Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Ghost Ships Conclusion

Sorry folks, for the delay in finishing up this topic and for not posting anything in almost a week. I have no excuses to offer I just did not get to it. So lets get back to it!

Recently, we have been looking into some of the famous Ghost Ship legends such as the Mary Celeste and The Flying Dutchman. I would like to finish today by looking into a very obscure Ghost Ship. This one is absolutely true!! There once was a ship called the "Dundee Star," it ran aground off Midway Island. In the space of four years time, the abandoned ship drifted completely around the earth and came to rest in 1891 right back at Midway Island, almost to the very spot where it started its ghostly, unmanned journey. When I first came across this story it really started me thinking, “Now, that's really bizarre”, I thought. “Just how many ghost ships might there be just blowing around the Oceans?

The term "ghost ship" has several meanings actually. Decommissioned, rusted and decayed naval vessels that are scheduled to be dismantled and scrapped are called ghost ships. Abandoned ships found drifting at sea bereft of their crews with no known explanation are also ghost ships. It is the phantom ship that appears in the mist and disappears just as suddenly that is the darling of the ghost ship tales.

Just how might the concept of the phantom ship have gotten started? It isn't hard to come up with a theory. One of the most remote and isolated places on earth is the sea. Your ticket to survival rests solely upon a ship. Once away from land, you are at the mercy of wind, wave and the temperament of the captain and crew. In days of old, many a seaman found himself attached to a rope looped beneath a vessel and then dragged from stern to bow under the ship, while crusty barnacles on the hull ripped his flesh. This punishment was called keelhauling.

Out of these rough and dangerous seafaring circumstances arose some pretty intense superstitions. Seamen kept watch for sea monsters which would surely gobble the ship. Figureheads on the bow were there to ward off evil sea serpents but could also represent the spirit of the ship. They believed that a woman exposing her breasts could calm a storm so this is why many ship's figureheads were of naked women.

Tattoos became popular because sailors believed a tattoo was lucky. A crucifix tattoo marked them for a Christian burial if they were lost at sea and later found. A rooster and pig tattooed on a sailor's knees were supposed to keep him from ever going hungry. (He carried his own bacon and eggs.) No wonder then that superstitions about ghost ships might easily have fit into the belief system of the time. Some thought that the appearance of a ghost ship foretold the coming of a storm or of disaster for those who spotted the vessel.

Most certainly, ghost ships are linked to shipwrecks and disasters. They usually are seen at the sight where a ship was lost. Perhaps superstitions about ghost ships may have also been fueled by finding abandoned ships and the eerie feeling upon boarding them.

Think how you might have felt if you were part of the crew of the British sailing ship, Johnson, which sighted a sailing boat off Punta Arenas, Chile. As they approached, the crew observed that the ship's masts and sails were covered with a green moss-like growth. No one could be seen on board. Upon investigation of the decaying vessel, they found 20 skeletons in various parts of the ship. This was the Marlborough Glasgow which had left Littleton, New Zealand, in 1890 and had not been seen until that day in 1913.

Examples of locations where phantom ships have been seen include:

  • Off the coast of Abergele, Wales, UK, where the ship was believed to be Prince Madoc's Gwennon Gorn that sailed from there.
  • The Great Lakes which have scores of stories about ghost ships. Two well-known ships said to return as phantom ships there are the Griffon and the Edmund Fitzgerald.
  • Off the Cape of Good Hope, Africa, where the legendary Flying Dutchman appears and is believed to be an omen of disaster.

Of course, ghost ship sightings are impossible to verify. One theory as to what might cause a ghost ship sighting is that they are mirages of other vessels further out to sea. An optical illusion can also occur by the refraction of light just above the horizon making it appear as though a ship sails through the sky.

The fascination of the ghost ship is not likely to disappear soon at least from that which is entertaining to us. For example, the movie, "Goonies," is about a lost ship found by a group of children who have to solve a puzzle to get the treasure. The ghost ship sails off into the horizon at the end. Another recent movie appropriately entitled "Ghost Ship," tells the tale of a salvage crew trying to tow a lifeless passenger ship back to port and the troubles they experience.


In our modern times the likelihood of completely losing track of a ship at sea have been reduced by the use of sophisticated tracking and GPS equipment. Yet there is no telling when or where we might have a return visit by the decaying relic of one of those bygone vessels, or catch a glimpse of the eerie silhouette of a ship in full sail just blowing in the wind. Keep walking this big weird world of ours!

I’m Average Joe

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Japanese girl keeps blog on poisoning mother
A 16-year-old Japanese girl was arrested for trying to kill her mother with rat poison and keeping an internet blog narrating how her condition deteriorated, news reports said on Wednesday.
Just like so many Americans my friend loves the clubs and club music lyrics so he went ahead and built an awesome website about club music lyrics. When he's in high spirit he goes to the site and start reciting all his favorite club music lyrics. Says it's good for the heart. Guess what? I gave it a shot and it works great!