Perhaps one of the most durable nautical mysteries ever recorded.On the 7th November
In the year 1872 a ship was found drifting along the coast of Portugal. Her name forever carved in our memories and for good reason as nothing adds up in any theory offered. Alien abduction, pirates ,mutiny and many more equally silly ideas of what caused a very experienced captain to abandon his ship.
We must set out some of this story , even though you have heard it all before many times.Some of the facts have never been told. For instance no dinner plates of half eaten food ever was the case. Yet so many believe it to be true. The ship was under her own power and had sailed most of the way from the Azores to the position she was found to be in just off the coast of Portugal.
The brigantine from England named Dei Gratia Captained by Edward Morehouse saw what looked like a ship in trouble. No sails just the jib and one top sail but she was unable to steer a course. Morehouse brought his ship near alongside of her but could make out only her name He sent three signals without reply .He had birthed next to her in New York just two weeks prior bound with cargo of industrial alcohol for the port of Genoa .Morehouse was loaded for Gibraltar seeing a deserted ship that had sent of before him mid ocean now coasting off the coast some 200 miles of course he now sent over his first officer.A giant of a man called Oliver Deveau a trusted man with the favour of the crew. In the company of others he boarded the Mary Celeste to find it wet inside and sea soaked un made births. On closer inspection they found the port side windows all boarded up.Down in the hold one of the pumps was stoved in and useless. Water about 2.6 feet deep filled that boat bottom and the cargo was in tact save for one opened barrel. In the cabin all sea charts lay all over the place and the sextant had been smashed in. The yawl had gone and the rails that released the boat lay where the boat had been launched.
They counted the births belongings of each member of crew but two beds belongings were none. The 282 ton Brigantine was deserted with no sin or clue as to why Captain Benjamin Briggs had called the ship to be abandoned. On top of this Briggs had a wife and two year old daughter Sofie aboard. Morehouse knew all about them as both ships had loaded cargo in New York harbour some 11 days prior.
in the hold 1701 barrels of industrial alcohol was mostly in tact. One barrel had been opened. Some empty had leaked. No smell was present in the main cabin or crew quarters. Seven crewmen Briggs the Skipper and his family had all vanished leaving the ship to sail herself.
Azores is 972 miles from Lisbon Portugal. 1562 miles from London England and 2561 miles from New York.USA. Some place between Azores and Portugal coast Mary Celeste had been abandoned. She could have sailed on no real course for over 600 miles. The ships log had been left which no sailor ever would do was to loose the log. It was last entered just days before with no sign of happening. They had sailed the other side of Azores to try keeping out of a storm and had nothing more than that was logged.
Things looked very suspect but Morehouse had no choice than to take the charge of the deserted ship for salvage sale.
In December 1885 the Bark Alhama of Arendal Norway was found in much the same state abandoned and no trace of crew or captain. This too was just off the coast of Portugal . The crew of either ship vanished never to be heard of ever again. No one ever declared that they are the lost survivors.
i know race ahead to 1919. The Massive Iron battleship New Mexico was seen to shiver right down her length. Guns fell off turrets rattled the crew jumped over board as the fear was they had hit a bomb site. This lasted about ten minutes unexplained. research on her metal body seemed to relate to the old seamans fable of the sea quake being the cause.
Sea quakes we now know exist as in 1967 a Sperm Whale was washed right up a beach in Lancashire England. It was huge and on Northern News. I went to see this as she lay there for days before the animal rescue services and helpers towed her into the sea but she was dead. Now we know that this great sea monster of a huge whale had been picked up and dumped by the sea quake that comes from the sea floor just as earth quakes do.
I read the story of Captain (retired ) David Williams who after a life time at sea in ships knows all about sea quakes and he thinks ,like me, that indeed Mary Celeste ended same way. The equipment may have started going wrong and Briggs found himself following the sextant only to find he was miles off track. Then the sea quake and it proved to much to bare. In the life boat all went and lost the rope that had them connected to the ship. Maybe the fear she was going down shaking loose of her timbers they decided to abandon. All points to a hasty exit so if that was really what happened and I doubt it not then what happened to the people? Sadly they perished in high seas too many in an open rowing launch on the Atlantic Oceans hated run.
So by all things proper that launched Yawl from the div on board showed that of a larger row boat carrying two masts and sails. If gas from the broken topped barrel had caused small explosion when the hatch was opened and lantern pushed in to see what was going on in the cargo hold.
Then we go back to sea quake it accounts for the men departing. The way the sails had been taken down was so they could use the spar to unload the boat. Now in a choppy water with earth quake power the ship sailed away as the boat met water the line broken and the yawl could do nothing to catch the Brig. The thing then is how long can you survive outside of shipping lanes in an open boat on high seas with just a few cans of bullied beef and a bottle of water as we know that was all they took. It all points to loosing the rope that held them to the ship. I have thought of this every way possible over years of seeing every film and reading every book printed on the mystery. I can say it is not a mystery at all as if my theory is right it explains a sad story of misadventure only.
No doubt Briggs was not to blame nor his crew but something got them to quickly depart from that ship. We can look at Piracy but nothing was touched. Cargo in place and all crew belongings save for two unexplained. Those two men said that they last everything in the last ship that sank. Both of these men had been brothers.This led to the story of mutiny. I examined such but it explains nothing.
I think all sat in that boat and waited for the ship to stop shaking. Then they lost connection and with just two sails Mary Celeste sailed off and left them stranded.
Further more it may be said that no survivors and no one ever checked the graveyards in Azores islands nor in Portugal just in case bodies had been found. Sad it is that they died, even that little Sofie aged 2. RIP
All we can ever do is pray for them as not one of them survived. Nor would the sailors on the Norwegian vessel some 13 years later. Two tales of ships sailing alone just off the coast of Portugal points to sea quakes of mighty power. Both cases end exactly the same only the Mary Celeste stole the show.
Thank you all for reading my stories. Hope to see you again soon with my next amazing fact adventure. My intent is to keep it short and interesting just to wet your appetite and read all available on this fascinating subject .
Yours with respect Sir Kevin Parr Baronet.
Copyright kevin Parr Bt 2018