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31 August 2010
27 August 2008 | Litchfield, CT
29 December 2007 | Litchfield, CT

Lightning Strikes Twice

31 August 2010
Dear Friends and Family ~

The Great Wicomico River is situated on the Chesapeake Bay's western shore, mid-way between Norfolk, VA, and Solomons, MD. The town of Reedville, on the river's northern bank, was once home to the Bay's large Menhaden fishing fleet and a number of large processing plants. Now the site of the very last Menhaden plant, a couple of marinas and the Tangier Island Ferry, Reedville has reverted back to being a peaceful, picturesque backwater village like so many of the Chesapeake's estuarial communities. And it was there on the night of June 14 at about 8:30 pm that were struck twice by lightning.

That evening Jane and I walked to a large picnic pavilion near the boat to attend to email and phone calls. As dusk began to give way to darkness a low squall line passed overhead and as the first drops of rain began to fall, Jane ran back to the boat to close hatches and ports. I remained under the pavilion's galvanized metal roof, sheltered from the weather, to finish up the evening's communications.

The first bolt struck the VHF antenna atop our mast with a tremendous bang. A jagged yellow-white streak, conducting millions of volts of electricity, lingered at the masthead for a fraction of a second and then disappeared as a ball of sparks floated down to the water's surface. A cloud of grey smoke floated over the scene. As it began to drift away, a second bolt struck.

By the time I reached the boat a minute or so later, my hands were shaking. When I dropped down the companionway I found Jane standing in the saloon, her hands on her hips, in a mood in which I had seen her only once before. Speaking in angry sentence fragments she complained bitterly that "we had just installed new radar and a new VHF radio and now they were fried by the damned lightning and all that money had been wasted" and on and on. When she exhausted that particular subject, she still needed to vent some additional frustration and since I was nearby . . . well, you get the picture. Fortunately, that tempest blew over as quickly as the lightning storm did.

After assuring one another that we were unhurt, we did a quick inventory and drew up a list of all damages we could see inside and outside the boat. Then we called our insurer, BoatUS, to report the situation. Exhausted but unable to sleep, we turned in and talked about what to do next. We decided that, if we could get under way the next morning, we would head for Bert Jabin's Yard in Annapolis, about 75 miles to the north, where we previously had work done. Along the way we would stay overnight in Solomons, MD.

So at 6:00 am we cast off and followed our friends aboard s/v Blackfoot out into the Bay. For the next eight hours we enjoyed a pleasant sail under full main, genoa and staysail . . . undistracted by chart plotter, instruments, radar or radios . . . and picked up a mooring in Solomons well before dark.

The next morning we rowed ashore and met Mike McCook, a yacht damage surveyor sent to us by BoatUS. Together, we arranged for Zahniser's Yachting Center to short-haul the boat so that we could look for hull damage. Other than a bit of fairing compound and bottom paint which had been peeled off a few thru-hull bolt heads, we could find no structural damage. Jane and I got to know the Zahniser's folks through this process and decided to have them do the damage inventory, repair proposal and all repairs. Two days later we stepped off the boat and since then have been visiting in Maryland, Connecticut and Pennsylvania and house / pet sitting in Lancaster and York, PA.

For much of this time Zahniser's has been been busy examining every inch of the boat's interior and rigging to determine what had been destroyed or rendered inoperable by the lightning. They then put together a damage inventory which was both exhaustive and inclusive. From this list they prepared a $40K+ proposal for repairs which we reviewed and edited. The third draft of the proposal was subsequently forwarded to BoatUS for their review and approval.

In summary, the lightning destroyed all of the following electronics and electrical gear . . . chart plotter, VHF, single side band and AM / FM radios, radar, anemometer, depth sounder, knot meter, wind direction and velocity meters, wind turbine generator, auto pilot, 12 volt breakers, navigation lights, deck lights, hailer and more. Additionally, the plug end of our Dell 12 volt battery charger was melted.

Repair and replacement efforts, which began three weeks ago, will be complete in another two or three months whereupon we'll move back aboard. At that point we'll cruise the upper Bay for a month or so, shaking down and learning to use the new gear. Then, by mid-October, we will be on our way south to Southport, NC, where we'll jump offshore for the two day passage back to St. Augustine and a berth at Camachee Cove. There we'll celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas and spend the early winter. Given a milder and less blustery winter and spring than last year, we'll head back to the Bahamas where we'll stay and explore until June of 2011.

It's been an interesting start to the summer, to say the least, and certainly not the one we planned. But by now we have learned that planning and cruising are not always compatible.

Bob & Jane Fulton
Aug 2010

Vessel Name: Voyageur
Vessel Make/Model: Island Packet 40
Hailing Port: Portsmouth, RI
Crew: Bob & Jane Fulton
About: First sail . . . Oshkosh Yacht Club, Lake Winnebago, in 1953 on an M16. First sail together . . . Lake Texoma in 1994 on an ODay 322. We're now full time cruisers aboard our Island Packet 40 cutter Voyageur with cruising friends from Nova Scotia to the Bahamas. It's what cruising is all about.
Extra: DAS BOAT ~ LOA - 41'6" Beam - 12'11'' Displ - 22,800lb Sail Area - 907 sq ft 2 Staterooms; 2 Heads
Voyageur's Photos - Main
At midnight on January 2, 2013, we headed through Little Harbor Reef and left the Abacos for a two month trip down and back up the incredibly beautiful Exumas island chain.
38 Photos
Created 6 April 2013
On July 26, 2012, we left Voyageur in Man-O-War Cay and flew from Marsh Harbour to Miami. Then we picked up our old Honda in St. Augustine and set off on three and a half months of visits with family and friends. The trip which we dubbed "The Great Sofa Tour of 2012" would take us from the Bahamas to Florida, Connecticut, Nova Scotia, Maine, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina. And to all who opened their hearts and homes to us, we offer our thanks for making this trip of a life time possible ! This is your story too.
28 Photos
Created 1 December 2012
We leave Voyageur in St. Augustine and return to the canals and locks of the United Kingdom for our third narrowboat cruise.
56 Photos
Created 24 November 2009
Back in St. Augustine from the Abacos.
7 Photos
Created 15 July 2009
The Abacos are the islands and cays that comprise the Northern Bahamas.
46 Photos
Created 23 April 2009
From Lake Worth (West palm Beach), we set out across the Gulf Stream bound for the Little Bahama Bank and Great Sale Cay on our way to the Abacos.
16 Photos
Created 23 April 2009
From St. Augustine, we head further South for Lake Worth, near West Palm Beach, a popular jumping off point for the Bahamas . . . Mile 776 to Mile 1014
45 Photos
Created 10 March 2009
After a 9 degree wind chill and frost on the deck in Fernandina Beach, we finally find warm weather in Florida and some good ol' friends too . . . Mile 716 to Mile 776
30 Photos
Created 24 February 2009
Joined by Bobby and Starr, we point the bow South once again in search of warm breezes and Florida sunshine . . . Mile 563 to Mile 716
22 Photos
Created 20 February 2009
In this leg, we're bound from Calabash Creek to Shelter Cove Marina on Hilton Head Island where we'll leave the boat for a month of holiday visiting in the Northeast . . . Mile 342 to Mile 563
54 Photos
Created 20 February 2009
We left Oriental on Dec 3. In this part of our journey we were introduced to the Carolina low country, anchored with the Marines at Camp Lejeune, experienced the most unusual bridge opening of the entire waterway and saw our first Dolphins . . . Mile 181 to Mile 342
24 Photos
Created 20 February 2009
On November 17 we begin following rivers and crossing sounds on our way South to Oriental, NC . . . Mile 51 to Mile 181
11 Photos
Created 19 February 2009
Our first "official" leg on the Intracoastal Waterway . . . Mile 0 to Mile 51
25 Photos
Created 18 February 2009
While we spent the month of October on this magnificent body of water , winter caught up to us.
19 Photos
Created 13 February 2009
Our voyage finally begins.
12 Photos
Created 8 October 2008
Getting ready to cast off, we sell most of our land life things and move aboard.
8 Photos
Created 27 September 2008
Exploring the canal and lock system in England and Wales with friends Bobby & Starr, we discuss our cruising dreams.
8 Photos
Created 5 July 2008
These boats taught me to sail and readied me for cruising.
8 Photos
Created 4 July 2008