IMPACT OF LIGHTNING OR ELECTROSTATIC DISCHARGE
Whether it be a direct hit or near strike, the likelihood is that all electronics onboard a vessel will have some measure of damage caused by a direct lightning strike or close proximity to a significant electrostatic discharge.
Given the nature of an integrated system on board of electrics and electronics, it is impossible to predict what route the static discharge will take as is goes to ground and it also depends whether the boat or boat builder or installer took any precautions to try to protect against such an event.
The damage to equipment, cabling and ancillaries can be immediate and components are blown up instantly, or damage can be partial and the components will fail at an indeterminate period thereafter. It is also likely the majority of other electrical equipment onboard will either be damaged or partially affected and will prematurely fail at some future point in time.
The electrostatic discharge will cause random damage to PCBs and especially will destroy ICs and flat pack devices, as well as arc across copper tracks completely or partially severing them.
There is limited protection which can be provided to electronics to protect against static damage, simply due to the massive energy levels involved. However, installations can be given limited protection, simply by bonding all rigging to deck fittings and to an independent grounding plate using appropriate sizes of copper strapping will offer a reasonable level of protection.
The provision of lightning protection should be considered if the craft is intended for use in an area where there is likely to be a high incidence of electrical storms, for example inland lakes, the Caribbean and North East Asia are all areas of significant electrostatic activity.