On December 4th 1872 the crew of the Dei Gratia was 400 miles off the shores of the Azures when a crew member spotted a ship that seemed to be adrift. The Captain, David Morehouse recognized the ship as The Mary Celeste which had left New York several days prior to Morehouse’s ship.
The captain tried to hale the Mary Celeste several times without success and so a crew was sent investigate. What was found is one of the greatest nautical mysteries in our history.
The Mary Celeste left New York on November 7th 1872. She had seven crew members, the captain and his wife as well as their two year old daughter. She carried a cargo of 1701 barrels of drinkable alcohol and the ship was bound for Genoa Italy. What happened to the ship and its crew will never be known.
As the crew members of the Dei Gratia boarded the ship, the found it completely deserted. All ten people on board had disappeared however the cargo was still there except 9 barrels of the alcohol which been emptied but not removed. The crew’s belongings were in still in the bunk room. The only anomaly was a pump that had been disassembled. In fact nothing seemed to be missing at all except the people.
The log book had its last entry made on November 25th. What was written in the log book has also been lost as the book was stolen. The Dei Gratia got the Mary Celeste to Gibraltar where an inquest was held. There was some suspicion that the crew of the Dei Gratia had killed the crew and passengers of the Celeste, but Captain Morehouse was considered an upright man and that idea was dismissed. However the ship was insured for $35,000 but the crew of the Dei Gratia only received a percentage of the full finder’s fee so there remained a question still about the honesty of the Gratia crew.
There are many theories about what happened to The Mary Celeste. Some suggest pirates, which make no sense as the cargo was left untouched, others suggest Alien Abduction. There have been thoughts of giant sea monsters as well as natural sea quakes. There was also talk of time travel. If that happened and the crew and passengers went to the past we still never know, but if they went to the future we could, one day, still find out. The truth will quite likely never be known.
In fact the whole incident may have passed notice altogether except for a poor physician that couldn’t get his practice going and so turned to writing. In 1884 this English gentleman wrote a short story entitled “J. Habakuk Jephson’s Statement” which was basically the story of The Mary Celeste, it was published in a popular magazine of the time. The author changed the name of the ship from the Mary Celeste to The Marie Celeste and the confusion over the name remains to this day.
The fictional story caused a sensation and at least one new enquiry was opened. However no new facts were found. The author, in a few years time, would cause another commotion when he killed off his most beloved fictional character Sherlock Holmes. The author was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.December 4,