Great Wheel of Light
[Excerpted from Strangely Enough by C. B. Colby]
The Seas are a mysterious and strange world unto themselves, and many things happen upon their surfaces and beneath their waves which mere man has difficulty explaining away. Phantom ships, sea serpents, mysterious sounds and lights all seem ridiculous to those who did not witness them. But to those who encounter such unusual phenomena they are very real indeed.
So real are they that they are sometimes recorded in ship’s logs, set down in the matter-of-fact language of seafaring men. Such an entry was made on June 10, 1909, in the log of the Danish steamship Bintang.
As the Bintang was steaming through the night in the Straits of Malacca, between Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula, the captain was astonished to see what appeared to be a long beam of light under the water. Like the beam of a searchlight, it seemed to be sweeping across the floor of the sea. The beam passed across the sea before him and was followed by another and then another, like the revolving spokes of a wheel, or searchlight beams following one another across the sky.
Soon, some distance from the ship, there appeared a brighter spot or hub, from where the long beams of light seemed to stem. The beams revolved silently as the rotating "wheel" slowly approached the Bintang. In the words of the captain, "Long arms issues from a center around which the whole system appeared to rotate."
The great revolving wheel was so huge that only half of it could be seen above the horizon. As it revolved toward the Bintang, the crew stared in dumbfounded amazement. Looking around, they realized that the long arms of light could not possibly be a reflection of their own lights, and there was no other ship in sight.
As the great silent revolving wheel of underwater light came nearer, it seemed to sink lower into the water and grow dimmer and dimmer. Finally it vanished deep beneath the waves and the Straits of Malacca were once more black and empty.
No one knows what it was the bewildered men saw that night, although the record of the strange encounter has been published by the Danish Meteorological Institute, an organization not given to publishing anything but well-documented material.
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