a picture of Mary Celeste ship

a picture of Mary Celeste ship

The ship known as the Mary Celeste sailed from New York to Italy across the Atlantic Ocean on December 4th of the year 1872. The Mary Celeste actually came to a stop in the middle of the ocean just off the Azores. Another ship called the Dei Gratia passed by and saw the Mary Celeste adrift. No sign of the captain, his wife, their two-year-old daughter, or the eight crew members they had set sail with.

Sailing the Mary Celeste

A month before, Benjamin S. Briggs, his wife Sarah, their two-year-old daughter Sophia, and the eight crew members boarded the Mary Celeste. She was a 282-ton American merchant brigantine and began their long journey. The only lifeboat was gone and the hold of the ship had way more than three feet of water. One of the pumps inside it had been disassembled, but other than that, the Mary Celeste was completely undamaged. The ship had a long history of bad luck after it had been christened in 1861. The first captain the ship had ever had, named Robert McLellan, suddenly died afterward.

The crew of the Dei Gratia found a daily log on board the ship with a final entry written on November 25th. The ship had over six months’ worth of food and water. All the personal belongings of everyone are still onboard and untouched. Afterward, it came as no surprise when the Mary Celeste was brought in and impounded. The investigators didn’t find any evidence of a fire, a collision, or that there had been a strong storm.

The bow did have cuts on each side and one trail had traces of blood. It seemed like Captain Briggs, his family, and the crew had been murdered, but there was no evidence. One theory that the attorney general in Gibraltar, named Frederick Solly-Flood actually firmly believed that the crew ended up getting badly drunk and then murdered the entire family, and then fled the ship completely.

Other Theories

But that isn’t the only theory that has arisen from the ship’s disappearance. Some people believe that an earthquake beneath the ocean caused the family and crew to have to suddenly disembark the ship and flee. A leak from the 1,700 barrels of alcohol found in the hold might have caused a bad gas or smell that could have caused them to have to flee as well. Another theory that has become more myth than reality is that the ship was attacked by pirates or an oversized killer squid. There are even those who believe that the Bermuda Triangle was involved, even though the Mary Celeste was found in a completely different location in the Atlantic Ocean and not anywhere near the Bermuda Triangle.

Eventually, the Mary Celeste was restored and bought by new owners in 1879, when the ship returned to the sea. In that same year, the new captain died on the island of St. Helena—which was the third captain of the ship that died before his time and in mysterious circumstances. In 1885, the Mary Celeste wrecked just off the coast of Haiti.