Note: This case was originally shown as 1908 based on a New York City news clip.-CF-
ELECTRIC CLOUD ENVELOPED SHIP
Caused Mohican’s Sailors to Become like Animated Magnets
Compass Was Set A-Spinning and Iron Chains Could Not Be Lifted From the Deck
When the British steamer Mohican, from Ibraila, Roumania, which reached this port on Saturday, was making for the Delaware Breakwater, it had a most remarkable experience which terrorized the crew, played havoc with the ship’s compass and brought the vessel to a standstill for nearly a half hour.
For that length of time the vessel was enshrouded in a strange metallic vapor, which glowed like phosphorus. The entire vessel looked as if it were afire and the sailors flitted about the deck like glowing phantoms. The cloud had a strange magnetic effect on the vessel, for the needle of the compass revolved with the speed of an electric motor and the sailors were unable to raise pieces of steel from the magnetized decks. Captain Urquhart described the thrilling experience and his story is vouched for by every man of the crew.
"It was shortly after the sun had gone,” he said, "and we were in latitude 37 degrees 16 minutes and longitude 72 degrees 48 minutes. The sea was almost as level as a parlor carpet and scarcely a breeze ruffled the water. It was slowly growing dark when the lookout saw a strange gray cloud in the southeast. At first it appeared as a speck on the horizon, but it rapidly came nearer and was soon as large as [a] balloon.”
Ship in Shining Cloud
"It had a peculiar gray tinge, and as it bore down upon us, we saw bright glowing spots in its mass. A mile away we perceived that it rose several hundred feet above the level of the sea and was almost that broad. It rolled over the sea toward us, the glowing spots becoming more and more vivid. Suddenly the cloud enveloped the ship, and the most remarkable phenomena took place. The Mohican suddenly blazed forth like a ship on fire, and from stem to stern and topmast to keel everything was tinged with the strange glow. The seamen were in terror when they found themselves looking as if they had been immersed in hell fire. Their hair stood straight on end, not from the fright so much as from the magnetic power of the cloud.
"They rushed about the deck in consternation, and the more they rushed about, the more excited they became. I tried to calm them, but the situation was beyond me. I looked at the needle and it was flying around like an electric fan. I ordered several of the crew to move some iron chains that were lying on the deck, thinking that it would distract their attention. But what was the surprise to find that the sailors could not budge the chains, although they did not weigh more than seventy five pounds each. Everything was magnetized, and chains, bolts, spikes and bars were as tight on the deck as if they had been riveted there.”
Hair on Heads Stood Out
"The cloud was so dense that it was impossible for the vessel to proceed. I could not see beyond the decks, and it appeared as if the whole world was a mass of glowing fire. The frightened sailors fell on the decks and prayed. I never saw anything so terrifying in the years I have been at sea. The hair on our heads and in our beards stuck out like bristles on a pig. After we had been in the cloud for about ten minutes, we noticed that it became difficult to move our arms and legs, in fact, all the joints of the body seemed to stiffen.
"Then it was that my sea legs began to fail me for the first time. I've heard of phantom ships and stories about the needle running wild, but shiver me if I had ever seen the like of that. For a half hour we were enveloped in that mysterious vapor. And for nearly all that time, after the sailors' first cries of fright had subsided, there was a great silence over everything that only added to the terror. I tried to talk, but the words refused to leave my lips. The density of the cloud was so great that it would not carry sound.
"Suddenly the cloud began to lift. The phosphorescent glow of the ship and the crew began to fade. It gradually died away and, at the same time, the stiffness left the hair. In a few minutes the cloud had passed over the vessel and we saw it moving off over the sea. It loomed above the water as a great, gray mass, spotted like a leopard's back with the bright, glowing patches.
"The crew gradually regained their composure and whispered to one another. I went among them, telling that all danger was past and they slowly went about their work. When I ordered them to move the iron chains for the second time, the men had no trouble in lifting them from the deck and tossing them about. Then I took a look at the needle and it was pointing steadily toward the north, as it (sic – if) nothing had occurred. I have sailed the seas for many years, but I never encountered a cloud like that. It must have been composed of some magnetized substance, which at the same time was combined with phosphorus.”
Reference for the above text is:News clip The Philadelphia Inquirer of August 01, 1904
UFOCAT PRN – NONE [DOS: 07-28-1904] * See below for date information.
UFOCAT PRN – 10727 [DOS: ??-??-1908] Date error based on a news clip reference.
North America – United States, Delaware/New Jersey/Pennsylvania
Delaware Breakwater: This was expressed on another website as 14.7 miles and 100 degrees from the Cape May Lighthouse .
Cape May Lighthouse: Latitude 38.93 N, Longitude 74.96 W (D.%)[N.J.]
Delaware Breakwater: Latitude 38-48 N, Longitude 75-06 W (D-M)
Philadelphia: Latitude 39-57-08 N, Longitude 75-09-51 W (D-M-S) [reached this port- text]
Europe - Roumania (Romania)
Ibraili: Latitude 45-16-00 N, Longitude 27-58-60 E (D-M-S) [Braila]
Formerly Ibraila, city in southeastern Romania and capital of Braila County. An important port on the Danube River, Braila is a leading center of the grain export trade of the country. Industries in the city include the manufacture of cement, soap, rope and twine, sheet steel, and flour. In the vicinity of Braila, at Lacu Sarat (Salt Lake), are mineral springs, among the best known in Europe.
Information from the Philadelphia Independence Seaport Museum Research Library on the Ship:
“One of the library's volunteers calculated that Mohican's position from the site of the incident to a port in Philadelphia is approximately 220 nautical miles. When determining arrival time, one must account for a foreign vessel's obligation to stop for quarantine inspection at the U. S. Health Service facility at Essington, PA. This could have delayed the vessel's arrival in Philadelphia from a few hours to half a day depending on the number of vessels being processed at the quarantine station.”
“According to Lloyd's Register, the Mohican was built in 1892 in Sunderland, England; master J. W.Urquhart; owners North Atlantic Steamship Co.; registered in Liverpool, England. Its registered tonnage was 2728 tons, and it was constructed of steel, at 300 feet length, 41 feet breadth, and 19 feet draft. It was powered by a steam engine of 265 NHP, with a speed estimated at 9 to 11 knots. It could best be described as a tramp steamer. The library's collections do not include an image of this ship.”
Based on the text above, the ship docked on “Saturday,” and the paper was published on August 01, 1904, which was a Monday. The Saturday before the publication date was July 30.
The distance to travel to port, roughly 220 nautical miles. Divided by approx. speed of 10 knots (9 to 11 knots per hour) = 22 hours.
“Cleared Yesterday” from the paper below, published on July 30 means it was cleared on the 29th, and since it took 22 hours to get to U. S. Health Service facility at Essington, PA., the date of the sighting had to be the 28th of July. –CF-
The Philadelphia Inquirer, July 30, 1904, p. 8
The Philadelphia Inquirer, July 31, 1904, p. 8
Interesting note – the story traveled:
An interesting "Fortean" item was reported in "Shipping News," a chatty column which appeared around the turn of the century in The Maui News, published on the island of Maui, Hawaii. The item, originating in Philadelphia, apparently reached the islands by cable and was not identified with any newspaper or other Philadelphia source. It appeared in the August 13th, 1904 issue of The Maui News.
Abbreviated description followed.-CF-
This reference: INFO Journal, Vol. 4, No. 2, November 1974 by Jeanne Booth Johnson
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