Tag: watercraft

The Story of the Ghost Ship MV Joyita ~ Author says he’s solved 47 year old mystery

nzherald.co.nz Auckland academic David Wright says he has solved one of the great marine mysteries of the Pacific Islands -- the 1955 disappearance of the MV Joyita's passengers and crew. For nearly 47 years, the loss of the 25 people on Joyita, ...

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The mystery of the ghost ship Zebrina



The Zebrina was an anachronistic design, a three-masted sailing barge operating in the late years of World War I alongside oil-burning warships and early submarines.

Advances in the development of ship rigging allowed the 189-ton Zebrina to operate with only five sailors. She ran a fairly simple course between England and France, so when the ship was found aground south of Cherbourg in good condition but completely lacking a crew, naval authorities were at a loss.

The easy explanation was a U-boat attack. Common German practice was to allow merchant crews to board lifeboats or the U-boat itself before sinking the target with cannon fire, and it was assumed that a Royal Navy patrol had discovered and sunk the sub before it had the chance to destroy the Zebrina.

This ignored several facts, chief among them that the captain’s log was still aboard and U-boat captains always claimed such documents as proof of their claim. At the height of the war, Allied commanders had little time to investigate the mystery, and the barge was subsequently broken up. Post-war research never definitively put a U-boat along the Zebrina’s course.

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The strange case of the SS Valencia’s Life Boat

The SS Valencia


In 1906, nine officers, 56 crew members and 108 passengers set sail on the 1,598-ton Valencia from San Francisco, en route to Seattle. The weather became atrocious, visibility was nearly impossible, and the winds kicked in. After colliding with a reef near Vancouver Island, hysteria led to the flipping of lifeboats (two eventually capsized and one disappeared). All the women and children on board died, and the final death toll was recorded at 136. Twenty-seven years after the accident, one of the Valencia’s lifeboats was found floating near the site of the wreck in surprisingly good condition.

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Have you encountered the ghost ship SS Baychimo?

The SS Baychimo frozen in Arctic ice

The 1,322-ton cargo steamer the SS Baychimo was abandoned in 1931 when it became trapped in ice on the Arctic Ocean. It remained afloat and dislodged itself after the crew abandoned it to seek shelter. Over the next several decades, various sightings were reported and several crews managed to climb aboard, but the Baychimo has always eluded capture. The last recorded sighting was in 1969 — 38 years after it was first abandoned. The Alaskan government opened an investigation in 2006 to determine if the Baychimo is still afloat or finally sank, but investigators still haven’t located the ship.

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The Ghost Ship of the Outer Banks

The five-masted schooner Carroll A. Deering was built in 1919 in Bath, Maine and wrecked on January 31, 1921.

Cape Hatteras is home to many maritime legends but perhaps none is as curious as the real-life story of the massive schooner, Carroll A. Deering. Lost on the Outer Shoals in 1921 and discovered completely abandoned by the Coast Guard, this historical event has all the makings of a Hollywood ghost story.
On January 29, 1921, the Carroll A. Deering was making a return trip to Hampton Roads, Virginia from Barbados when she passed the Cape Lookout Lightship. According to the lightship keeper, the crew was milling about and a crewman, who did not look or act like an officer, reported that the ship had lost its anchors. The following day, the ship passed the SS Lake Elon southwest of the Diamond Shoals Lightship at approximately 5:45 pm. The Deering seemed to be steering a peculiar course. This was the last report of the ill-fated Deering before she was found run aground and abandoned.
At 6:30 am on January 31st, C.P. Brady of the Cape Hatteras Coast Guard Station spotted a five-masted schooner in the morning light, aground and helpless on the shoals. It was reported that the ship’s decks were awash, sails were set, lifeboats were missing, and she appeared abandoned. Due to heavy seas, the surf boats failed to reach the wreck. Finally, the wrecker Rescue arrived on the morning of February 4th and, with the cutter Manning, reached the battered ship around 9:30 am. Captain James Carlson of the Rescue boarded the ship and confirmed its identity as the Carroll A. Deering. Upon investigating the ship, it was discovered that all personal belongings, key navigational equipment, certain papers, and the ship’s anchors were missing. Furthermore, food was laid out as if in preparation for a meal. But there was no sign of the crew.

Wreckage of the Carroll A. Deering.  No remains of the ship can be seen on the seashore's beaches today.
The wrecked and battered hull of the Deering was all that was left to signify the vessel’s strange passage. In March of 1921, with the vessel breaking apart on the shoals, it was towed away then dynamited. In April, Christopher Columbus Gray, a Buxton, N.C. resident, reported finding a note in a bottle, which told of the capture of the Deering by pirates. Handwriting experts authenticated the note as being written by engineer Herbert Bates. Later examination, however, by federal government experts proved the letter was a hoax, written by Gray himself. In May, Mrs. Lula Wormel (wife of the ship’s master), Captain Merritt (the former master), and Rev. Dr. Addison Lorimer visited Washington and convinced Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover to commence an investigation.
The ongoing lure of the Deering mystery may be due to the many historical threads uncovered in the investigation of this amazing story. Agent Thompson of the FBI visited Dare County in July of 1921. Among the leads he followed were stories of Bolshevik sympathizing pirates, rum-running gangsters, and mutiny. When he asked local Coast Guardsmen about the theory that the crew had mutinied and abandoned ship before striking the Shoals, “Impossible!” was the answer - the coast was too rough for lifeboat landings. “I believe they abandoned her after taking everything of value,” said Captain Ballance of the Cape Hatteras station, “and ran her up on the Shoals intentionally….”
In the end, the investigation proved fruitless. No trace of the crew, the ship’s log, or the navigation equipment was ever discovered. A true maritime mystery began…and continues to this day.

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