It’s often said lightning never strikes twice, and that’s probably a good thing for Drew Plominski and his 30-foot sloop, Perseverance.
The Boston resident’s vessel was tied up at the Columbia Yacht Club in South Boston when a bolt of lightning struck the vessel’s mast. Video footage of the fiery strike showed a bright flash, loud crash, sparks and a puff of black smoke (youtu.be/RlMlG0RKfZQ).
Nobody was on board when it happened during the afternoon of July 6. Perseverance was undergoing final outfitting for the Marblehead to Halifax Ocean Race the following day.
Plominski, 33, told the Boston Globe he was at home at the time and heard the strike. His first thought, he told the paper, “Man, I hope that wasn’t our boat.”
Lightning strikes aren’t all that common on sailboats, but they do happen with some regularity. Boat-US crunched insurance claims data between 2003 and 2013 and found that type of vessel, size and location were key factors.
BoatUS found that multihull and monohull sailboats are the vessel type most likely to be struck, largely because they have one or more masts pointing skyward. Motor yachts and bass boats are much less likely to be struck. Even so, the data shows multihulls are struck just 6.9 times out of 1,000 “chances,” while a monohull is hit 3.8 times per 1,000 chances, making the probability relatively low overall.
When lighting strikes, electronics and hulls often fare the worst. According to the paper, Plominski wasn’t sure how badly his vessel was damaged by the bolt. But, he told the Globe, the vessel’s electronics “were fried.”
Lightning strikes are much more common in the U.S. in Florida and other states along the Gulf of Mexico, as well as several states along the Eastern Seaboard. Lightning strike claims are substantially lower for vessels on the Pacific Coast.