Mary Celeste was launched by the name “Amazon” in 1860; it was 103 feet long and carried about 280 tons of goods. In the next ten years there were many incidents and change of owners for this ship. It was bought and renamed as “Mary Celeste” under American registry. Benjamin Briggs was appointed the captain of the ship. The ship departed New York on November 7, 1972 with Captain Briggs, his wife, young daughter and had a crew of eight members. The cargo loaded in the ship contained 1700 barrels of American alcohol which was to be delivered at Genoa, Italy. But the crew members, captain Briggs and his family were never seen again.
The ship was found adrift on December 4, 1872 by another ship named Dei Gratia which was sailing from New York to Gibraltar. The Mary Celeste was found to be sailing alone across the Atlantic and there was no trace of any crew member. The ship was in best condition. All the essential parts of the ship such as masts, hull and sails were in sound condition. Even the cargo barrels of alcohol were stacked in its place. There was plenty of food and water in the ship that would aid the crew members. Soon the members of Dei Gratia checked the ship’s log and found that the last entry had been made on November 24 which was 10 days before its discovery. At the point of its last log record Mary Celeste was passing north of St. Mary’s Island near the Azores. This was 400 miles West of the place it was found. The ship had drifted without the crew and no one to steer for nearly week and a half. Yet this was highly improbable as the sails of the ship were set to catch the winds coming in from the starboard quarter. Dei Gratia was also following a similar path just behind by a few days. So how could the ship drift towards Dei Gratia in such a situation? Thus there must have been someone who guided the ship to its current course.
None of the 10 members on board of Mary Celeste were ever seen again. The official reason for this disappearance sited by the British and American authorities was that the crew got drunk and murdered the captain and his family. After the murder they might have boarded another passerby ship and fled. But the problem with this theory is that if this was the course of events then other sailors would have been seen at a later date. But none of them were ever seen.
Members of Dei Gratia inspected the Mary Celeste, though all the things were in place but a small four oared boat was missing. This suggested that some of the missing members could have used the boat to get away. Some researchers have suggested that there was seaquake traced by the ship’s captain. He ordered the evacuation of the ship to avoid this quake and all the crew were accommodated tightly in one small boat (which was missing). Then they set sail towards on a safe track. But the seaquake changed its direction and hit the small boat drowning all the members. Some have even gone as far as seeing this as a case of alien abduction.
But only authentic evidence (according to many) about the last days of Mary Celeste was found in the Fosdyk papers. Abel Fosdyk left some notes on his death that seemed to explain the real story and the fate of the crew of Mary Celeste. Fosdyk claims he ventured as a secret passenger on Mary Celeste. As Fosdyk was a close friend of Captain Briggs so the captain permitted him onboard. After setting sail the captain ordered the ship’s carpenter to construct a special deck for his small daughter on the bow. The newly built deck was fragile. Then on the day of disappearance of Mary Celeste there was a heated argument between the captain and a crew member about how well a person could swim around the ship putting all his clothes on. So both of them plunged into the sea and started swimming on the sides of the ship. Then a yell came from the other side and all the members onboard the Mary Celeste rushed to the other side. This side had been made fragile by the use of wooden planks for the special deck. Thus it could not keep the weight of the passengers and all of them fell into the sea. The yell was sounded by the crew member as he was attacked by a shark. Soon all the crew members were devoured by some sharks. Only Fosdyk survived clinging onto a small plank and getting to the northwest coast of Africa.
Though Fosdyk papers scripts a neat story but there are some aspects in the story that do not match with the real physical evidence. Fosdyk claimed that the weight of Mary Celeste was 600 tons while its actual weight was a third of that. Moreover he has claimed that most of the mariners were Americans, while in reality they were Dutch. If we believe that the captain and one his crew members indeed go swimming, it would be very difficult to keep pace with the Mary Celeste that was running at several knots. There were also no signs of breaking or construction work on the deck of Mary Celeste upon its discovery.
So there is a large shroud of mystery regarding the disappearance of the crew members from Mary Celeste.