|Occurred : 8/9/2012 23:30 (Entered as : 08/09/12 23:30)
Reported: 8/13/2012 9:37:45 PM 21:37
Location: Puget Sound/Seattle, WA
|Object with three orange lights hovering over cruise ship and shoreline in Puget Sound
It was the last night of our 8 days Alaska cruise on August 9, 2012 aboard Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas. We were sailing southeast, based on positions of the Dippers, at low speed from Victoria, BC to Seattle, WA at 11:30 PM. We would pick up local port pilot at 12:30 AM to enter Puget Sound en-route to Seattle. I could see some shoreline lights to the port (left) side of our ship. When I checked maps after arriving home, the shoreline must be Ebey’s Landing, WA and we were 2.8 miles from the shore.
Deck 9 Solarum is a large sunroom with an indoor swimming pool, a food bar, and tables and chairs for guests to relax and eat food. Clear lookout windows occupy entire left and right sides of the room.
I was sitting at a table near a window panel with my wife and a friend, chatting. Not far from us were eight teenagers, probably made friends during the cruise and didn’t want to go back to staterooms too early on the last night of the cruise. There were five or six other people in the Solarum at the time and three crewmembers.
At around 11:30 PM, all the teenagers jumped up from their seats and lined up the windows, looking out. Two adult guests away from us also rushed to the windows. I first thought they saw a whale in the dark, sighting whales had been one exciting thing to do on this cruise. I stood up casually and looked out the window, and there was this craft with bright orange lights hovering over front starboard (right) side of the ship. I ran quickly up to deck 10 to get an open view, this craft has three bright orange lights forming a triangle, inside the triangle are smaller circulating lights forming a circle. The craft was absolutely silent, I looked at it for about 5 seconds and pulled out my iPhone, I moved my sight away from the craft briefly to my phone, wanting to set it to video mode. When I looked up again, the craft was gone. It was hard to estimate the size or elevation of the craft since I only had a brief look at it. I thought it was an exciting but way too brief an encoun! ter.
I walked to the port side to see if I could spot northern light since people had posted photos online of northern light taken in Vancouver in July, just one month earlier, and this night was the first time we had clear sky for any skyward observation. I could see dim low hanging lights but I convinced myself it was only inland city lights. That’s when I noticed an object with two or three orange pulsing lights above the ground at about 15 degrees angle. Since we were 2.8 miles from the shore, I would estimate the object was 3 to 6 miles from us, making its elevation at between 4,000 to 7,000 feet. This object stayed at the same spot for more than 10 minutes and I was convinced it wasn’t an airplane or helicopter. I called my friend in his stateroom and asked him to bring up his Nikon DX camera.
The friend came up to deck 10 ten minutes later. To this point, the object had been hovering at the same spot for more than 20 minutes. He played with his camera’s focus and y speed for low light far-object shooting. He used the max zoom of his AF-S Nikkor 55-200mm lens, it’s probably 3.6x times 1.5 DX camera factor to 5.4x zooming. The object just stayed near the same spot, from time to time shifting left-to-right and near-to-far, so my friend had plenty of time to adjust his camera, it wasn’t easy though because the low light condition. The attached photos were all taken with the same optical zoom and cropped with the same digital zoom factor, from 4,285x2,848 frames to 500x400 frames. One red point in one of the photos is a camera pixel defect.
At one point, we saw a small airplane flying to and pass the object. As I was Google mapping, I noticed there are several small airports in the area. At another point, which I missed, my friend saw two pulses of bright yellow flashes on the ground right below the object. Our wives and a friend had also joined us to witness the sighting as well as two late shift crewmembers. My wife described she could see circulating lights around the object. Finally, around 1:30 AM the object moved inland and we stopped viewing.