The RR paranormal investigation branch has switched to Code Red after readers report puzzling encounters on the harbour after dark.
One case as recently as this Thursday, of strange lights under Tauranga Harbour upstream of the harbour bridge, was caught on the weather camera and remarked on by television reporters and seen by thousands of early morning viewers.
Another boatie reports a series of strange lights in, and under the harbour, near the mouth of Hunters Creek late last week. There was no sign of a vessel near the lights.
Another astonishing case, involves an astute reader who does not wish to be named (we'll call him Horace) who is a highly experienced local boatie and knows the harbour intimately. He spends a lot of time night fishing, shooting and floundering and was, until Tuesday night, of sound mind and judgement. Alcohol or drugs were not a factor in this incident.
Horace was in a small boat fitted with electric trolling motor, travelling NE at around five knots across shallows just on dark, about half way between Omokoroa and Matakana Island on a very still night. Showing a single, white all-round light, moving towards signs of what he thought was fish on the surface, he noticed an unlit craft approaching in the distance from the east. It had odd, white dome-shaped topsides and a tall shape in the centre, about 600-800m away. The size and shape of the white hull seemed to change periodically. Horace assumed it was a kayak or paddleboarder, although the size and distance were difficult to assess in the fading light. At times the hull seemed to disappear completely, again he assumed it was a kayak or board of some sort, turning end-on, thus appearing to change in length.
Changing course to the south, the other vessel appeared to follow. Horace increased speed and changed direction again. The other craft was gaining and appeared to follow silently. Horace called out, but received no answer. In the near dark, and nearing the shallows, Horace picked up the pace, dropping the trolling motor into action for speed in the shallows, concerned at the intent of the other craft. Further calls received no response from the silent craft.
Looking over his shoulder, a white light appeared near the top, which he assumed was a headlamp, but after a minute or two, while still pursuing, it turned to oscillating blue and red and then appeared to rise vertically into the air. The hull seemed to be levitating just above the water now at a distance he estimates to be around 300m.
With the distraction of city lights in the background, Horace says he could not figure out what he was seeing.
Horace's cellphone, in a watertight case, erupted into flashing and buzzing fits then went completely dead and his trolling motor died. Even the hand held VHF radio, with freshly charged battery, was completely flat.
Horace moved north in shallows towards Matakana.
Gripped by uncertainty, Horace finally decided to confront the other vessel head on, if only to take him to task on displaying incorrect nav lights. He went about, only to find the other craft had disappeared completely from view and was never seen again. No lights, wake or any sign.
He could see no clue of any vessels leaving the area or landing. As bewilderment turned to anger, he checked along some of the shoreline north of Omokoroa and found nothing, nor could anything be seen in the moonlight west or north towards the Matakana inshore coast.
Paddling ashore, Horace removed his cellphone battery and restarted it, finding the battery almost completely flat, despite being fully charged that afternoon. He didn't know whether to call the police, the coastguard or book himself into an institution.
He says he cannot explain what he saw on the harbour that night. There were thunderstorms forecast and he wonders about static electricity build up. He could have been confused by lights in the background behind the other craft, but this is a boater very experienced and confident in night-time navigation.
Perhaps a short circuit in his electrical system somehow affected his cellphone and VHF?
He estimates the speed of the mystery craft rules out a board or kayak, and at times the water was probably too shallow for a conventionally powered craft. There was no noise and little sign of wake, despite dead flat calm conditions.
He cannot explain the apparent vertical light rising from the other vessel or its sudden disappearance.
Meanwhile, the UFO Focus website reports an upsurge recently in sightings of orange orbs in the sky around the country, although no sightings have been reported in the Bay region.
Have you seen anything unusual on the harbour lately? If you have any information, email firstname.lastname@example.org
The big news revealed this week thanks to Tangerine Research, commissioned by Tourism BOP has discovered this startling fact: People come to the western Bay of Plenty for, wati for it … the beach!
Who would have thought? We are so grateful to Tangerine Research for uncovering this information. Perhaps we should put them onto the case of the strange lights in the harbour.
Drop us a line if you have had any encounters. In the meantime, keep wearing your aluminium pants.