Saturday, December 10, 2011

Mary Celeste Revisited

"Then she appeared"
Finally, a proper explanation for the mystery of the ghost ship 'The Mary Celeste' has been put forward, 139 years too late, by none other than ME!

This American, 282-gros ton brigantine merchant ship, was found drifting in the North Atlantic on December 4th 1872 by a Canadian merchant ship, the 'Dei Gratia', near the Azores Islands. It was carrying 1,701 barrels of alcohol, a six months supply of food; It was NOT carrying it's lifeboat, passengers or crew.

There have been many theories which have attempted to explain exactly what happened aboard that ship, ranging from alcohol induced madness, mutiny, piracy, tsunamis, and 'sea quakes'. I'm not going to run through all the theories, as each one has been sufficiently posited, challenged and refuted.

I was surprised though, that there is no theory for what I feel is the obvious explanation of this maritime mystery, which is the possibility of 'stowaways'.

When the ship was discovered by Captain Moorehouse of the 'Dei Gratia', the boat was found drifting but still seaworthy, and listing slightly. None of the ship's precious cargo was noted missing, and the only things taken was a marine chronometer a sextant, and the ship's lone lifeboat.

When the ship was sailed to it's intended destination, Genoa Italy, nine of it's 1,701 barrels of alcohol/wine fortifier were found empty. Adding to the mystery was that the ship was not flying a distress signal, there was no mention of any problems in the Captain's logbook, there was a lot of water found between decks, including three and a half feet (1.1 m) in the hold. Only one of the ship's pumps was found operational (the other two having been disassembled). The peak halyard, used to hoist the main sail was missing, and later found tied tightly and trailing frayed in the water behind the boat.

'Sherlock CT' surmises that the nine 'empty' barrels had not been empty when the Mary Celeste had been docked on New York City's East River, on November 5th 1872. She sailed out of port under the command of Captain Benjamin Spooner Briggs, heading east to Europe and the straights of Gibraltar.
Those barrels either contained stowaways, extra cargo, or both, probably loaded deliberately by 'well paid' stevedores, perhaps at the insistence of their 'Boss' if you know what I mean.

Continuing my theory, the Stowaways on board were probably wealthy, and/or desperate to escape some personal 'trouble' in North America. It would be interesting to see if any persons of note went missing or were presumed dead in the months surrounding the Mary Celeste incident.

Once the vessel sailed within proximity of the Azores Islands, the Stowaways, with the use of any weapons they may have brought with them, forced the Captain and crew down the peak halyard tied perhaps to some kind of makeshift life raft. They then tried to sink the Mary Celeste using the pumps by pumping water into the ship, however once that scheme obviously failed, and since setting the boat ablaze was not an option (1,692 barrels of alcohol...Kaboom!), they made their hasty exit on the ship's lone 'Yawl' (lifeboat) using the stolen sextant and maritime chronometer, and set sail for the Azores where they would have either sank the life-boat upon arrival, used it to perhaps sail for the Barbary Coast of West Africa, or caught a lift with a local fishing vessel heading back to Portugal.

At any rate, the Stowaways did not want to be traced back to the ship in any way, therefore had little or no use for the Mary Celeste's cargo. The Mary Celeste's Captain and crew were left clinging to makeshift flotsam and probably drowned by high seas. The Stowaways had brought all the supplies they needed and enough cash to 'pay-off' any longshoremen or authorities necessary. Just a hunch?!

(oh, and they blew the rest of their money on 'Bitches and Hos' and lived happily ever after!)

'SHERLOCK CT' December 2011

In Search OF: The Mary Celeste

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