A Sea-faring Mystery

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The name Mary Celeste has become synonymous with concepts like "The ghost ship from Scooby Doo," but it endures as a true and tragic tale of the sea. The story begins on Nov. 4, 1872, with a friendly dinner engagement between old friends Captain Morehouse and Captain Benjamin Spooner Briggs. Morehouse was captain of the English cargo ship Dei Gratia, while Briggs commanded the American brig Mary Celeste. The two vessels happened to be moored at neighboring piers on New York's East River and the Mary Celeste was due to set sail the next day.

A month and a day later, the Dei Gratia crew spotted a two-masted brig sailing rather erratically in an area of the North Atlantic between the Azores and the coast of Portugal. After attempts at signaling the unknown vessel failed, Morehouse cautiously brought his ship near the other to investigate. He was more than alarmed to discover that the mystery ship was none other than the Mary Celeste.

Crew abandoned ship

Inspection revealed that the Mary Celeste was deserted. Captain Briggs, his wife and daughter and the ship's seven-member crew were nowhere to be found. The lifeboat was missing but all the crew's belongings were still safely secured in their quarters, implying a rather hasty evacuation of the ship. Two of the ship's cargo hatches had been ripped off and one cask of crude alcohol had been severely damaged. The ship had taken on a great deal of water below deck and two sails were missing, but it was still quite seaworthy.

The last entry in the general log of the Mary Celeste was dated

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