Ghost ships and other maritime mysteries

I love stuff like this.
This is a picture from the Kaz II, which was found floating, empty, off the coast of Northern Queensland in April 2007.
The three man crew have not been found, nor their bodies recovered. They simply...disappeared.
Today's article on at the Coronial Inquest details the feeling of the first rescuer on board
"It was eerie," Benson yesterday told the inquest in Townsville investigating the baffling disappearance of the crew of the Kaz II....

"I didn't know what I was going to find," said the crewman who was winched to the water in rough seas and swam to the back of the boat. "My biggest fear was being attacked by somebody who did not want me on the boat. I was 160km out to sea with no back-up.

"I didn't know if someone was going to burst through a cupboard and go at me with a knife.
 Items found on board included
a half-empty coffee cup. Clothes and a towel were piled on a bench. The engine was running - in neutral. Knives were strewn on the floor: but no sign of blood
Its fascinating. Perhaps the men staged their own deaths. Jumped on a tinny and rowed away. But then someone would have seen them leave Airlie Beach, their last known whereabouts with a second boat. Again if they'd scuba'd away, they would have needed to get oxygen tanks from somewhere. Someone had to have seen that.
The greatest Maritime mystery of all, is of course The Mary Celeste : not to be confused with the fictional fantastical version penned by Dr Arthur Conan Doyle in 1884, Marie Celeste.
The 'Mary Celeste' had sailed from New York on November 7th bound for Genoa with a cargo of 1701 barrels of American Alcohol, value approximatly $35,000 the purpose of which was to fortify wine.
On the Afternoon of December 5th 1872 half way between the Azores and the Portuguese coast .... Captain Morehouse recognised as the 'Mary Celeste'. He was puzzled to see the ship yawing, coming into the wind and then falling off, she was out of control. He knew Captain Briggs to be a good seaman.
There were no distress signals, and after watching for two hours and hailing her and getting no reply they set off in a small boat and duly boarded her. 
The vessel was found to be in good seaworthy condition and the general impression was that the crew had left in a great hurry. They had left behind their oil skin boots and pipes. Captain Morehouse's explanation was that they had left in panic thinking the vessel to be sinking. The sextant and marine chronometer were missing. The last entry on the ships slate showed she had made the island of St Mary in the Azores on November 25th.
The only lifeboat appeared to have been intentionally launched rather than torn away, suggesting the ship had been deliberately abandoned...
The cargo of 1,701 barrels of alcohol was intact, although when it was eventually unloaded in Genoa, nine barrels were found to be empty. A six-month supply of food and water was aboard. All of the ship's papers, except the captain's logbook, were missing.
Source Wikipedia
 Theories as to the real story of course abound,
One theory, aired by Flood in the admiralty court proceedings, is that the Mary Celeste was the victim of an act of piracy by the crew of the founding ship, who murdered those on board and then fabricated the story of the ghost ship with the aim of securing the salvage rights.

Of the theories consistent with the account given by the crew of the Dei Gratia, the most plausible are based on the barrels of alcohol. Briggs had never hauled such a dangerous cargo before and did not trust it. Nine leaking barrels would have caused a buildup of vapor in the hold.
Historian Conrad Byers believed that Captain Briggs ordered the hold to be opened, resulting in a violent rush of fumes and then steam. Believing the ship was about to explode, Briggs ordered everyone into the lifeboat, failing, in his haste, to properly secure it to the ship with a strong towline. The wind picked up and blew the ship away from them. The occupants of the lifeboat either drowned or drifted out to sea to die of hunger, thirst and exposure.
First put forth by the ship's owner, James Winchester, this theory is perhaps the most widely accepted explanation for the disappearance.
 Source Wikipedia
There is also the mystery of The Waratah in 1909. Billed as Australia's Titanic, she disappeared with 211 people on board, with no trace of wreckage, survivors or corpses. Built in Scotland, she was meant to be a passanger and cargo liner between London and Australia. After several uneventful voyages, she set out from Melbourne bound for the South African ports of Durban and Cape Town. She landed fine in Durban, according to reports,
...left Durban on 26 July with 211 passengers and crew. On 27 July , it passed the Clan McIntyre. On the evening of the same day, the Union-Castle Liner Guelph passed a ship and exchanged signals by lamp, but was only able to identify the last three letters of her name as "T-A-H."

The Waratah was expected to reach Cape Town on 29 July 1909. It never reached its destination, and no trace of the ship was ever found.

Initially, it was believed that the Waratah was still adrift. The Royal Navy deployed the cruisers HMS Pandora and HMS Forte (and later the HMS Hermes) to search for the Waratah. On 10 August 1909, a cable from South Africa reached Australia, reading

"Blue Anchor vessel sighted a considerable distance out. Slowly making for Durban. Could be the Waratah."        
 The ship is still missing to this day.

1 kindred spirits ~ This bugs them too!:

K said...
August 12, 2008 2:46 PM

Fascinating, isn't it?

There are towns where this has happened too - just been left completely deserted with no evidence of packing right down to food still on the stove.

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