VIII

A huge, dark mass suddenly appears in the path of a U. S. Coast Guard vessel.

 

     It was just past midnight on August 8, 1956, when the 189-foot Coast Guard cutter Yamacraw (named after a Florida Indian tribe) was cruising in an area about 500 miles east of Jacksonville, Florida, captained by Commander William Strauch, USCG.

     The sky was clear and the sea almost flat and smooth under a starry sky when the radar operator suddenly called out, "large land mass dead ahead: range, 28 miles."

     "Impossible!" responded Ensign Francis Flynn. "There's only one land mass on our heading and that's the Dominican Republic eight hundred miles away."

     After several attempts to correct the reading, the radar operator again informed the officer of the watch, Mr. Flynn, that the land mass was still showing on the screen dead ahead.

     Steaming at 12 knots, the Yamacraw was now 24 miles from the mass and within two hours and only one mile away, the huge, dark mass appeared to stretch from horizon to horizon and reach skyward as far as those on the bridge could see. The stars had disappeared from sight and the radar continued to show this to be a solid mass.

     Soon the Yamacraw was alongside this strange mass upon the sea. The commander ordered his men to set up the three-foot-diameter carbon arc searchlight on the bridge as the ship moved slowly along, parallel to the mass. Some of the men of the 51-man complement aboard noticed that the dark mass did not appear to come up out of the water but seemed to float about two feet above the surface of the sea.

     When the ship was less than fifty feet away from the mass the powerful searchlight was turned on but the beam penetrated no more than a few feet into it and revealed its color as being a brownish gray.

     For a while the ship steamed slowly alongside the edge of the mass and every few minutes the captain would order the helmsman to penetrate it and come out again. While within the mass for brief periods there was no damp­ness or temperature change encountered as there would have been with a fog bank. It was now observed that the mass formed a straight line running from northeast to southwest above the surface of the sea.

     The high-intensity carbon arc lamp, when turned on in the mass, produced a dull glow and only when one looked directly at it. On deck, visibility was absolute zero within the mass. Some of the men noticed the mass felt like suspended particles of sand or dust although there was no movement at all within the mass.

     Apparently the mass affected the combustion of the engines of the Yamacraw as they started to lose RPMs while the ship was within the mass.

     With the reduction of the ship's forward motion and some of the crew having trouble breathing, the captain was about to order the helmsman to bring the ship about and out of this huge mass when the Yamacraw slowly pulled out of the mass.

     As the ship came out of the other side of the mass, the engines returned to normal operation and the crew could see that it was now nearly dawn but even the first streaks of sunlight could not penetrate the mass and the men could not see the top of the mysterious mass.                        .

     Just as the sun began coming into view on the horizon, the immense brownish-gray, unidentifiable mass vanished and revealed a smooth sea surface where it had been. There was no evidence about the ship, such as dust or sediment, as it cruised about in the area attempting to discover what it was that appeared in the darkness and disappeared in the daylight.

 

From: CAPTAIN SEAWEED'S STRANGE TALES OF SEA & SHORE

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