On December 4th, 1872, a 100-foot brigantine was discovered drifting through the North Atlantic without a soul on board. Not a sign of struggle, not a shred of damage, no ransacked cargo—and not a trace of the captain, his wife and daughter, or the crew. What happened on board the ghost ship Mary Celeste has baffled and tantalized the world for 130 years. In his stunning new book, award-winning journalist Brian Hicks plumbs the depths of this fabled nautical mystery and finally uncovers the truth.
The Mary Celeste was cursed as soon as she was launched on the Bay of Fundy in the spring of 1861. Her first captain died before completing the maiden voyage. In London she accidentally rammed and sank an English brig. Later she was abandoned after a storm drove her ashore at Cape Breton. But somehow the ship was recovered and refitted, and in the autumn of 1872 she fell to the reluctant command of a seasoned mariner named Benjamin Spooner Briggs. It was Briggs who was at the helm when the Mary Celeste sailed into history.
In Brian Hicks’s skilled hands, the story of the Mary Celeste becomes the quintessential tale of men lost at sea. Hicks vividly recreates the events leading up to the crew’s disappearance and then unfolds the complicated and bizarre aftermath—the dark suspicions that fell on the officers of the ship that intercepted her; the farcical Admiralty Court salvage hearing in Gibraltar; the wild myths that circulated after Sir Arthur Conan Doyle published a thinly disguised short story sensationalizing the mystery. Everything from a voodoo curse to an alien abduction has been hauled out to explain the fate of the Mary Celeste . But, as Brian Hicks reveals, the truth is actually grounded in the combined tragedies of human error and bad luck. The story of the Mary Celeste acquired yet another twist in 2001, when a team of divers funded by novelist Clive Cussler located the wreck in a coral reef off Haiti.
Written with the suspense of a thriller and the vivid accuracy of the best popular history, Ghost Ship tells the unforgettable true story of the most famous and most fascinating maritime mystery of all time.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of History eBook: Ghost Ship|
|Release Date: 06-01-2004|
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|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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A Simple, Handsome Ship
For as long as he lived, George Spicer was haunted by the sight of a worried young woman running along the Nova Scotia shore.
It was a summer morning in June of 1861, when Spicer was just a teenager with dreams of going to sea. He had been aboard a skiff sailing into Economy, a small fishing village shrouded by Acadian pines on the Minas Channel. In the town, locals watched the world’s most powerful tides rise and fall as much as fifty-three feet in a matter of hours–a surge that impressed upon them a healthy respect for the sea. The ocean provided a life for many of them, and they knew it could just as easily take one away. And as the tide often did, on that morning George Spicer was carrying bad news.
Mary Ann McLellan had noticed the small boat approaching and, as it drew closer, thought she recognized the boys on board as crew from her husband’s ship. A week earlier, Robert McLellan had sailed as captain of the newly christened Amazon, a cargo ship built by a group of businessmen forty miles down the coast. The Amazon was bound for London hauling a load of timber cut at nearby Five Islands. From there, the ship was to take on more cargo and sail south to Lisbon. They were supposed to be gone for months, probably through the end of the year. Now, oddly, they had returned. The sight of the boys in the boat alarmed Mrs. McLellan. She knew that something was wrong.
She never could have imagined, though, how the approaching boat would impact her life. For on that morning, Spicer and his friends had been assigned the sad and unfortunate task of delivering Captain McLellan’s body to his hom