A ghost ship is a vessel that has mysteriously expelled its passengers and crew, refusing to indicate their whereabouts. Though theories such as piracy and mutiny are often used to calm those wary of paranormal explanations, it is hard not to conjure the supernatural or extraterrestrial when contemplating these maritime mysteries – and none more so than the Mary Celeste.
Image: Parks Canada
1. Mary Celeste
Last Sighting: November 5, 1872
For one month the Mary Celeste was missing – merchants in Italy awaited their shipment of commercial alcohol, and the friends and family of the men, women and children aboard wondered what could have happened to their kin. On December 5, 1872 the ship was found in near-perfect condition, drifting on the waves of the Strait of Gibraltar. All contents of the ship were on board, including the cargo and the personal belongings of the passengers. Everything remained intact, except, very strangely, no passenger – dead or alive – could be found.
An investigation into the Mary Celeste’s one-month disappearance uncovered interesting secrets about its origin. Researchers found that the ship had been renamed in order to dispel superstitions that the ship, formerly named the Amazon, was haunted.
Three captains of the Amazon died on board, and two other captains made grievous and unexplainable errors, crashing into other ships. One day, in the shipyard, the center of the Amazon’s interior spontaneously caught fire. Several other near-disasters surrounded the Amazon, prompting her to be sold and renamed.
After the famed crash, the Mary Celeste continued to cause hardships for her owners and captains. Eventually, her 1885 owner, G. C. Parker, attempted to intentionally destroy the ship in order to win the insurance money. The ever-stubborn and potentially haunted Mary Celeste refused to sink, despite violent steering and deadly flames.