Why was the Mary Celeste found abandoned in mid-ocean?

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Why was the Mary Celeste found abandoned in mid-ocean?

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Total Votes : 5

Why was the Mary Celeste found abandoned in mid-ocean?

Post  eddie on Wed Jun 29, 2011 6:37 pm


An engraving of the Mary Celeste as she was found abandoned.

Wiki:

Just short of a month later after leaving port, on December 4, 1872 (some reports give December 5, owing to a lack of standard time zones in the 19th century), at approximately 13:00, the helmsman of the Dei Gratia, John Johnson, sighted a ship about five miles off their port bow through his spyglass. The position of the Dei Gratia was approximately 38°20′N 17°15′W / 38.333°N 17.25°W / 38.333; -17.25 Coordinates: 38°20′N 17°15′W / 38.333°N 17.25°W / 38.333; -17.25, some 600 miles west of Portugal. Johnson's keen, experienced eyes detected almost at once that there was something strangely wrong with the other vessel. She was yawing slightly, and her sails did not look right, being slightly torn. Johnson alerted his second officer, John Wright, who looked and had the same feelings about her. They informed the captain. As they moved closer, they saw the ship was the Mary Celeste. Captain Morehouse wondered why the Mary Celeste had not already reached Italy, as she had a head start on his own ship. According to the account given by the crew of the Dei Gratia, they approached to 400 yards from the Mary Celeste and cautiously observed her for two hours. She was under sail, yet sailing erratically on a starboard tack, and slowly heading toward the Strait of Gibraltar. They concluded she was drifting after seeing no one at the helm or even on deck, though the ship was flying no distress signal.

Oliver Deveau, chief mate of the Dei Gratia, boarded the Mary Celeste. He reported he did not find anyone on board, and said that "the whole ship was a thoroughly wet mess". There was only one operational pump, two apparently having been disassembled, with a lot of water between decks and three and a half feet (1.1 m) of water in the hold. However, the ship was not sinking and was still seaworthy.

All of the ship's papers were missing, except for the captain's logbook. The forehatch and the lazarette were both open, although the main hatch was sealed. The ship's clock was not functioning, and the compass was destroyed; the sextant and marine chronometer were missing. The only lifeboat on the Mary Celeste, a yawl located above the main hatch, was also missing. The peak halyard, used to hoist the main sail, had disappeared. A rope, perhaps the peak halyard, was found tied to the ship very strongly and the other end, very frayed, was trailing in the water behind the ship.

Popular stories of untouched breakfasts with still-warm cups of tea on the cabin table are untrue and most likely originated with fictionalized accounts of the incident, especially one by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. At the inquiry, Oliver Deveau stated that he saw no preparations for eating and there was nothing to eat or drink in the cabin.

Deveau returned to his ship and reported to the captain. Two men, Charles Augustus Anderson and Charles Lund, then boarded the Mary Celeste.

The cargo of 1,701 barrels of alcohol Devreau reported was in good order. However, when it was eventually unloaded in Genoa, nine barrels were found to be empty.

A six-month supply of uncontaminated food and fresh water was still aboard, and the crew's personal possessions and artifacts were left untouched, making a piracy raid seem extremely unlikely. It appeared the vessel had been abandoned in a hurry. There was no sign of a struggle, or any sort of violence.



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Re: Why was the Mary Celeste found abandoned in mid-ocean?

Post  Doc Watson on Wed Jun 29, 2011 7:02 pm

It is one of the most fascinating of the modern unsolved mysteries. I first heard about it as a six year old and have been been interested in it ever since . It will be interesting to see what ideas other people have about this.

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Re: Why was the Mary Celeste found abandoned in mid-ocean?

Post  pinhedz on Wed Jun 29, 2011 8:47 pm

Vampires should have been one of the poll choices.

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Re: Why was the Mary Celeste found abandoned in mid-ocean?

Post  eddie on Thu Jun 30, 2011 4:15 am

pinhedz wrote:Vampires should have been one of the poll choices.

Vampires were excluded from the poll because the fate of the Mary Celeleste was really quite different from that of the Russian schooner Demeter, driven ashore in a storm at Whitby on the north-east coast of England after a perilous voyage from Varna with a cargo of boxes of earth from Transylvania.



In the first place, unlike the Mary Celeste the Demeter was not entirely deserted: its dead captain was discovered lashed to the wheel after the ship had run aground.

And second, the Demeter appeared to be carrying livestock (see below):


24 July.--There seems some doom over this ship. Already a hand short, and entering the Bay of Biscay with wild weather ahead, and yet last night another man lost, disappeared. Like the first, he came off his watch and was not seen again. Men all in a panic of fear, sent a round robin, asking to have double watch, as they fear to be alone. Mate angry. Fear there will be some trouble, as either he or the men will do some violence. (from the Captain's log, Dracula by Bram Stoker)


"But, strangest of all, the very instant the shore was touched, an immense dog sprang up on deck from below ... and running forward, jumped from the bow on to the sand. Making straight for the steep cliff, where the churchyard hangs over the laneway to the East Pier ... it disappeared in the darkness."

from Dracula by Bram Stoker, 1897


Last edited by eddie on Thu Jun 30, 2011 5:51 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Why was the Mary Celeste found abandoned in mid-ocean?

Post  Nah Ville Sky Chick on Thu Jun 30, 2011 5:22 am

I voted other. Was the weather bad? Could the crew have thought the ship was sinking and got into the lifeboat? The lifeboat then sank and all the crew drowned?

I don't know, but I can't wait for Menu's theory.

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Re: Why was the Mary Celeste found abandoned in mid-ocean?

Post  eddie on Thu Jun 30, 2011 6:03 am

Nah Ville Sky Chick wrote:I voted other. Was the weather bad? Could the crew have thought the ship was sinking and got into the lifeboat? The lifeboat then sank and all the crew drowned?

The most likely explanation seems to be that the casks of grain alcohol in the forepeak were emitting combustible fumes and the captain (who had no experience of transporting this kind of cargo) ordered the crew to take to a lifeboat which was then towed behind the ship.

No explosion happened, but the painter (rope) towing the lifeboat somehow snapped, leaving its occupants adrift. (Remember that the ship's papers and a sextant were missing from the Mary Celeste when she was found abandoned). Since a few sails were still set aboard to keep the ship on course, she sailed merrily off without her crew.

Badly decomposed bodies were found months later on a life-raft of some kind off the coast of Spain.


Last edited by eddie on Thu Jun 30, 2011 10:56 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Why was the Mary Celeste found abandoned in mid-ocean?

Post  pinhedz on Thu Jun 30, 2011 6:36 am

eddie wrote:
pinhedz wrote:Vampires should have been one of the poll choices.

Vampires were excluded from the poll because the fate of the Mary Celeleste was really quite different from that of the Russian schooner Demeter, driven ashore in a storm at Whitby on the north-east coast of England after a perilous voyage from Varna with a cargo of boxes of earth from Transylvania.



In the first place, unlike the Mary Celeste the Demeter was not entirely deserted: its dead captain was discovered lashed to the wheel after the ship had run aground.

And second, the Demeter appeared to be carrying livestock (see below):


24 July.--There seems some doom over this ship. Already a hand short, and entering the Bay of Biscay with wild weather ahead, and yet last night another man lost, disappeared. Like the first, he came off his watch and was not seen again. Men all in a panic of fear, sent a round robin, asking to have double watch, as they fear to be alone. Mate angry. Fear there will be some trouble, as either he or the men will do some violence. (from the Captain's log, Dracula by Bram Stoker)


"But, strangest of all, the very instant the shore was touched, an immense dog sprang up on deck from below ... and running forward, jumped from the bow on to the sand. Making straight for the steep cliff, where the churchyard hangs over the laneway to the East Pier ... it disappeared in the darkness."

from Dracula by Bram Stoker, 1897
Of course we all know that there's no such thing as vampires--this is the science area fer cryin' out loud. bounce
But the crew thought there were vampires--that's why they left.

[I should probably call dibs on the screen play for this]

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Re: Why was the Mary Celeste found abandoned in mid-ocean?

Post  Nah Ville Sky Chick on Fri Jul 01, 2011 10:14 pm

eddie wrote:
Nah Ville Sky Chick wrote:I voted other. Was the weather bad? Could the crew have thought the ship was sinking and got into the lifeboat? The lifeboat then sank and all the crew drowned?

The most likely explanation seems to be that the casks of grain alcohol in the forepeak were emitting combustible fumes and the captain (who had no experience of transporting this kind of cargo) ordered the crew to take to a lifeboat which was then towed behind the ship.

No explosion happened, but the painter (rope) towing the lifeboat somehow snapped, leaving its occupants adrift. (Remember that the ship's papers and a sextant were missing from the Mary Celeste when she was found abandoned). Since a few sails were still set aboard to keep the ship on course, she sailed merrily off without her crew.

Badly decomposed bodies were found months later on a life-raft of some kind off the coast of Spain.

I agree, that is the best explanation I have heard. Clearly they abandoned ship and as the one lifeboat was also missing it makes sense that they would have been in it.

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Re: Why was the Mary Celeste found abandoned in mid-ocean?

Post  Yakima Canutt on Mon Feb 17, 2014 2:25 am


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Re: Why was the Mary Celeste found abandoned in mid-ocean?

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