Lightning Protection for Electronics

I am currently looking at protecting our new FP Saba 50 Catamaran from lightning as much as I practically can. I have Ewen Thomson PhD (, an expert on Marine Lightning, designing a protective rib cage around the sensitive interior of the boat. We want to augment this with some Surge Protective Devices (SPDs) to further protect the sensitive electronics on board. 

My reasons for undertaking this project is:

  • Lightning can kill you and sink the boat, two things that would ruin my day. 
  • I can count up 10 friends that have been hit by lightning and have incurred significant delays (some lost a whole year of cruising), whilst they put their boat back together. 
  • I’ve had several close calls in the Med, Atlantic Portugal and the Caribbean. It a truly frightening experience to be surrounded by lightning. I particularly don’t like scaring the Admiral. 
  • Insurance companies are increasingly looking to up their lightning excesses, as the world experiences increased lightning (the journal Science reported that we could expect to see a 12% increase in lightning activity for every 1oC of warming). Pantaenius have already indicated that their lightning excess is 30%, unless an endorsed lightning protection system is installed. I can see other insurance companies following suit. Pantaenius look like the best option for our Insurance so long as I can get rid of this 30% excess.

To complete our design, we need to find some well-designed marine 12V Surge Protection Devices that are rated for lightning. I’m interested to see what other owners have actually installed on their yachts and their experience with fitting these SPDs. 

Above is a video of a monohull that got badly hit. Nearly sunk the boat.

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