The Book of the Bizarre: Freaky Facts and Strange Stories (5 page)

BOOK: The Book of the Bizarre: Freaky Facts and Strange Stories
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On a stormy Thanksgiving eve in 1960, the Coast Guard team at Drakes Bay was alerted to a cry for help from a fishing boat that appeared to be in distress north of Fort Bragg. A well-trained and competent crew, they quickly responded. A two-person crew launched the lifeboat into the dark night (no easy task) and headed
north to Fort Bragg through blinding rain and turbulent seas. The experienced seamen made their way up the rocky and treacherous coast and successfully towed the fishing boat to shore just outside of Fort Bragg. They then reportedly headed south to Drakes Bay. The crew members never returned to the Boat House.

The following morning a search party headed to the Boat House, only to discover a horrific sight. The lifeboat had run aground not more than 150 yards from its berth at the Boat House. The engine and propeller were still churning. Yet neither member of the crew was in sight. Although the lifeboat had traveled hundreds of miles in the most adverse of conditions and had returned to the very bay from whence it had launched, there was no sign of either seaman. Their bodies were never found. Shortly thereafter, the Boat House was decommissioned and the lifeboat locked away.

For some twenty years, the lifeboat sat in its home, until the National Park Service created the Point Reyes National Seashore, and the historic Boat House and lifeboat therein became part of a lengthy restoration process. The park service restored the lifeboat to its former glory, intending to take it back out into the bay for special occasions. At last the day came for the boat to be launched again into the salty waters. Reporters
and park supporters gathered round to view the lifeboat, which was supported on a carriage of two wooden sawhorses. Just at the moment of rechristening, the lifeboat lurched forward and crashed down, smashing one of the sawhorses and damaging the keel of the boat extensively. The boat would not again touch the waters of Drakes Bay, and it remains exactly where it fell, half on and half off the ground.

For four nights in late October, after long days of archaeological work, our five-person crew returned to the Boat House for a night's sleep. Yet these nights were anything but restful. Each member of our crew reported strange happenings and unexplained sounds. Mysterious footsteps creaked down the corridor outside the Captain's Room, when all members of our team were accounted for. Things slammed to the floor in the Boat Room—things that had been fastened tightly to the wall the night before. One of our crew members repeatedly said that there was somebody looking through the shelves in the kitchen, where she saw shadows. This sight was enough to scare her from her luxurious room downstairs to the bunks upstairs where the rest of us lodged.

A lunar eclipse, the shortened days and long nights of late October, a brewing storm, a boat house that rests
three-quarters of the way over the murky waters of the bay—even a team of rational scientists could not help but feel that there was something decidedly haunted about the Boat House.

“It is an odd thing, but every one who disappears is said to be seen in San Francisco. It must be a delightful city, and possess all the attractions of the next world.” —OSCAR WILDE


A friend of mine had purchased a house in Portland, Oregon, and was just completing a rather extensive renovation. One of the men who was working on the house was also staying there, despite the raw conditions. Throughout the period of time he was living there, he had numerous strange experiences. Doors slammed and then creaked open, and he had a constant feeling of being watched. The wires that had been rigged into light sockets and outlets were ripped clean, over and over. Painters reported open cans of
paint had been turned upside down without a drop spilled, only for paint to go all over the floor when they attempted to move the can. My friend, the owner, had purchased a set of spiral stairs from an auction. The metal stairs had once been in the local jailhouse and were used by prisoners. Later, the man living in the house said that nothing happened until after they had installed the stairs.

When the renovation was nearly complete, I was hired to clean up and put the finishing touches on the place. One evening, I was at the house, working late. The owner was upstairs asleep, and I was in the basement with my headphones on. It was pretty late, at least 10 or 11
I had repeatedly felt something like a crawling sensation in my hair, but attributed it to spiders or dust, as the house was still in a bit of disarray. But then I felt and saw something that I knew was no spider! I was working in front of a bank of windows, cleaning them and scraping away the paint that had gotten on to the glass. As it was light inside but dark outside, the windows were a bit like a mirror. I felt something like a tug on a piece of my hair, and I looked at my reflection in the window. I actually saw a piece of my hair move up and away from my head, as if someone were standing behind me and pulling at it. I was dumbstruck and actually
froze with shock. I stood there for what felt like several minutes, but was probably just a few seconds, and then promptly bolted upstairs and woke up the owner. I have lived in a few haunted places, but watching my hair move of its own accord was decidedly unnerving.

The owner and I did some historical research on the place and discovered that two people had died there in the past. One was a little old lady, who died of natural causes. The other was a local sheriff, who shot and killed himself in the house. We all came to suspect he was our ghost, especially because the stairs from the county jail seemed to trigger the start of all of the spooky and strange activity.

“Then away out in the woods I heard that kind of a sound that a ghost makes when it wants to tell about something that's on its mind and can't make itself understood, and so can't rest easy in its grave, and has to go about that way every night grieving.” —MARK TWAIN


A seventeenth-century Dutch merchant vessel,
The Flying Dutchman
, and her phantoms are legendary. The ship ran into trouble around the dangerous Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. Accounts of what exactly happened vary: some say Captain Hendrick van der Decken refused to seek shelter in the harbor, others say it was impossible to do so because of the weather. Regardless,
The Flying Dutchman
sank, but it hardly disappeared. Since the 1800s there have been sightings of a phantom ship that will sometimes pull alongside other ships, but the ghost ship is most often seen from the lighthouse point. Among the witnesses over the years were England's King George V and several famous authors.

BOOK: The Book of the Bizarre: Freaky Facts and Strange Stories
5.5Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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