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Best route Onshore or offshore

 
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George1127
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PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2006 5:23 pm    Post subject: Best route Onshore or offshore Reply with quote

I'll be cruising up from Pananma to USA and will be going past the Gulf of Tehuanapec. I've heard that the offshore winds can blow hard as they funnel across from the Carribean. So you want to go close to the beach so there is not much fetch or go offshore 10 miles (?) so the wind will be less. The problem with close to the beach is that you get sand blasted. Is that the case. What's the best? I saw somewhere someone else asked this but I did see the discussion. Any advice is welcomed. Thanks.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 09, 2006 10:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes the winds in the Gulf of Tehuanapec will try to blow sand at your boat but it is not too bad. I went offshore about 3 miles to get away from it but not too far off shore if it picks up. That way I can get closer to the beach if necessary. Just throw a towel over the halyard winches if they are mounted sideways and the sand can get in. Good luck.
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Hal C
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Joined: 09 Jun 2006
Posts: 68

PostPosted: Fri Jun 09, 2006 3:00 pm    Post subject: Gulf of Tehuanapec Lightning! Reply with quote

It’s hard to say which is best when cruising in Mexico across the Gulf of Tehuanapec, close in or way offshore.

A long time ago, we were cruising (in our then Rawson 30) and had just come through the Panama Canal, working our way northward from Puntarenas, Costa Rica and into Mexico. We chose the “close to shore route” to go across the Gulf of Tehuanapec and covered our jib and halyard winches to protect them from possible wind blown sand. But I must say, we had no idea what was in store for us!

We actually worked hard at getting things protected from the possible sand blasting that the Tehuanapec can dish out. That must have jinxed us because there was absolutely no wind. Not even a whisper as we entered the Gulf. But there were ominous thunder clouds everywhere. In fact it was flat calm and raining buckets, with lightning strikes hitting the water off in the distance. Finally at night the lightning strikes started getting closer. Each strike was sort of progressively “connecting the dots” making an eerie serpentine path towards us no matter how we steered.

Months before in Jacksonville, FL some salty fellow had warned us of lightning strikes. We had heard previously that a lightning strike could burn an ugly ring around your boat in the gel coat at the waterline. We did not want that so in Florida we bought a pair of jumper cables with what little money we had and made our version of home-made grounding rods…or I should say cables. We cut each jumper cable in half and stripped back the ends. That provided us with 4 grounding cables, one each for the forestay, backstay and 2 shrouds. Therefore, one end still had the clamp to which we added a short piece of twine to secure them once clipped to the stays and shrouds. We did not want the clips to slip off like they normally do when you hook them to battery lugs.

As the lightning got closer, we though ah-ha, we’re going to be ready. We disconnected the electronics, and got out the doctored up jumper cables. I attached the first one to the backstay and proudly tossed the bare end over the stern into the water. The backstay had insulators on it (top and bottom) to serve as an antenna for the SSB. You would think that I would have attached the partial jumper cable above the lower insulator, but I must have actually attached it below that insulator.

I knew enough to not touch the backstay since the lightning strikes were now only 50 yards away and closing fast. So I carefully reached around the stay with both hands to tie the twine. Just as my hands were coming together on the other side of the backstay, with the twine in my fingers, and my arms forming a circle around the backstay, the lightning hit our mast. There was a brilliant flash everywhere and the electricity started jumping the insulator in front of my eyes with the yellow flash going right through the circle formed by my arms. This was in 1975 and I remember thinking (later) it was like being on the flight deck of the Starship Enterprise having been hit by a proton torpedo! I ended up on my back, upside down in the forward part of the cockpit floor. No apparent damage to me except I was in utter shock and bewilderment at what had actually happened.

True story! Happened quite awhile ago but I’m glad I’m still here to tell it.

By the way, one month later we were 12 days out of Cabo San Lucas and on our way to Hawaii, running wing and wing with the trades. I was down below reading and I heard a “ping” type sound, followed by another after a minute or so. Sort of like the tapping of a wine glass for a toast. Well, I thought that was a bit strange hearing that sound after all it was still morning and we did not even have any wine onboard let along wine glasses. I remember thinking, do I really need to go check on this. No!

But after another convincing ping, I took a stroll topsides. After a brief tour of the deck, I ended up standing on the stern rail thinking how beautiful the sails were set. I heard another ping and I looked down and between my feet the wire backstay was parting like a rope in a Disney carton! The wires were individually popping apart, forming fingers of an unconnected outward spiral. We dropped the sails so fast we forgot to untie the halyard line bundles. We did however manage to jury rig the boom topping lift to prevent losing the mast. Twelve days later we sailed into Hilo.
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Panda38



Joined: 03 May 2006
Posts: 8
Location: Anacortes, WA

PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2006 10:24 am    Post subject: Gulf of Tehuantepec - lightning strike to mast Reply with quote

I just saw your story about sailing through the Gulf of Tehuantepec, Mexico and you were lucky. I've heard lots of other lightning strikes on boats besides in Tehuantepec and there have been some pretty hair raising results. Better not push your luck! Get your grounding plates installed correctly.
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Flying J



Joined: 10 Oct 2006
Posts: 13

PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2006 10:54 am    Post subject: Cruising Gulf of Tehuantepec Reply with quote

You had an unusual day in the Gulf of Tehuantepec with the calm water and rain, too bad about the lightning storm. Normally it can blow and blow. Here's a link on weather guys tracking cyclonic rotations in and around the Gulf of Gulf of Tehuantepec. They discuss squall lines offshore of Costa Rica and strong upper-level anticyclone situated over the Gulf of Mexico. Strange stuff.
Gulf of Tehuantepec
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Gobbler
Senior Member


Joined: 12 May 2006
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2006 10:11 am    Post subject: Cruising Gulf of Tehuantepec Reply with quote

You need a good grounding system for possible lightning strikes whether you are cruising the Gulf of Tehuantepec or elsewhere. Especially for sailboats because of that Aluminum mast. I'd suggest looking at the various manufacturers of "hull grounding plates." They will give you a big surface to get a good ground to water connection. You can also get better performance out of your SSB and VHF radios with a proper installation of the particular hull grounding plate that is sized for your boat and its radios.
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carl 55



Joined: 10 Oct 2006
Posts: 8
Location: Oregon

PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2007 4:54 pm    Post subject: Gulf of Tehuanapec Lightning Strikes to Boats Reply with quote

Some people say that multiple immersed grounding terminals distributed around the hull is best for protecting against lightning strikes on your boat. You can also get spark-promoting electrodes for these extra terminals and rather than mounting them as immersed grounding plates, you can mount them above the waterline. This needs to be done in conjunction with proper conductors and terminals, so get some expert help.
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Flying J



Joined: 10 Oct 2006
Posts: 13

PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2007 11:54 am    Post subject: Gulf of Tehuantepec Lightning Strikes Reply with quote

Hey Carl 55, that's good info using the immersed grounding terminals distributed around the hull of the boat. I've seen that done, little spendy but you will at least have piece of mind.
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North Liner



Joined: 27 Apr 2006
Posts: 13

PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2007 12:48 pm    Post subject: Lightning strike protection Reply with quote

It's simple, just get the local electronics shop to design up the grounding package and at the next haulout, tell the yard to install it. If you need the lightning strike protection, it's best to just have the people in the business do it so it gets done right away.
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G Gilmore



Joined: 04 Nov 2009
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 1:13 pm    Post subject: Gulf of Tehuantepec Lightning Reply with quote

Good posting. Can't be too prepared for lightning. Better make sure your insurance will cover it as well. This is pretty obvious but never hurts to review which waters your coverage includes and not just trust your memory.
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