The forces of nature have been respected by man since he was fascinated by the things he did not understand. And the most prominent amongst these forces remains the sea—an endless behemoth that stretches across the horizon, a vast entity that imposes dominance like no other. We have made remarkable progress over the centuries in making sure that waterways and the sea are safe. Sometimes, however, the baffling mysteries of the sea leave a permanent imprint. Mary Celeste, a ship that was found crewless in middle of the Atlantic is one such example.
Mary Celeste was well-known before she was discovered without a crew member on that fateful December 1872. She lost her first captain on her maiden voyage and went on to sink a boat shortly after. Her worst moment came in October 1867 when she ran aground just off Nova Scotia’s coast. The ship was eventually sold to a new owner, who wanted to get it back in the water. However, the ship wasn’t done with her bloodlust, and she wasn’t after a single person this time. She wanted the whole crew.
The Fateful Journey
Mary Celeste began her tragic journey in November 1872. She had undergone extensive modification after having been stranded a few years ago. She was in perfect condition and had 1701 barrels of alcohol. Benjamin Briggs was an experienced captain and his crew were capable yet inexperienced. Although the ship originally intended to sail on November 5, a storm prevented it from happening. The ship was unable to sail on the 5th of November due to a storm.ThMary Celeste set sail when the weather improved. This was her last appearance with her crew.
On December 4Th, 1872, The ship Dei Gratia Mary Celeste was found off the coast Portugal. As she wandered aimlessly in the wind, the Dei Gratia’s captain decided to investigate after Mary Celeste didn’t respond to any signals. Two men were sent by him to the ghost ship. Soon, the pair discovered her name. Mary Celeste They lay on her stern and were unable to move. However, they were greeted with an unsettling sight when they climbed the ladder to the deck.
The ship was abandoned. The sails were in poor shape, some of which were missing from the mast and some that were drawn. The main hatch was secured, but the second one was open. The ship also had a lot of water in its hold and her lifeboat was missing. It was clear that something had happened and the crew decided to abandon the ship mid-way across Atlantic.
The trio discovered the ship’s log lying in the captain’s cabin, with the final entry dated nine days prior. According to those notes, the ship’s last official position was 400 miles away. There were no signs of a struggle, meaning a mutiny hadn’t occurred. The ship was also well-stocked with provisions, and in excellent condition. This led to the men wondering what had caused such a hasty departure.
The captain of DeiGratia received these findings and decided to salvage the ship to Gibraltar. The officials confiscated the ship immediately she arrived and impounded it for further inspection.
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Theories and Possible Explanations
Mary Celeste’s arrival set off a series of court hearings, legal battles, and legal proceedings. Suspicion immediately fell upon the crew of th Dei Gratia, as the court believed they had conspired and fabricated the ship’s log. They believed that instead of anything paranormal, the entire occurrence was somehow related to the ship’s crew and her cargo of alcohol. Further examination of the ship revealed cuts and deep gashes on the bow that seemed to have been deliberately made to simulate a collision or rough sea, and the captain’s sword, which was found under his bed, had traces of a substance that looked like blood. Furthermore, a bloodlike substance was discovered on the rails, and there were deep slashes on the ship’s interior, which the officials believed were made by a great axe.
This slew if accusations and explanations was met with a major setback when science later proved that the substances weren’t blood. What had gone wrong? What was the reason for such a fine ship being abandoned in the middle Atlantic? What could have been the motive? We need to go back a little to understand the mystery.
Captain of the Mary Celeste was close to the captain of Dei Gratia, and they were both planning on retiring soon. Many believed it was an insurance fraud due to the ship’s extensive insurance. The theory has its flaws. Let’s start by asking where Captain Briggs was. What about Mary Celeste’s crew? What about the crew of Mary Celeste?
Because the cargo was not damaged, the theory of pirates was quickly dismissed. Nature is the most likely explanation. It’s believed that the sailors took a smoke below the decks, and the alcohol in the hold mimicked a small explosion, having built up gases. The captain, officers, and crew realized that there was an impending explosion and they gathered in a lifeboat to escape.
The boat could’ve been tied to the ship, but in the heavy seas, the rope could’ve got untied, leaving the crew at the mercy of the sea. Mary Celeste was able to drift off and arrived near the coast of Portugal nineteen days later. It’s highly unlikely that the crew survived the ordeal, and one can only hope they had a quick death rather than slow starvation.
Mary Celeste was eventually sold and purchased regularly after the incident. Her reputation preceded her name and she was soon feared by many. She became even more so after a third captain lost his life while he was at command. Although the ship was a disaster for almost all companies, it was eventually sold and intentionally ran aground to make an insurance scam. This scandal created a stir at the time. The defendants were eventually released, but one went mad and the other committed suicide shortly thereafter.
Mary Celeste curse struck again.
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