Maria Celeste - the mystery of the ghost ship
Ghost ships are quite real ships, for some reason left by the crew, but left afloat. Nobody is at their helm, and they do not follow the course, entrusted only to the wind and the movement of waters. Often, the fate of the crew remains unknown. To date, there have been many interpretations of this phenomenon - from fantastic, to quite traditional. In general, having heard the story about the next empty ship found in one or another part of the world - most people are no longer surprised, since there are quite a few such cases. But about a hundred years ago, the situation was different - the stories about abandoned ships excited the imagination, and every detail aroused genuine interest. Especially in the XIX century, when there was no developed aviation, and navigation was of great importance for people.
It is to these times is one of the most famous cases of detection of the ship ghost. On December 4, 1872, four hundred miles from Gibraltar, a deserted brigantine called "Maria Celeste" was discovered.As it turned out, the ship set sail just a month ago, and in a sense, the “track” was still warm. What did you find on board?
At that moment, when the brigantine left New York, and took the planned course to the port of Genoa in Italy, there were ten people on board: seven sailors, the captain of the ship, Benjamin Briggs, his wife, Sarah Elizabeth Cobb-Briggs, and their little daughter . In the hold was a commercial cargo - barrels of alcohol from one large company. This load remained in place, but people - neither the living nor the dead, could not be found.
The ship's hold was partially flooded - the sea water reached three and a half feet. Manhole covers were removed, and the windows in the captain's cabin - boarded up. It seemed that some event had interrupted everyday life aboard the ship — the captain’s daughter’s toys were scattered on the floor of the cabin, and his wife’s sewing machine stood with unfinished sewing. The butter dish, lying on it, did not fall to the floor - this, and a number of facts (in particular, observations of other vessels during this period of time), indicated that the cause of the incident could not be a storm.
One thing was clear - the crew tried to evacuate, since the only lifeboat on the ship was missing.This was also indicated by the absence of a sextant and a chronometer on the ship, as well as a heavily damaged ship's compass - apparently, they tried to break it out in a hurry and take it with them, but this attempt ended in failure. People were in a hurry. In the cockpit there were left the smoking pipes of the sailors, in the captain's cabin remained a pack of money and a box with jewels.
As it remained unknown what happened on board the Maria Celesta, so did the fate of the people who left her in the lifeboat remain unknown. We can only say that they had every chance to get to Genoa alive - the wind was blowing in the right direction. Light on the incident could shed a logbook, but the records in it were cut off on November 24 - that is, less than a week before the discovery of an already empty ship. There were only his coordinates: 36 degrees, 57 minutes north latitude, and 27 degrees, 20 minutes west longitude. The slate in the mess-room kept the inscriptions, where it was noted that tomorrow morning, at eight o'clock, the ship would have approached one of the Azores - Santa Maria, in a south-westerly direction, at a distance of 6 miles. But it was not strange.All other documentation that was supposed to be on the ship disappeared somewhere.
There have been many attempts to restore the picture of what happened on the brigantine "Maria Celeste". But even the most “realistic” versions do not look convincing enough. For example, one of the most common versions refers to those very barrels of alcohol. Their tightness could be broken, and vapors of alcohol, mixed with air in the confined space of the hold, caused one or several explosions. This could scare the crew, and force it to hastily leave the ship, in fear of new, more powerful explosions. This version is confirmed by the fact that the nasal hatch covers were ripped off the hinges, and just lay on the deck. At the same time, there are inconsistencies: for example, how to explain the boarded up windows in the captain's cabin?
The versions about the attack of pirates, who simply infiltrated the ship of criminals, or the conflict within the team itself look quite convincing. In this case, boarded up windows and open hatches are easy to explain by “tracing”. But why then did not the money and jewels disappear? In addition, the alcohol transported on board could be profitably sold, but it remained intact.Although not all - there is information that the recipient of the goods was missing 9 barrels out of 1701.
The mystery of "Mary Celeste" has remained unsolved, and I must say that in this form - it pretty excited the minds of people. Suffice it to say that from time to time fraudsters appeared, posing as "the only surviving" crew members. Some of them even spoke to the public - of course, not for free. Most of them were exposed, and some were given prison sentences. Much more interesting is the trace left by Maria Celesta in culture. Now it may seem strange, but from the very moment the incident became widely known, many stories, books, films, musical compositions and even computer games appeared, where Maria Celeste is either mentioned or in the center of the story. Conan Doyle wrote about her in the story "The Message of Hebecca Jeffson", the musical groups Mandrake and Nurse with Wound devoted to her albums. One of the episodes of the British television series Doctor Who (Doctor Who) talks about these events in the mainstream of science fiction. On the Soviet radio, as part of the transfer of the Club of Famous Captains, a whole issue is devoted to her - “In Search of a Young Moon”.Already today, a number of computer games are being released - for example, "The Mystery of The Mary Celeste", made in the quest genre, or "Black Sails: Das Geisterschiff", whose characters are abandoned on board the ill-fated brigantine. In general, of course, it is obvious that now “Maria Celesta” can be regarded more as a kind of symbol. The number of ghost ships is growing, and with them the number of unsolved mysteries left behind by missing crews is multiplying. There is no doubt that many of these ships are fraught with traces of events that are even stranger than described above. Perhaps humanity will ever learn how to solve such riddles, and we will find out what happened on board these ships - and therefore, the real story of Mary Celesta, whatever it may be, will also be revealed.