The story of Mary Celeste

The story of the Mary Celeste. We don't know if you believe in stories of ghost ships but today we bring you a story that even after having happened 150 years ago, remains unexplained. The question of what happened aboard the Mary Celeste remains unanswered.

Captain Benjamin Briggs and the crew of the Mary Celeste set sail from the port of New York (USA) for Genoa (Italy) on November 7, 1872. On board this ship were seven crew members specifically selected by the Captain, since his wife and daughter were traveling on the ship. The Mary Celeste was a merchant ship that was loaded with industrial alcohol, hence its journey across the Atlantic. However, it never reached its destination.

On December 5, almost a month after the ship left New York, a lookout on the Dei Gratia (another ship) spotted a drifting ship 400 miles off the Azores Islands (Portugal). Indeed, it was the Mary Celeste. They scanned the ship with binoculars from side to side and not a soul could be seen on board. The ship rocked zig zag. From the Dei Gratia they headed for the Mary Celeste.

Azores disappearance Mary Celeste
The Mary Celeste was found drifting 400 miles off the Azores Islands

Once his sailors reached the deck, they already noticed some restlessness. The navigational charts were all scattered on the floor. The belongings of the crew of the Mary Celeste still remained in their cabins. The only thing missing was the ship's lifeboat. The cargo of the 1700 barrels of industrial alcohol was still intact. There was food and water to last six months on board. What had happened that the entire crew had abandoned the ship so suddenly.

It was discovered that November 25, two weeks after leaving New York, was the last entry in Captain Briggs's logbook. And in these notes everything seemed completely normal. The captain had given no sign of any anomaly on board. There was nothing strange. The boat was overhauled and was in perfect sailing condition. A captain only leaves his ship under very adverse circumstances. However, this was not the case, apparently, with the Mary Celeste.

But like all unsolved mysteries, there are many theories surrounding it. One seems to be related to alcohol. Bottles were missing from the transported cargo. The crew may have ingested industrial alcohol and mutinied. However, there were no signs of violence. There was also speculation that the ship had been boarded by pirates. But it was discarded since valuables had been left on the ship. The things that were missing were the sexant, the stopwatch and the log, used to measure the distance traveled by the boat.

load mary celeste
The cargo was practically intact, so a pirate boarding was ruled out.

What is certain is that an attempt was made to ventilate the interior of the boat. It is known from the state in which the hatches were found. Currently the most plausible theories are two:

  • The Mary Celeste was more than 140 km from where it should have been. The water discovered in the lower part of the ship suggested that the pumps to extract the water did not work and, being close to the Azores, the captain thought that making landfall with the lifeboat was the safest option.
  • It is also thought that the abandonment could be related to the sparks. And it is possible that after an emanation of transported alcohol a spark jumped and everyone on board feared an imminent explosion of the ship. Quite likely, since you are certain that an attempt was made to aerate the boat.

But what is clear in the history of the Mary Celeste is that: Nothing more was ever heard of the 10 people who were on board the Mary Celeste. What constitutes one of the great maritime mysteries of history. What do you think happened?

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