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Write to be heard: Sailboat hit by electrical arc sparks discussions

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Getting true height may be hard

Talk about “current” events. I especially enjoyed May’s cover story, “Not an average day on the New River”, because I was with Editor Lucy Reed at a Triton event when the captain of the boat in the news told her of his potentially disastrous and shocking encounter. This is one story for the wire services and in this case the shocking news was both overhead and overheard.

As further coincidence or synchronicity would have it, a day or two later, I happened to be at the marina where the boat that received the arc was hauled out for the repairs necessitated by the bolts. As his crew busied themselves, the captain was gracious enough to show me around and tell me more about the incident and the damage.

While The Triton made a valiant effort to more fully understand how this incident occurred, it seems that getting all the facts about electrical arcing and those particular wires and separating them from opinion may prove to remain difficult for a long time.

Had anyone been injured or killed, I would think that immediate action would have been taken to ensure that nobody else gets a bolt and a jolt by passing under those supposedly high-enough wires. However, since fortunately nobody was injured but the bees, I can only imagine that this will soon be in the hands of lawyers and insurance agencies, and they will each hire expert witnesses to explain what they think happened.

Does anybody else have stories of sailboats arcing high voltage without coming into contact with overhead wires in other places?

I am hoping The Triton will continue to cover this story. Speaking of The Triton, which is named for the messenger of the sea, I believe that while Neptune/Poseidon held a trident, it was Zeus who sent bolts of lightning from the sky.

Paul M. Foer

Professional journalist and yacht captain

Annapolis, Md.



Bees a part of yachting

Here at S-E-A, we were fascinated by The Triton article about the sailboat that received a high energy electrical arc while passing under the New River power lines. [“Not an average day on the New River,” page A1, May issue]. I distributed it to several of our engineers and also sent a copy to my academy classmate Ed Karle who has become a notable beekeeper nationally and internationally. He, too, found it interesting.

Ed and I recently discussed the bee component of the electrical arc and the issues about bees swarming. He says this is not so unusual and a very plausible theory. Along the same topic, we have all had bees in our masts, booms or marinas at some point during our sailing careers, and none of us really know the best method (and least offensive to the bees) for removal.

Bees provide an interesting component to our everyday life and the perceived nuisance or stigma of bees being bad should be dispelled. This is a topic that merits additional discussion by passing on the knowledge from experts in this field to those who have potential exposure to bees. (Notwithstanding that it was not an average day on the New River.)

Capt. Christopher Karentz

Senior Maritime Consultant

S-E-A Limited

Ft. Lauderdale



Not the first arc on the river

I just read the story on the electrical arcing that caused the extensive damage to the sailboat on the New River. I lived for many years just up river from the overhead power lines that caused the problem with this boat, and it has happened before.

In the early ’90’s, a tall sailboat had an arcing incident, and within a few minutes they had a fire blazing from their main electrical panel. They managed to pull up to my dock, and the fire department came and put out the fire. It caused extensive damage to the entire electrical system, as well as frying all the electronics.

The captain estimated that they cleared the overhead lines by about 6-8 feet. FPL should be more forthcoming with information on the voltage and actual height of these lines.

Capt. Pete Snyder

Broward Shipyard



Follow the chart, not a guess

It always amazes me when people do stupid stuff and then look to lay blame on others, or use the “Johnny did it, and had no trouble” defense.

The fact is the chart states authorized clearance 80 feet. His boat has an air draft of 98 feet. Not even close. Does not matter what the height of the actual cable is.

I am happy no one was injured in this mishap. It could have been a lot worse.

Captain who frequents a yard up the New River

Name withheld on request

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