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Ghostly Sailor

October 2004

I grew up in a coastal, Sowthwest Florida town during the eighties. Friends and I occasionally used my parents 24' Aquasport for water skiing, pleasure boating or diving wrecks in the Gulf. One Friday evening in July, 1984, three friends and I took our boat out for a night of shark fishing. It was a night we would not soon forget.

I steered away from the dock while the guys stowed the gear and rigged the poles. Almost immediately, I noticed something wasn't right. We had moved away from the protective shelter of the marina and the mangrove forests that line the shoreline of the bay. The wind had stiffened yet the seas remained calm in the protected back waters. A flash of heat lightning drew our attention to the sky above which had grown unseasonally dark. As we approached the pass that lead out to the Gulf of Mexico, we could see the mountains of water forming in the channel ahead. We considered turning back but ruled out logic and decided to carry on.

About two miles out, the 6'to 10' seas got the better of Mike who was attempting to keep his dinner down in the cabin below. John was riding the bow, on look out for the crab trap bouys that liter the coastal waters while Armando and I contemplated our options. We decided to try some back water fishing so we came about and headed back to Wiggins Pass.

Immediately upon entering the pass, the seas and wind calmed. There was a hole just inside the pass that had been teaming with trout and snapper for the past month. As we steered the boat to position it over the hole, John who was still riding the bow looked back at me and asked "Who's that?" I looked in the direction that John had pointed and saw a figure walking along the beach.

The boat was now in idle, moving forward by its own inertia. John and I followed the figure as it continued walking along the beach before disappearing into the mangrove trees that grew out over the shoreline and into the bay. John paused before looking back and asking me what that was. Keep in mind. The black storm clouds that filled the sky made it extremely dark that night. No moon, no stars, no lights from condos that now line the coast. On the water, it was about as dark as it could get. Yet you could easily see a figure walking along the beach at a brisk pace.

The bow of the boat had moved very close to shore and was about to make contact with the mangroves. John stood up to grab onto a limb to stop our forward progress when the figure that had been walking along the beach now appeared walking "through" the branches of the trees. As it approached, it walked directly in front of the boat, stopped, turned and was face to face with John. Eight feet was all that separated the two. While it approached, legs and arms were clearly visible yet while it turned to face John, it had no features. You could clearly see the head, squared off shoulders, arms and torso ( view of the legs were obstructed by the mangroves and position of the bow of the boat) but there were no eyes, mouth or facial features to make out. In addition, it was though the person had been dipped in green phosphorous. It glowed green. John had grown extremely anxiously and urged me to move the boat away from shore. I turned to check our stern and rammed the throttle into reverse. By the time I turned back around, the figure was gone. I shouted at John, "Where did it go?" He turned to me with a blank stare and said "It just disappeared."

We moved about thirty feet off the beach and tossed out the anchor. We stayed there for hours talking about what we had just witnessed. We concluded that an expedition that was surveying the remains of some sort of wreck just off shore from the pass may have unwittingly disturbed a sailor that had gone down with its ship. Or, the sailor may have made it to shore but never left. He may have been looking to hitch a ride back to his ship that did not survive the event which took it to the bottom of its unfaithful voyage so many years before.

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