Recent news about the "Mary Celeste"
My interest started when I came across the court inquiry. Reading the facts there demonstrated to me that much of what we think we know about something may things made up after the event.
My account was written in 1995 for a BBS file and when the Web arrived
it seemed a good idea to publish it. This is the third website created
on this domain about the mystery. As a result I have had a lot of
correspondence from interersted parties, and aquired more information and
Some thoughts about new theories
Looking at the theories it is worth pointing out how unlikely some are. The Bermuda Triangle is far far away from the ship's route. There were no submarines or sea monsters reported active in the area, and the aliens that visited me last week from the planet Zog assured me they were NOT involved. A Dr Who episode suggested it was the work of the Daleks but they can't swim or climb ropes.
It was a short voyage, with a good captain and first officer, a cook and four professional seamen, who were there by choice. A mutiny is, therefore, not likely. The cargo was not of high value or one that could be disposed of easily, and under the circumstances it is unlikely that an insurance fraud was involved.
If the food on board was contaminated, this would have been quickly discovered, and the onward voyage to Italy was uneventful.
The theory at the time of the inquiry was that the Captain and crew may have abandoned ship because they thought she was about to sink. The court considered that an error in sounding the pump may have indicated she was taking on water, or the cargo being flammable and explosive may have frightened them.
Captain Briggs had never carried alcohol before, and may have been nervous about doing so, being an abstainer. It should be stressed, however, that the alcohol carried was of a strength and type that would not be palatable to drink. I have sampled comparable alcohol and its ability to explode exceeds its quality as an enjoyable beverage.
New and Old Theories
An interesting explanation is The Seaquake theory by Captain Williams. He has a lot of information, and a very well presented website.
BUT an seismic event may not be such a new idea, as in a letter from the Servico Meteorologico Açores in reply to an inquiry from Charles Edey Fay, they conclude "There was no record of any earthquake." so this question must have been considered, and rejected in 1942.
BBC Radio Four play
A friend gave me a tape of a dramatisation of the story, based on a recent book, produced by BBC Radio 4.
My opinion is the BBC dramatisation does not do justice to either Captain Briggs, or the Captain and crew of the 'Dei Gratia', and is inaccurate in a number of details, for instance it states the alcohol cargo was for "the manufacture of paint". It suggests that the Court in Gibraltar believed foul play had taken place, Mr Solly Flood, clearly believed that, but the court did not, Indeed the court record concludes:
"There was a great courage and risk to both vessels in dividing the crew of the Dei Gratia as was done and great skill in bringing the two vessels safely into the Port of Gibraltar"
It is, however, true that Mr Frederick Solly Flood, Queen's Advocate in the inquiry, a man more familiar with drink than Captain Briggs, believed that alcohol and a " Drunken Crew" was responsible - there is no evidence for this whatsoever.
Books about the "Mary Celeste"
A search at the online bookseller Amazon which by co-incidence bears the same name as the original vessel, indicates there are a considerable number of books around on the subject.
The definitive book on the subject is by Charles Edey Fay. I have the first edition from 1942. It was reprinted 1988 and his theory is very plausible.
It certainly is the source anyone seriously interested should read, if you buy a book about the mystery, make it this one, as its packed with facts, cites its sources, and debunks many myths.
My original account is not based on any book, but instead on the court record, I have extracts from a number of accounts printed in various books and magazines, and have received a lot of additional material as a result of this website.
Regretably many writers simply repeat what others have written, and invent "evidence", and it is always better to base ones views on original verifiable material. Fay was an insurance investigator and did a thorough job.
Site of the wreck of the vessel found
The 'Mary Celeste' was wrecked off the coast of Haiti, In August 2001 the wreck was located - this has renewed popular and media interest in the story.
A strange matter of time
A reader has drawn my attention to the difference in dates given for the 'Mary Celeste' and the 'Dei Gracia' met mid ocean. The explanation is down to a Matter of Time. It was also reported that the hands on the ships clock were reversed. However this was due to it being dismantled for cleaning after the discovery of the abandoned ship.
UK Channel Five documentary 2006
UK Channel Five broadcasts a documentary about the Mary Celeste in their 'Revealed' series featuring the recreaction of an explosion and a reasonable account, but with one glaring error by an 'expert' where he describes the cargo as Methanol. It was not, it was Ethanol which is quite different in its physical properties and toxicology, indeed in 1872 Methanol was an exotic chemical produced in tiny quantities and of limited use - certainly was not something added to wine!
It is a reflection on the global economy of the day that it made sense to import alcohol from the USA. Sugar beet had not yet become a significant crop, so converting cane sugar to alcohol in the USA reduced the shipping cost.
There seem to be an increasing number of websites about the 'Mary Celeste' regretably some authors of blogs copy and paste content from this site and present it as their own thoughts. DMCA notices follow to their service providers.
This website is an ongoing project
The story of the "Mary Celeste" may never be satisfactorily explained, and it seems on that retains its facination and new information and theories come along. This page was last updated