What took place on the 'cursed' ship?
The Start of a Mystery
The helmsman quickly informed the captain that something seemed to be wrong with the other ship and orders were quickly given to bring their ship closer. It soon became clear that something was very wrong with the other ship – several of the sails had rips in them and no one was at the helm. The ship had a slight list and seemed to be sailing erratically – just following along with the wind and waves.
Both ships had left New York the previous month and the Mary Celeste should have already made it to her destination some days before. Also odd was that no distress signal/flag was seen to be flown on the wayward ship.
This was only the beginning of the mystery.
The Plot Thickens
Puzzling was the fact that the passengers and crews personal possessions were still on board, the captains papers were missing but the ships log book was present. The life boat was missing and a long sturdy tow rope was found to be trailing behind the ship. Several of the ships pumps had been disassembled, the ships clock was not working and several of the navigational instruments were broken or could not be found. The ships cargo of 1701 barrels of alcohol was all accounted for.
It looked as though the ship had been abandoned in so much of a hurry that the six months worth of food was still present and accounted for as was all the drinking water. The last entry in the ships log was on 5am, November 25, after the ship had sailed through a few days stormy weather.
Also when the cargo of alcohol was unloaded it was found that nine of the barrels were empty.
Regardless, no sufficient evidence of foul play, piracy or mutiny was found. The Captain and Crew of the Dei Gratia received a sum of money for the salvage and a man named James Winchester took ownership of the Mary Celeste.
What Happened on the Mary Celeste?
Her final captain G.C. Parker decided to end the tragedies and make a profit. He loaded her cargo hold with what amounted to garbage, over insured it and purposefully ran her aground on a reef just off Haiti. He was caught trying to commit the fraud after the ship failed to sink and he fouled up attempting to burn her to the water line. He himself only narrowly dodged an early death as the penalty for intentionally running aground a ship was execution, however, the jury didn't want to pass such a sentence for what was seen as a trivial, though expensive, crime.
Captain Briggs, his wife, daughter and all seven crew were never seen or heard from again, neither were the few artefacts that were found to be missing from the ship.
Many theories exist as to what took place among them Briggs being paranoid with the cargo of alcohol leaking in his hold, the fumes a potential explosion risk causing him to abandon ship. Piracy and mutiny were also suggested as has UFO abduction and at a stretch the disappearance has been linked to the mysterious Bermuda Triangle.
(I have also made a video about this mystery. Check it out here: http://youtu.be/PazmLjKc5qY)