Tuesday, December 4, 2012
On December 4, 1872, the greatest maritime mystery of modern times sailed into view when the American brigantine (two-masted) merchant ship Mary Celeste was discovered in the Atlantic by the Dei Gratia, abandoned 600 miles off Portugal. She was the archetypal “ghost ship,” derelict with no explanation. One lifeboat, the crew of seven, the captain, his wife and daughter were missing. The weather was fine, the ship was seaworthy (though “a wet mess” between decks) and still under sail toward Gibraltar. Built in 1861 as the Amazon (pictured), three captains had already died aboard her. She had sailed from New York with 1,701 barrels of raw commercial alcohol bound for Genoa. Everything aboard was virtually untouched, though the compass had been destroyed. The ship’s fate has never been explained.