get insurance. Yeah.

– Getting hit by lightning, oh my gosh. It’s wild how everything just falls like dominoes.

– Yeah. It feels like we have some karma coming back in our favor so thank you so much, Ray and Ash. Everyone else who’s been, you know, pulling for us and helping.

– Yeah, making suggestions,

– Giving us options

– Offering to give us rides places, like it’s really nice.

– It’s been awesome to know that there’s such a great boating community out there. So thank you.

– Today has been a good day. We are climbing back up the roller coaster of boat ownership right now. Being able to get into the yard and hopefully getting the insurance claim started. All that is just feeling much better. We thought we’re going to get rained on tonight and we’re not and there’s a nice breeze right now. So life is grand. Oh man. So what’s for dinner, love?

– [Kirk] I’m making it?

– No I’m making it.

– [Kirk] I dunno.

– St. Augustine is very pretty right now. Maybe we just have rose-colored glasses. What do you think?

– Yeah, ’cause we would’ve looked at this two nights ago and been like, “oh God, another storm coming.” Yeah it has definitely improved our outlook on life.

– [Lauren] Two weeks later, we were finally hauled out. We had a survey, an electrical inspection, a rigging inspection, and met with several different marine contractors to assess the damage. None of this happened immediately, of course, in between lots of games of phone tag and scheduling shenanigans, we got out to explore St. Augustine. Ah, you’re supposed to hit it when I’m not in it!

– [Kirk] Aside from the fried electronics we already knew about, we were searching for the path the lightning took through the boat to rule out any other safety issues. Our boat has a decent, bonded grounding system that links together the rigging, mast, engine, rudder, and all of the through holes to the keel. It seems as though the system must’ve done its job allowing the charge to move through the boat without causing too much physical damage. With the exception of the base of the VHF antenna, there were no visible char marks, nothing melted, and no holes in the hull, thank God. We got the ball rolling with insurance and decided we’d tackle all the repairs after returning to the boat in the fall. So we were ready to hit the road. but first, snacks.

– I’m making some brownie balls. Brownie bites? They’re “healthy” brownie balls. So they’re made with dates and cacao powder, peanut butter. I dunno healthy they are, I threw some chocolate chips in them. And some almond butter.

– [Kirk] What do we call those? Bird turds?

– They are peanut butter brownie balls, Kirk

– [Kirk] We were invited to meet some friends in Bar Harbor, Maine. So we took the scenic route, hugging the coast all the way north. We had 30 minutes to kill before the ferry left and we noticed there was a shower right at the entrance to the beach of the ferry. So we decided to go on a beach run. And of course, Lauren is pushing it. Running right up to 15 minutes left. So now we have 15 minutes to make it back which means we’re going to have to like sprint back faster than we ran to get here. But we’re in the outer banks. There’s nothing around behind us in any direction. It’s pretty cool. But we got a ferry to catch. We gotta go.

– Nice steady arm! It’s not Chip’s first ferry ride.

– No.

– But it’s definitely the coolest yet.

– Yeah. Without any cab windows, Chip is pretty incognito. What’s up? But with the side door open, curious folks, and in this case, a fellow van life enthusiast will come chat us up. Well that wasn’t cheap.

– No it was not. $18 to take this bridge across the Chesapeake.

– [Lauren] Across and under. Here we go! Into the ocean!

– [Kirk] This is steep, it’s like a rollercoaster. These are onboard provisionings in case we get hungry on the little ferry ride.

– [Lauren] Doubtful.

– [Kirk] That little boat’s movin’ pretty good. One of the highlights of the trip was the afternoon we spent gawking at all of the boats in Southwest Harbor. Wow. That’s gotta be like a 120-foot mast.

– Four spreaders on the mizzen. Look at the size of those turnbuckles. In Montreal, we met up with our friends, Hadley and Phil, who took us on our first ever river surfing adventure. Before diving in, they gave us some pointers on how to work with the river current to get into a good position. You only get one chance to catch the wave before being swept downstream. So the pressure’s on.

– [Hadley] He’s got it!. Get it love! Yeah, get it!

– [Lauren] Yes!

– [Hadley] Yeah! Yes! Woo! Ah no! Get it! Ah! Oh. Oh, yes! Yes. Oh no! Party, party. Yes! No!

– Well…

– We were in a tornado.

– Yeah.

– People I guess describe it like a train. Mother Nature is just giving us a run for our money.