First of all, thanks for all the heartfelt thoughts and words of support. Everyone, even people we’ve never even personally met, have all been so gracious and kind with their encouragement and offers to help. It gives us the strength to pick ourselves up and sail on.
The night of the strike we quickly went through basic emergency damage control and assessment.
Is the fridge still keeping the beer cold? Yes.
Is anything on fire? No.
Is any water coming into the boat? No.
Does the engine still start? Yes.
After that it was trying out each individual piece of equipment that has an on/off switch and coming to the conclusion that we had a lot of work ahead of us. At least the new fridge I just installed a month ago was still working, and most of the lights, and the water pump, and the head pump, so our life support systems were in pretty good shape.
The morning after the strike we could visually see some of the damage.
The masthead actually looked pretty good. There was only a little blackening around the mount for the missing VHF antenna, it wasn’t even worth taking a picture of. I removed the spreader lights, VHF mount, steaming light, anchor light, and anemometer in preparation for replacement.
We went ashore and with our fingers crossed made the call to our insurance company, Pantaenius. Almost immediately we had arrangements to have a surveyor fly down from Florida to survey the boat. And a nice thing about our policy is that the deductible for lightning strikes is zero.
Our solar panels appeared to be working but alternator and generator charging were inoperative. The panels alone aren’t quite enough to keep up with our electrical demands, we no longer had a working VHF or legal lights for being at anchor, so we knew we’d need to head to a marina for the time being (and it would also make it easier to meet the surveyor). Fortunately, swanky Marina Papagayo was only about 7 miles away.
Nicole already had a trip planned to go visit friends in Washington DC, and after considering staying with the boat we decided that she should still go. So she flew out, and that same morning I pulled up the anchor and got underway to the marina.
And wow, nothing makes you appreciate the modern conveniences like having to use a compass heading for your course and actually hand steer the boat for over an hour! If the marina were much further I may have had to (gasp) use a paper chart.
The surveyor showed up later that morning and did a very thorough survey of the boat and her electrical systems. That report was submitted to the insurance company, and my job was to get quotes for repair or replacement of the broken gear which I have since provided. And that’s pretty much where we’re at right now, but we expect to be ready to start ordering stuff shortly. I’ll do the work myself. Most of this stuff I installed the first time around, so I can do it again faster than a yard could, and probably to a higher level of quality.
It took me a few days to pull out some of the fried gear. Still need to pull the battery monitor, engine hour meter, fuel gauge sender, alternator regulator, radar dome, GPS receiver, transducer, etc. And probably all the NMEA2K cabling. The lightning also fried one of my laptops. You may notice the empty rum bottle as well. While not directly affected by the lightning strike, it also gets a spot on the table as something that needs to be fixed.
So I’m curious as to where 1.21 gigawatts of electricity decided to exit the boat. (Or maybe it’s squished up into a ball, hiding in the bilge.) Yesterday I pulled out all the anchor chain to investigate the chain locker but everything looked good. Today I swam the hull and looked at every metal surface, seacock and thruhull trying to see any indication of where the strike exited the boat. I looked all over the hull underwater and at the water line for signs of pinholes, crazing, or burn marks. What I can see of the chainplates looks good. So I didn’t see anything unusual, but we’ll be hauling out anyway at the first opportunity to get a better look. We’ll also need to pull the mast to rewire it.
So yeah, this sucks. But they say cruising is fixing your boat in exotic places. And this place sure qualifies as exotic. It’s absolutely, and stunningly beautiful here. We’ve already fallen in love with Costa Rica and we’ve still got 90% of the coast to explore. We’ll have a post up soon about our wonderful stay in Bahia Elena. And yesterday we killed some time by renting a car and taking a trip to one of the many national parks, Rincon de la Vieja. We took a 4km hike amongst all sorts of steaming and bubbling volcanic treats - and it was truly amazing. So we’ll have some posts up on that soon as well, as well as updates to our ongoing repairs.
Bella Star will sail on!