In 1682 the HMS Brittanna, a British man-to-man made its first launch into history by becoming the first sail boats. From the 16th to the 19th century ships with multiple sails dominated the trade routes and warfare at sea. Since it was near impossible to track these ships, damage due to bad weather, piracy and murder were all too common. For those who survived but left to flounder in the vast ocean for months, found themselves dying from starvation and exposure throwing them into madness and despair. In the end they would all suffer the same fate, death at sea.
There is one common theme to every person on the planet, we all die eventually and take our souls with us. Many believe the human soul is created at conception, recording each stage of our lives in order to prepare us for the afterlife. For most of us, the way we live and die is unremarkable which leaves our soul in tact as we move on. But for those who die in unimaginable ways it changes our soul and can throw our afterlife into a confusing tailspin creating what I like to call a “supernatural storm.” A supernatural storm is where poltergeist, angry spirits and earthbound ghosts are born. This is what I believe happened to the elusive ghost ships cursed to wonder the oceans and sea searching for their final destinations only to lash out at passing ships who ignore their distress call.
The Flying Dutchman – from an old German print
The most famous ghost ship of our time is “The Flying Dutchman.” According to nautical folklore the Dutch man-of-war or the Flying Dutchman was said to have gone down in the Cape of Good Hope after hitting bad weather in the 17th century. Sailors have always had a healthy respect for apparitions and feared their own demise if one appeared to them. Throughout the centuries their have been hundreds of sightings while sailing along the Cape of Good Hope. One of the first recorded sightings was a literary reference in Chapter VI of A Voyage to Botany Bay (1795). According to the author, George Barrington sailors who were pulling into doc at the Cape of Good Hope saw a large ship coming straight for them, but the ship turned into a black cloud then disappeared. This is where the name the Flying Dutchman was first created.
There have been many ships who have disappeared without a trace and never heard from again. So why was this ship caught up in a supernatural storm? After much research I learned that this ship had a very nasty crew full of rapists, thieves and murderers, creating havoc at every port they docked. I believe the combination of tarnished souls and a horrific death at sea created the perfect storm of vengeful spirits dammed to the ocean for eternity with no way home. Although the Flying Dutchman is the top ghost ship there are two others who have made their own way throughout history, the Caleuche and the Ourang Medan.
The Ourang Medan
The Caleuche originated from Southern parts of Chile sunk taking the crew with it. According to eye witness accounts the ship appears each night near the Island of Chiloe carrying the souls of those who perished. The Ourang crashed in Indonesian water under mysterious circumstances. This tale has terrified sailors in these waters for decades. According to the crew of 2 US ships passing through Indonesian water near the Malaysian coast shortly after the Ourang Medan’s deadly crash had said both received distress calls from the Ourang. Only to find out later that the crew had been dead for some time while the last communication from the ship was two words that would haunt this crew for the rest of their lives, “I die.”
It is hard to say why those ships received their distress calls when clearly the crew was dead. Or why the Caleuche continues to appear to other sailors, one thing I do know for sure is sailors and Captains chose these jobs because of their love and respect for the mighty sea and most could not imagine doing anything different.
The Mary Celeste
Phantom ships are just as mysterious as ghost ships due to the mysterious nature surrounding the demise of entire crews with one exception, Phantom Ships are not haunted but their stories are shrouded in mystery. The Mary Celeste was a merchant ship that was found floating aimlessly in the Atlantic Ocean in 1872. When it was found everything was in perfect condition along with all of their personal belongings and no signs of struggle, but the entire crew was missing as if they simply disappeared. No one knows for sure what happened to the crew and passengers on the Mary Celeste and we may never know. There are many stories just like this one throughout the decades so one can only speculate.
Whether you believe in ghost ships or not you cannot deny the mysteries that surround the Flying Dutchman or how the entire crew simply disappeared from the Mary Celeste. There is so much we have yet to discover in the deep crevasses of the sea that has never been seen by light, only darkness, mysterious creatures and the spirits of those who will spend an eternity searching for their final destination.