One of the most famous ghost ships of all time is the Mary Celeste. This ship always seemed to have experienced bad luck, no matter where she went or who her passengers were.
Even when the ship was known as the Amazon, after she was launched in 1860, she was involved in many accidents and went through a dozen different owners. No owner kept the ship for very long, since they always experienced bad luck with her. Around 1870, after the first ten years of misfortune, the ship was sent to New York, underwent extensive repairs, and was finally renamed Mary Celeste.
The captain of newly renamed Mary Celeste was Benjamin Briggs, who, along with his wife, daughter, and seven or eight crew members, departed New York on Nov. 7, 1872. They were bound for Genoa, Italy, and had a cargo of 1,700 barrels of alcohol. All seemed well upon departure, but the captain, crew, and passengers were never seen or heard from again. They literally disappeared off the face of the earth, and to this day, the mystery has never been completely solved.
Even though all persons aboard the ship disappeared, the ship itself did not. Nor did the cargo. However, just nine of the barrels were found opened once the shipment was finally inspected. On December 5, 1872, nearly a month after the Mary Celeste departed from New York, she was found on the sea, derelict, by the Dei Gratia ship.
The captain of the Dei Gratia was familiar with Captain Briggs and was surprised to find that he was missing. Briggs had a reputation of being a fair, honest man and an excellent captain. The Dei Gratia crew boarded the Mary Celeste to investigate. What they found was a mystery that no one ever found out the answers to. The ship wasn’t in the best condition, but it was still fine and seaworthy. It appeared as if the crew and passengers had left in a hurry.
The Galley wasn’t in the best shape, there was some water in between the decks, and the kitchen was a mess. There was also a rope hanging over the side and trailing in the water. It appeared that, despite that the Mary Celeste was still in decent condition, the crew had abandoned ship. But why? Why did they leave in such a hurry? How come they were never found again? Did their life boat sink? If they did make it to safety, why did they never contact anyone? Did they meet with foul play?
Most experts have agreed over the years that bad weather probably had nothing to do with the mystery. After all, the Dei Gratia didn’t experience any bad weather during its time in the area. Also, Captain Briggs was an excellent sailor. Why would he have his family and crew take the risk of leaving the ship when it was still in decent condition? He should have been to handle it, and he had probably experienced worse over the years.
Some suggest that perhaps pirates took over the ship, but why was nothing missing? Nine barrels were open, but none were missing. There probably wasn’t a mutiny against the captain, since the crew was mainly honorable soldiers who respected him. So, if no foul play was involved, and there was no sign of bad weather, why did the crew of the Mary Celeste leave the ship, and where did they end up? Were they eaten by sharks? Did a UFO have anything to do with their disappearance?
One theory that has been put forth, which is perhaps the most logical, is that the crew became worried over the raw alcohol, since alcohol fume was known to be volatile and even explosive. Briggs had never hauled alcohol before and didn’t know how to take care of it. Perhaps the nine barrels began leaking or somehow got torn open, filling up the hold with a possibly lethal mixture of fumes. Out of a sudden fear of an explosion, Briggs ordered everyone to hurry into the lifeboat, and in his haste forgot to secure the boat to the ship with the towline. This would explain why the rope was hanging down and drifting into the water, why nine barrels were opened, and why the crew seemed to have left in a hurry.
Of course, it still doesn’t account for the fact that there was water in between the decks, or what happened to the crew. In all probability, they all probably either drowned or died of thirst and exposure. Perhaps we’ll never know for sure what happened to the crew of the Mary Celeste, or why she seemed to bring bad luck with her everywhere she went.