Our family friends rescued the tree house dwellers and watched us through their cottage windows as the storm surged around them and us. They said that with each lightning strike the whole bottom of the bay where we were anchored lit up constantly and they could see all the details on the ocean floor. The four of us, trapped in the cabin together, held hands and prayed aloud. It's a certain sign of extreme anxiety when you can get a 13 year old and 11 year old to pray aloud for salvation fervently. The roof leak in the cabin drenched us but we didn't notice.
The boat was anchored on the mud floor with a heavy chain since it was a pretty shallow anchorage. At the height of the storm we were struck with a bolt of lightning and heard an instant clap of loud thunder. The boat shook. We shook! There was an instant and strong smell of what we took for ozone through out the boat. We knew we had been hit and in retrospect I guessed the heavy chain had grounded the boat, thank goodness.A fresh downpour after the strike made us even wetter by the minute. It would have been dangerous to try to make it to the shore in a dingy in that storm. We had to simply wait it out.
After the storm in the morning we observed the drinking water in the galvanized tank under our floor boards had gone from clear and clean to opaque, the appearance of 2% milk. It was amazing. I never took the opportunity to ask a physical chemist what that process would have been. Strong electric current passing through oxygen and through fresh water.
In the aftermath, all of us and our old boat were undamaged. Our friends said as they watched us in the storm they thought we might be "goners" because they saw the lightning strike the boat. Our 8 year old was safely out of the tree house but was terrified for us! A number of trees on the island were downed in that storm and a cottage destroyed. Though this happened 40 odd years ago, the dangers of the sea and the weather and the power of prayer remain etched in our memory.