Re: Static Electricity
Tue, 3 Aug 1999 11:02:03 EDT

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West Wight Potter Website at URL
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In a message dated 8/3/99 6:39:43 AM Pacific Daylight Time,

> Was this my mast soaking up electricity from the air or what? Hind sight
> leads me to believe that attaching the gas line was a mistake. Has anyone
> had experience with this? Are there precautions? Your thoughts and
> experience would be appreciated.


I have experienced the same phenomenon on Lake Tahoe. At one time I was
unable to start the motor because whenever I got my hand within eight inches
or so from the starter rope, a large spark would jump to my hand. Even
touching the furled sails created sparks.

I found that in the dry air of the Sierra's, that when there is a stiff wind,
which usually accompanies a thunder squall, that ionization would take place
in the standing rigging, causing the entire boat to be charged. This can be
extremely dangerous. The only way you can avoid it is to ground the charge
to the water. We've had a lot of discussions about this, but I have been
unable to do that. I now avoid being out on the lake under such conditions.
The Coast Guard told me at the time not to use my VHF, stay away from all
metal on the boat (hard to do on a 15 foot boat) and suggested in the future
I use rubber boots and gloves, also a little impractical.

Be careful with electricity. I felt lucky after this encounter. You were
too. Perhaps one of us should change the name of our Potter to, "American
Express." When you're away from home you can charge it!

P-15 Lollipop
N. Lake Tahoe, NV