Heron Neck Lightkeeper Disoriented in Fog
Fog has long been the bane of the mariner. The misty vapor can blot out all visibility, and in doing so, conceal navigational hazards lurking nearby in the vicinity. Many a shipwreck has occurred throughout time due to fog.
Another concern is becoming disoriented when caught deep within the vacuum of this gray dreariness. This was especially a threat in the days prior to electronic navigation equipment.
In the book Lighthouses of Maine by Bill Caldwell, the author states, “It is not easy to convey to a landsman the eerie feeling of a mariner totally lost and disoriented in the fog. It has happened too often to me in a small boat and it is always frightening. Dense fog blots out all sight to the point where you cannot see the water under your boat, nor the bow of your boat, nor the stern of your boat.”
Caldwell goes on to say, “The sensation must be close to sudden blindness. This loss of not being able to see anything leads to other loses. Your ears strain to hear something as they never strain when your eyes can see something. I hear sounds from somewhere out in the fog and they are sounds I cannot categorize, sounds I cannot locate with certainty, for the sounds move and change and vanish.”
The news article below highlights one such instance of becoming disoriented in the fog – and of all people, a lighthouse keeper. From the Lewiston Evening Journal, September 13 1957.
Lost Near Station, Lighthouse Keeper Rescued After 8 Hours
Vinalhaven – A Coast Guard lighthouse keeper who didn’t realize he was only 500 yards away from his station shouted for assistance almost eight hours before being rescued on Boiler Cove beach early today.
Seaman Dewer Bloutt, 29, a relief keeper at Heron Neck Lighthouse, was enroute back to Green’s Island when his boat became disabled last night and drifted into the cove in dense fog.
His shouts for assistance were finally heard here, two miles from the beach where he went ashore, and a search party found him huddled before a bonfire. His call for help was not heard at the lighthouse because the wind was blowing in the opposite direction.