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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Rube Corlies and the Lock Ness Monster

Some years ago, Jackie and I visited relatives and friends in England and Scotland. A highlight of the trip was our travels through the beautiful Scotland countryside. I had always wanted to visit Loch Ness and, by chance, see Nessie, the famous Loch Ness monster. After all, not everyone has seen a real live sea monster! Unfortunately, we never made it to Loch Ness.


Little did I know that if I wanted to see a sea monster, I should have set my sights toward the Atlantic Ocean just off Surf City. It seems that Rube Corlies and his brother-in-law, Jonn Inman, spotted one while fishing for menhaden.

Rube Corlies in his yard in Manahawkin


It doesn’t happen very often. But every now and then people do run into sea monsters. They say one was sighted off Gloucester, Mass., in 1819. Another startled three fishermen near Kennebunk, Maine in 1830. And, of course, the monster of Loch Ness pops up from time to time.

But did you know that one was seen off Long Beach Island ln 1906?

A great snake rose out of the water early one July morning just off Surf City and appeared to eight men who had been fishing.

Here's the story as told by Rube Corlies of Manahawkin. Corlies, a frail but Spunky 88 year old man, is the last survivor of the serpent sighting, “My brother-in-law John Inman and I had been catching mossbunkers using a 40-fathom net a couple of hundred yards off the beach. While we were hauling in the net, he remarked that the fish were behaving in a funny way- swimming crazily as if something was chasing them.”

"Suddenly a great snake reared up about 15 to 20 feet out of the water maybe 30 or 40 feet from the stern of our boat. The animal was black on the back and had a lot of flabby white flesh on its belly. The mouth was about four feet wide and its nose was just like a snake’s. He was slick as an eel and I couldn’t see any scales or fins.”

"We couldn't believe our eyes - there it was and there we were. lt seemed to stand straight up with its great black eyes turned toward us."

Inman threw the net overboard and they started to row. The serpent sank back to the surface of the water.

"It started to come right at us, but it must have gotten all tangled up in our net – we found a huge hole in it later. As it swam past us on the surface it must have been about 60 feet long - not counting the tail and 6 feet wide."

Men in three other fishing boats which were in the area saw that Corlies seemed to be in trouble and began to row toward him and as they did, the serpent surfaced again about a half mile away. This time it locked like a large tree trunk standing about 10 feet tall.

Then it disappeared for good. And has never been seen again.

Some people think Rube Corlies was dreaming that day back in 1906. Others wonder it he might have been drinking.

But according to Corlies he had not had a drop ("Although if I had known what I was going to see that day, I might have drunk a bottle.") and he is certain of what he saw. "It was a giant sea snake and it must have been feeding on the mossbunkers."

He goes on to say that he thinks the serpent may have come in shore because of a ship that had wrecked in 1900 on Long Beach Island. The ship had been carrying animal bones and when it was broke up the bones formed a slick which on certain tides extended out to sea. Corlies thinks this slick might have lured the fish which in turn lured the serpent.

"Anyway I know what I saw and that’s all there ls to it. That big snake may still be out there some place. It was two weeks later because our nets looked like something very large had torn them."

Would he like to see the monster again?

"No," says Corlies with a mischievous grin, "but I was always disappointed I didn’t see one other creature.

I’ve anchored alongside whales and seen the serpent, but I never saw a mermaid. I guess they knew when l was coming out and they'd disappear."

Well, you can’t have everything.

The Southern Ocean County Reporter – June 30, 1971

I'm thinking of calling my Men's Breakfast buddy, Jim McAnney, who owns a boat, and asking him to take me on a sea monster hunting expedition off Surf City. Anyone out in the Blog-O-Sphere care to join us?

Pete S

1 comment:

  1. My name is Doug Lynch, and Rube Corlies was my Great-Great Uncle. When I was a youngster of around 6 or 7 years old, I remember Uncle Rube relating the sea serpent story to my brother and I many times while he taught us how to carve duck decoys in his old workshop on Stafford Avenue in Manahawkin. The one thing I can add that isn't mentioned in your article is that Uncle Rube said the serpent had eyes as big as "dinner plates". He was well known for being quite the storyteller. But it was also well known back in the day that my Great Grandfather, John Inman (who was with Rube at the time of the sighting), was "as honest as the day is long". He didn't drink or make up stories. Because of that, the sea serpent story was always believed to be true by the older members of my family. That's just my two cents, thanks for listening....