The Mystery of the Mary Cleste

April 15, 2010
“They are gone! They are gone! The whole crew and captain of the Mary Celeste are gone!” That is what you would have heard on December 5, 1872. That is the day the Dei Gratia found the Mary Celeste without a captain or crew, just the Mary Celeste. I believe that a storm was approaching ten days earlier, forcing its crew to abandon ship. This forced the ship to steer itself for ten days straight through rough seas. The crew in a smaller rescue boat they were forced to occupy, believing the Mary Celeste had no chance of survival, were hit by the same storm, and never seen again. This is my theory explaining the mystery of the Mary Celeste.

Something that most people don’t know is that the Mary Celeste was well-known for her bad luck. This ship had at least twelve owners. Mary Celeste, in fact, wasn’t even always the name of the ship. It used to be called the Amazon. According to some of the previous owners, the ship was known to be haunted. Some of her former crew members had even claimed to have seen ghosts. Her former owners also had reported cases of bad luck. Some were hit by storms and there was major reconstruction of the boat many times.

Also important is the fact that some sources claim there was a storm approaching in the days before the discovery of the empty Mary Celeste. When the boat was inspected after being found, parts of her sails were missing, a sign that strong winds may have been a factor. The Dei Gratia, the boat that found the Mary Celeste, had also experienced severe storms. While inspecting the deck of the Mary Celeste, crew members of the Dei Gratia found a disassembled pump, possibly a sign that a worried crew had abandoned what they believed would be a sinking ship.

Another clue that supports the theory that the Mary Celeste’s crew had abandoned ship was that the captain’s last journal entry reported that a storm was approaching. November 24 happens to be the day of this last journal entry and is likely the day that the crew, its pump broken and sails torn, abandoned ship. In fact, the forecast for Genoa, Italy for that week was rain and thunderstorms. Genoa is where the Mary Celeste was headed. That plan apparently didn’t work.

Another fact supporting the theory that her crew and passengers had abandoned ship is that the rescue boat was reported missing. When the ship was being inspected, no one was found, not even a doll. It is likely that a young girl like Sophia, the captain’s daughter, would have insisted on having her doll with her when leaving the ship in a hurry. The rescue boat would have offered the best chance of survival.

Tragically, neither the crew nor her captain was ever seen again. Scary, I know. After the sudden disappearance, none of the passengers or crew was ever reported seen again. While the crew had little identification, not a fingerprint, sighting, or family contact was ever reported again. The mysterious disappearance was complete, leading to the belief that all had died at sea.

Another strange fact was that nothing else on the ship was out of place. Not even the barrels of alcohol on the ship were opened which would be a likely target for pirates or invaders of the ship. The helpful captain’s journal was still nice and neat on the desk and, except for the doll, the rest of the children’s things were still untouched. It is obvious that the Mary Celeste was abandoned in a terrible hurry.

The case of The Mary Celeste is a fantastic mystery from my point of view. Some say it was pirates, but how strange that everything was left untouched. There are many different hypotheses, but I believe that a terrifying storm was fast approaching and the Mary Celeste must have gotten lost at sea and its crew was convinced she would sink. It’s the one explanation that makes the most sense to me and helps to explain the terrible tragedy of the Mary Celeste.

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