Sunday, July 1, 2012

Shock of a lifetime in Panama

  Well, it happened.

  Chris and I were aboard "Espiritu" on the afternoon of June 28th in the Las Brisas anchorage here in Panama City when the mast was struck by lightning.

The last "carefree" photo of us, taken about 2 hours before the lightning strike at the world famous Balboa Yacht Club

          From my vantage point inside the boat looking back into the cockpit, all I saw was a bunch of sparks shooting off the backstay.

     Not a good sign.

    We realized immediately what had happened. We looked at each other, stunned by the realization that our worst fear had materialized: we had been struck by lightning. I stopped, looked around, walked toward Chris, hugged him desperately and whispered:

   "We're still alive."

    Only moments before, Chris had been outside hanging from the rigging as he pulled the dinghy up out of the water for the night.

    The smell of burning electricity permeated the cabin, and we saw smoke. We began pulling up cushions to try to find the source. Two ceiling fans were smoking, so we cut the wires quickly and removed them.

   A short list of what appears to be no longer functioning:  the SSB radio, the VHF radio, the AM/FM/CD player, the chart plotter, the auto-pilot, the windlass, the wind indicator, the masthead light,  the AIS, the shade cover is burned and several other electrical things which lil' ol' me can't spell or pronounce are fried. And this is just for starters.

 Now for the good news:

 1) We have insurance;

2) The Kindle, iPod, laptop, handheld VHF, TV/VCR and cellphone are all functioning;

 3) If this had to happen, it's about the best place to be. Panama City is a gigantic cosmopolitan city with a large nautical core (this is, after all, the entrance to the Panama Canal);

Welcome to Panama City! There's gotta be a WestMarine store here somewhere...

 4) We are under no time constraints at all. We can spend a couple of months here if need be. Not a bad place to hang out for awhile, huh?

 5) The bottom line is, we're alive. We survived a lightning strike!

 It's gonna be a long road, but we'll make it through. We're in good spirits. We knew when we started on this trip that anything could happen. This wasn't on our itinerary, obviously, but it's all part of the adventure.

 The fact is, Espiritu did her job. She took a bullet for us.

 So now Chris and I will do what we can to heal the old girl and nurse her back to health. It's the least we can do for her.

After all, she saved our lives.



  1. Hugs to you both and we are sending you well wishes. Were you aware Bella Star was hit as well in Costa Rica? They may have some good tips for you. Hopefully we will see you in the Fall with all of your NEW electronics! Love to you both, Molly and all the boys!!!

  2. So glad ur safe, scary that this is the second lightening strike on boats from blogs I read n about a month.

  3. Whew,

    Glad you guys are OK. Now you get to learn who the good boat guys are in Panama City. Liz, hope your Spanish is up to the task. I have heard that Panamanians speak their own version.

    Paul & Judy

  4. Hi sorry to hear about the big Z-A-P. Yikes, must've been scary. But really happy to know that you're both ok. Panama City should be a great place to regroup. Cheers from Cindi and Adam, s/v Bravo, Ecuador.