Mary Celeste was launched in Nova Scotia in 1860. Her original name was "Amazon".
She was 103 ft overall displacing 280 tons and listed as a half-brig. Over the next 10 years she was involved in
several accidents at sea and passed through a number of owners. Eventually she turned up at a New York salvage
auction where she was purchased for $3,000. After extensive repairs she was put under American registry and
renamed "Mary Celeste".
The new captain of Mary Celeste was Benjamin Briggs, 37, a master with three previous commands. On November 7,
1872 the ship departed New York with Captain Briggs, his wife, young daughter and a crew of eight. The ship was loaded with
1700 barrels of raw American alcohol bound for Genoa, Italy. The captain, his family and crew were never seen again.
No picture of Mary Celeste
is currently available. This
line drawing is of a half-brig
of the same period.
A British Board of Inquiry in Gibraltar gathered evidence and testimony from the boarding party that had discovered Mary
Celeste as a drifting derelict. Lack of evidence of violence ruled out piracy or foul play, but no conclusions as to the fate of the mortals aboard was forthcoming.
Read more about J. Habakuk Jepson's Statement.
Newspapers in America and England took little passing notice of the incident, and it soon faded from public interest as the loss of a small ship at
sea was not not uncommon in those days.
The popular mystery of the Mary Celeste did not begin until 1884 when Arthur Conan Doyle (the future author of the Sherlock Holmes series) writing under a pseudonym published a story about a derelict ship which he called "Marie Celeste". It was titled "J. Habakuk Jepson's Statement".
This tale recounted some of the actual events of the Mary Celeste with considerable added fictional and provocative detail which stirred up controversy and captured the public interest. Since then, and to this day, no two versions of the story are the same.
A Modern Day Sea Tragedy
On October 28, 1998 the 282 foot Schooner, FANTOME, was
lost with all hands in the Caribbean during Hurricane Mitch.
Read the Story here: The Loss of the Fantome