Mary Celeste Ship

The Mystery of the Mary Celeste: Crew Vanishes from Seaworthy Ship

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The above scenario is perhaps one of the more logical and plausible explanations for the disappearance of the Mary Celeste ’s crew. Nevertheless, there has not been any real consensus as to the cause of Captain Brigg’s panic, and numerous theories have been put forward. According to one sea captain, David Williams, the Mary Celeste was abandoned due to a seaquake, a relatively common phenomenon in the Azores. Williams argues that the seaquake caused nine barrels of the denatured alcohol to spill. As a result, there was fear that the alcoholic fumes would cause an explosion, prompting the captain to abandon ship. It has also been suggested that an explosion might have actually happened. As no signs of a fire or an explosion were discovered on the Mary Celeste , this has been discounted. A scientist from UCL, however, has demonstrated that a pressure-wave type of explosion might have happened. Whilst a spectacular wave of flame is produced, it is followed by relatively cold air, leaving neither soot, nor any marks of burning or scorching behind. Therefore, it is also possible that a huge but relatively harmless flame had terrified Captain Briggs into abandoning the Mary Celeste .

While this may provide one plausible theory, it has not stopped the dissemination of wild rumors and speculations regarding the final fate of the crew members.  Over the decades, various suggestions have been made including crew mutiny, or the murder of a drunken crew by the crew of the Dei Gratia , who found the Mary Celeste .  Others have suggested death by giant octopus or squid, or that the crew came upon a derelict ship containing treasure and deserted the Mary Celeste, living happily ever after in Spain.

If new evidence comes to light in the future, we just might be able to gain a better understanding of what happened to the Mary Celeste on her fateful voyage in 1872, and perhaps solve this mystery once and for all.      

Featured image: A painting of the Mary Celeste as Amazon in 1861. Photo source: Wikimedia.


Blumberg, J., 2007. Abandoned Ship: The Mary Celeste. [Online]
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Collins, P., 2011. Ghost Ship. [Online]
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Lee, A., 2006. Solved: The Mystery of the Mary Celeste. [Online]
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Ricketts, B., 2014. The Mary Celeste Mystery. [Online]
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Williams, D., 2015. Mary Celeste Was Abandoned During a Seaquake!. [Online]
Available at:, 2015. The Mary Celeste: Fact not Fiction. [Online]
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By Ḏḥwty


Perhaps there was no explosion, perhaps the captain simply set up a training exercise for the possibilty of problem occuring with the alcohol. Depending on the length of the Halyard, being far enough away from the ship,  I would say that this exercise is an intelligent idea, apart from not leaving one person on board (during the exercise) to steer.

The real mystery is: How does an 8cm thick Halyard break? The second question is why was the halyard hanging over the side surely it would be trailing behind?

I cant understand how a Captain and crew for that matter would launch a lifeboat and leave a vessel under sail and in a storm, surely experience would tell them that if the halyard broke they would never catch up and get back on board. So many questions with too few answers, strange indeed

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