As if cut from a scene from Steven Spielberg’s “Poltergeist,” investigators descended upon the Robbins Reef Yacht Club just off Avenue A in Bayonne on Sept. 28, determined to find evidence about a rumored ghost there. The nine-person crew came to the Victorian mansion armed with a variety of equipment that the investigators hoped would capture the sound or sight of the ghost that many people over the years claim still haunts the century old building.
Bayonne has a few rumored ghosts, though none are more well-known than the ghost at Robbins Reef, the private membership-only yacht club.
The Schuyler Mansion
The mansion, sometimes known as the Schuyler Mansion, was a private estate before the yacht club purchased the building when relocating from the east side of Bayonne. Tales had already circulated locally about the broken-hearted son who hung himself in the upstairs bedroom – leaping out the window with a rope around his neck at some point prior to the purchase.
Yacht club patrons and their guests sometimes reported odd happenings such as feeling cold spots in certain places, particularly in the bedroom area, and that sometimes things would fly off the shelves at the bar, and if replaced, would fly off the shelf again. On occasion, members reported catching glimpses of what might be ghosts.
Some people are scared to be there. Most members of the club avoid the closed-off section that the ghost is supposed to haunt. One woman said that late at night she hears noises in that part of the building.
A ghost hunter’s tools
For local ghost busters, the stories surrounding Robbins Reef were too good to pass up, so the groups Real Hauntings and Paranormal Visions joined forces to investigate. Desiree Wojtanowski, from Paranormal Visions based in Brick, said the investigation was prompted by Allison Lynch of Bayonne, who is a member of Real Hauntings.
While many groups investigate hauntings using a variety of instruments that include meters and gauges, the most effective pieces of equipment tend to be tape recorders and thermal imaging cameras. “We got there about 7 a.m. and started about 8:30 a.m., and completed the investigation about 2:30 a.m. the next morning,” Wojtanowski said.
Wojtanowski had become involved with such investigations because she always had a connection to the other world, going back to early childhood when at 18 months old her parents caught her talking to her grandfather – a grandfather who had passed away eight months prior to her birth.
“We set up our equipment which included an infrared video, a digital camera, voice recorder,” Wojtanowski said. “We spent several hours doing electronic work after we questioned people there about the place and what they saw. When we analyze the data, we hope to hear voices on the tape recordings that are not ours.”
A sixth sense
“Gauges and meters only measure what our current science can understand,” said Craig McManus, one of New Jersey’s well-known ghost hunters, and the author of two books on ghost hunting in Cape May. “EMF/trifield meters have rarely worked for me. Only once in a haunted house did a meter start to move by itself without being touched or moved around.”
McManus, who has uncovered many of the better-known ghosts in Cape May’s Victorian era structures, says he apparently has a gift for sensing natural energy ghosts exude. McManus, who has worked with similar groups throughout the state, said investigators search out what are called “hot spots” of energy, and frequently use intuition to set up equipment with hopes of catching images or sounds.
McManus said most investigations involve “a walk through” the haunted areas. “If there are too many (living) people present, I will have difficulty sensing any ghosts,” he said. “I usually like to spend the night doing an investigation. It is quieter later in the evening and the ghosts are more active because the living are usually asleep and they have room to “breathe.”
Wojtanowski said the crew found evidence of a ghostly presence just from the photographs. “We have some orbs on the digital pictures, although we have to be certain that what we have captured are orbs and not the product of dust,” she said. “True orbs have life to them. They emit light rather than merely reflections from flashes.”
Ghosts, Wojtanowski added, rarely act the way you expect.
“They also never act when you want them to act, so they are hard to capture,” she said.
McManus said he tries to communicate with the ghost when he finds it.
“Ghosts communicate by hearing our thoughts,” McManus said. “They have no ears or voice boxes so every communication is in the form of energy. Some ghosts want to talk to me, others do not and will move away. It is very difficult to get a ghost to actually have a mental conversation with a living person.”
Friend or foe?
While the findings by Paranormal and Real Hauntings seem to indicate that Robbins Reef really is haunted, no one can yet say whether the ghost of the boy long ago is a friendly or nasty ghost.
“Ghosts have the same personality they had in life,” McManus said. “A hostile person will usually be a hostile ghost. However, many hauntings that seem to be hostile are really just mischievous ghosts and those ghosts are usually those of children. Boys will be boys and ghosts of boys will act like boys. If a presence is truly hostile, there are people that deal with such energies. I do not. I will leave the premise quickly if I sense something malevolent. 99.9 percent of hauntings are benevolent.”
McManus suggests talking things out with the ghost.
“I suggest trying to talk to the ghost first, talking and thinking the information and letting the ghost know it is scaring you and that it must stop will sometimes help to ease the tension,” McManus said. “Most ghosts just want to be left alone.”
For more information about Paranormal or to see more photographs from the Robbins Reef haunting, you can go to the Web site: http://www.paranormalvisions.com. To find out more about the books of Craig McManus, you can call his office at (201) 493-0772 or visit him online at www.channelcraig.com. His books are available in Cape May and at Barnes & Nobles outlets and on Amazon.com. Individual ghost hunters or enthusiasts should receive permission before visiting Robbins Reef Yacht Club as it is a membership only club and private property.