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Observations placeholder

Rebell, Fred - And the hurricane lamp



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Fred Rebell – Escape to the Sea

It was early on 3rd January, 1933, that I sighted land.  My landfall turned out to be San Nicholas Island, about eighty miles south west from San Pedro, the harbour of Los Angeles.

A week ago I should have been overjoyed to see it: but now that I had been so long wearied with vain expectation I felt no exhilaration whatever. I went on with my tasks all day long as if the land did not exist.

By a sight of the sun I now found that my watches had gained an hour and twenty-seven minutes on the run, thereby putting my bearings out by nearly one thousand miles! If ever I go off for another cruise I shall most certainly see to it that I have a more reliable time-keeper on board--or else a radio receiver, to catch the time-signals.

I was now right in the track of the many steamers which go in and out of Los Angeles Harbour: so it was only prudent that I should carry a light by night. I spent a couple of hours trying to solder a new bottom to my old lantern - for the old bottom had rusted through. But I could not make much of a job at it.

Next morning, I was becalmed for a couple of hours twelve miles east of San Nicholas Island. Presently my attention was caught by a pole, bobbing up and down in the water, a few chains away. Becoming curious I rowed over to it, and pulled it out of the water, It was a long bamboo pole with a white flag tied to one end, and a hurricane lantern tied to its middle. Well, I certainly never expected to get a lantern out of the ocean. Not once in a thousand years would anyone fish a lantern out of the ocean - and particularly so if one happened to be in need of one.

Surely our Father in Heaven knows our needs. He does not only answer our prayers (I had not prayed for any lantern) but supplies them before we ask!

Now the wind totally died away, and for the next three days my boat lay becalmed between Catalina Island and San Pedro; and those three nights the lantern sent by Providence burned brightly at the mast-head.

It was tantalizing to see the harbour in the distance: to watch steamers going in and out, and yet to be unable to sail in. A pall of smoke hung about, and was wafted back and forth out of Long Beach Bay. Sometimes a steamer would come out of San Pedro Harbour, and - as if the air were not thick enough already - would leave a long streak of black smoke in its wake which would slowly diffuse in the stagnant air.  The sun rose in a brown east and set in a brown west.  Having breathed pure air for the last two months the smoke almost choked me.

By the midnight following 7th January my boat was within half a mile of-the harbour entrance, when once more the little breeze failed; and so I turned in to snatch an hour's rest. I was wakened as if by the rushing of a gale: and on looking out saw barely a chain away the stern of a steamer that had shot past me. It made me glad that I had a light burning on my boat's mast: for without it I might easily be run down.

A very little while after a slight draught set in, and within two hours I was inside the harbour. Spotting a mooring near Cabrillo Beach I made fast to it.

The source of the experience

Rebell, Fred

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps