Mary Celeste is an ancient ship that forms the perfect example to the theories of ghost ships narrated and told by many. Originally christened as the Amazon, the American vessel was built in the year 1860 in the Nova Scotian hamlet of Spencer’s Island. The Mary Celeste was a dual-mast vessel, more commonly known then as a brigantine.
Between the early and mid-1860s, the vessel’s owners encountered a series of accidents with the vessel trading hands quite frequently in this time-period. Lives of three captains were also lost which further added to the negative reputation gained by the vessel. However, in spite of the mass negativity garnered, the vessel did manage to have successful voyages though the negativity far outweighed this success rate.
In the year 1867, the vessel was salvaged to a New York based marine corporation and consequently re-christened as Mary Celeste and was put under the skippering of Captain Benjamin Briggs. Along with Captain Briggs and his family – wife and daughter – the ship had a crew of eight people. Incidentally, Captain Briggs was also one of the four stakeholders who held the newly transferred joint-stock ownership of the Mary Celeste.
Mary Celeste Mystery
The mystery of Mary Celeste starts soon after the ship was tasked with the transportation of about 1,700 alcohol casks to the Italian province of Genoa in the year 1872. The vessel which departed as per her schedule on the seventh of November, 1872 did not reach the Genoese port at all but was found to be adrift in the Gibraltar strait by the vessel Dei Gratia, which had left the New York harbour exactly a week after the Mary Celeste’s departure.
The perplexing details were soon obvious. The shipmen and the captain were nowhere to be found while the only lifeboat equipped in the boat was missing. But even as these two things became clear, it was also found that the commodities aboard the vessel – the cargo and the personal belongings of the people – were completely untouched which negated the theory of pirates raiding the vessel almost immediately.
Reasons for Drifting
While speculations came forth about the tyranny of the captain towards his crew, the fact that Captain Briggs was an honourable man with a high-sense of duty and integrity towards his profession, soon overruled these speculations.
One theory that has gained a lot of credibility about the ghost ship is the one revolving around the alcohol casks and the captain’s decision to abandon the vessel before a fire could erupt. The fact that nine casks of alcohol were uncovered and a rope was dangling into the water added to the credibility of this supposition, though nothing concrete has still been established.
Other popular rumours and theories about the Mary Celeste mystery include mutiny, encountering flying saucers, accidental foraying into the Bermuda Triangle and also encountering harsh weather conditions. But since the vessel was found intact with no visible damages, all these theories just remain suppositions.
The marine world has seen more than its share of ghost ship anecdotes. While some are intimidating, some are genuinely confusing. The mystery of Mary Celeste unequivocally comes into the latter cadre and is a topic worth thinking aloud.
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