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In “Rare Form”
The most recent unexplained event in the Bermuda Triangle occurred on June 26, 2001, to the sailboat “Rare Form.” As with many of the other cases, the witnesses are reliable and well qualified observers. They are Paul Vance and Doug Gerdon. I have communicated with Paul several times after he first contacted me. He is a far cry from a person seeking to exaggerate anything. He is not anxious to apply any kind of wild theory or explanation to what he and his friend, Doug, saw. In fact, he conducted a level headed investigation of his own boat after the incident and tends to defer to more conventional explanations for some things that happened during the encounter. He has also been captivated enough by the the unusual nature of what they both experienced to try and find an explanation, including wanting to locate any radar records of that night. But he is concise about what he saw. He reports what happened in cool and spontaneous reportorial narrative.
Last Monday evening a friend and myself departed West Palm Beach, Florida, en route to West End, Bahamas, in my 26 foot sailboat. Eleven miles offshore I looked up in the sky to the northeast and witnessed something strange. There was a single light— I'm guessing about 3 to 5 thousand feet in altitude— which I assumed to be an aircraft with it's landing light on although not very brilliant. The light then appeared to turn downward which then made me think it may be a helicopter with a searchlight, although again it wasn't a brilliant light. A swirling mist then engulfed the light as the light slowly drifted down into the mist. The whole mass of mist then glowed a short time and then dissipated along with the light. Stars could then be seen and the sky was clear. This happened at 9:30 pm EST, and my friend witnessed it too and tried to videotape it but the boat was pitching too much to get anything. My question is, have you heard of this phenomena before ?
My reply was, Yes, I had heard of those types of reports. In earlier books on the subject, a couple similar had been reported about dark masses or “holes” in the sky that blotted out the stars. They appeared to be some weird atmospheric mass. During these “manifestations” electromagnetic aberrations rocked compasses, drained the engine generators and lights, and generally held the vessel in limbo. Lights were reported to enter the mass and the mass disappeared, and the night sky returned to normal and the stars could be seen again. (This is reported to have happened to the yacht Nightmare in September 1972). In all cases it was between Florida and the Bahamas, most
likely because yachters don’t usually cruise far out into the Triangle due to the distance. I asked Paul a few basic questions, trying to see if his answers would rule out any light on some basic meteorological phenomenon like ball lightning, or possibly drug smugglers (yes, they are in the area in helicopters)
Question: What color was the light? Did it disappear as though it landed? Did you hear any noise in the sky? Was the Moon about to rise?
Answer: The light was white. It didn't disappear as though it landed because the swirling mist didn't extend to the ocean surface. Our engine was running so if it made any noise we probably couldn't hear it. The moon was already up at about 70 degrees toward the south. The feeling I got was that the light appeared, waited a moment until the swirling mist began beneath it, and then it descended through the mist tunnel and disappeared. It's like the mist was a door.
I’ll let Paul elaborate more on the incident, as gleaned from later communiqués.
The light turned downward and descended into the swirling cloud making the whole cloud glow. When the cloud dissipated the glow dissipated with it. It was a single white light. I'm a licensed commercial pilot with an instrument rating so I know what planes look like at night. My common sense tells me it was atmospheric, but it sure looked like it was passing through a passage. The weather was CAVU with a puff of cloud here and there. Wind was light from the East. [We] don’t know what we saw but both agreed it lasted 2 to 3 minutes.
I’m sure Paul was being patient with me, since I asked some pestering questions trying to determine what the light and mist could have been, though by this time both seemed to have no conventional explanation. I finally asked Paul about any effects, such as engine problems, compass malfunctions, etc., concurrent with this sighting. I was surprised by his answer and impressed by his logical approach to it.
The motor lost power at the same time we saw the light. It didn't quit; the rpms dropped way off and it ran rough. We were so amazed at what we were seeing though, we hardly took note of the engine. The wind was out of the East so we had to sail back to West Palm and never made it to the Bahamas. The next morning we were swimming off the boat and noticed alot of black soot around the exhaust and I immediately suspected the fuel pump diaphragm as the problem. After getting back to Indiana, I began checking out the engine and found the FPD to be OK . Upon checking the ignition system, I discovered a cracked coil. The coil would barely jump the spark plug in open air so I doubt that it would fire much under cylinder pressure. I didn't mention the engine before because it never got better after the sighting so I didn't possibly see how the could be related. I'll have to admit though when the engine faltered and I saw that swirling mist I thought to myself ‘My God, there's something to this Bermuda Triangle stuff !’
The Rare Form sailed on, however, back to port, and “survived” the Bermuda Triangle. . . .But one cannot help but wonder if they had been closer to this phenomenon if the result would have been the same.