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Date:  25 March 2021. Lightning Strike series Conclusion (part 2)


Due to friends aboard boats with slower download speeds, I broke the lightning series into two articles. For those with poor connections, here are your links:

For folks who prefer everything on one page, this is the link you want:
Lightning Strike series Summary (parts 1 and 2)

The lightning that struck a neighboring Prairie did not just take out one 12-volt battery. Details on that can be found in the
Lightning Strike and Errors Made (part 1) article. Further problems were identified and solved in this, the conclusion of the lightning series.

The lightning struck this 1979 Prairie:

The boat is a gem, though she had been stored *on the hard for quite some time before purchase.

*on the hard: a vessel out of the water. This usually means a boat has been hauled out for work, or for storage during an off-season. Some northern boats spend their winters on land.

The upper helm on the Prairie no longer worked properly. Back in October everything on the fly bridge was functioning well. Then, for no apparent reason, the engine could not be started topside.

This issue/problem is in my view an Emergency. If your engine stalls it never happens at an opportune moment. Thus, the ability to immediately restart the engine is a critical safety measure.

Because I had a few months back mapped out the wiring on the bridge of the Prairie,
naturally I did not think to check it again. It was right then, so why do that again?!?

Our friend Jesse is a shipwright and experienced in tracking down and resolving issues aboard boats. He immediately recognized the problem when he started disassembling the upper helm instrument panel.

Jesse noted the BURNT ARC along the side of the ignition switch. He surmised that lightning struck the boat.

Mistake #2: When the upper helm stopped properly working I should have examined the instrument connections and double-checked my previous repair job.

Because I had recently worked on the entire upper helm, arrogance bit me on the transom. My job topside including tracing the wires, diagramming same, installing the new (see above) ignition switch, and verifying the instruments worked. They did, at least until lightning struck.

The "problem" with lightning is the far reaching effects it can have. Almost all of the terminal ends on the instrument panel at the upper helm were burnt. Jesse replaced those.

Jesse also designed and cut out of oak a new panel for the smaller lower helm instruments.

Jesse had diagnosed the problem at the upper helm. We bought a new ignition switch which Jesse installed. The new terminal ends resolved all other issues topside.

Next, we needed to concentrate on the lower helm, specifically the tachometer. Jesse
suggested Acme would best suit our needs. He also spoke highly of Harry who owns the the business.


The solution to the tach issue was found at Acme Auto Marine Electric Company.


An additional wire needed to be installed on the Perkins alternator. This connection wire will allow a tachometer gauge to register the revolutions per minute aka RPM's of the engine. Harry is a long-time small business owner on Treasure Island. His expertise is well-known in the area.

Harry is a gem. He owns Acme on Treasure Island, FL  33706 (Phone: 727-367-8333)
The company specializes in starters (marine and auto) plus alternators and more.


During our visit Harry took apart the alternator so he could attach a wire. Once separated from the case, he recognized a problem. Lightning had damaged the alternator. The alternator guts were replaced right then and there with items in stock.

The ALTERNATOR COILS were burnt. Additionally Harry replaced a couple more damaged parts.


We walked into Harry's shop and less than an hour later we were on our way. Thank you Harry.

And thanks too to Jesse who knew just the place to go!

What to Learn from my Mistakes during the whole lightning fiasco:

  • MISTAKE #1: Ignoring an alarm. I should have tracked down WHY the alarm went off.
  • Mistake #2: When the upper helm stopped properly working I should have disassembled the instrument panel and rechecked my previous repair job.



For folks who prefer everything on one page, this is the link you want:
Lightning Strike series Summary (parts 1 and 2)


That's it from the water. I thank you for reading.

Has your boat ever been struck by lightning?
And, how many CO monitors do you have in your home?

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2021, 2023

Categories:  Boat Talk, Characters, Gear, In the Bilges, Locations, Security,

Lightning Strike and Errors Made (part 1) ~ Previous Post ...   
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