April 29, 2013, we enter the Sargasso Sea, the “Sea of Lost Ships.”
“Fear – Until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore, you will not know the terror of being forever lost at sea.” Larry Kersten
Everyone is familiar with the S.S. Titanic, the most famous sailing ship to ever sail which would tragically sink on her maiden voyage. The ship has been immortalized in books, documentaries, and of course film. But, not every ship that experiences a misfortune sinks. On occasion, a ship will survive a calamity to befall her, but her crew will not. As long as men have sailed the seven seas, there have been reports of ghost ships.
Amazingly, these ghost ships are not a figment of some sailor’s rum infused imagination. They are quite real. And, the Sargasso Sea has been the reported home of many of these ships. But why is that?
Within the Sargasso Sea there are no currents or streams of water like the Gulf Stream we have traversed. The winds of the sea are quite calm. The sea grass can be very heavy at time. Sailors have reported being becalmed in the Sargasso Sea for weeks at a time. Mariners who depended on the wind to power their ships would come to dread sailing across the Sargasso Sea. It was Columbus himself, who first noted the calm of the sea, “The sea being smooth and tranquil, the sailors murmured, saying that they had got into smooth water, where it would never blow to carry them back to Spain.”
Legend has it men would be adrift in the calmness of the Sargasso Sea, and eventually would run out of supplies and would pass away, only to leave their ship floating on without them. And, there is more reality to this than legend.
Can you imagine the horror that a crew must have felt stumbling onto a ship with no crew, out here in the Sargasso Sea? I can think of very few more frightening events that could possibly befall a person. For those sailors who were agnostic before a ghost ship sighting, I would suspect that they soon found religion afterwards.
In 1894 a study was published called the “Wrecks and Derelicts of the North Atlantic 1887 through 1893.” Written and compiled by Commander S.D. Sigsbee of the US Navy. Sigsbee reported 1,628 derelict vessels adrift (or lost) in the Atlantic. Or, on average about 22 ships a month were lost at sea, and when Sigsbee said “lost at sea” he did not mean that they necessarily were sunk.
Some of the more famous ghost ships of the Atlantic include:
The James B. Chester, the ship was discovered adrift February 28, 1855. When the ship was boarded, the crew was discovered to be missing. The first thought was the crew mutinied. But then the question was raised, “why leave a good ship in open water?”
The Mary Celeste, the ship had set sail from New York, New York, on November, 27, 1872 and found adrift on December 5, 1872. Again, like the James B. Chester, when the ship was boarded it was found that the crew had disappeared. However, the cargo had been left untouched which made pirate work doubtful.
The Fannie E. Wolston, was one of the most famous ghost ships. She was abandoned on October 15, 1891 when the crew feared the ship was sinking, however, she proved to be far more durable than her crew was. The Fannie E. Wolston stayed afloat and continued on her voyages and was seen forty-four times as she wandered about the Atlantic Ocean accumulating thousands of miles on her ghost ship journeys.
Let us hope our journey is less eventful.
Next, A Real Ghost Ship…