In one of our previous blog posts this year, we laid out 5 of the most Amazing mysteries of the high seas, however in theses tall tales of the ocean there was one monster we simply had to revisit. Whilst haunted houses have a pretty strong hold on the spectral real estate market, nothing quite captures the imagination like a classic ghost ship story. Now that we’re a day away from Halloween, we thought we’d fill up the fear quota with these 5 classic ghost ship stories that, until this day, remain relatively unexplained…
#1 - The Mary Celeste
What constitutes a ghost ship isn’t just the odd story of apparitions or vessels that seem to defy the laws of physics, in fact it usually applies to ships that either just turn up or continue on the waters with no living crew aboard. The first in this list is perhaps one of the most famous in this regard: the Mary Celeste. Covered previously in our myths blog; this 282-gross ton brigantine vanished in 1872, before being found later that year with no crew on board. Everything (food, supplies etc.) but a lifeboat were still there, and aside from a lot of water between her decks and the fact that Captain Benjamin Briggs, his family and the crew abandoned ship in a hurry, there were hardly any clues as to what happened to everyone on board.
#2 – S.S. Ourang Medan
Perhaps more urban legend than unexplained mystery, the Ourang Medan is nevertheless a captivating story and great campfire material. According to varying sources, at some point in or around June 1947, two American vessels navigating the Strait of Malacca picked up a distress message from a Dutch merchant ship. The unnerving morse code stated that “we float. All officers including the Captain, dead in chartroom and on the bridge.”
, followed promptly by “I die”
and nothing to follow. When the Medan was boarded, the grizzly sight described by the message was far more terrifying than the seamen could imagine . Both explanations and falsifications have arisen around this story, but whether you consider it to be slightly exaggerated or even pure fiction, it’s still frightening nonetheless.
#3 – MV Joyita
Another more recent example of a ghost ship, the MV Joyita was found adrift in the South Pacific in 1955, with all her 25 passengers and crew mysteriously gone. This was five weeks after a search and rescue mission came up short, and when she was spotted the ship was partially submerged and listing heavily. Four tonnes of cargo were missing, there was extensive damage to many parts of the vessel and, most strikingly, a doctor’s bag was found on deck with four lengths of blood-stained bandages. Theories to explain why the crew didn't just stay on board to wait for help, and what might have gone wrong, have done little to settle the mystery behind this maritime puzzle.
#4 – S.S. Valencia
The sinking of this iron-hulled American passenger steamer off the coast of Vancouver Island is considered to be one of the worst maritime disasters of the treacherous “Graveyard of the Pacific”, but what follows is of equal note. Since she was claimed by the waters, the Valencia has been the subject of several ghost stories, including local native Americans who saw one of her lifeboats being rowed by eight skeletons, phantom appearances of the steamer itself and seemingly human figures clutching onto the ghost ship’s rig for dear life. ..
#5 – Kaz II
A more recent entry into the log of the unexplainable: the Kaz II or “ghost yacht”. This 9.8 metre catamaran was found drifting off the northern coast of Australia in 2007, without a trace of her three-man crew on board. Originally a helicopter noticed the boat drifting towards the Great Barrier Reef, potentially in distress, but when maritime authorities boarded everything was “normal” apart from the absent crew members. Food was set out on the table, the lifejackets remained and even a laptop had been left on. Video footage from the journey and limited forensic evidence have been used to propose an accident scenario that would have resulted in all three men going overboard, but it’s hardly definitive.
What are some ghost ship stories you’ve heard in your time that remain unexplained? How do you feel about the concept as a whole? Let us know in the comments, or over at the Seachest Facebook page, through Twitter or on Google+. And remember to have a happy Halloween!