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The Ghost Ship Mary Celeste


The Mary Celeste was a 103-foot, 282-ton brigantine. Originally built as the Amazon in Spencer's Island, Nova Scotia in 1861, the ship seemingly had bad luck and, due to numerous negative occurrences, had changed hands several times. It became the Mary Celeste in 1869.

On November 7, 1872, under the command of Captain Benjamin Briggs, the ship picked up a cargo of American alcohol (for fortifying wine) shipped by Meissner Ackermann & Coin in New York City and set sail for Genoa, Italy. In addition to the crew of seven, it carried two passengers: the Captain's wife, Sarah E. Briggs (née Cobb), and daughter, Sophia Matilda.

On December 4, 1872 (some reports give December 5, due to a lack of standard time zones in the 1800s), the Mary Celeste was sighted by the Dei Gratia, captained by a Captain Morehouse, who knew Captain Briggs. The Dei Gratia had left New York harbor only seven days after the Mary Celeste. Dei Gratia's crew observed her for two hours and concluded that she was drifting, though she was flying no distress signals. Oliver Deveau, the Chief Mate of the Dei Gratia, led a party in a small boat to board the Mary Celeste. He reported finding only one pump working, with a lot of water between decks and three and one-half feet of water in the hold. He reported that "the whole ship was a thoroughly wet mess". The ship seemed otherwise to be in good condition, but no one was aboard.

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posted: 2/28/2006

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