My favorite place in the world is any portion of the shoreline of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia bordering the Bay of Fundy. The rolling hills, trees right down to the waterline, and amazing tides make it an area unlike anywhere else on the planet. It can also be an eerie and strange place at times. Spencer’s Island, Nova Scotia was the birthplace of one of history’s most mysterious maritime events.
The Mary Celeste was launched as the Amazon from the shipyard in Spencer’s Island in 1861. Following an accidental grounding in Cape Breton in 1868, the ship was repaired and renamed Mary Celeste. On November 7, 1872 she sailed from New York to Italy under the command of Captain Benjamin Biggs. Onboard were Biggs’ wife, small daughter and seven crewmen. The cargo is somewhat in dispute – either wines and liquors, or industrial strength alcohol to be used in paint.
On December 4, 1872 Mary Celeste was found 600 miles off Gibraltar, under full sail, with everything in order except for the fact the ship was abandoned. No sign has ever been found of the ten souls who were once aboard Mary Celeste. She is history’s most famous Ghost Ship.
Many theories have been advanced as to what happened to the crew of the Mary Celeste – from piracy, to a below decks fire caused by alcohol fumes, to a rogue wave or an undersea earthquake. All that is really known, however, is that a ship in pristine shape was found sailing on the ocean without a crew – and that the only thing missing was a chronometer. The cargo was untouched, the ship’s log was found with no mention of any trouble in the last entry on November 24 – everything seemed in perfect order.
The Mary Celeste was salvaged by the captain of the ship that originally found her abandoned. She sailed for many years, eventually scuttled about 1884 on the Rochelois Reef in Haiti. The remains of the Mary Celeste were eventually discovered by the writer and salvage expert Clive Clusser.