Posted by: nauticalchronicles | January 11, 2012


dedicated to my superstitious friend Paul:



I am not superstitious. I believe in the credible, not the incredible; the logical rather than the illogical and the rational instead of the irrational. I consider myself to be fairly well grounded here, in the real world; imaginative sometimes, but with my beliefs firmly rooted in this, the real world. Even though vampires are all the rage today, and have been around for centuries if not from the beginning of time, they are not my rage. I don’t believe in them. Admittedly, I do love science fiction. Logically, in an infinite universe with an infinite number of planets, we cannot be alone, but I do not consider myself gullible.

However…having said this, there have been a few things I would not have believed unless I had seen them with my own eyes. Some can be explained by research, some by science and some by knowledge; but not all.

One occurrence we (Louise and I) would not have believed unless we had been there was…”The Rogue Wave”. It is explainable though. At the mouth of the Merrimack River, during incoming and outgoing tides, the wave action can be tremendous. Usually, the Coast Guard monitors this activity and issues informational bulletins to local boaters in the form of small craft advisories and warnings. On this one particular day, we had planned on taking some guests out for a short cruise aboard “HalfMine”, our 34’ Sea Ray.

There had been stormy weather on preceding days, but this particular day was sunny and warm sporting a cloudless sky. The river was calm and there were no advisories about stormy seas. We headed out at a speed less than 5 knots and slowly approached the mouth. As we moved closer, there appeared to be some slight wave action, but nothing out of the ordinary; the mouth usually has some activity. The area inside the north and south jetties continued to be fairly calm. Just as we approached the center of the mouth at the end of the two jetties, we were suddenly facing a mountain of water…a wet wall coming directly at us. We had no opportunity to turn the boat around without running the risk of broaching, so we put the bow into the wave and climbed it hoping to ride it out.

At the peak of this rogue wave, we witnessed the second approaching wave, as large as the first and very close to it, the trough between the two waves being very narrow. Again we had no opportunity to turn back without risking capsizing in the trough. As we descended the backside of the first wave, we kept the bow of the boat into the second wave. Unfortunately, we did not ascend, fully, the front of the second wave. Our bow cut through the midsection of the second rogue wave, allowing water to rip back the taut canvas top, pounding green water on the windshield and soaking all passengers. One of our heavier passengers, seated in a heavy deck chair was lifted into the air and returned to the chair flattening it. This entire event occurred in less than 20 seconds.

The third wave was less potent and we were able to power up and turn, quickly on its peak allowing us to “surf” the waves back into the mouth of the river and to the safety of the harbor. We were very lucky that day; many different scenarios could have been written about that trip. Our scenario was that no one was lost overboard or injured, there were no serious damages to the boat, the engines did not fail us and we didn’t sink, all of which were likely possibilities. If we hadn’t seen it with our own eyes, we would not have believed it…and, in this instance, there were witnesses to the Rogue Wave Episode.

rogue wave

Another event we were privileged to witness was the Dolphin Migration. Louise and I were alone aboard “HalfMine”, our 27’ Carver Montego, out probably five miles somewhere between Cape Ann and the Merrimack River buoy. It was near the end of our boating season and there were few if any boats in our vicinity. As we turned to head back, we noticed what appeared to be dolphins. There were only a few, at first, but we like to stop and watch any wildlife when we find it (which is rarely). We’ve had some good whale sightings, but it is amazing how little wildlife we see in our travels. This day was to be an exception. The few dolphins turned into many. While stopped, we became surrounded by dolphins. It appeared they were traveling south and east around and away from Cape Ann. We decided to follow them, and soon were in the midst of thousands of dolphins; on all sides of our boat, following us, leading us, engulfing us…thousands of dolphins. I know this really sounds like a “fish story”, but it happened. Our friends do believe this story, but also believe we exaggerate the number of dolphins we traveled with. Unfortunately, Louise and I were the only witnesses that day; we would never have believed it except, we did see it. We travelled with the migration for close to an hour before turning around, heading home.


And then there was the “Emerald City” which we have alluded to in stories, but never fully explained. We haven’t fully explained it because…we can’t. We do have a possible scientific explanation, but still this “occurrence” remains unbelievable.

The day was sunny and warm with only a light covering of clouds. The sea was flat-calm. We had just left the mouth of the Merrimack River on our day’s excursion. Our intent was to go out several miles and “float around”. As we slowly motored in an easterly direction, I noticed something out of sorts…there appeared to be an extra body of land where there should not be one. I mentioned this to Louise who looked at where I was looking, and listened to what I was saying, and still remained skeptical. “How is that possible” was her recurring question. We had been in this sea many times; we knew where Cape Ann was, and we knew where the Isles of Shoals were; being fairly early in the morning, we had not yet had cocktails, and we KNEW there was no body of land between our two known points of reference.

And yet, there it was, shimmering on the horizon in full sunlight, with the sun’s reflections off the glass of the buildings windows. The island was far enough away to be on or near the horizon, but large enough to make out the buildings which were located on it. Some of the buildings were tall, but smaller houses or cottages could be seen. Also, we could see what appeared to be a crane or lift of some type.  The island was definitely there…and definitely should not have been there. Fortunately for Louise and me, we had four guests aboard who also witnessed what has become to us our voyage to “The Emerald City”. Also, fortunately for us, we were able to contact two friends on another boat near us, and have them validate this sighting. The Emerald City remained on the horizon, even as we ventured ten to fifteen miles out into the ocean moving toward it. As we traveled toward this island, it remained clearly defined, shimmering with sunlight…and distant; we could not get closer to it, nor could we get further from it as we traveled in other directions. The apparition continued well into the day. Late in the afternoon, we again looked toward it; it was gone; vanished. It should not have been there to begin with. The only explanation we could come up with was…refracted light; maybe from Portsmouth, or Portland, or Kennebunkport; we could never explain this mirage fully (our friends don’t believe this even happened); we would not believe it if it had not happened to us; at least with this event, we have six other witnesses (who our friends also don’t believe).

The Emerald City

Now it gets spooky… (Read this late at night, alone; by flickering candlelight)

It’s hard to explain the chill I get; the cold, crawling, skin-rippling feeling; how goose bumps develop on my arms, back, legs and scalp and how the hair literally stands up on my arms and head, when I am startled (scared); just like on a startled, scared dog. It is hard to explain how these things happen when I get a premonition, a forewarning or feeling about…something. The goose bumps and chills come about quickly, and then go away quickly but numerous times. It’s like a light bulb repeatedly turning on brightly, and then slowly dimming its light to nothing. Sometimes I can get rid of these feelings by listening to music or thinking about “other things”; and sometimes I can’t.

I have spent a good portion of my working life working odd hours. Being fully awake at 2:00am, 3:00am or 4:00am is not uncommon practice for me. Most of the time, I find these hours comfortable and quiet, relaxing even. Because my working hours have been…odd, so have my sleeping practices. Fortunately for me, I’ve been able to sleep almost any time of the day or night, without any trouble, almost anywhere, for my full eight hours. I’ve also spent a lot of time driving at night and during the early morning hours.

One particular jobsite I was working nightly was in Cambridge. Rather than travel back to Hampton after work, I was staying in Peabody at Louise’s parents’ house. The windows were all “blacked out” for daytime sleeping, and this arrangement was allowing me to travel less while being tired after working all night. Edward, her father, was living in assisted care near us in Hampton, while Ann had been admitted to hospice care two weeks previous to my project start-up in Cambridge. Two weeks into my project, Ann passed away.

The night before she died, I worked at my jobsite. At 3:30am, I was returning to their house in Peabody. As I remember, it was COLD;  a dark, starless, cold night; possibly there was a slight mist; it was quiet and still with very little traffic on the highway. The minute I left the site, I began to get a feeling; a premonition. Like I said, it’s hard to describe or explain these feelings; the goose bumps and chills were, however, very real. Music and thoughts-of-other-things did not get rid of these feelings. When I arrived at the house, I sat in the truck for several minutes before finally chiding myself for being such a bone-head; I got out and locked the truck. I let myself into the house; and then I turned on all the lights. I ascended the stairs to the small, blackened bedroom where I had slept comfortably for the past two weeks. I could not get rid of those “feelings about something”. Again, I told myself this was unacceptable behavior on my part; I shut off the lights & went to bed.

I found it impossible to fall asleep that night, so I know I wasn’t sleeping when a little while later…I heard the rocking chair squeaking and knew she was in the room with me. She was not a malevolent presence, but she was there; and the feeling that she was there that night has never left me.

When I turned on the light, it revealed the empty room and the empty rocking chair, as I knew it would. None the less, I hurriedly dressed and left the house, not to return (for sleeping purposes anyway). It was during that following day that Louise and I were informed by the hospice folks that Ann had passed away during the night.

          alone in bed on the stairs

For the remainder of the project I commuted from Cambridge to Hampton.

And last but by no means the least, there was the time we were out on anchor by ourselves. It was, again, a dark but misty, starless, moonless night, warm and humid; maybe 3:00am while checking the lines, I saw a strange, multi-color, pulsating light hover and then land on the still water near our boat. A very small creature with luminous skin appeared to emanate from the light and silently drift toward us…

The Alien

 But, this is a story in itself, and for another time.

As I said before, I am not superstitious. I am fairly well grounded in my beliefs of this real world and its happenings. We (Louise and I) have been most fortunate to expand our own knowledge through our shared experiences. As we are finding out, most occurrences can be explained by thought and investigation, by science and by thousands of years of amassed knowledge, most all of which is available through Google…but not all.

Captain Robert Brown

the little man



  1. LOVE the spooky stuff 🙂 Love you, Betsy

  2. Well, not’s so spooky maybe? While headed one day for dry salveges green, I viewed a similar atmospheric anomaly! The emerald city, on the horizon which resembled the Boston skyline, at about 185 degrees, where no land existed? we stared at this for about an hour or less, got bored, then it was gone, replaced by a growing cloud formation; go figure 🙂

    • The things you can see with a touch of whiskey,the General has witness some of the same things,on the dock with Jack.Was Peter or David there to witness any of these sightings?I bet it was Mary in the rocking chair

  3. Love all your writings, Captain, especially this “spooky” one!!

  4. Wow amazing story..I believe ..:)

  5. The “Emerald City” story reminded me of the Crocker Land Expedition (cf.

    • Thanks for your comment; it was interesting reading the link re: the Crocker Land sighting and you are correct…the same happened to us!!

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