Washington Times, 2 août 1904 Roderick Dyke (AUFOR): Magonia Exchange, 29 avril 2007
Strange Experience of Sailors on Steamer Mohican Near Delaware Breakwater—Compass Disabled.
PHILADELPHIA, Pa., Aug. 2.—When the British steamer Mohican, Captain Urquhart, from Ibraila, Roumania, in this port, was making for the Delaware Breakwater it had a most remarkable experience, which terrorized the crew, played havoc with the ship's compass and brought the vessel to a stand-still for nearly half an hour.
For that length of time the Mohican was enshrouded in a strange metallic vapor, which glowed like phosphorus. The entire vessel looked as if it were on fire and the sailors flitted about the deck like glowing phantoms.
The cloud has a strange magnetic effect on the vessel, for the needle of the compass revolved with the speed of an electric motor and the sailors where unable to raise pieces of steel from the magnetized decks.
"It was shortly after the sun had gone," Captain Urquhart said. "The sea was almost as level as a parlor carpet, and scarcely a breeze ruffled the water. It was slowly growing dark when the lookout saw a strange gray cloud in the southeast. At first it appeared as a speck on the horizon, but it rapidly came nearer, and was soon as large as a balloon.
"It had a peculiar gray tinge, and as it bore down upon us we saw bright glowing spots on its mass. Suddenly the cloud enveloped the ship, and the Mohican blazed forth like a ship on fire, and from stem to stern and topmast to keel everything was tinged with the strange glow.
"The seamen were in terror. Their hair stood straight on end, not from the fright so much as from the magnetic power of the cloud. They rushed about the deck in consternation and the more they rushed about the more excited they became. I tried to calm them, but the situation was beyond me.
"I looked at the needle and it was flying around like an electric fan. I ordered several of the crew to move some iron chains that were lying on the deck, thinking it would distract their attention. But the sailors could not budge the chains, although they did not weigh more than seventy-five pounds each. Everything was magnetized, and chains, bolts, spikes, and bars were as tight on the deck as if they had been riveted there.
"For half an hour we were enveloped in that mysterious vapor, and for nearly all that time, after the sailors' first cries of fright had subsided, there was a great silence over everything that only added to the terror. I tried to talk, but the words refused to leave my lips. The density of the cloud was so great that it would not carry sound.
"Suddenly the could began to lift. The phosporescent glow of the ship and the crew began to fade. It gradually died away and in a few minutes the cloud had passed over the vessel and we saw it moving off over the sea."