Hit by lightning!

By Mike Jastrzebski

Last week, Rough Draft was hit by lightning. This was our first hit in twelve years of living on the sailboat, but it was a big one.

Mary and I both happened to be watching the storm through the galley window when a flash of lightning lit up the sky. This was followed by a loud boom that shook the the boat, blew out our lights, and sent sparks cascading from the mast into the water.

I ran out into the heavy rain to make sure that nothing was on fire, then returned to the boat to check out the damage.

The strike had damaged the circuit breaker to our lights and after rerouting the wiring for the lights to another circuit we discovered that two of the light fixtures were damaged. It didn’t seem too bad at first, but over the next couple of days we discovered the true depth of the damage to our electronics.

The next day Mary found a piece of our VHF antenna on the deck. For those of you not familiar with sailboats the antenna was mounted on the top of the mast. The antenna’s gone now, and there’s no doubt in my mind that’s where the lightning struck.

At this point we checked the VHF radio and realized that it was shot. We also have a ham radio on board and this radio’s antenna is a section of the mast backstay. The ham radio is also shot. After further investigation we’ve discovered that our electric windlass, which raises the anchor, is not working. I’m hoping this is just a bad circuit breaker, but I won’t know for sure until I replace the breaker.

On top of that our refrigeration is not working and although our television is working, all of a sudden the volume will turn off and I have to bang on the corner of the TV to get it working again.

Obviously this is a big hit to our cruising kitty and we have decided to spend another year in St. Augustine. We are planning to get off the mooring ball and are currently looking for a slip at one of the local marinas.

We were looking forward to heading to the Exumas in the Bahamas this year, but sometimes when you live on a boat you’ve got to go with the flow. On the positive side of things this will give me a chance to write another book. I’m wavering between a follow-up to The Storm Killer or an urban fantasy.


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About Mike Jastrzebski

In September of 2003 my wife, Mary, and I moved aboard our 36-foot Sailboat, Roughdraft. It was our intention to take the boat south from Minnesota to warmer climates where I would write a novel. Six years later I have completed 3 mystery novels. I have published the first two books, The Storm Killer and Key Lime Blues as e-books and trade paperbacks. The third book, Dog River Blues will be released in early 2011. It is my intention to use this blog to share what I’ve learned while trying to get published. I will also blog about the trials and tribulations of living on a sailboat. We sailed the boat from Minnesota to Mobile, Alabama where we lived for two years. We also spent three months living in Key West. Currently, the boat is docked in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. In 2011 we plan to take the boat to the Caribbean where we plan to drift until it is no longer fun.
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8 Responses to Hit by lightning!

  1. Lee Ward says:

    So, Wow ! Fireworks ! So glad you and Mary were not hurt. Material things will be replaced. I bet many of your friends will come forward to help. If I still had access to SmrBrezze, I would strip her down for you. Hugs to my favorite sailors…. Lee & Nacho

  2. Thanks, Lee. Hope all is well with you.

  3. Bonnie and Chyuck says:

    Holy Moley! Shazam! What a bolt out of the blue, literally! Glad you are both OK, sorry about all the trouble that was caused by Zeus’s thunderbolt! You seem to have a very positive outlook, and like you say, in sailing, ya gotta go with the flow sometimes! Do well, and get busy with that next book! Could have a lightning theme. Hmm. Lightening Rod Murderer Strikes Again!

  4. Thanks for the concern, Bonnie, hope all is well with you and Chuck.

  5. Oh Mike and Mary — Lightening! The great fear of all tropical sailors. So sorry to hear about this set back in your cruising plans. But your fans will love the fact that it means you will have the settled time to write another book.

  6. Diane says:

    Oh that’s awful!

    So glad no one was hurt but it’s a blow nonetheless.

  7. Chris, I really do have to settle down and write, guess I don’t have any excuses now.

  8. Diane, thanks for the kind thoughts.

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