Where are the crew and passengers?
14 December 1872
Yesterday morning people saw a small sailing ship enter the Bay of Gibraltar. This was not an unusual site, but the sailors on board were from another ship. The captain of this ship, his wife and child, and the original crew were all missing.
The 31-metre Mary Celeste left New York on 7 November and was sailing across the Atlantic to Italy. On board were Captain Benjamin Briggs, his wife Sarah and their two-year-old daughter, Sophie. There were also seven crew members, making a total of ten people. The cargo included 1,701 barrels of industrial alcohol.
A week later another ship, the Dei Gratia, left New York for Italy. Captain Morehouse spotted the Mary Celeste off the coast of Portugal. He saw that the ship was out of control. He was surprised, he was a friend of Captain Briggs and knew he was a good seaman. He watched the ship for two hours and tried to make contact but there was no reply. The captain decided to send some of his sailors in a small boat to the Mary Celeste to have a look.
They found that the ship was in good condition but there was nobody on the ship. Special equipment and all the ship’s papers were missing, except the captain’s logbook. One of the sailors said, “There was a lot of water inside the ship and the captain’s bed was all wet. Also the galley was in a bad state – the cooking pots were everywhere and the cooking stove was knocked over. It looked like they left in a hurry – they didn’t take their boots. Perhaps they thought the ship was going to sink.”
So how did they leave? The sailor added, “There were no dinghies on board. Also there were ropes hanging over the side, and one was broken. Perhaps they got into a dinghy and the rope broke in bad weather.”
Captain Morehouse said that the weather was very bad with strong winds and rain before they found the boat. He put half of his sailors on the empty boat and brought it to Gibraltar.
However, why the crew and passengers left the ship and what happened to them next is a mystery.