Lightning Strikes Small Boat

  • LIGHTNING STRIKES SMALL BOAT - CONTENTS: Lightning Strikes Small Boat on Rapphannock River ca 1950
    • Photographs of Teal I, a Higgins speedboat, in 1949 & Dunnsville Virginia 1952
    • A very brief history of Higgins boats & speedboats; Higgins enthusiast contact information
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about lightning strikes on waterways & lightning risks to small boats

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Lightning & small boat safety on the Rappahannock river near Dunnsville Virginia:

This article cites further opinions on what to do to reduce the chances of personal injury by lightning during a storm - how to avoid being struck by lightning while outdoors near a river. This article series describes common lightning protection systems, certification, installation, and lightning protection system inspection. We provide information about lightning strikes, lightning hazards, related equipment, sources of lightning protection system installers, and lightning strike risk assessment

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Lightning Strike Catastrophes for Small Boats on Open Water

Small boat lightning safety advice.

Higgins speedboat, Rappahannock River, Dan Friedman, Sr. 1949

Stay off of open water: OPINION by DF: Living on the Rapphannock river in Virginia, we had heard of people who were killed by lighting.

A case close to home and involving the speedboat Teal I, shown here ended in tragedy in 1950 [the photograph was taken in 1949]: a neighbor who had purchased my dad's Higgins speedboat came to take delivery at our home on the Rapphannock river in Dunnsville, Virginia.

[Click to enlarge any image]

The new owner was excited about the Higgins' reputation for speed and handling. This Higgins boat was a plywood-hulled inboard-motor speedboat made famous by its larger cousins such as the PT109 and Higgins' Eureka design landing craft boats that served ably during World War II.

The boater, who lived across the river from us, ignored Dad's advice that he wait with us until a rapidly-approaching storm had passed. Instead the new owner, in a rush to get his new boat home and proud of its speed, insisted on making a dash across the wide river. We watched him cast off and we also watched a wall of rain and storm rush up the river from the Chesapeake bay.

He disappeared from view, roaring East into a wall of black storm front.

The neighbor was never found. Charred portions of the boat were found floating in a freshwater creek across the river on the following day, and it was believed he was struck by lightning while on the water.

Other Boats Named Teal & A Bit of History of Boats named Teal and of Higgins Boats

The original Teal was and remains a duck, (genus Anas) including green-winged, blue-winged, cinnamon, gray, silver, ringed, and Baikal Teal ducks that are found mostly in freshwater areas and who feed on insects at the water surface

Teal I (the Higgins built speed boat, above) was named for our Teal, nee Mathilde, our mom. Dad owned a series of boats carrying that name and running on the Rapphannock except the last, perhaps Teal V (we lost track of the count) which was a cruiser based in Miami, Florida.

Andrew Jackson Higgins' (b1886) boat building business (founded in 1930 as an adjunct to his lumber business and experimenting with plywood) first demonstrated successfully in 1938, a Higgins design for a landing craft, the ramp bow, the Eureka boat became the successful design for LCVPs or "Higgins Boats" used extensively during World War II. [10] Other Higgins designs produced the 78-foot PT gunboats that saw extensive service in the the Mediterranean as well as the Pacific.[11]

Following the end of World War II, Higgins boatbuilding continued to produce a smaller series of plywood-hulled craft known for combining speed, agility, and stability. Dad loved to demonstrate, to the terror of visitors, full-speed U-turns in the Teals. He also "drownproofed" his children by shouting EMERGENCY and tossing us (well not my sister) out of the boat at high speed.

Higgins boats continue to have a following among people who enjoy classic boats - contact the Higgins Classic Boats Association [12]

A modern seventy-foot cruiser, also a Teal, currently provides Hudson River Cruises out of Kingston, New York and in more elegant surroundings than Teal I shown above. Contact: Tel: 845-750-6025, Email:


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