*** This is Part 2 of 2! Watch Part 1 here: https://youtu.be/BCXG2zYyq2g ***
Just as we’re about to tuck Soulianis away for the summer season, our good fortune with Mother Nature runs out. Did we really expect to get through of all of these storms scot free?
One afternoon while floating on our mooring ball in St Augustine, a tiny squall rolls in. It doesn’t look that bad, but it proves itself otherwise. A huge crack of lightning seems to hit the water within a couple hundred feet of us. Initially we don’t think anything of it, but then, one by one, we discover a cascade of failures throughout our electrical system. According to the insurance agent that assisted with our claim, 1/3 of all Boat US’s lightning strike claims come from Florida.
Hunting for a boatyard to haul out Soulianis had already proven difficult — everywhere seemed to be full. Now we really need a haul out ASAP to inspect our hull and sort out all the damage from our electrifying experience. Join us as we navigate one of the tougher realities of owning a boat with lightning rod.
Lauren & Kirk
FILMED: July 2019
SOCIALS + BLOG
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Thinking About Buying a Boat?
– [Lauren] Last time on Sailing Soulianis.
– We’re in St. Augustine.
– It’s gorgeous. When it storms we drink dark and stormys. Are you kidding me?
– [Kirk] So what are we contemplating right now?
– Yeah. We’ve been hemming and hawing over what to do with our boat for a couple months this summer. First we thought, all right, we’re going to sail it all the way up to Maine. And then I think we both realized that that was a little ambitious, especially since we want to go all the way back to the Bahamas next year. Then we’re like, all right, we’re gonna leave it somewhere in the Chesapeake or maybe in the Carolinas. And we haven’t really found any place that we really like yet. And we also haven’t been there. So we don’t know what it’s like either. Now, we’re thinking, okay, maybe let’s leave it in Florida again. And we thought, okay, let’s bring it over to the west side to the place that we had it last summer. Because we know that place. But we don’t want to go all the way around to the west side. Because we want to go back to The Bahamas again. So, now we’re thinking maybe we’ll leave it in Jacksonville. So we’re hoping that we’re gonna be able to borrow a car, drive over to the boat yard, see what it’s like, and possibly leave it in Jacksonville. Every night, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, this pirate ship goes out twice and we get to hear all their same jokes over and over again. Like, “Ah, where’s my shell phone” . Okay. I’m done. That’s so cute.
– [Kirk] Oh, they send it out with the other one and they’re gonna have a little battle.
– [Lauren] Oh, so these are the bad guys.
– [Kirk] Yeah. That’s way cool.
– [Lauren] I was wondering how many people are they taking on that little thing?
– Yeah, there’s nobody on it. There’s just a skeleton. A skeleton crew. Yeah, that’s 37.
– Oh, look at these waves. We’re gettin’ tossed around like a toy boat. Oh, that sort of came out of nowhere. I mean, we saw the storm front coming. But I guess we assumed it was gonna be like last nights or just sort of skirted us. We just watched the lightning. This was gusting to 40 and holding steady at like the mid thirties. That’s kinda scary. I stupidly left our forward hatch open because I wanted to air out the cabin ’cause we have been gone all day. Three minutes after I go up in the vberth to open the hatch. This wind starts gusting like crazy and rips the thing open. Flattens it right onto our dorade boxes. Fortunately it looked like everything was okay. So where are we headed this morning?
– We are going to pick up a rental car and check out a few marinas.
– Boat yards.
– Boat yards.
– Tryin’ to find a place to leave the boat for a few months.
– [GPS] Onto Reynolds Boulevard. Then turn left onto Bulkhead Road. In 700 feet, turn left onto Bulkhead Road. Green Cove Springs Marina.
– So far we’re strikin’ out. Stopped at Holland Marine first. And they’re full. We need power ’cause we want to run our dehumidifier when we leave. ‘Cause we don’t want our boat to get super moldy while we’re gone. And we want to be able to run our bilge pump. So we’re at Gibson Marine, right?
– Gibson’s Dry Dock. Probably like 40 miles up the St. John’s River. So we looked at Green Cove Springs this morning. Reynolds?
– [Lauren] Holland.
– Holland. We’re gonna go back to St. Augustine and look at two other yards there. But our requirements are power in the yard, being able to work on our own boat in the yard, then hurricane straps and being as far inland as possible. Today was a day.
– Yeah. We’re in July now and it’s hurricane season. And most people are out of the water and for good reason . And we’re a little late. So, it’s been not easy trying to find a place to put the boat.
– But we have a few promising leads. So the couple that we met on a tartan are in a yard that we went in and put our name on a waiting list. We went next door to a Marina. And we kind of had a quasi in with the owner’s brother. Then there’s two other marinas that we’re going to look into a little bit further north just across the border into Georgia. All in all the way drove probably, I don’t know, a hundred miles today.
– Yeah. I mean.
– Lookin’ around at different marinas.
– It wasn’t really that far.
– Eight of them.
– It was just a lot of places. A lot of stops.
– We set out with a goal today to go check out whether or not Green Cove Springs is gonna be an option and to look at a few other marinas and we got to Green Cove this morning.
– Ooh, mini golf. There’s pros and cons.
– There was cheap.
– There was very cheap. There wasn’t any hurricane straps in the work yard which was kind of a bummer. And so in that yard, we have to be put in the work yard for a little while, take it over to the storage yard and then brought back into the work yard again. ‘Cause they’re one of those places that segregated those things.
– [Kirk] We’ve got a few options. I can see the line of water coming down this way. Are all of our hatches closed?
– [Lauren] I dunno, I’ll go check.
– 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. Not because of the high wind or like terrible seas or anything, but because of the lightning. Well the wind hasn’t been as bad as I thought it was gonna be.
– Yeah. It’s not too bad.
– [Kirk] Maybe it’ll be one of those ones where it’s just the front that gets all the wind.
– And then it’s calmer? Yeah. Like, I wonder ’cause, a bunch of times we’re not at this boat when these things hit. I wonder what the boat through when we’re not around.
– Yeah. Poor boat. I was standing in the companion way while Lauren was working on lunch and saw a lightning bolt hit either the Marina or the water. And there was an immediate crack of thunder and bright light and everything all at once. Wow. That was really close. Like, my left ear was ringing.
– [Lauren] At first we didn’t even think we’d been hit. There was no immediate visible damage except for a single flickering LED light which we didn’t think much about. But as the day went on, we noticed more and more things not working.
– We started to see smoke billowing out under our radio. And so we started throwing stuff off the shelf and Lauren grabs the fire extinguisher and it was the power supply for the cell phone signal booster. So we flipped that circuit back off.
– [Lauren] That night we noticed our masthead light wasn’t turning on which led us to believe one of our solar chargers was fried, too, since they shared a circuit. Sure enough, we had no power coming from the dodger panels.
– So Lauren just went in and talked to the Marina office to extend our stay. They said, “Oh no, it didn’t strike us. We saw the strike out the window towards your boat.”
– The next day on our way back from shore I noticed our VHF antenna was gone. No trace of it. Now we were pretty certain we’d been hit. We began testing everything to see what other damage we might find. Well, this is depressing. I’m not gonna lie. A lot of stuff is broken and not working. It really, it’s not the end of the world if we were just dealing with that, fine. But we’re dealing with that and not knowing where to put our boat and this ridiculously insane heat in Florida in the middle of summer.
– [Kirk] Just the compounding of woes.
– It is. And I’ve been missing my family. I haven’t seen my parents for a long time. There’s my sister. Did you get it?
– [Kelly] I got it.
– [Kirk] Hey, congrats Kelly.
– [Kelly] Thank you.
– Oh my God. That’s so awesome. So the engine runs. The alternator’s working. So that’s good. Oh yeah. And that was my sister. She got a job. It’s pretty close to a dream job. So where are we at?
– So far, we’ve lost our chart table LED, our kitchen shelf light LED, our cell phone signal booster, our stereo, or masthead light, our MPPT solar charge controller, possibly our fridge compressor, our wind speed meter, our knot log and our depth sounder. There’s a possibility our GPS is fritzed as well. We’re goin’ through and makin’ a list of everything that was damaged. Going through all of our manuals. Get serial numbers.
– [Lauren] With 40% of our panels down, or house bank was draining pretty quickly.
– Luckily I’ve been carrying around a spare. So, I’m hopin’ it’s still sitting right here. Boom, shakalaka. This is making our haul out needs even more immediate. So we’re gonna have to call our insurance today and see if we have coverage for an emergency haul out. A lot of times, if there’s a lightning strike they’ll haul you out to inspect the hull. Then bring a surveyor in to do a safety, electrical safety survey. ‘Cause I just, I don’t know what else you know, could be, it could be dangerous at this point.
– What was that earlier, love? Florida sucks in the summer?
– Yeah, Florida sucks in the summer. There’s thunderstorms every single day. You’re gonna get struck by lightning every single day. It’s hot as balls.
– [Pirate] You guys have a good time give me an aargh.
– [Lauren] Argh.
– [Pirate] Give me another argh!
– [Lauren] Argh. All right, well happy 4th.
– [Kirk] Ooh, the wind is back. The wind’s now blowin’ this way.
– That’s nice and cool though.
– [Kirk] Yeah. That’s not good though. ‘Cause it’s gonna bring the center of the storm towards us.
– Oh, great. There was so much lightning for so long and it hadn’t hit us. I felt like it should be fine. And then it hit us a couple of days ago. And now I’m like, all right. When are we gonna get hit again?
– [Kirk] I’ve been thinking the same thing. Every time a storm comes through, I’m like, “Oh okay I guess we’re gettin’ struck by lightning again.
– Yeah. It’s not a good feeling. Everyone’s trying to stake their spot for the fireworks because it’s 4th of July. Probably a little hard to tell but the mooring field is filling up with anchored boats. When we got in here two weeks ago, we never thought we’d be here for The Fourth. We thought we’d be on our way to North Carolina. And then we decided, well, maybe we’ll haul out here. The coolest thing about being here right now is that.
– [Kirk] Oh. The boat’s like right here.
– That’s us on mooring ball number one. Now we’re still looking for a spot to be hauled out. And that means we’re still on our mooring ball. And we have probably the best spot in the whole joint. Fireworks are gonna be set off just on the north side of the bridge. We got a prime spot. Oh the irony is not lost on us that this prime spot is also where we were struck by lightning. But hey. Lemons into lemonade, right? Before the fireworks started, we decided to go ashore for a cool shower and a cold treat. Do you feel better?
– I feel way better. ♪ We can trust each other ♪ ♪ What is more important ♪ ♪ Loving is so ♪ ♪ La la la la la ♪ ♪ La la la la ♪ ♪ Everything changes ♪ ♪ Every which way ♪ ♪ You got to do what you want to ♪ ♪ Stay here ♪ ♪ Stay here ♪
– We are at Oasis Boatyard and Marina. We just walked into the office and the office manager looked at us and said,
– “I can haul you guys out.”
– I can haul you out now.