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Observations placeholder

Charles Fort - Sightings of Vast revolving shafts of light rising from wheels in the sea



Type of Spiritual Experience



Quoted in Wonders In The Sky - Unexplained Aerial Objects From Antiquity To Modern Times - and Their Impact on Human Culture, History, and Beliefs - Jacques Vallee and Chris Aubeck

1185, Mount Nyoigadake, Japan - A luminous wheel enters the sea
First there were red beams behind the mountain, and then an object like a luminous wheel flew over, and entered the sea. The witnesses were fishermen.   Source: Brothers Magazine III, 1, 1964.

A description of the experience

The Book of the Damned - Charles Fort

1845 - Flame

light that looked like a great flame, far out at sea, off Ryook Phyoo, Dec. 2, 1845 (London Roy. Soc. Proc., 5-627);

1848 - Athenæum, 1848-833:

That at the meeting of the British Association, 1848, Sir W.S. Harris said that he had recorded an account sent to him of a vessel toward which had whirled "two wheels of fire, which the men described as rolling millstones of fire."
"When they came near, an awful crash took place: the topmasts were shivered to pieces." It is said that there was a strong sulphurous odor.

1870 - Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 1-157:

Extract from the log of the bark Lady of the Lake, by Capt. F.W. Banner: Communicated by R.H. Scott, F.R.S.:     That, upon the 22nd of March, 1870, at Lat. 5° 47' N., Long. 27° 52' W., the sailors of the Lady of the Lake saw a remarkable object, or "cloud," in the sky. They reported to the captain.

According to Capt. Banner, it was a cloud of circular form, with an included semi-circle divided into four parts, the central dividing shaft beginning at the center of the circle and extending far outward, and then curving backward.  The thing traveled from a point at about 20 degrees above the horizon to a point about 80 degrees above. Then it settled down to the northeast, having appeared from the south, southeast.  Light gray in color, or it was cloud-color.  "It was much lower than the other clouds."

And this datum stands out:  That, whatever it may have been, it traveled against the wind.  "It came up obliquely against the wind, and finally settled down right in the wind's eye."

For half an hour this form was visible. When it did finally disappear that was not because it disintegrated like a cloud, but because it was lost to sight in the evening darkness.

1875 VERA CRUZ - Nature, 20-291:

Upon page 428 of this number of Nature, E.L. Moss says that, in April, 1875, when upon H.M.S. Bulldog, a few miles north of Vera Cruz, he had seen a series of swift lines of light. He had dipped up some of the water, finding in it animalcule, which would, however, not account for phenomena of geometric formation and high velocity. If he means Vera Cruz, Mexico, this is the only instance we have out of oriental waters.

1879  PERSIAN GULF  - Nature, 20-291:

Report to the Admiralty by Capt. Evans, the Hydrographer of the British Navy:

That Commander J.E. Pringle, of H.M.S. Vulture, had reported that, at Lat. 26° 26' N., and Long. 53° 11' E.--in the Persian Gulf--May 15, 1879, he had noticed luminous waves or pulsations in the water, moving at great speed. This time we have a definite datum upon origin somewhere below the surface. It is said that these waves of light passed under the Vulture.

"On looking toward the east, the appearance was that of a revolving wheel with a center on that bearing, and whose spokes were illuminated, and, looking toward the west, a similar wheel appeared to be revolving, but in the opposite direction."

Or finally as to submergence—"These waves of light extended from the surface well under the water."

 It is Commander Pringle's opinion that the shafts constituted one wheel, and that doubling was an illusion. He judges the shafts to have been about 25 feet broad, and the spaces about 100.  Velocity about 84 miles an hour. Duration about 35 minutes. Time 9:40 P.M. Before and after this display the ship had passed through patches of floating substance described as "oily-looking fish spawn."

1880  COAST OF MALABAR  - Nature, 21-410:

Reprint of a letter from R.E. Harris, Commander of the A.H.N. Co.'s steamship Shahjehan, to the Calcutta Englishman, Jan. 21, 1880:

That upon the 5th of June, 1880, off the coast of Malabar, at 10 P.M., water calm, sky cloudless, he had seen something that was so foreign to anything that he had ever seen before, that he had stopped his ship. He saw what he describes as waves of brilliant light, with spaces between.

Upon the water were floating patches of a substance that was not identified. Thinking in terms of the conventional explanation of all phosphorescence at sea, the captain at first suspected this substance.  However, he gives his opinion that it did no illuminating but was, with the rest of the sea, illuminated by tremendous shafts of light. …… "As wave succeeded wave, one of the most grand and brilliant, yet solemn, spectacles that one could think of, was here witnessed."

1891  CHINA SEA  - L'Astronomie, 1891-312:

A correspondent writes that, in October, 1891, in the China Sea, he had seen shafts or lances of light that had had the appearance of rays of a searchlight, and that had moved like such rays.

1901  PERSIAN GULF - Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 28-29:

That, upon April 4, 1901, about 8:30, in the Persian Gulf, Captain Hoseason, of the steamship Kilwa, according to a paper read before the Society by Captain Hoseason, was sailing in a sea in which there was no phosphorescence--"there being no phosphorescence in the water."

I suppose I'll have to repeat that:

"... there being no phosphorescence in the water."

Vast shafts of light--though the captain uses the word "ripples"--suddenly appeared. Shaft followed shaft, upon the surface of the sea. But it was only a faint light, and, in about fifteen minutes, died out: having appeared suddenly, having died out gradually. The shafts revolved at a velocity of about 60 miles an hour.

[in the most heroic compositions of disregards in our experience, it was agreed, in the discussion of Capt. Hoseason's paper, that the phenomenon was probably pulsations of long strings of jellyfish.!!]

1906  GULF OF OMAN   - Jour. Roy. Met. Soc., 32-280:

Extract from a letter from Mr. Douglas Carnegie, Blackheath, England.  Date some time in 1906--

"This last voyage we witnessed a weird and most extraordinary electric display." In the Gulf of Oman, he saw a bank of apparently quiescent phosphorescence: but, when within twenty yards of it, "shafts of brilliant light came sweeping across the ship's bows at a prodigious speed, which might be put down as anything between 60 and 200 miles an hour."
"These light bars were about 20 feet apart and most regular." As to phosphorescence--"I collected a bucketful of water, and examined it under the microscope, but could not detect anything abnormal." That the shafts of light came up from something beneath the surface--"They first struck us on our broadside, and I noticed that an intervening ship had no effect on the light beams: they started away from the lee side of the ship, just as if they had traveled right through it."

The Gulf of Oman is at the entrance to the Persian Gulf.

1907  MALACCA STRAIT  - Jour. Roy. Met. Soc., 33-294:

Extract from a letter by Mr. S.C. Patterson, second officer of the P. and O. steamship Delta: a spectacle which the Journal continues to call phosphorescent:

Malacca Strait, 2 A.M., March 14, 1907:

"... shafts which seemed to move round a center--like the spokes of a wheel--and appeared to be about 300 yards long. The phenomenon lasted about half an hour, during which time the ship had traveled six or seven miles. It stopped suddenly."

1909   MALACCA STRAIT - Scientific American, 106-51:

That, in the Nautical Meteorological Annual, published by the Danish Meteorological Institute, appears a report upon a "singular phenomenon" that was seen by Capt. Gabe, of the Danish East Asiatic Co.'s steamship Bintang.

At 3 A.M., June 10, 1909, while sailing through the Straits of Malacca, Captain Gabe saw a vast revolving wheel of light, flat upon the water--"long arms issuing from a center around which the whole system appeared to rotate." So vast was the appearance that only half of it could be seen at a time, the center lying near the horizon. This display lasted about fifteen minutes. Heretofore we have not been clear upon the important point that forward motions of these wheels do not synchronize with a vessel's motions….. This time we are told that the vast wheel moved forward, decreasing in brilliancy, and also in speed of rotation, disappearing when the center was right ahead of the vessel--or my own interpretation would be that the source of light was submerging deeper and deeper and slowing down because meeting more and more resistance.

1910  SOUTH CHINA SEA  - The Danish Meteorological Institute:

That, when Capt. Breyer, of the Dutch steamer Valentijn, was in the South China Sea, midnight, Aug. 12, 1910, he saw a rotation of flashes.

"It looked like a horizontal wheel, turning rapidly." This time it is said that the appearance was above water. "The phenomenon was observed by the captain, the first and second mates, and the first engineer, and upon all of them it made a somewhat uncomfortable impression."


The source of the experience

Fort, Charles

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