Tracy S. Morris

Quirky Mysteries, Screwball Fantasy and Sassy History

I Am Not Making This Up: When is a Ghost Not a Ghost? When It’s a Boat.

Written By: Tracy - Oct• 09•17

It seems odd that there are still places where large numbers of people can vanish without a trace. But as recently as early this year, ghost ships have washed up on the shore of Japan.

And while there is an easy explanation for these ghost ships – fishing vessels from North Korea – what happened to some ghost ships remains shrouded in mystery.

Such is the case with the Mary Celeste, possibly the world’s most famous ghost ship.

On December 5, 1872, a Canadian two-masted sailing ship named the Dei Gratia sighted a ship off the shores of the Azores islands. But something seemed wrong.

The ship moved toward them in an erratic line, with it’s sails in dissarray. As the strange ship drew closer, the crew of the Dei Gratia couldn’t see anyone aboard. Attempts to hail the strange ship went unanswered.

So Captain David Moorehouse sent his first and second mates, Oliver Deveau and John Wright in a ship’s boat to investigate. The two men reported back that the ship was the Mary Celeste.

This may have caused some concern for Captain David Moorehouse. As a Captain who sailed the same general shipping route as the Mary Celeste, he would have been a colleague of the Mary Celeste’s Captain Benjamin Briggs — Sort of the nautical equivalent of a water cooler friend. Moorehouse might have known that Briggs sailed with his wife and two year old daughter aboard the ship.

The two man expedition to the Mary Celeste reported that the ship was completely abandoned. Yet they could find nothing wrong with the ship. The cargo of crude alcohol remained intact. There was a single lifeboat missing, and the ship’s log was last updated nine days previously. It was as if the ship’s crew had simply abandoned in a great hurry.

To this day, what happened to the Mary Celeste’s crew remains a mystery. Theories range from the outlandish — UFOs and Sea Monsters, to practical — the captain may have feared that the cargo of alcohol would explode, and abandoned ship. Suspicion even fell onto the crew of the Dei Gratia, who stood to benefit from salvage of the Mary Celeste.

Even Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the world’s most famous detective novels, weighed in with a sensationalized fictional account that blamed a murderous crew member.

As recently as 2007, a documentary claimed that Briggs ordered an abandon ship due to fear of sinking after a combination of rough seas, a broken pump and a broken chronometer.

Whatever the real story might be, we may never know. But the mystery is what keeps the story alive in our minds.

It could be that some of us would prefer the mystery to remain a mystery.

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