Chapter 2: First Actions

On a boat, you learn, prepare, and practice things like man-overboard drills, equipment failures, and medical emergencies. But it’s rather difficult to practice a lightning strike. The first few things done turned out to be right, but there were plenty of mistakes along the way.

Checking the boat for hull damage, calling the marina service center, and calling the insurance company immediately were important. The hull was intact and there was no water incursion. A service center tech came out to the boat and confirmed no visible hull damage and removed the destroyed power cord. The initial contact with the insurance company to get “the process” going also was quick and painless.

In hindsight, the next things we did could have been either different or better. We inspected the whole boat and took pictures before starting to clean things up. Dozens of pictures are good, but we should have taken hundreds of pictures. As the cleanup, surveys, inspections and discussions moved forward – pictures were critical. We learned pictures before and after any adjuster or estimator is on the boat is also very important. We had some very unfortunate things happen with the trades and inaccuracies with the insurance adjuster that pictures helped resolve.

With the trades (marina service center), some items on the boat were damaged further by workers literally tearing things apart to look for other damage. Pictures before and after confirmed the additional damage. The insurance company adjuster confused our boat with others and accidently marked an item as prior damage. Pictures resolved that issue, too.

I would recommend that every boat owner, when next aboard, take a bunch of pictures inside and outside your boat and put them in a safe place. “Before” pictures are critically important after a disaster.

The boat was hauled out and further inspected. The hull, prop, and rudder all were fine. The lightning bolt did truly follow the 110v lines out the back of the boat and not down through the keel. The process of getting repair estimates and communicating with the insurance company then started.

That’s when things went downhill.