The Scariest Ghost Ships
The vast majority of this planet is covered in water creating an incredibly large area top serve as a breeding ground for legends and mysteries. If you read my series on Unsolved Mysteries (and if you aren’t you better start) you know the waters on our planet keep many secrets. Of all the oceanic lore out there, one that continues to fascinate people is the idea of ghost ships. These are ships which have either been found abandoned or simply phantom vessels which sail the seas, either way there seems to be an element of the supernatural surrounding them.
SS Valencia: Throughout its tenure, the SS Valencia carried out a variety of tasks despite its small size. In the early 1900’s it ended up as a passenger ship on the Pacific Coast of the United States, usually maintaining a course which flowed from San Francisco to Seattle. During a voyage in 1906, unexpected bad weather caused the ship to rip a hole in its hull. The captain tried his best to keep order in the chaos and save as many as he could, but the situation grew out of control. First the captain ordered the crew of the Valencia to beach the ship so everyone could make it out on dry land, but unseen rocks caused even more damage to the ship causing that idea to be scrapped. The life boats were loaded and deployed but several of them capsized before hitting the waters and one that did make it to the sea disappeared never to be seen again. According to the investigation conducted into the sinking, 136 people aboard perished, including every woman and child on the ship. Many claim the number of dead could be as high as 180. Due to the rough terrain and rocks surrounding it, the remains of the SS Valenica have sat in the same spot as a reminder of the “Graveyard of the Pacific”. Beginning in 1910, sailors in the North Pacific began to see the apparition of the Valencia still sailing through the waters. Many who have seen this ghost ship over the years have even seen, human-like figures clinging to the sides of the ill-fated ship. Fishermen also trade tails of seeing the lost lifeboats being rowed by a crew of eight skeletons.
The Caleuche: On the island of Chiloe off the coast of Chile is the legend of a massive white glowing ship which sails through the sea with the sounds of a party emanating from it. There are many accounts as to the origin of the phantom ship dubbed the Caleuche; one of them even involves mermaids. According to local sailors and fishermen, the sound of the celebration onboard is meant to entice those around it to get close enough to join the fun. From there they are killed and forced to serve on the crew of the boat for eternity. Others tell tales that merchants make pacts with the ghostly captain of the Caleuche in exchange for riches, but inevitably they suffer the consequences for it.
The Lady Lovibond: With his new bride, Annetta by his side, Captain Simon Reed planned a Valentine’s Day voyage down the River Thames and into the open ocean, ending on the shores of Portugal. Once this triple-masted schooner set sail the crew celebrated like it was 1748 (mainly because it was 1748), the only exception being Captain Reed’s first mate and closest friend, John Rivers who had been nursing feelings of his own towards the blushing bride. Utilizing alcohol as a means to remedy his heartache, Rivers got the idea to take control of the ship for himself and steer it into the dangerous sand bank off the coast of Dover known as the Goodwin Sands. Nobody survived the ensuing destruction. Time passed, and fifty years later the Edenbridge was sailing in the same area reported seeing a triple masted schooner appear without warning, as they passed by the captain and crew claimed to hear the sounds of a celebration aboard. This led to a rash of sightings of the Lady Lovibond, resulting in an expedition to recover any remains which could still linger. The final sighting of the ghost ship came from Captain Bull Prestwick in the late 1940’s who described the vessel as giving off a strange green glow.
Mary Celeste: Arguably the most infamous of the ghost ships sailing the high seas (the next entry gets the other argument). From its maiden voyage when it sailed under a different name, this ship seemed jinxed. It passed hands through various owners until one changed its name to the Mary Celeste, hoping this change in identity would change fortunes. Setting sail from New York in the winter of 1872, the Mary Celeste under the experienced command of Captain Benjamin Briggs was headed towards Italy with its cargo. Eight days later the crew of the Dei Gratia spotted the vessel and figured something must be wrong. Mounting a rescue party, the crew of the Dei Gratia went aboard and were stunned to find it empty. The sole life boat was gone and the food and supplies onboard were left untouched. After the British admiralty had investigated the manner they concluded there was probably no foul play. There were things that did not add up though. The decks of the Mary Celeste were covered in salt water, and the captain’s ship was coated in blood. The matter passed into obscurity until years later when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, surmised there was more to this nautical mystery than met the eye, and used the tale for inspiration for his fictional Marie Celeste. The wife of the ship’s first mate came forward and said she had had a vivid dream wherein her husband was killed in a pirate attack on the Mary Celeste. Strangely when his journal was found, it was revealed he was writing a letter to his wife on the night of her dream but abruptly stopped.
The Flying Dutchman: The most famed of all the ghost ships, which has been spotted by sailor for centuries and inspired numerous; stories, paintings, movies, and books. Part of the Dutch East India Company’s illustrious fleet of ships and led by Captain Hendrick van der Decken, the Flying Dutchman sank in the Cape of Good Hope in 1641. Van der Decken was leading the ship around the coast of Africa when a sudden storm hit. His crew urged the captain to turn around, but allegedly he swore a blasphemous oath and challenged God himself as he ventured into the heart of the storm. While the Dutchman may have been physically destroyed in the turmoil, it is said the captain brought down a curse, forcing the boat and its crew to continue to sail for eternity as the undead. Ever since, sailors the world over have claimed to see the spectral image of this boat and believing it to be an omen of impending doom. It has often been described as hovering above the waves, giving off an eerie glow while be manned by a skeletal crew.