11.7.13

PHANTOM SHIPSHAPES

Neil Arnold. Shadows on the Sea: The Maritime Mysteries of Britain. The History Press, 2013.

Neil Arnold confesses to being afraid of the sea, awed by its power and mystery, which has encouraged him to face his fears and assemble this collection of maritime lore and mysteries.

Here you meet phantom ships, haunted boats, ghosts wandering the shoreline, strange lights, mysterious things falling into the sea, odd things seen under the sea, and strange beasts. Some of these stories are familiar, those of Morgawr and the Lady Luvibund/Lovibund have been told umpteen times, others are less familiar. There are tales which cross borders. Does the strange boat, like a coal boat, which travelled far too fast for any real boat and then suddenly disappeared belong in the category of phantom ship or UFO; and in which category would you put the tale by Elliot O’Donnell of feeling paralysed and seeing a weird circular glow out to sea, in which he claimed to see the face of a drowned friend?

There is no ending to these tales, and here you can meet traditional folklore, a fair amount of fake lore and modern experiences, all merging together in the mystery of the ocean. I suspect that really get the feel of this book, you don’t want to read it, as I did, on a sunny Sunday afternoon. No, it should be read, out loud, by an old sea dog in a haunted pub in an ancient fishing village, with a force 10 storm screaming outside, by the light of a flickering candle. -- Peter Rogerson


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