Blog Archives

Lightning ~ Damage and Delay


Photo taken in 1984 by Johnny Autery of Dixons Mills, Alabama.

Now that we live aboard, one of my fears is a lightning strike to LIB.  While sailing the Caribbean our first six months, we did not see ANY lightning. Apparently in the southern regions, the consistent atmospheric temperatures eliminate the thunder and lightning created when cold and warm air masses clash.

Of course we had rain, but no light and sound shows accompanied the rain. We didn’t even register that it was missing until we started sailing north and heard thunder for the first time in months. Frank and I looked at each other and then the sky wondering if a jet was passing overhead. Nope, it was a good old fashioned storm with those frightening elements of lightning and thunder added in.

Unfortunately, while at a dock in Deltaville, Virginia, LIB suffered a lighting “event.”  I will not call it a strike because I am not certain it was a direct hit but rather a nearby strike that took its’ toll on our boat and several others in the marina. Ours was by no means the most damaged boat, but we have suffered a lot of loss; especially the opportunity cost of loosing our window to explore the Chesapeake Bay. The “event” occurred on July 16th and we didn’t complete repairs to LIB until October 4th. (This explains why I have not shared more about our “Sailing History Tour.”)

On a scale of mild, medium and severe, our personal, rather loose definition of lightning strikes would be as follows: mild: electronic equipment destroyed;  moderate: electronics destroyed and engines effected; severe: electronics destroyed, engines effected, fire and possible sinking of the boat.

We consider ours a moderate and expensive strike.

These last months, we have spent working with our insurance company and scheduling repairs.  Working through the claims issues took almost nine weeks which was very frustrating! Frank and I were extremely antsy to get Let It Be back in the excellent condition we maintain.

This isn’t a comprehensive list, but some things affected by the lightning include: both chart plotters, the entire NMEA 2000 system, inverter charger, engine gauges, VHF radios, IridiumGo!, AC units, AC thermostats, the 110v electricity, our antennae, some lights, fans, our propane solenoid, etc.

Seeing all of these electronics incopassitated made us truly appreciate our manual heads (toilets) and our simple Cruise RO Water Maker which were not affected!

Frank and I do our very best to make certain that LIB is well maintained and all systems are in excellent shape, so seeing so many of our systems out of service has been disheartening for us.  Returning LIB to the high standards we expect was an expensive and extensive process and we are excited to finally have her back to full service again.

We are especially thankful to Anne and Miles Poor of MRP Refit who coordinated the repairs for us and put us in contact with excellent companies. We are very pleased with the services rendered and the changes made to LIB.

Because we had to replace both of our chart plotters and autopilot, we chose to depart from the Garmin systems originally installed on LIB and had B & G electronics installed. While our insurance company did not cover all of the costs involved, we believe the change is an upgrade to our systems information and auto pilot, so paying for the additional costs was valuable enough to invest our money.

Post lightning, it was important to pull our mast and inspect all of the rigging and electronics. We had to replace all the antennae, lights and wiring.  Fortunately the mast and rigging did not suffer any damage.

Since the mast had to be pulled for inspection, we have chosen to ship it to Florida where we will have it restepped.  We will spend the next few months as a motor catamaran.  While it is a strange feeling to be completely dependent on engines, we have the added benefit of being able to fit under all of the fixed bridges of the Intracoastal Waterway.  By shipping our mast, we will be able to see all of the ICW without going “outside” to avoid bridges too low for LIB’s mast height.


LIB looks a bit strange without a mast, boom and forestay.

For those who love the details, LIB’s mast is 68 feet plus antennae. Bridge clearance for the ICW can be as low as 65 feet for fixed bridges. And considering all the havoc that Hurricane Matthew has caused, some bridges could be lower due to high water.

While wrestling with lightning issues, we took the opportunity to do make some other changes to LIB.  I already mentioned that we reworked the water drainage on LIB as sort of a side note in a previous post, but the drainage was a pretty major change that has vastly improved the functionality of our cockpit.


We added a great little storage cabinet in the cockpit where Fountaine Pajot places an ice maker.  Since we didn’t add an ice maker, we converted that available space to a storage spot for little extras that we don’t want to walk inside to get.


Think sunscreen, bug spray, dog leash and other small items.

Privacy please?! We finally added shades to our salon. We debated this issue for a long while because I wanted the sunshades to add privacy and reduce heat from the sun, but it wasn’t a critical addition. We finally found a company that could make the shades we were hoping for without charging us a king’s ransom!


When up, the shades are hardly noticeable.

We ended up making paper patterns of our windows and shipping them to Mark Osborne of Breeze Blinds in the UK.  (Thank you Alison and Neil for the referral!!) A few weeks later the blinds arrived in the post and they fit our windows perfectly.


Privacy and sun protection.

Installation of the blinds was a pretty big job that took us about 14 hours over two days. But these blinds are exactly what we were hoping for – very low profile when in the up position, but when down they offer excellent sun protection and privacy.

Maintenance please! I offer a special thank you to Frank for spending so much time taking care of the maintenance of our boat.  There are many systems on board that need to be cared for on a routine basis and Frank just takes care of it.  I know there is a saying that is something like, “Eighty percent of your boat will work 100 percent of the time.”  Well, I have to say, Frank is awesome about doing his best to make sure all of LIB is humming along beautifully.  I truly appreciate his efforts and LIB is more comfortable and reliable because of his hard work!

Considering what we were dealing with and the complications we faced while hanging out in Jabin’s Yacht Yard, things could have been much more difficult. We always try to find the positives in any challenge, so we will look back at our lightning event and be thankful for other things that occurred during that time.  Instead of defining this time as “when the lightning struck,” we will remember it as when the sale of our land home finally happened.  We will remain thankful that we were in Annapolis where we had access the parts and technicians we needed for repairs.  We are thankful that Frank could coordinate repairs in Annapolis while I drove to Dallas to empty our home.  We will remember that we had the opportunity to make some really awesome new friends and reunite with some others who came to town.  Finally we will cherish the time we spent with family members who are usually too far away to see in person.

Having recognized the good things within the challenge, I will admit, there are many places we wanted to see while in the Chesapeake that we missed completely because LIB was out of commission for so long.  Anchoring in the Potomac River at the foot of D.C. and seeing the monuments as we enjoyed dinner aboard is a prime example of what we missed… who knows, maybe we will decide to make this trip again and catch those missed dreams.


Sunset in the Poquoson Flats.

As I write, our third sunset out of the dock is upon us. It feels wonderful to be exploring again, watching winds and weather, and meandering into quiet creeks to drop anchor for the night.

Thank you for reading and for your patience with our lack of posts as we sorted out LIB. I wish you fair winds, following seas and NO lightning!

Next Stop Williamsburg ~ Hey, I Know You!


“Located on the Virginia Peninsula, Williamsburg is in the northern part of the Hampton Roads metropolitan area.  It is bordered by James City County and York County.

Williamsburg was founded in 1632 as Middle Plantation as a fortified settlement on high ground between the James and York rivers. The city served as the capital of the Colony of Virginia from 1699 to 1780 and was the center of political events in Virginia leading to the American Revolution,” per the popular site Wikipedia.



Williamsburg was our second stop along the Chesapeake History Sail.  Frank and I had a great time walking this incredibly well restored town.  My favorite part was listening to the costumed employees who engagingly recount the history by sharing their “personal” stories as if they were still living in the 18th century.

We had one exceptionally talented young woman who discussed “current events” as we ambled along the street. She pointed out homes of former residents as if they still lived in the houses and “gossiped” about what they were doing.  She spoke about voting rights (privileges) that were restricted to white, male, property owners over 21 years of age and delivered the information as if she were outraged that she had as much vested as others but had not right to vote.


Having history told as a conversation as we walked the street allowed me to absorb the information while observing the beauty of the area. History is literally brought to life here and I would have loved to spend several days exploring Williamsburg and participating in all of the demonstrations!


Frank reaches in to gage the temperature of the ice house.

We were surprised to learn that back in the 1700’s ice houses existed for the wealthier colonists. Apparently, during the winter, ice was harvested from frozen rivers, lakes or ponds and stored in an underground area, packed in straw and cloth.  We were told that the ice lasted well into summer! I received conflicting information about if the ice was used in drinks or just to chill bottles and such. Perhaps it depended on where the ice was harvested and how clean that water source was.


Awww – they made me think of Hunter and Clayton.

Little boys and their guns! It doesn’t matter what era, the fascination exists! I spotted these two little boys absorbed with their “pop guns” in their world of make believe and I was reminded of my own two sons.  Of course I had to snap a picture!


Speaking of “little boys”…. actually, Frank has a picture of himself in the stockade from a family vacation to Williamsburg when he was about 11 years old. I had to get this picture for his mom.


No English Colony would be complete without a hedge maze! These gardens were popular in England between the 16th and 18th century and any young girl who reads historical romance novels will probably be familiar with this concept.  Though a bit small, the hedge maze in Williamsburg was fun to see and walk.

But the real surprise we received at the gardens was bumping into some friends from Texas!  We had no idea the Sullivan Family was nearby, but we ran into them at Williamsburg. So of course, we invited them to visit us on LIB.

Plans were hatched and the Sullivans agreed to join us for an afternoon sail and dinner on LIB. This is the first time Trinity and Arwyn had ever sailed and we loved having the chance to introduce them to it.


Sullivans and Stiches with Captain front and center.

Our afternoon sail involved tacking up the York River which was pretty choppy especially since our wind angle was only about 40 degrees.  We tacked several times to move upwind and that gave the girls the opportunity to feel like real sailors by working the jib sheets.

I’m not sure they loved the motion of the boat while we were going upwind, but once we turned to sail back and LIB was on a broad reach, the boat motion improved and the Sullivan Family got a taste of why sailing is fun!


Orthodontist and former patients smile for the camera.

Trinity and Arwyn are the first former orthodontic patients we have had on board Let It Be.  We spent many an hour teaching friends and patients how to wakeboard behind our ski boat, but this is the first time we have had the chance to share sailing with any of Frank’s patients.  I can’t think of two nicer or more game girls to kick off the experience!


Trinity and Captain explored a bit on the SUP.

Once anchored back in Sara Creek, the SUPs were launched and some of the crew went for a sunset paddle. Captain refused to be left behind. She was certain Trinity wanted her company!

We are extremely flattered that the Sullivans were willing to take some of their family vacation time and spend it with us on LIB.  We truly enjoyed catching up with them, hearing about their impressive taekwondo accomplishments, learning what is current in triathlons in Coppell and discussing the latest news from our former hometown.

We had a wonderful time sharing our new lifestyle with friends from our Coppell life. Thank you Sullivan Family for including us in your vacation time!



%d bloggers like this: