What happened on board the ghost ship “Mary Celeste”?
Drifting, they found the boat in which there must have been ten crew members, but which, however, was deserted … although with everything in place.
The incredible history of the American brigantine sailboat “Mary Celeste” will always be, if nobody remediates it, a great unfathomable mystery of the sea; a historical secret phagocytized to posterity by the immense ocean. Every time I immerse myself in this unusual enigma, new questions arise on the surface about what could happen on board that ghost ship before December 5, 1872, the English ship “Dei Gratia” in the distance seen the drifting brig between the Azores and Lisbon.At one o’clock in the afternoon, a sailor of the “Dei Gratia” distinguished a white sail to the northeast, 600 miles from the coast Portuguese, north of the direct route between the Azores and Gibraltar.
Captain David Reed Morehouse was surprised that the ship silhouetted in the distance sailed in a zigzag. Shortly after, only half a mile from it, he observed the bridge with his binoculars and was stunned: there was not a soul. How was it possible that the brig navigated only with the jib and ratchet, with the other sails folded?
The captain ordered three of his men to board the ship to scrutinize him. First officer Oliver Deveau then wrote a report of everything he saw. He first probed the bilge pumps, which were “in good order,” as he noted, but revealed the presence of a meter of water in the cove. “There was a considerable amount of water in the steerage; the bow post was full to the embroidery, “he added.
He later verified that the last entry in the logbook corresponded to November 24, and that some essential objects to navigate had disappeared, such as the sextant and the chronometer; The slide was also missing, which measured the speed of the ship.
There were many reserves of drinking water inside large barrels on wooden supports that had been displaced, “as if under the influence of a large wave that had entered on board”. Deveau was unable to count alcohol barrels anymore, but he later learned that there were 1,700 worth almost $ 37,000.
To make matters worse, in the kitchen of the boat, over the still hot stove, he found a casserole that contained a freshly cooked chicken; and at the table served with three plates of food, he also observed three cups half full of tea still warm. He found, finally, three shirts put to dry. “Why only three?” He asked.
From his meticulous eye inspection, he concluded that the ten crew members of “Mary Celeste” had left the ship shortly before in haste. But soon the question came to him: Why this sudden reaction if the brig was in good condition?
After so many rivers of ink poured on this enigma, we now point out some disparate versions, the first of which is somewhat romantic: the cook of the “Mary Celeste” went mad and poisoned one after another the entire crew, starting with Captain Benjamin Briggs , the night of November 24; hence, his last entry in the logbook. On December 4, only three men remained on board, for whom the cook prepared a chicken on the stove and then served three cups of poisoned tea, then dumped their bodies overboard. But when he saw the Dei Gratia, he suddenly recovered his reason and wanted to atone for his horrible crime by also throwing himself into the waves.
If this hypothesis is bizarre, the second is no less: on December 4 the crew was on deck, except Captain Briggs, his wife and daughter. Suddenly a giant octopus emerged from the waters, the fearsome Kraken, who with its multiple arms swept the bridge and directed all those unfortunates to its jaws. Upon hearing the screams of fright, the Briggs family went on deck and suffered the same fate. That’s why they found three cups of tea still hot, three shirts put to dry and a half-cooked chicken.
Let’s see a third: confident in good weather, the boatswain and the captain jumped into the water to bathe. The crew looked out on the starboard bow to see them. But suddenly the wind rose. A terrible blast knocked the brig on its side, ending their lives.
And for the most daring, the version of J. L. Hornibrool published in the “Chamber’s Journal”, according to which the crew were captured by the pirates of the Rif. Reality or fantasy? In the case of “Mary Celeste”, any explanation is possible.
Two captains in conspiracy?
The most interesting aspect of the investigations carried out on the “Mary Celeste” to date is undoubtedly the proven friendship between Captain Briggs and Morehouse, his ship’s counterpart who discovered him sailing alone in the ocean. Is it not surprising, perhaps, that among all the ships that crossed the waters between Lisbon and the Azores, it was precisely the “Dei Gratia” that alone saw the ghost ship? The discovery of that friendly relationship between Briggs and Morehouse gave vent to speculation. It is no secret to anyone that throughout maritime history some captains have sunk their boat to collect the insurance premium. But in this particular case, it is unreasonable to think that the two captains were able to conspire to share a very poor booty of 1,700 pounds sterling, the value established by the courts as compensation for the ransom.