North Shore, Lake Ontario
I was on my way home to Niagara-on-the-Lake from Toronto but decided to stop by my old orbing spot in Oakville just in case there was any activity over the lake.
I had the Sony TRV-820 Digital8 video camera set up a little way east of Oakville Harbour. I also had the Pentax SLR mounted on a tripod and was planning on taking still images at the same time as video recording.
I was panning across the horizon with the video camera to see if any orbs were in the dark area when, at 19.17h, I noticed some activity nearer to the head of the Niagara River. It was very hard to discern what was happening so I switched to the "night shot" mode on the camera.
It seemed that one light or orb was descending and I started to record this. Then a double light/orb started to ascend at the same time, and they appeared to cross over each other in this footage.
The double light then ascended further and made its way off to the west. I thought that these objects could possibly be planes or maybe helicopters. At this stage I was juggling the two cameras which were set up about eight feet apart.
I took still photos of the event with the Pentax mounted on its tripod. The descending and ascending lights were an amber colour which does not show up on the video "night shot" footage.
These three still images were taken while the video was recording and are scanned from the SLR prints.
I then drove home to my lake front house in Niagara-on-the-Lake. At approximately 23.00h there was a loud noise overhead and, when I went out to check, there was a Coastguard helicopter circling around over the house and out over the lake. This activity went on for some time.
The next morning I decided to check on the internet to see if the Coastguard had been dealing with a boat capsizing and I did find this report.
I thought that the lights that I recorded might have been related to the search and rescue mission that had been transpiring, but the timing does not match that of the lights recorded in my video.
The four Coastguard personnel did not leave the station until 19.45h and my video was timed at 19.17h.
In 2002 this item appeared which included the final analysis on the accident.
Strangely, in the very first report that I read the next day, the 24th March 2001, the weather reported at the time of the accident mentioned snow squalls, but, as I recall, and I was right there, there was no snow during that time period.
The following description is similar to the original report that I read back in March 2001. I don't recall any snow that night, never mind "heavy snow."
The weather data for 24th March indicate that there was light snow at the Falls around 02.55h which is approximately two and a half hours after the four crewmen were recovered from the lake.
Two die as U.S. Coast Guard vessel flips. (The Halifax Herald, 25 March 2001)
A U.S. Coast Guard boat patrolling the Niagara River along the U.S. – Canada border capsized and two of the four crewmen died Saturday after floating for hours in the icy waters of Lake Ontario. "A four-foot (1.2 metre) wave hit the bow of the boat, swamping it and flipping it over" said Adam Wine, chief petty officer at the Coast Guard Buffalo station.
The 6.5 metre, rigid-hull inflatable was found floating bow up along the lake shore about 1.5 kilometres east of the mouth of the river, and the crewmen were rescued soon after midnight about five kilometers northeast of the river, Wine said. River conditions had been choppy Friday night, with waves of about half-a-metre and occasional swells as high as one metre.
The crew was supposed to report in every half-hour but never did, and a multi-jurisdictional search by air and sea began about two hours after the boat had left port. The rescue was hampered by heavy snow. A fire rescue boat located and rescued the four men, but it was not clear how long the crew had been in the water.
From what we read in that Halifax Herald quote, the air and sea rescue started at approximately 21.45h, two hours after the four crewmen left Station Niagara, and two hours and twenty-three minutes after I recorded the aerial activity from Oakville on the north shore.
I still wonder what those lights were that I recorded.