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The Mary Celeste’s mysterious voyage

Posted in Anniversary, History, Mystery on Wednesday, 27 October 2010

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picture, Mary Celeste, Captain Briggs, lifeboat

Did Captain Briggs order the crew of the Mary Celeste to abandon ship feating an explosion? Illustration by Ken Petts

7 November marks the anniversary of the final, fateful voyage of the Mary Celeste, which departed from New York in 1872. The ship was discovered abandoned on 4 December by the crew of the Dei Gratia, still under sail and with nothing apparently wrong. Food and fresh water was plentiful and the ship still seaworthy, although water was found between decks and in the hold. The lifeboat was missing, as were the most of the ship’s papers, the sextant and chronometer.

Many theories have been put forward as to why the ship was abandoned, one of the most believable being that some of the cargo – 1,701 barrels of alcohol of which 9 were found empty – had ignited, blowing off the door to the hold. The Captain had ordered the ship abandoned, using a rope to attach the lifeboat to the ship which became severed (it was later found trailing in the ocean) in a storm.

Many more pictures relating to mysteries – from the Bermuda Triangle to why the dinosaurs disappeared – can be found at the Look and Learn picture library.

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