The Ghost On The Gulf
My ghost story started on July 3rd , 2009. What we had planned was a family outing, what we got was an adventure of a lifetime.
I’ve been trying for several months to get my wife to agree to an overnight trip out on the Gulf Of Mexico. My (Melissa) would say “David (that’s me), We’ll drift off and end up in Mexico”. Finally I got her brother “mike” and his girlfriend “Georgia” on board with the overnight camp out plan I had. My 15 yr old son (Cody) was looking forward to a camp out on the water since the first day I mentioned it. Melissa reluctantly agreed to go along after finding that her brother was on board with the plan.
On July 3rd this year, we worked our way through the crowded boat ramp with our supplies in hand at Crystal River’s public access in Florida. After taking what seemed like forever to find a place to park the truck, we were on our way. The channel heading out to the Gulf was crowded with boaters getting ready to celebrate the coming holiday.
Our 24 foot cabin cruiser usually handled rough water rather well, but today with all the boats, it might as well been a hurricane out there. Waves were three or more feet and they were hitting us from every direction. Melissa and Georgia were in the cabin trying to keep things from falling off the shelves. Cody was in his all time favorite spot way up on the bow. Mike was with me in the cockpit.
As we went past Shell Island at the entrance to the Gulf, Mike pointed out how packed the Island was with people camping. I told Mike the engine sounded like it was running good and strong today and maybe we should go out on the Gulf ten miles or so to get away from all the commotion. Mike agreed and the way we went.
We went 20 miles west of Shell Island before the water was calm and the other boaters were few and far between. We decided another 5 miles would be just about perfect. Judging from the fuel gauge, we were still looking pretty good.
So here we are 25 miles from any source of land and we found a nice 33 foot hole to drop our anchor in. The water fairly calm, not real calm but calm enough to keep the boat from rocking.
Cody was fishing off the bow, Melissa and Georgia were cooking on the deck , Mike and I were just setting back telling fish stories and reminiscing things from our childhoods. We weren’t really paying much attention to the time, and before we knew it night was starting to set in. I told Mike that my plans were to stay a little closer to Shell Island and then catch the fireworks over King’s Bay the next night. Mike on the other hand was quite happy right where we were. I had Cody pull the anchor up, and we started heading due east. We only made it another 4 miles before I was having a hard time seeing what was ahead and I really didn’t want to wrap my boat around a channel marker or run up on one of the many oyster bars. We manage to find another hole that was 27 feet deep and I could here the local chatter over the marine vhf radio. We dropped one anchor over the back and my storm anchor over the front (just to put Melissa at ease over drifting). The GPS said we were staying perfectly still.
I had two brand new marine batteries onboard and we were on battery 1, so leaving the anchor light and fans on all night wasn’t a problem at all. I could switch to battery 2 in the morning to start up and head back in. Long about 11pm Melissa and Georgia were in the cabin with the table set up playing cards. Cody decided he had enough and was snoring away in the bunk. Mike and I were trying our luck at some night fishing and listening to a few cd’s.
The fish were biting better than good. It seemed as soon as the bait hit the water we had a fish on. It was mostly black tip sharks and now and then we would land a sea trout. Then it was like someone flipped a switch, our bait sat in the water without even a nibble. Mike made the comment that maybe we caught them all. I just laughed it off and continued fishing.
Mike was up on the bow with his pole and I was sitting in the back, all was silent except for the women and their card game. All at once Mike yells “Dave, did you hear that?”. I told him I didn’t hear a thing. Mike said “ I heard a bell ring about three times or so”. I told mike I thought it was a screw that came loose in his head. A few minutes later just as Mike said “do you hear it?” I heard it as well. I heard a bell ring three times that sounded like it came from the south west. I stood up and looked and at the same time Mike and I saw what looked like a light flickering in the distance. The light was exactly south west from our position. We heard the bell again, exactly three times.
I felt a panic in my chest, I thought we had drifted and it was a lighted buoy with a bell (probably Port Richy or Tampa). I got up and ran over to the GPS to see where we moved to. The GPS showed us on the exact spot we anchored. I shut the GPS unit off and turned it back on just to refresh the satellites and make sure it wasn’t stuck. It still showed us dead on the anchor spot. We checked the anchors to make sure they were secure, they were. By now we were hearing faint voices coming from that direction. Mike and I agreed that it must be another family on a boat spending the night. Then we wondered if the three rings from the bell meant they were in trouble. I tried to call the other vessel on the marine radio, with no luck. I left the radio on scan, just incase we were on different channels.
By now the women were up in arms and panicking. Cody was out of bed and wondering what all the commotion was. Mike suggested we pull anchor and go see if they needed help. I on the other hand decided that we should hold off a few minutes and think things over before possibly putting ourselves in harms way. It’s hard to see the shallows and oyster bars in the pitch black night.
Thirty minutes had gone by and the bell was still ringing, the light was still flickering and the voices were getting somewhat louder. I even thought that the ringing was more distinct and the light was brighter than before. I wasn’t sure if they were or if it just seemed that way because I was tuned in on them.
Another half an hour had gone by and sure enough, they were getting closer. I knew we weren’t moving, but they were headed our way. It’s now 1:30AM and some vessel or something is headed our way. It wouldn’t be long before we would see it.
I started the motor to not only bring battery number 1 up to charge, but to have enough power to work the spotlight. I wanted whoever was out there to know where we were. I did not want some partying drunks to run into the side of us. Besides, maybe we could see what was going on and if someone needed help, we could help.
The spotlight in their direction showed absolutely nothing. The odd thing was that with the spotlight off, they looked to be no more than 400 yards away and closing in. We couldn’t see their flickering light with the spotlight on, so Mike thought it would be good to shut it down and wait until they came in closer.
The flickering light had stopped along with the bell. We all sat on deck in total silence waiting for the next little sound that would indicate that they were still out there.
A half hour had passed with no sounds, no lights and no voices. A cool breeze had picked up and there was a light to moderate chop on the water. Not a one of us felt the least bit tired. We were all wide eyed and waiting for the next thing to happen.
The marine radio started making a loud static sound, which scared the living daylights out of every one of us. After messing with the radio trying to quiet it down, I gave up and shut the radio off.
We were all setting there talking softly as if someone might hear what we were saying when Mike’s jaw about hit the floor. Mike was looking behind me and not saying a word. I said “what?”. Mike still said nothing. Georgia (who was sitting by Mike) Said “Oh My God!!). Melissa and I both turned around to see what was going on.
Still today I have a hard time believing what I saw. No more than 25 yards from us was a huge and I do mean HUGE wooden ship of some sort. This large wooden vessel just sat there and it looked to be as real as you and I. I could see every fine detail of this large boat. My heart was pounding and my mind was on pause. I never heard a sound as this thing pulled right up behind where I was sitting. We could all hear the sounds of people moving around on board and voices that we couldn’t quite make out. I think part of the reason we couldn’t make out the voices was due to a language barrier or something. It sounded sort of like English, but not exactly. Very hard to explain.
We all sat there for God only knows how long. It was as if we were paralyzed and all track of time was lost. That being said, I’m not sure how long the ship sat there beside us or how long before other events started taking place.
The bell rang three more times. This time it was louder than ever, startling us all. Three men looked over the side of the great ship down at us and one of them yelled (amazingly in plain English) “hail, hail, hail, heed my words”. There was a slight pause then the man yelled down to us again “ we have been sent to deliver a message to you and to those who would listen. Due to the ways of this world you live in, you are going to see world turmoil as never seen before. Prepare yourselves, the signs of the times are at hand”.
The men then vanished back onto the boat and the boat started to drift off. Mike was the first to speak “get the light, I didn’t catch the name of the boat”. We spot lighted for 20 minutes or so, but never saw the ship. It was like it vanished into thin air.
I marked that spot on my GPS and Mike and I have been back to that spot many times with cameras trying to get some sort of proof that we’re not insane. The only thing we’ve seen since we went back was a light in the distance and the faint sound of a bell ringing three times. The great wooden ship never came back to us. I guess maybe we all went insane there for a little while. If you don’t believe this story, well that’s okay, I have a hard time believing it myself, and I was there.