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What to do in a lightning storm?

A beautiful day out on the water can change dramatically. Storms are unpredictable, dangerous, and extremely powerful. If you can avoid using your boat, it is your responsibility to do so. This article hopes to provide advice if you are in the unfortunate event of a thunderstorm.

While Riviera can build in a degree of protection, owners must be informed and prepared, ready to act in the event of a storm or lightning strike. Many boat owners believe having a motor means they can outrun the storm, but this may not be true.

Short-term forecasts can be fairly good at predicting bigger storms, but small, localized storms might not be reported. This is when knowing how to read the weather can come in handy.

If you find your vessel the only boat left on the water, lightning is more likely to affect you. Lightning and boats do not mix. While manufacturers can build in a degree of protection, safety begins with boaters being informed and prepared to act in the event of a thunderstorm or strike.

Familiarise yourself with these techniques and strategies:

  • If you are out on the open water or too far from shore and shelter, it’s time to hunker down and ride it out.
  • Lightning seeks the highest point on the water, the boat’s top. Use the enclosed cabins and avoid metal objects, electrical outlets, and appliances (it’s a good idea to put your lifejacket on, too).
  • Under no circumstances should the VHF radio be used during an electrical storm unless it’s an emergency (handhelds are OK).
  • Be careful not to grab two metal objects, like a metal steering wheel and metal railing — that can be a deadly spot if there’s a strike.
  • The storm will blow past or rain itself out in 20 to 30 minutes. It’s best to wait at least 30 minutes until the last clap of thunder to resume activities.

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