Spirit of South Carolina hit by lightning

Image by Flickr user SC MaritimeImage by 20080729ship.jpg The Spirit of South Carolina is mainly used as a teaching vessel for South Carolina youth, but on this occasion was teaching adults about sailing on a trip from Newport, R.I., to Martha's Vineyard, Mass.

The state's tall ship, the Spirit of South Carolina, got struck by lightning off the coast of Rhode Island on Sunday afternoon and had to be towed into port. No one on board was injured, but some of the equipment got fried.

From the S.C. Maritime Heritage Foundation:

As reported by Captain Tony Arrow, at approximately 3:00 PM on Sunday, July 27, the Spirit of South Carolina was off the east coast of Block Island when a strong line of squalls approached. The ship was struck by lightning, disabling most of the electronics onboard and the engine power which is controlled by electronic components. There were no injuries to passengers or crew. At the time of the bright blast the ship was operating in heavy weather mode with passengers down below and everything battened down while keeping a close eye on traffic.

The tall ship is staying up North for the hurricane season, partly due to high insurance costs associated with storms, The Post and Courier reports. It should be returning this way by October 4, though, for the Sea Spray Scouts program.

From The Post and Courier:

Crew member Phil Frandino said the ship had to sail the old-fashioned way, without the use of its electronics.

"You can't depend on GPS and similar technologies all of the time," he said. "You have to learn the old-fashioned principles of sailing, and we teach that on the ship."


"The reality of the situation is that we need to go through the boat and see what electrical components need to be fixed," (Maritime Foundation director) Brad Van Liew said.

Update August 20: The ship's been checked out and it looks like it escaped any substantial damage.

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