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Mar 26

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Found – World’s Oldest Weather Stone

Three rousing cheers, hooray, yippee and wacky-doo! In a recent Eric Shackle Writes column I described weather stones in New Zealand, Iceland, Germany, Bermuda, Canada and Ireland, and wondered where those comical tourist attractions originated.

Now I’ve found a stone that may well be the daddy of them all – it’s said to be more than 500,000 years old!

Discovered in the British Virgin Islands, it’s now proudly displayed at St. Michaels Marina, a fishing and boating resort on Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, U.S.A., “only a leisurely drive from Washington DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Richmond and New York.”

It’s a smooth grey stone seemingly the size of a football, hanging from a notice-board that proclaims:

Captain Frank’s WEATHER STONE
This stone, thought to be over 500,000 years old, churned and polished by the waves
of the Atlantic Ocean and transported from the British Virgin Islands, is an official and
highly accurate weather forecaster.

If the stone is wet… it is raining

A dry stone indicates… it is not raining

If a shadow is beneath the stone… the sun is shining

Should the stone be swinging… there’s a strong
wind blowing

If the stone is bouncing up and down… there’s an
earthquake

If it’s white on top… it is snowing

If the stone is expanding, it’s getting warmer…
if contracting, it’s getting colder

If the stone appears fuzzy, you should probably
walk, not drive, to your next destination

AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED BY THE RIGHT HONORABLE DREW WILLIAM LANDIS,
HONORARY MAYOR OF TORTOLLA, BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS.

Be sure to read Captain Frank’s hilarious account of the stone’s discovery at Tortola (not Tortolla), in the British Virgin Islands, by visiting his website (in the list below).

Last month, we mentioned the weather stone notice in tropical Bermuda, that says “If it’s white on top, believe it or not, it’s snowing.” Corey Butterfield, who lives in Bermuda, kindly sent us a photo of the stone, which he saw displayed at Fort Scaur historical park.

“This sign had me cracking up,” he said. “It typifies the Bermudan spirit. I’m surprised that tourism officials had enough of a sense of humour to produce it.

“In addition to observing the weather stone, Bermudians of old used to hang shark oil outside (mainly on their clothes lines) in glass bottles, to tell the weather. If it was cloudy it would be stormy; clear oil meant a fine day, etc.”

Fort Scaur was built by British colonial authorities in the late 1860s and early 70s to defend the island’s dockyard from attack. American forces were stationed there in WWII.

Our global search for the original weather stone began in New Zealand, and ends there too. We’ve discovered a second New Zealand weather stone hanging outside a store in Russell, Bay of Islands. It’s called an Early Polynesian Weather Stone.

Russell, like Captain Frank’s St. Michaels and Corey’s Bermuda, is a great fishing and boating centre. Anglers and boaties always want accurate weather forecasts. That must be why they put so much faith in those weather stones.

Potential weather stones in Tortola

An evening drive in Tortola can quickly turn into an adventure. Such was the case last Friday when a friend was driving two reporters to a gathering at a co-worker’s home. With the sun setting and little traffic on the road it was a serene drive, until a loud bang shattered the tranquillity.

The back seat passenger turned around just in time to see a grapefruit-sized rock rolling down the middle of the road. A quick inspection at the end of the voyage revealed little damage other than frazzled nerves.

On the ride back to Road Town from Cane Garden Bay the same passengers in the same car managed to hit a rock of similar size. But this time a flat tyre was the result.

– A Reporter’s Notebook, BVI Beacon, http://www.bvibeacon.com/ British Virgin Islands, December 1, 2005.

POSTSCRIPT. We sent a draft copy of this story to St. Michael’s Marina, Maryland, seeking permission to copy Captain Frank’s photos. In reply, we received this email from Ilene Morgan & Capt. Frank:

Frank is delighted that you like his weather stone. He got the idea during a Bermuda holiday where we found the weather stone at Fort Scaur. A later holiday in the BVI further gave birth to Capt. Frank’s Weather Stone.

With the help of friends we were on holiday with, we gathered up about a dozen potential weather stones, scavenged for boxes and duct tape, and were amazed when security actually let us through.In response to their puzzled inquiries about our cargo, we said they were landscaping stones.

The weather stone story and legend then became fully developed after an evening spent with several friends and much good cheer, and is a much enjoyed attraction at the marina.

St. Michaels isn’t really a fishing resort. Once a ship building town, St. Michaels is now one of the premier visitor destinations for our mid-atlantic region, and is THE premier destination on the Chesapeake Bay for cruising boaters. Should you be interested, you can find more info. at
www.stmichaelsmd.org

Links
Captain Frank’s weather stone http://www.stmichaelsmarina.com/preview/weatherstone.htm
Fort Scaur, Bermuda http://www.fodors.com/miniguides/mgresults.cfm?destination=bermuda@29&cur_section=sig&property_id=116381
Early Polynesian Weather Stone http://www.svfelicity.com/images/journal/newzeal1/russel6.jpg

Permanent link to this article: http://www.openwriting.com/archives/2006/03/found_worlds_ol.php/