This is a great thread. Thanks for sharing all these interesting stories.
Originally Posted by eherlihy
We were motoring (no wind) and I was at the helm at about 02:00. I noticed a green spark approaching us from dead ahead. At first I thought it was a cinder, blowing in the wind, but it was green. it looked to be about the size of a humming bird, and was the phosphorescent color of the jellyfish. What ever it was, it buzzed through our shrouds, then chased us for about a minute. It would fall away from our stern, then loop and approach us again. It was NOT a firefly, because it was way too big, and it didn't flash, but glowed steadily.
My watch mate and I looked at each other with a "WTF?" expression. We both saw it, and talked about it for a while. We never figured out what it was....
That sounds like a static electric charged ball, or "ball lightning". It doesn't always or necessarily occur during a thunder storm.
A plane my father was piloting was struck by a larger one over Scotland. It came in through the cockpit/nosecone, floated right down the center aisle of the plane, and exited through the empennage, blasting a hole in it. He had to make an emergency descent and landing in Prestwick. Passengers reported that the charged ball was about 18-24" in diameter.
Ball lightning tends to have a soft white/yellow/light green glow and is often mistaken for an apparition.