Unsolved Historical Mysteries: The Ghost Ship Mary Celeste

Ghostships are a frequent feature in movies and books, but they have no place in real life, right? Well, the ghost ship Mary Celeste is causing some people to doubt that.

Mary Celeste was a merchant brigantine that set sail on November 7, 1872, from New York City towards Genoa, Italy, to deliver 1,700 barrels of whiskey. It was captained by Captain Benjamin Briggs, his wife and daughter, as well as seven members of the crew. On December 4, 1872, Canadian brigantine Dei Gratia encountered Mary Celeste in the Atlantic Ocean, discovering that the ship was sailing by itself with no one on board. 

After Mary Celeste, Dei Gratia crew members examined the ship and found that its cargo was still there. Also, there were no signs of any fight, pirate attack, or consequences of extreme weather. Most of the personal belongings of the crew members were still there, including the captain’s diary with a last entry on November 25, 1872. Finally, the ship was in good shape and had ample food and water.

The bodies of the sailors on board Mary Celeste were never found, and it was never determined what really happened. Several theories have been proposed, but neither has been able to explain Mary Celeste’s ghost nature with certainty.

One of the more popular theories is that the crew of Mary Celeste decided to board the lifeboat and escape the ship after fumes from alcohol caused an explosion. They met with harsh conditions and eventually sunk. Other theories deal with potential insurance fraud, mutiny among the crew, and various paranormal activities.

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