Ghost Ship Of Block Island, Rhode Island
By Paul Schroeder
(Block Island, Rhode Island) – In 1980 in late September my wife and I stayed at the hotel 1661 Inn at Old Harbor on Block Island for a week to celebrate our honeymoon. We enjoyed an island off season almost totally bereft of tourists from the mainland and watched an island gearing down from summer and closing up in preparation for the winter. Only a few bird watchers clubs frequented the island then and the weather was windy, cold, blustery and rainy, which added to our desire to stay close to the inn and in each other's close company.
One stormy and windy evening at about ten o'clock in the evening, I went out to the back yard of the inn, tacitly to watch the view of whitecaps roiling on Old Harbor and to socialize with a pair of goats that roamed freely on the property.
Out on the harbor, about a quarter of a mile from the shore among the rolling whitecaps, I saw a flickering blue triangular light that vanished and then reappeared a short distance from where it had been. At first glance, it looked like the angular sail and mast of a middle sized sailing craft, a craft in distress that struggled to make headway in the stormy waters except that the sail radiated a surreal phosphorescent light and glow that ebbed and waned like a dying flame. The bluish sail color glowed and turned to a purplish light and then vanished completely only to reappear another distance from where it was sighted.
I watched in more wonder as its shifting movements seemed to make it jump from one location to another location every few seconds; its odd flickering flame like nature, in triangular form, was something I'd never seen before. It vanished completely after a few minutes among the stormy waves as though it had sunk.
The image of that strange vessel has haunted my memory for many years. Not until recently, some twenty-nine years later after having read Livermore's History of Block Island did I realize that the book's description of an oddly lit and shifting Palatine Ghost Ship off Block Island was similar to what I caught and observed that windy, white-capped and rain swept evening.