A strike of lightning

June 20, 2006

What do you do if there is a thunderstorm while you are kayaking?

Thunderstorms can be very dangerous in a kayak because the kayak while small may still be the tallest thing on the sea surface and hence liable to a lightning strike.

Looking around I found this website which in about 2000 words tells you what to do on land, while driving, on your bike, while camping, in the mountains and finally on a boat. The 'small' boat section is two lines long.

In summary if you can't get back to dry land and the safety of a building with plumbing and electricity or a hard top vehicle then:

  • if you have an anchor deploy it
  • hunker down as low as possible in the kayak
  • do not touch any metal surfaces
  • do not leave ropes trailing in the water
  • do not touch any wet ropes
  • stay off the radio unless it is an absolute emergency

However it strikes me (pardon the pun) that most of the above could be difficult at sea during a thunderstorm in a kayak…

How far is the lightening from you? Divide the number of seconds by five to get the distance in miles. So 10 sec = 2 miles, 30 sec = 6 miles etc.

cows dead Lastly this image (by Ruth Lyon-Bateman) was posted on the above website. The cows were killed when lightening struck a metal fence which they were touching.


2 Responses to “A strike of lightning”

  1. Larry Says:

    I am looking for a case where lightning actually killed a Kayaker. I am having trouble finding and example where a kayaker was killed, or hit, at sea. I have easily found cases where they were on land, or even in a WWII bunker, but not at sea.

    I am beginning to wonder if being on land is more dangerous than sea on a kayak. Conventional wisdom aside, the kayak is quite low, paddles are wood or composite in most cases, it would appear that lightning would not be very prone to hit something, that is perhaps less conductive than water, 3 feet above the water.

  2. Len Says:

    @Larry – Here’s a case of exactly that happening. Sad story.


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