You may have been closer to being struck than you think.
In a thunderstorm, as the negatively-charged thunderheads move across the sky they induce an equal, positively-charged area on the ground below them. From these clouds extend discharge ionized channels known as stepped leaders, which reach down toward the ground -- especially tall objects like trees or masts.
As the leaders approach the ground, the presence of the oppositely-charged area of the ground below enhances the strength of the electric field. If the electric field is strong enough, a leader can start reaching upward from the ground or other tall objects. If those leaders meet, the path is completed and the lightning strike occurs.
All of this positive charge on the ground is static electricity, which is why people who have been struck often report their hair standing on end, or a tingling in their skin, just before the strike occurred.
If you noticed these static effects on your boat, that meant you were in the presence of a strong induced electrical field of a positive charge. Obviously it wasn't strong enough to complete the connection, but you were definitely seeing the signs.
S/V Free Spirit
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