For those of you who are interested in ghost ships, the Mary Celeste will be a well known name to you. She was discovered floating in the Atlantic ocean, crew less and abandoned on 4th December 1872. There was no discernable reason for her abandonment as the weather had been fine and she had been manned by able seamen. There was no sign of damage to the ship and there was a plentiful supply of food onboard. The cargo she had been carrying was alcohol and remained untouched. Passenger belongings we left intact. In fact, it seemed as though the crew had just up and jumped ship hurriedly, for no reason at all. Food was found on plates, half eaten and furniture was stirred as though there had been an emergency which meant immediate evacuation. The abandoning of the ship must have been for something major, as the Captain had his wife and daughter on board also. However, there was no sign of a struggle or any violence. The reason to this day, remains a mystery.
Oliver Deveau, chief mate of the Dei Gratia, boarded the Mary Celeste. He reported he did not find anyone on board, and said that “the whole ship was a thoroughly wet mess”. There was only one operational pump, two apparently having been disassembled, with a lot of water between decks and three and a half feet (1.1 m) of water in the hold. However, the ship was not sinking and was still seaworthy.
All of the ship’s papers were missing, except for the captain’s logbook. The forehatch and the lazarette were both open, although the main hatch was sealed. The ship’s clock was not functioning, and the compass was destroyed; the sextant and marine chronometer were missing. The only lifeboat on the Mary Celeste, a yawl located above the main hatch, was also missing. The peak halyard, used to hoist the main sail, had disappeared. A rope, perhaps the peak halyard, was found tied to the ship very strongly and the other end, very frayed, was trailing in the water behind the ship.
Many have speculated UFOs, Bermuda Triangle, pirates, sea monsters and many more. Let’s look at some theories:
- Pirates: This was suggested due to the crew just up and leaving the ship; perhaps Captain Briggs did not want to risk the lives of his wife and daughter and just gave the pirates the whole ship. However, considering that hardly anything was removed from the ship, including its cargo, this theory doesn’t seem likely;
- The Salvage Crew Killed the Crew of the Mary Celeste then Tried to Claim Salvage Rights: This theory could be more likely as a substantial amount of money was involved in salvage rights, so the crew of the Dei Gratia may have looked upon the crew of the Mary Celeste as “easy prey”, especially with the presence of women and children. However, this theory also has a flaw in that there appeared to be no sign of a struggle;
- Storm at Sea: The Mary Celeste may have encountered a storm and thought the ship could sink so escaped in one of the lifeboats. However, again, this theory seems unlikely as the weather had supposedly been fine;
- The Bermuda Triangle: This theory has to be completely ignored since the ship sailed nowhere near the Bermuda Triangle or surrounding area;
- Seaquake: This seems the most logical explanation. Bearing in mind, the captain was more mindful of his crew since it included his family, if the crew felt the seaquake they would have had no idea at that time that such things could even occur and may have been worried that there was a problem with the ship, thus abandoning it and then succumbing to the massive waves and whirlpools created by the seaquake.
So there you have it. Most websites are now claiming that they believe the seaquake theory to be the real reason the crew abandoned ship and that their tiny lifeboat offered them no protection and they were all drowned. I guess we will never know for sure, but it seems a lot more likely than the Kraken eating them all up.